Located in a beautiful rural hillside setting with direct access to a stunning private sandy cove, Soar Mill Cove is a luxury dog friendly hotel in Devon. Hand-picked by StyleTails for our Luxe Pet Guide – it is also the perfect pooch-friendly place for some serious pampering, foodie delights and of course plenty of dog walks – as Caroline Cullern and her two dogs Kipper and Rudi recently discovered.
Soar Mill Cove is tucked away in an absolutely stunning part of the Devonshire countryside – with winding country lanes leading visitors into the serene sanctuary in which the hotel sits. Nestled above a beautiful small sandy cove, and surrounded by rolling hills speckled with grazing sheep, our eyes were drawn to the stunning view rather than the hotel upon arrival – and the dogs couldn’t wait to get onto the beach to stretch their legs after the long car journey.
The hotel itself has been built sympathetically to blend into the surrounding beauty, rather than detract from it, with all buildings being single-storey and clad in wood and stone. The main building houses the restaurant, bar, café, lounge and some of the bedrooms – all of which make the most of the gorgeous view with floor to ceiling windows and an outside deck.
Upon arrival we were given a warm waggy welcome from Farley and Daisy – the hotel’s resident super friendly Labradors – which made us feel instantly at ease visiting with our two excitable pooches. The décor is lovely and modern, though feels completely dog-friendly. Even though the hotel is fairly small, it is extremely well-equipped for a relaxing stay, with a lovely warm salt water pool, gym and spa offering a variety of beauty treatments. Dogs are allowed to be left in the room unattended, so a swim in the pool was a lovely way to unwind after a day of dog walking along the nearby coastal paths.
Whilst the hotel itself is a pooch haven, the setting made it one of the best dog-friendly breaks we have been on. A pathway from the hotel led us across the rolling hills, down to the pretty cove below – where Kipper and Rudi had a blast tearing across the sand and exploring in the rock pools and small caves that surround the cove. The beach isn’t completely private to hotel guests and is situated along part of one of the coastal walking trails, however, whenever we were there was either completely deserted or just a couple of other doggy pals for them to play with.
We were situated in the main building in a lovely sea view room – complete with its own terrace (not enclosed), sun loungers and chairs for enjoying the view and sunshine. It was great being able to walk directly into the hotel grounds with the dogs, or back straight into the room after a trip to the beach, rather than trudging the pooches through the hotel. There is even an outside doggy shower in case of sandy paws, which is heated (essential for our two pampered hounds).
The room was modern and well-equipped with a soothing nautical feel to it. All rooms come complete with TV, DVD player, Wi-Fi and a wide range of books, board games, super soft beds, Molten Brown products and of course, a welcome gift of dog treats from Labradors Farley and Daisy, which Kipper and Rudi polished off as soon as we arrived! Our modern en-suite bathroom had a gloriously deep bath and shower to wash the saltwater off our sandy toes from a day at the nearby beach.
PET FRIENDLY PERKS
Kipper and Rudi were given a waggy welcome from Labradors Farley and Daisy and dogs are allowed to stay in all of the rooms, as well as the three self-catering cottages. Dogs are charged at £10 per dog, per night, with a maximum of two dogs per room. Whilst dogs cannot roam everywhere within the hotel, Soar Mill Cove prides itself on allowing dogs into canine comfortable areas specially designated around the hotel. Dog-friendly areas included all guest bedrooms, coffee shop and bar area, as well as all hotel gardens. We left Kipper and Rudi in the room while we dined, but the hotel staff were super-accommodating and if you should wish to dine with your dog the coffee shop is just off the main restaurant so you can sit in there, or you could sit through in the bar area. The beach at Soar Mill Cove is dog friendly all year round, and there is a warm outdoor shower for cleaning off mucky pups.
FOOD & DRINK
The hotel prides itself on its culinary creations, with chef Ian MacDonald’s utilising the best in locally-sourced produce and serving it up in the stunning dining room with panoramic views over the surrounding countryside and cove – it was easy to see why Soar Mill Cove have been awarded 2 AA Rosettes for their restaurant. Our trip included breakfast and dinner on both nights, as well as a traditional Devon cream tea.
We opted to dine in the restaurant for breakfast and dinner, though they do offer room service. Breakfast was a lovely mixture of fresh fruit, cereals, juices and yoghurts to help yourself to on the buffet table, as well as freshly baked croissants, toast and a good selection of hot dishes, including omelettes cooked to order, poached eggs, cooked breakfasts and smoked salmon – all of which we sampled during our stay, washed down with lashings of freshly brewed coffee. The breakfasts were delicious and everything was cooked to perfection and enjoyed gazing out at the view.
Dinners were a slightly more formal affair, though again served in the main restaurant with the stunning views beyond. The hotel requests that you let them know earlier in the day what you would like for the evening meal to help them prepare, which we were more than happy to do, though of course if you prefer you are more than welcome to order at the table. The seasonal menu uses locally-sourced produce, and we thoroughly enjoyed the variety of dishes we ate, such as the ham hock terrine, handpicked white crab meat with cucumber veloute, West Country rib eye steak and triple cooked chips, seabass, sticky toffee pudding and a cheese board with locally-produced cheeses. There wasn’t one dish that we didn’t enjoy and that wasn’t beautifully presented, while the hotel staff were extremely efficient and friendly. Being tucked out of the way we had hoped that the food would be good as there is little other choice in the local area for eating, and the hotel certainly didn’t disappoint!
If you are heading out on a long walk along the coastal path or a day at the beach, the hotel will also provide you with a takeaway picnic stuffed with goodies like handpicked crab sandwiches. Or like us, wait until you get back and enjoy a delicious Devon cream tea in the lounge!
WHAT TO BRING
Pack your dog’s favourite bed, bowl and their food – as well as a towel in case you want to dry them off after a trip to the beach. The hotel will happily store any of your dog’s food in their fridge if you need them to. We also packed a large cover to throw on the bed in case our naughty pooches decided to take a snooze on it while we were out of sight!
WHEN TO GO
It was surprisingly sunny when we visited Soar Mill Cove and the warm weather certainly meant that we could make the most of our terrace and the beach! There is also a lawned tennis court for the summer months. Though with a gym, indoor heated pool and spa, there would still be plenty to do in the winter months after taking a long walk along the coastal path.
KIPPER’S AND RUDI’S VERDICT
“Seriously, when do we move in?! This place was the best! We loved having our very own beach to run around and explore on every day and we even got to sunbathe on our own terrace. Farley and Daisy were like our new best friends; they are two lucky pooches being able to live here year-round!”
PRICES & BOOKING
Double rooms at Soar Mill Cove start at around £175 for a weekday stay in a sea view double room, dogs are charged at a supplement of £10 per dog, per night. To book visit http://soarmillcove.co.uk or call 01548 561 566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org