South Sands Boutique Hotel

Salcombe, Devon, United Kingdom Book from

Beach boutique hotel near Salcombe with a buzzing restaurant, sea-view rooms and 5 beach apartments
How rare is it to find a hotel literally on the beach in the UK? Answer: very. But finding one with stylish rooms and apartments in a great location is nigh-on impossible. South Sands, however, with its New-England decor, fresh Quba sail furniture and views across the Salcombe estuary fits the bill perfectly. There's nothing between you and the golden-sand beach out front, and once here there's no need for a car. Take the sea tractor and ferry, or walk for half an hour and you're in the heart of Salcombe. This picturesque Devon sailing haven, favoured by well-heeled yachties and outdoorsy families, has boutique shops a plenty, some decent eateries and is only a short launch across the water to yet more pristine beaches and fine coastal walks.

Back at the hotel, most rooms have views out to sea, but if yours faces the valley fear not; the restaurant with its simple, fresh food (menu courtesy of Allister Bishop) is one of the best sea-view spaces we've ever seen, and has a wide terrace for outdoor dining. Staff are cheerful and friendly; for the most part young and casually attired - the seaside vibe runs deep. Beach it in summer, cosy up by the fire in winter, South Sands is a winning formula.

Highs

  • Beautifully styled rooms with seascape colours and plantation shutters; wonderfully peaceful
  • A watersports paradise: sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, boating and waterskiing on your doorstep
  • Families will love the self-catering Beach Suite apartments, the sailing school next door, and the restaurant terrace that overlooks the sandy beach so you can idly supervise kids playing
  • The restaurant: stylish, light and airy with fabulous views and deliciously fresh seafood
  • Lots to do without having to drive anywhere, including endless National Trust coastal pathways to explore

Lows

  • You'll need to book the restaurant a few days in advance if coming in high season
  • Driving in and out of Salcombe can be tricky down narrow lanes, especially if you meet oncoming traffic; best to take the ferry into town
  • There's no communal area beyond the restaurant and bar, although in summer you have the beach at your disposal
  • Fairly strict cancellation policy

Best time to go

Any time of year - summer's best for beach and seafaring action, but there are beautiful walks all year round and Salcombe's great for milling about and shopping in small boutiques. The hotel's open all year.

Our top tips

Book ahead to get a table in the restaurant. Take the ferry across the estuary to Mill Bay and its beautiful coves.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Boutique Hotel
  • 22 rooms, 5 self-catering apartments
  • Restaurant (open daily), limited self catering
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Sailing school next door
Room: J Class Bath

Rooms

The 22 rooms (named after sailing boats) and 5 Beach Suite apartments are all decked out in beach-chic style. There's a real nod to New England, with solid American white oak and seaside touches: portholes under sinks, plantation shutters, local art, wooden sea birds and tide clocks. Expect striped linens from Mitre and armchairs upholstered in coral patterns.

Each room is slightly different but all have big comfy beds, smart limestone bathrooms with rainshowers, and L’Occitane toiletries. Local forger Joff Hopper made all the twirly ironwork, and you can count on flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, WiFi and minibars stocked with complimentary mineral water.

Most rooms face the sea, with fabulous views across bobbing boats and rolling wooded hills. The cheapest Optimist and Enterprise rooms face the rear instead (a view of tree-lined back lanes). Of the sea-facing rooms, most have small Juliet balconies and a couple have full balconies (rooms 9 - Dragon & 10 - J Class).

We'd recommend the Dragon rooms, which have the best sea views, claw-foot baths and walk-in showers. The slightly cheaper Yawls are a bit smaller but still have partial sea views. If money is no object, go for the J Class room 10; more of a suite, really, with its vast Caesar bed and 2 free-standing baths overlooking the sea, plus a big balcony. All rooms have baths and showers with exception of Enterprise 1, Yawl 18 and Dragon 8.

We loved the room we stayed in (Dragon No 11), which had a bath in the bedroom and space for an extra bed for our daughter (as have most). We also spent a night in a Yawl room, which was great but do be prepared for baths with fixed glass shower screens, which make it difficult to reach your taps without first getting in.

