Part of the de Savary hotel group, the Cary Arms & Spa family counts Mount Cinnamon and Port Louis (Grenada) and the Vanderbilt Residences (Rhode Island) as part of its family. Our expectations were high for The Inn on the Beach in Babbacombe, Devon.
This was not our first time here, previously spending a sun-filled bank holiday week in Beach Cottage with my family. On this occasion it was a weekend away with husband and Daisy, who last time around had a whale of time being entertained by the gardening team as they watered the plants.
Our home away from home was in one of the six luxurious Beach Huts. Reminiscent of the brightly coloured beach huts you will find at any self-respecting seaside resort of days gone by on the outside, the inside offered all the luxury you would expect. Entering via your own private sun deck which provides uninterrupted views across Lyme Bay – and proved to be the perfect spot, whatever the weather to catch sight of the elegant pods of dolphins who visit – as you step through the large glass doors you enter a world more of contemporary duplex than rustic beach hut.
To the ground floor is a substantial corner sofa (more viewing positions), contemporary art and a welcoming crackling (electric) fireplace; small coffee and tea making area, with all-important Nespresso and Smeg fridge; complimentary mini bar and sloe gin; and large modern shower room. Up the stairs takes you to a large comfortable bedroom area on a mezzanine and benefitting from its own porthole. The team suggests that you leave the shutters to the porthole open so that you are woken by the sunrise.
The interiors are subtle but quirky. Owner, Lana de Savary has spared no expense in restoring this historic seaside inn, being true to its heritage and charm but offering the design today’s guests like to experience alongside the modern conveniences my husband could not live without – Sonos music system, smart TVs, Wifi and Netflix.
Two of the six beach huts are dog-friendly. Ours, number 4, came complete with dog bed, blanket and treats, and doggy menu should your four-legged friend wish to indulge, as well as a stylish cover for the sofa in case of sneaking up. There was also a handy guide book listing and mapping walks around the English Riviera. It did not compromise on facilities and style as some dog-friendly places seem to.
Last time I visited the Spa was being quietly resurrected behind wooden boards. Today, it was perched upon the hillside shimmering in the sunshine. Large expanses of glass are a feature of the pool and relaxation area, the same sea views stretching out before us. There’s a steam room, sauna, gym and sun-bathing terrace but it was the French Thalgo marine treatments which caught our eye. This was a relaxing weekend away, after all.
And a tailored body massage the treatment of the day. One hour of personalised indulgence relying on the magic of the sea and experienced therapist to ease tensions and relax. Or a firmer pressure to address any niggles or sporting injuries. There are two treatment rooms, one of which is a couples room, and the spa menu offers a boutique offering of facials, body wraps, nails and specialist pregnancy rituals.
Now the people were relaxed it was time to head out with the four-legged family member. The beach is dog-friendly all year around and provides plenty of great new adventures, including meeting some curious seals. The hotel is situated close to the coastal path so we chose a circuitous route up onto the clifftops and back through Babbacombe. It was about 1.5 miles and there are quite a few steps but Daisy loved the mix of woodland and grassland and we felt we’d earned our dinner.
Dining at The Cary Arms is a relaxed affair and takes place in the inn. Dogs are allowed in the bar area but not the conservatory and, of course, on the outdoor terraces should the weather permit. For us, we loved the character and warmth of the bar area. The menu is seasonal and uses fresh, local produce so there are specials every day. As you would expect, the fish is a treat, from the devon crab and crayfish cocktail starter to the special hake with crushed new potatoes and samphire or the Otter Ale battered fish and chips. But there’s plenty for non-seafood lovers too. I have it on good authority that the steak and ale pie is outstanding as was the duck terrine. The wine list is comprehensive with a strong old world private cellar selection for the connoisseurs. And there are local beers, ales and ciders to sample too.
Some may think that five and a half hours is a bit of an excessive drive for a relaxing weekend away. On that note, a top tip from is to stop at Gloucester Farm Shop services on the M5, not only is there a lovely place for you and your pooch to stretch your legs the food is a refreshing local change to the typical motorway services.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our second visit to The Cary Arms, we would have loved to stay for longer but timetables did not permit. For us, to mix the sea views and friendly good food was the perfect mix. What’s more we could experience all of it from our five-star beach hut. All of team we met, from the housekeeping to front of house were friendly and welcoming, even when a slightly muddy very excited Border Collie bounded up to greet them.