Cary Arms, Babbacombe

Dan Lloyd |
Cary Arms It's a British pastime, strapping mud coated boots over fluffy socks, chucking on an all-weather jacket, and clutching a map in hand ready to climb treacherous terrain to test your orienteering skills and see the best landscapes. At the Cary Arms you can do that - by just staying in bed. Once you step in, the hotel has a regal feel about it – perhaps a nod to Queen Victoria who was full of plaudits for the bay when she visited in 1846 - with nautical décor throughout, pinpointed by the residents saloon with plush sofas, window seats, board games and the obligatory faux navigational instruments from yesteryear A luxury room means you have the privilege of looking out onto the incredible sea view through the windows, or even when on the terrace while enjoying the complimentary sloe gin. Even the roll top bath is placed to show off this hotel's best asset. While the rooms aren't as large as you'd get in some hotels, you come to appreciate the cosiness of what you have whether you're in bed listening to the wind outside, or have the French doors open to let in the morning sun. A spa room is available if you need even more relaxation with Yon-Ka (aromatic) treatments, or just do what we did and visit the traditional pub downstairs for local ales and some food. If for some strange reason you have enough of the rest and relaxation on offer at Cary Arms, it may be worth taking stroll up the almost vertical hill to Babbacombe. The once glamorous seaside resort like most popular post war holiday destinations around Britain has gone the way of the dodo. But if you can't see the beauty in this faded seaside glamour, or at least have fun in the model village, you're not human. Apart from beautiful coastal walks, enjoying afternoon tea or having a pint, Babbacombe is not the liveliest place on earth. But when you have the Cary Arms to stay in it's just enough to keep you busy for an afternoon – if you can peel yourself away from the the view that is. The Cary Arms Restaurant Food: 3/5 Venue: 3.5/5 Value: 3/5 Being busy is normally a blaring indicator of a good restaurant, and one thing that can be said about the eatery at the Cary Arms is that it's always busy. When we stayed it was midweek, in autumn and the place was packed. The traditional pub transforms into a beautiful dining room at night, one that looks like it could have hosted pirates, or possibly hobbits. So the lively vibe filling the establishment could be testament to 25 year old Chef Ben Kingdon's catering, or it could be down to the fact that everyone there is on holiday. While my fellow diner scoffed down a starter of pan fried scallops and sirloin steak for a main quite happily, my wild mushroom and tomato on crostini starter, followed by nut-crusted hake seemed to have been attacked by an olive oil and herb combination each time. While the textures were nice - when you were lucky enough to get a piece not coated in oil -they're weren't great dishes. As my friend said, order simple or ask for dressing on the side and you may be onto a winner. Cuisine type: British Dinner for two: Tasting menu £45 per person, £75 with a selection of wines Hotel rooms price: Starting from £195, including breakfast – two dog friendly rooms. The Cary Arms Babbacombe Beach, South Devon, TQ1 3LX Tel: 01803 327110 http://
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