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South Devon Hotel Review - The South Sands Hotel - On the Beach in Salcombe

New England Style in England's Southwest

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South Devon Hotel Review - The South Sands Hotel - On the Beach in Salcombe

From the beach, the rambling South Sands Hotel has a breezy, New England seaside style

© Ferne Arfin
South Devon Hotel Review - The South Sands Hotel - On the Beach in Salcombe

View from above the South Sands Hotel

© Ferne Arfin
South Devon Hotel Review - The South Sands Hotel - On the Beach in Salcombe

Spacious and romantic J-class room at the South Sands Hotel has a pair of free-standing, roll top bathtubs for soaking and enjoying the view together.

Courtesy of the South Sands Hotel

The South Sands Hotel on the beach of the same name in Salcombe, South Devon, is one of a new but still rare breed of English beach boutiques that combine international standards of luxury with modern beach style. The rambling, gray clapboard, dappled with shade on one side, open to the ravishing Kingsbridge Estuary on the other, could have been transplanted from Hyannisport or one of the tonier resorts of Newport, Rhode Island. Add to the mix a smart seafood restaurant, a skillful bartender and a dog-friendly policy and this is one I can recommend for a special treat with only a few quibbles.

Rooms at the South Sands Hotel

The hotel has 27 rooms in the main building and five 2-bedroom beach suites with self-catering (housekeeping) facilities. Room styles carry the names of different kinds of sailing craft. The smaller and less expensive rooms - Optimist and Enterprise - have valley views and are on the quiet road that runs in front of the hotel. Sea view rooms include:

  • top of the range J-Class with an oversize bed and matching bathtubs overlooking the beach
  • Yawl - the smaller of the sea view rooms which is none-the-less spacious and well equipped.
  • Dragon - a larger, seaview room.
The pale, oak furnishings of my Dragon-class room included a king-sided bed covered with extra pillows and beautifully tactile embroidered and woven fabrics. Pale sand colored carpet covered the floor. An oak armoire concealed coffee-making kit, hair dryer and a set of drawers on one side, a hanging closet on the other. The room had plenty of outlets for plugs and rechargers, a desk, a small table and several armchairs. The flat-screen television swiveled on an arm so that it could be enjoyed from anywhere in the room.

Dog-friendly features

Wallace the Westie enjoyed the fresh bed and giant water bowl though the cowhide chewie left for him was a bit more than he wanted to tackle. When we arrived, he had a good sniff around and sat looking out the window at the beach as though it was a television (which he likes to watch too). Later, after a hearty walk up and down steep hills and some ball chasing in the sea off North Sands Beach, he curled up on his bed and didn't even budge when I left for dinner without him.


Bathrooms at the South Sands Hotel

Except in the smallest rooms, bathrooms at the hotel have claw-footed, double-ended freestanding baths and wet-room type, walk in rain showers with ceramic tiles. The larger, J-class rooms have two tubs. Mine was equipped with plenty of fluffy towels, a generous terry robe and a good supply of Molton Brown toiletries.

Decorative Touches

Both the bathroom and bedroom are accessorized to create a marine ambiance with subtle seascapes, ship models, carved sea birds and rope tie-backs on the curtains. I was fascinated by the glass and brass "porthole" on the front of the bathroom vanity counter and wondered how long it would be before some guest tried to open it to see what was inside (plumbing no doubt).


A Few Minor Quibbles

As we always say, no place is perfect and even a lovely hotel like the South Sands raises a few minor complaints. So here goes:

  • This dog-friendly hotel is on a dog-free beach.The hotel overlooks the wide, flat, golden sands of Salcombe's South Sands Beach where dogs are not welcome from May 1 to September 30. North Sands Beach which is dog-friendly is virtually identical but involves a hefty hike up and over a steep hill.
  • The hotel has no lift (elevator). Apparently the architect thought it would interfere with the integrity of the design. But the arty, free standing spiral staircase proved too slippery and challenging for Wallace the Westie and staff were not immediately sure about whether we could use the easier, carpeted emergency stairs. This also, obviously, limits the availability of accessible rooms.
  • The bathroom could do with a small, moveable table or a chair. You might want to spend some time in the sumptuous bath - with perhaps a glass of wine, or a good book. But there's no place to rest your toys.
  • The challenging road to the hotel through Salcombe won't be for everyone and guests who come for dinner may worry about navigating its hills and curves in the dark. An alternative is to take the unusual tractor/ferry from Salcombe center to South Sands Beach.


South Sands Hotel Essentials


  • Address: Bolt Head, Salcombe, Devon, TQ8 8LL
  • Phone: +44 (0)1548 859 000
  • Price Band: £££ - ££££ Rates are per room and include breakfast. The dinner, bed and breakfast combined rate is a good value deal considering the quality of the restaurant.
  • Visit their website
  • See what other visitors think on Tripadvisor

Next: Dining at the South Sands


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