Hotel South Brent England
8 / 10
In a hidden corner of the South Hams; this is heaven for walkers. Head north along a mile of empty beach, or south to Hallsands — the ruins of a fishing village swept away by a storm in 1917 — and on to the lighthouse at Start Point, roughly three miles (five kilometres) each way. The Kingsbridge Estuary (for the ferry to Salcombe), Slapton Ley Nature Reserve, beautiful Blackpool Sands and Dartmouth are all within half hour's drive. There’s a mainline station at Totnes (16 miles/26 km away) but don’t even think about getting here without a car.
Style & character
7 / 10
A traditional fishermen’s inn, first opened in 1867. Here in the 21st century, it has developed something of a split personality as it gamely juggles cricket references with a nautical-themed décor. It's mostly a restaurant with rooms, and manages to retain it’s local-pub roots, thanks to ebullient host, Nigel Heath and his wife Rachel.
Service & facilities
No frills, just the bar and the restaurant. But the views are special, the beach is the main attraction, and in fine weather double doors open onto a terrace of outdoor tables on the promenade. Faultless service from a great little team.
There are seven rooms, all named after cricketers or cricket grounds (Lords, Old Trafford, the Botham Suite), and all but two have sea views. Don’t be put off by the cramped corridors (endless fire doors and a run of old fashioned carpet); a recent makeover has given a fresh New England look to the rooms — clean and simple with creamy décor and dashes of navy, powder blue, checks and seaside stripes, rope lamps and fish-print cushions.
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Painted beds with pocket spring mattresses are dressed with downy quilts and crisp cottons. All rooms have wall mounted TVs (two of them in the Lords family room) and white-tiled walk-in showers. The Oval has the best views thanks to a wide bay window.
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Food & drink
This is what it’s all about: a Devon fry up for breakfast, fresh crab sandwiches or roast beef for lunch, local fish and seafood dishes on a dining menu which has earned the place an AA rosette. Crab, lobster and hand-dived scallops are the house specialities and they come straight from the village fishermen who land their catch right on the beach in front of the inn.
The regular menu features local mussels, crab soup and the Cricket Inn’s fish pie, burgers and rib-eye steaks. Specials might include Beesands scallops (with a garlic and bacon dressing), Plymouth hake (with king prawns and roast pepper) or a tranche of Devon turbot (served with triple-cooked chips).