The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West

Soar Mill Cove, near Salcombe

When the fluffiest fox cub bounds alongside your car while a peregrine falcon swoops overhead, you get the vibe that you’re heading somewhere pretty special. And when the winding lane opens to reveal a boutique hotel overlooking azure seas and craggy cliffs, you know you’ve done it. You’ve escaped to the sea, writes Rosanna Rothery

The smart seaside charms of yachty Salcombe may be just a few knots away but many guests never manage to drag themselves away from the wild seclusion of Soar Mill Cove. With coastal walks, a hidden beach and a lush lawn strewn with chamomile flowers where children can run free, this is utopia for outdoorsy families, dog lovers and those craving coastal solitude (think Dartmoor-on-sea).

VISIT for an easygoing sense of outdoor-indoor living. Blending beautifully into its headland setting, this single-storey hotel offers sea-facing rooms with patio doors opening out onto sun-drenched loungers.

DON’T VISIT if you’re a workaholic who can’t switch off the screen. This is a get-away-from-it-all place, so if you’re terrified of going off grid the scanty mobile phone coverage could be challenging.

WE LIKED the many personal touches provided by owners the Makepeace family. From the warm welcome and enthusiasm of the staff to the personally signed notes in the hotel rooms, it’s a far cry from the many faceless hotels that are ‘just another place to stay’.

This is more like spending a week in a family home – albeit a very nice one with great facilities like a heated saltwater pool and a pampering spa – where your hosts provide plenty of delicious treats.

Families are free to feel utterly at ease as, although everything is extremely well executed, there’s nothing overthe- top or intimidating about either the food or decor.

In addition to its sweeping views across the cove, the finedining- meets-family-friendly two AA rosette restaurant offers superb local bounty such as Salcombe seafood, Creedy Carver duckling and West Country cheeses.

Head chef Ian MacDonald crafts this produce into satisfyingly nourishing dishes such as a starter of heritage beets, honeyed figs, walnuts and whipped goat’s cheese, and a deliciously plump slow-cooked ox cheek that’s so unctuous it falls apart under the knife.

Insider's tip

Curl up in the lounge, drink in the view and scoff a cream tea.

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