“It feels just like being on holiday,” exclaimed my wife as we wound our way along the beautiful South Hams lanes towards our location for dinner at the South Sands Hotel. Although only about an hour away from where we live, we could have been in the Mediterranean: steep, narrow lanes lead down to small coves that made us both feel like we had discovered new territory, albeit familiar as nearby Salcombe is a place we both enjoy visiting.
Before dinner, we were shown to our room (one of 22 bedrooms and five beach suite apartments) where we were lucky enough to stay for the night. Like the rest of the hotel, the rooms are decorated in a relaxed, yet upmarket New England style – blue and white is the colour scheme, with wooden floors and coconut matting in the public areas and bird carvings dotted around the building. What makes the hotel extra special is its location right on the beach at South Sands Bay. Our room had a sea view and luxurious touches in the shape of a huge walk-in shower, stand-alone bath and an enormous bed.
The airy restaurant has views out across the Bay, the beach being just the other side of the large, sliding doors that open onto a full-length terrace. We were shown to our table by the busy and attentive staff, all of whom are casually kitted out in jeans and shirts, in keeping with the hotel’s laid-back and contemporary theme.
Not surprisingly, the Mitch Tonks-designed menu had a distinctly fishy flavour. I chose the fresh, plump moules marinières and my wife’s starter was tiger prawns in chilli butter, which came pre-peeled. My main of a full-flavoured pan-fried gilt head bream came with a Thai stir fry that had a sweet and sour taste. My wife’s velvety lemon sole was served with a refreshing and crunchy fennel salad, making it a light, delicately flavoured dish. Our desserts of lemon tart and warm, rich chocolate and orange sponge were followed by coffee and a breath of evening air on the terrace.
It’s a pity we couldn’t have stayed for a little longer in this beautiful, boutique beachside hotel but a small taste of paradise is certainly better than none.