Queen of Retreats founder and wellness travel journalist Caroline Sylger Jones explores spas of all kinds around the globe
I’ve been coming to Salcombe since I was a child and I have seen this hotel move through various owners, but Harbour Hotel’s contemporary makeover is certainly the best version yet. The place to enjoy the stunning sea view over Salcombe Estuary is on the outside dining terrace when the weather is fine or from one of the bedroom balconies. You can’t see the ocean from everywhere in the hotel, so it’s important you ask for a room with a sea view for full effect.
You can’t see the ocean from everywhere in the hotel, so it’s important you ask for a room with a sea view for full effect.
Walls throughout are lined with vintage seaside posters and black and white photos of characters from Salcombe’s past. The bedrooms are decked out in seaside blue and white with easy-to-be-in bathrooms and White Company toiletries, though on both our stays here the automatic lighting system didn’t work properly and was rather irritating. My favourite bits are the private cinema (great for kids – though bring your own films, as sometimes their Netflix connection drops) and a marble-top bar and adjoining sitting area with a roaring log fire (great for you when the kids are in the cinema). It’s good for families here – there’s no children’s club, but babysitting can be arranged. The Jetty is the one large, sea-facing restaurant which is open all day and serves lots of fresh fish including crab, scallops, sea bream and lobster.
The spa has a small swimming pool with sunken seats at one end, a hydrotherapy pool plus a sauna and crystal steam room. You can lie on thick-striped loungers by the pool or in a small sound-sealed deep relax room after your treatment. Various indulgent and pampering face and body rituals for men and women are on offer in five serene (though windowless) rooms, mostly using ESPA products. I had a super Ocean Ritual with the even-handed and courteous Jasmine on my latest visit – a body brush, scrub, massage and facial left me feeling totally indulged and ready to head back to normal living.
Avoid kids swimming times (8:30 to 10 a.m. and 4:30 to 6 p.m.) if you want peace in the spa. Day packages offer the best value on treatments. If the spa could supply their therapists with bolsters for behind their client’s knees, and large warm blankets for cover ups, so that they didn’t have to rely on only towels, this would lift the experience into a more cosseting realm.
there are inspirational coastal walks from the door and sandy beaches nearby
There’s a gym, but it faces a wall and has no view – if I were you I’d just head outside for your exercise, for there are inspirational coastal walks from the door and sandy beaches at nearby North Sands and South Sands. Head through the town and out to Batson Creek and up to Snapes Point, or out to the cliff top walk around Sharpitor. On your way, drop in to the tropical gardens at the Edwardian seaside home of eccentric scientist Otto Overbeck, which is now owned by The National Trust.
From £215 per double room per night B&B.
For more wellness travel ideas check out Caroline’s brilliant site Queen of Retreats at queenofretreats.com.
Caroline Sylger Jones is an author and freelance journalist who travels the world checking out spas, retreats and healthy holidays for international newspapers, glossy magazines and websites. She is the founder and director of wellness travel site Queen of Retreats.