I felt myself start to really relax on the very first night of our stay at Soar Mill Cove Hotel in Marlborough, Devon. I can recall the moment as we sat at dinner, looking out at the splendid view across the cove, eating scallops and hearing the pianist playing ‘Over the Rainbow’. Ross and Grace were with me, eating their starters; Ross had chosen a caramelised onion tart topped with goats cheese and Grace was sharing a bit of each of ours. After our meal, we decided to go for a walk up the nearest hill. It was the start of a very happy weekend.
You can see why this place is popular with both families and couples alike. The welcoming atmosphere is felt in droves. I believe that this is helped by the mix of staff as well as the fact that this is a family-run business. Driving down the long, narrow Devonshire road to get to the hotel really feels like you are getting away from the rest of the world for a while. Rounding the corner into the grounds of the hotel, with the building on your left and the view down into the bay on the right, framed by the hillsides, is simply stunning.
The room that we stayed in, the Rosemary Rose, was a family room. It was extremely spacious with plenty of areas for Grace to play in. Ross and I had a large king-sized bed whilst Grace had a small single bed next to us. We were on the ground floor and we had a patio door which lead out onto a beautiful garden area. The room was generally well-appointed with a large sofa, a hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities and a fruit bowl and plenty of information about the hotel as well as the local area. There was a great map for walks and runs. There was a large walk-in wardrobe which contained extra blankets, a fan and a safe. I found the bathroom fixtures a little tired – the shower especially – and the toilet seat a little loose. I also believed that the room could have benefited from a fridge. One of the loveliest touches, however, was the fact that they provided fresh milk on reception – none of that plastic UHT muck here!
On both evenings, just before dinner, we used the newly built salt water pool. This is within the spa area and is a good use of space within the confines of the hotel. It is clean and tidy with pool towels provided and has table and chairs, drink facilities, a gym as well as two treatment rooms. Perfect if you do not want to leave the hotel. After dinner, we spent time in the lounge. This had plenty of comfy sofas and was well-stocked with family board games. Ross and Grace used the time to play chess and we also managed a game of bananagrams which we had brought with us.
Evening meals were set out in order to allow for younger children having high tea from 5 until 7pm, prior to the adults meal time served from 7 until 9pm. From 8.45pm onwards only children over the age of 8 may join their parents for dinner. I really liked this touch. It meant that the guests who had come to stay to get away from it all, could do just that. Menus were placed outside the rooms during the afternoon to enable you to pre-order your meals – which we did on both days. The children’s menu wasn’t your run-of-the-mill (excuse the pun!) nuggets and chips. They included items such as fish pie and chicken with saffron rice. Grace chose steak, chips and broccoli on our first night and it looked amazing! My favourite meals of the weekend had to be the starter of Soar Bay chowder – a shellfish soup which has been served up for 35 years – and the chocolate fondant with clotted cream. It is easy to see why they were featured in The Times’ top 20 best wild places to eat this summer’ last weekend.
Breakfast catered for all tastes and you were able to choose from a good mix of cereals, yoghurt, fresh fruit and bread. The only pastries on offer were croissants but these were extremely good – and very popular on our table. On both mornings, Ross opted for the cooked breakfast which was a good portion and well-cooked, containing all local produce. I decided on fish for breakfast on both days and was not disappointed. Freshly made jam and marmalade were set in the middle of our table and we chose fresh juice from the breakfast bar.
On Saturday afternoon, after returning from our trip to Pennywell Farm, we decided to go for a long walk down to Soar Mill Cove itself. Exiting the hotel, we noticed some walkers making use of the coffee shop which the hotel opened to the public during the day, serving refreshments and the traditional cream tea. The area is preserved by the National Trust and it is beautiful. Walking through fields of cows and sheep to reach a small stream which runs down onto the beach and out to sea. There were a number of families enjoying the afternoon sun and we decided to join them. After relaxing and making use of the time to do some photography, we then climbed the tallest hillside right next to the cove to give us a wonderful view across the sea and then back inland to the hotel itself. We felt like we were on top of the world!
I met a tired but happy Keith Makepeace, owner of Soar Mill Cove Hotel, on the second night of our stay. He had just arrived back from London and he explained to me that he had just driven one of their frail customers home. We had a brief chat as he proudly explained the heritage of the hotel and what it meant to him. The following morning I overhead the receptionist speaking to a visitor who had come to see their family who were staying at the hotel. The visitor had small children with her and wanted to use the hotel pool facilities. This was no trouble and they were asked to sign a disclaimer (which all guests need to do). There is no doubting the service provided by Keith and his team at Soar Mill Cove Hotel. An 8-hour round trip to transport one of his customers? Now that is dedication for you!
Soar Mill Cove are currently offering a 5 night summer break for £500 per adult and half price for children. This includes dinner, bed and breakfast with a cream tea on arrival and is based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing a family room; valid from Sunday to Thursday during summer season. For more details, please visit the Soar Mill Cove Hotel website. Soar Mill Cove Hotel are also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
For another opinion, take a look at the review from Space in Your Case.
We were provided with a two-night stay at Soar Mill Cove Hotel in Devon in return for this review. Please note that all words, images and opinions have been formed by the own of this blog and have not been influenced in any way. Please do not reproduce any of the content or images on this post without prior agreement from Verily Victoria Vocalises.