The Headland Hotel and Spa, Torquay

Rosanna Rothery visits a Victorian villa offering traditional coastal pleasures in buckets and spades

The Headland Hotel does the quintessential oh-I-do-like-to-be-beside-the-seaside break with a large dose of cheery fun, so guests staying at the cliff top Victorian villa enjoy a high old time.

New arrivals get acquainted in the bustling Romanoff Restaurant, returning guests are greeted by staff like old friends, and there’s a healthy dose of post-dinner banter stirred up by the cheeky end-of-pier-style cabaret singer. A holiday here comes with builtin good company.

The chefs know their clientele well: the jolly seaside ambience is enhanced by (three, four or five course) menus fashioned around local farm produce. Sweet-toothed diners are catered for with indulgent puds like Baileys and white chocolate cheesecake.

VISIT for one of the best sea-view terraces in the Bay. Whatever the weather, the modern Gallery Lounge, which opens out onto a large clifftop patio, is a superb spot from which to gaze over hazy horizons and balmy skies.

It’s little surprise then that this outdoor eating space lures locals who drop by for an alfresco lunch, afternoon tea with the girls, a quiet cuppa or an evening cocktail while watching the sun sprinkle its final shower of glitter over the water.

DON’T VISIT if you prefer contemporary coastal-chic to traditional seaside charm. The hotel (a former summer home of the Russian Romanoff family) exudes a comforting air of continuity.

WE LIKED the clifftop location: stroll on coastal paths, bask on the Bay’s glistening beaches, frolic in glassy waves and explore nearby towns. The white yachts and attraction-filled esplanade of Torquay seafront are within walking distance, while coastal cousins Paignton and Brixham are just a short drive away.

A spot of hedonism at The Headland will help you forget all your daily obligations: basically, there’s nothing more urgent to do than take in the sea views from your big bed, amble around the two-acre garden above Meadfoot Beach, fritter away time in the spa and share convivial moments with fellow guests.

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