The Devon Experience, second to none
December 11, 2018
What a contradiction it is, the refined sophistication of Burgh Island Hotel and the wild, stormy winter sea. Burgh Island Hotel is a complete resort and a ‘must’ whether it’s Summer or Winter, something to add to your bucket list.
Burgh Island Hotel is an iconic Devon landmark on its own tidal island and surrounded by golden beaches and silver seas. Built in 1929 extended in 1932 and now restored to its former 1920’s glamour, step back in time for a retreat like no other.
Getting to the hotel is an adventure in itself. You may be lucky enough to take a ride on the third generation hydraulic Sea Tractor, the only one in the world. Designed in 1969 by Robert Jackson CBE (a pioneer of the nuclear power station programme in the ‘50s) in exchange for a case of champagne and costing £9,000 to build, the Sea Tractor is an historic icon. Recently renovated to her freshly minted state, she is the best way to arrive through the surf to Burgh Island. It’s a strange looking contraption, but the only practical way to arrive at the hotel, depending on the tide, but make no mistake, it’s fun and provides a superb photo opportunity for the hotel and coastline.
We stayed in The Beach House, as we had our Cockerpoo with us and rightly so the hotel is out of bounds for the four legged variety.
The Beach House is in prime position, overlooking the sea, and the tide comes in and goes out, providing that unparalleled mesmeric audio, all day and all night, it will draw you in and send you into a trance like state, if you allow it. Reading on the Beach House balcony was possibly the most relaxed I have been all year, watching the waves lap fiercely against the cliff face.
The Beach House, home to Agatha Christie during her prolific creative years, sleeps four. It may not be quite as luxurious as the hotel rooms and suites, but it is a far more practical option for a family, and the views are to die for and more than make up for that. It has a great little kitchen and dining area and is more than adequate for any length of stay. The bath is in the main bedroom area, and there is a separate shower room. Upstairs in the attic area there are two full size single beds, children would love it up there, it’s cosy, like a little den, fun away from the grownups.
We enjoyed two nights here and loved dining in The Ganges Room, a casual dining experience, the food locally sourced was exceptional and the waiting staff amazing, friendly, cheerful and helpful.
We also dined in The Ball Room, a forties style Art Deco sophisticated and extremely chic affair, black tie and evening dress are required here, and this creates the most chic atmosphere. The menu is the same as the The Ganges Room, this restaurant is just very very dressy, you could never feel overdressed here, it is an ode to the far more glamorous days of a bygone era and features a nightly pianist. The cuisine in Both restaurants is simply outstanding, delicious, with delicate flavours and artistic presentation.
The hotel is reminiscent of the 20’s, Art Deco in style, with fabulous original artworks, artefacts and photos adorning the walls and you will be transported back in time as you listen to the quietly piped music of that same era.
While we were in here we built up a huge appetite every day with long blustery beach walks and returned to our beautiful house famished and ready to indulge in a Devon Cream Tea. But on one afternoon I felt the need for a massage, walking on wet sand is tough on the thighs when you’re not used to it, so I booked a Hot Stone Massage with the resident masseur, who doubles as a waiter. Tomas, softly spoken Hungarian, gave me the best massage I have ever, ever had, I highly recommend you spend an hour in his capable hands, he will revive you, I promise.
We were also lucky enough to also be invited for lunch at The Harbour Hotel Salcombe, just a scenic 30 minute drive away, a newly refurbished seafront, modern hotel comprising of 50 rooms and suites, a stunning well located hotel, with the best personal service Devon has to offer. We lunched in The Jetty, overlooking the sea, watching the sail boats coming and going, feeling quite envious of the locals, such a special seaside town, featuring dozens of gorgeous seaside orientated boutiques, bars, tea rooms, bars, hotels and galleries.
The Jetty had an exciting menu, it was a tough call, crab, mussels, steak, burgers, prawns, what to choose? I decided on two starters, mussels and tempura prawns, nice and light, but of course I did have a little bread to dip into the butter, garlic and parsley sauce of the mussels. The prawns were soft, fleshy and fresh, lovingly enveloped in tempura and the mussels looked like they were on steroids, plump and of course locally sourced from just down the coast in Brixham. My other half decided on the more traditional Devon Fish and Chips, in a light batter, delicious and succulent. The Jetty is light and airy, with beautiful glassware and cutlery, the waiting staff here, as in The Burgh, were highly skilled, attentive and welcoming.
We returned to our Beach House to catch up with a little work, but it has to be said the peace and solitude of the island is a magnet for those of us that feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. I feel we may return for another relaxing stay in the New Year and of course we will bring our dog again, he loved the beach and the island, which I nick named Watership Down due to the huge number of rabbits teasing my dog, but alas he could not be let off the lead or he would have ended up running over the cliff edge. The island itself is surrounded by raging seas and rugged cliffs, and is a superb way to start the day, a walk around the whole island took just 20 minutes, but boy did it blow away the cobwebs each morning before breakfast.