Suhasini, Gaurav and Devangana went to England in the summer of 2015 and ventured beyond London. Here is their tale in the words of Suhasini.
As a family, London is one of our favourite cities to visit. We love the vibe, the energy, the museums, Eton-mess, black cabs, the parks, Pimms, … yet with so much to do and see in London, one is always looking for that little something different to do ! (Excuse us for promoting our own tagline, honestly, it was absolutely intentional!!)
A three-hour train journey from London’s Paddington Station takes you to this little countryside station called Totnes. A further 30 minutes picturesque drive through rolling meadows, will get you to an absolute gem, Salcombe.
Southwest from London and almost at the southern tip of United Kingdom, in Devon, is the quintessentially English, and a sweet little coastal town of Salcombe. On a very rainy day, we drove into our hotel, Salcombe Harbour Hotel. The lobby resembled someone’s private beach house, with a warm fireplace, huge cushioned sofas, a nautical themed décor, fishing nets etc.
We were checked into the Estuary facing rooms with a balcony and even on a rainy, cloudy and dull day, it was wowwwww, a breathtaking view.
The room was very fresh and very spacious, with gorgeous views and a roomy balcony. But what was most impressive was the thought behind some of the little things like the blanket to sit out comfortably in the balcony, the binoculars to admire the view, the free sherry and gin.
They have a restaurant, which is apparently very popular with people visiting, and well-known for its seafood (but vegetarians may have to struggle, like I did), a cozy little movie theatre – complete with a popcorn machine, banquet rooms (very popular with offsite conferences and weddings), a ESPA powered spa and an indoor spa pool.
The town itself is quaint with an amazing number of outstanding shops selling clothes, home ware, antiques and the Salcombe-special dairy ice-cream. It’s a lovely walk through the town, passing the pier, shops, pubs and the restaurants. One can take a motorboat ride across the estuary to reach the small sandy beaches too.
We bid adieu to Salcombe, on a revolving car park, a bit James Bond style!! What say??
Next we drove up north, west of London, to a little village called Dogmersfield (In Hampshire, inspiration for Jane Austen’s classics). Sitting on 500 acres of rolling hills, ponds, gardens, some cattle, is a treasure called the Four Seasons at Hampshire.
Albeit, our longgggg list of things that impressed us, from our very Georgian-era-type luxurious room to the room numbers displayed in Braille, from the gorgeous countryside landscaping to the state-of-the-art Spa, the warmest welcome ever, the Clay-pigeon shooting experience, the fabulous Equestrian Centre, the bike rides, and all the other outdoor activities like fishing, falconry, picnics by the ponds, , the one things that melted my daughter’s heart was “Oliver Beckington”, the resident black Labrador. I am sure poor Oliver must truly have heaved a breath of relief to see the obsessed (and slightly possessed) Indians leave!!
The breakfast menu was a bit limited for me as a vegetarian, but the servers were quick to notice that and offered me a few alternatives. There is a lovely Asian-inspired restaurant open for lunch and the main restaurant, Seasons, has an extensive menu to suit all palates. While my husband gorged on “Cornish Lamb”, and I had a yummilicious (just couldn’t find a more appropriate/proper word) “Organic Risotto” and my daughter was super excited with her 4 paged kids menu!!
While we had enough to do on the property itself, as regards activities and dining, for a two night stay, yet I think that a trip to Hampshire isn’t complete without visiting the neighbouring villages of Hartley Wintney and Odiham, and Jane Austen’s Museum in Chawton.
While Oliver was probably relieved to see us go, we on the other hand were hoping we had planned to stay here for a few more days. Well, yearning to go back to a destination is always a good sign!