Reaching Thurlestone hotel in south Devon is like going down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole. You plunge off the main road along one of those high-hedged, single-track lanes which Devon specialises in and can do nothing but blindly follow its winding path (praying not to meet any oncoming tractors) until, half an hour later, you pop up into the open air once again and think: ‘Where on earth am I?’
Thankfully the views from the four-star hotel at Thurlestone will soon have your bearings back on track, facing as it does across the English Channel and giving sweeping views all the way along the Devon coastline. Located right on the hills overlooking Thurlestone beach in one direction and the local church and cliffs in the other, the Thurlestone is one of those hotels which isn’t located right on the beach but gives great views of them (and there’s parking by the beach if the steep walk back isn’t for you).
In and around Thurlestone
The village of Thurlestone is small but pretty, with an imposing church, handy shop and village pub (which is owned by the hotel) but the main feature is the hotel itself. Set in 19 acres, the 65-bedroom hotel has been in the Grose family since 1896 and certainly feels traditional: the kind of place Agatha Christie could have stayed at in the 1930s.
This is not a place for guests looking for boutique chic and a lively vibe but if you want to stay put for a few days, a week even, in a cosy, relaxing, comfortable hotel which has ample sofas and lounges for afternoon tea or even a snooze then this is the place for you.
That’s not to say it’s dull: there’s an excellent contemporary restaurant, a stunning outdoor art deco pool as well as an indoor pool plus spa, a golf course, tennis courts and excellent children’s play facilities (multi-generational holidays are popular here) so you won’t be short of things to do. However the point is you won’t be made to feel bad if you don’t feel like doing anything at all but curl up with a book or just enjoy the views.
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The views are a big draw here and within seconds of entering my large, third-floor bedroom, I was outside on my balcony and drinking up as much of south Devon as I could.
The sun obligingly came out and prompted the taking of dozens of photos (none of which do the view justice) and it was only when it disappeared behind a cloud that I could tear myself away to the spa. The indoor pool was warm and welcoming (there’s also a steam room and a spa) and there are several treatment rooms too.
It felt like the afternoon to get out and explore however, so I donned my wellies and headed off to visit the local church (where Mary Grose, Thurlstone hotel’s business development manager and member of the owning Grose family is getting married next year) and to have a good old plodge around the neighbourhood. Returning in search of a drink I ended up at the hotel bar and enjoyed a half of local ale before heading to the Trevilder restaurant.
Recently refurbished, this was the most modern part of Thurlestone hotel and its vast picture windows showed off a great sunset and would yield excellent views the following morning over breakfast. For now I was happy to explore the well-chosen menu which offered a wide range of dishes with local ingredients and suppliers (who were listed in the menu which I always like).
I started with Start Bay scallops grilled and presented in a shell with lemon, garlic butter and samphire, and continued with rump of Devon lamb, carved pink with parmesan risotto and charred leeks. Both were excellent as was the red wine recommended by our waitress. The meal ended on a high note of an excellent cheese board which offered a great choice local and British cheeses with apple jelly, crackers, celery and chutney. The portions were very generous but I loved sampling them all, (particularly the Helford Blue and the Driftwood goats cheese) and I staggered off to bed convincing myself of the merits of an early-morning swim in the outdoor pool the next day.
Predictably I enjoyed sleeping too much to make it for a swim but I popped down before breakfast to find a few hardy souls taking a dip and looking invigorated. I indulged myself instead with a massive breakfast – I resisted the waffle maker but still made inroads into the wide selection of cereals, pastries, bread, cooked options and fresh juice – and made up for it with a massive hike along the South West Coastal Path towards Cornwall.
The clifftop path is just a few minutes from Thurlestone hotel through the golf course, and – having been thinking of Agatha Christie earlier – goes directly to Burgh Island and its famous art deco hotel which supposedly inspired several of her novels and where Noel Coward visited, supposedly for three days and ended up staying three weeks. That seems to be the charm of a hotel on the south Devon coast – time just gets away from you.
Hotel information and to book Thurlestone Hotel
Thurlestone Hotel, Thurlestone near Kingsbridge, south Devon TQ7 3NN
01548 560 382 and email@example.com
Rooms at Thurlestone hotel cost from £155 bed and breakfast for an inland view room off-peak, while a deluxe sea view bedroom (such as the one I had) in the peak summer season can start from around £485 bed and breakfast.
Thurlestone Hotel is a member of the Pride of Britain Hotels group, a collection of no more than 50 of the UK’s loveliest luxury hotels.
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