The 5 Beach Suites are ideal for families, allowing more independence and privacy, but you still get breakfast included in the rate. Each has 2 ensuite bedrooms (a double and a twin), a large living/dining room with Quba-sail beanbags, 2 sofas (1 of which can convert into a sofabed), a private balcony and a fully equipped kitchen. No 33 has the best sea view; the others are partial except No 31 which faces inland but makes up for this in terms of size.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The restaurant is the heart of the hotel with magnificent floor-to-ceiling wraparound windows and a wide deck. The whole room is light and airy, and is a joy to eat in, thanks to its fresh seaside decor. Renowned chef Allister Bishop created the menus, so expect simple fresh seafood and grilled meats. You won’t find Michelin towers and foams here, just honest delicious dishes. We wolfed down our ribeye steak and brill with bernaise and fries, followed by warm guiness cake with caramel sauce and ice cream. Within 6 months of opening the place was buzzing and locals still flock here, so be sure to make a reservation before you arrive otherwise you’ll be having room service (which was very efficient when we stayed).

At breakfast (included in your tariff), help yourself to croissants, glasses of fruit with yoghurt and granola and cooked fare, or order something hot from the kitchen: American pancakes with caramelised bananas, smoked salmon bagel with scrambled eggs or smoked haddock. Take your time and linger over the papers with a cappuccino.

The bar has raised the game in Salcombe. You can get Champagne by the glass, a pint of local Otter Ale, or a well-conceived selection of fulfilling cocktails. Our mojitos certainly hit the spot, but their mocktails weren’t bad either.

If you're staying in the Beach Suites, you'll probably self-cater a couple of meals and you're well set up to do so with decent kitchens and contemporary dining areas. There are grocery stores in Salcombe.

Dining out: try The Winking Prawn in North Sands for a casual alfresco lunch or supper, or head up river to the legendary Milbrook pub at South Pool. In Salcombe, Dick and Wills brasserie is an ideal waterside spot, or for a picnic, we recommend the freshly made sandwiches from the Salcombe Deli.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • South Sands Sailing school is right next to the hotel. In summer learn how to sail, kayak, surf and powerboat, or just hire equipment

  • Walk into Salcombe (30 minutes) or take the small ferry boat which runs April to October. There's a good Maritime Museum on the quay (ship building and historic shipwrecks) and several art galleries and boutiques including Bibi & Mac, Quba Sails and Jack Wills which all originated in Salcombe.

  • Walk up the hill by the hotel and look around the National Trust's Overbeck's House and Garden, a hidden gem of eccentric collections, subtropical grounds and glorious views over Salcombe estuary

  • Hop on the small ferry (April to October) across the estuary to East Portlemouth and Mill Bay, a quiet village with beautiful small sandy beaches at high tide and a big expanse at low tide; ideal for ball games, frisbee and sandcastling

  • Go for some of the most stunning coastal walks in all of England - our favourites are the circular walks to Bolt Head which starts near the hotel and to East Prawl starting from Mill Bay / East Portlemouth on the opposite shore

  • The hotel can arrange deep-sea fishing trips, clay shooting and horse riding, or there are golf courses in the area if you fancy a round

  • If the weather turns, curl up with a book in front of the open fire situated in the bar or watch a film from the DVD library (ask at reception)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Clay Shooting
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Waterskiing
  • Windsurfing

Kids

This place is very popular with families. Despite not having any communal space or specific facilities for children, the hotel's setting on the beach is ideal. Older children will love learning to sail, kayak, surf and windsurf, and playing cricket on the beach; teenagers will love Salcombe's cool vibe; younger kids will love playing on the sandy beach. And crucially, parents can enjoy long lazy lunches in the restaurant with full view of their children playing on the beach.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Beach Suite apartments are best for families as they have kitchens to self-cater or whip up snacks and baby meals, breakfast in the restaurant is included in the tariff. Each sleeps 4-6 with a double ensuite, twin room and bathroom, and the sofas can be made into additional beds meaning there is more space to spread out.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement. See rates.

Baby listening:

Baby monitors can be borrowed from reception. They work from the restaurant area to the bedrooms so you can enjoy dinner safe in the knowledge that your little one is sleeping soundly.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Baby bedding

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Early tea and children's menus are available in the restaurant and there are plenty of child-friendly eateries a short drive away. The Beach Suites are self-catering.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Children's DVDs
  • A few games and books in the bar area

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The beach is on your doorstep for watersports, sandcastle-building etc
  • South Sands Sailing School
  • Paignton Zoo
  • Plymouth Aquarium
  • Overbeck's house and gardens
  • Crabbing from the quayside in Salcombe
  • They'll also love the Salcombe Dairy ice cream shop, toy shop and Cranch’s Pantry, a traditional old fashioned sweet shop

Families Should Know:

There is no lift, but the porter is happy to help if you need to bring a pushchair up and down stairs. The nearest shop for baby/child gear is in Salcombe. The ground floor terrace area of the Beach Suites is open to the road with no gate.

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Hospital: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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