*This review is not sponsored*
Where is it?
Dartmouth is a charming estuary town in South Devon filled with colourful houses, sailing boats and a variety of independent shops.
Dart Marina Hotel is situated right on the estuary of the River Dart and offers guests picturesque views of the harbour. It’s fair to say that this hotel tends to attract the ‘second home crowd’ – if you catch my drift – but that being said, it’s a truly stunning place in a great location and is guaranteed to appeal to anyone who enjoys life’s little luxuries.
Who to go with
There’s something about Dart Marina that oozes class and makes me think that it’s the perfect location for couples who are looking to enjoy a relaxing waterside stay. However, as a 24-year-old woman travelling on her own, I didn’t let this put me off. I stayed in one of the smaller bedrooms that they have to offer and I thought it was ideally sized for a solo traveller.
As I said, I was staying in one of the hotels’ smaller rooms and I was lucky enough to have a fabulous view of the estuary and harbour. I absolutely loved the decor of my bedroom, which was contemporary-yet-classic. The colour scheme was one of many shades of beige and cream, along with the occasional green accent on the pillows.
My room contained a writing desk, a mini bar, a modestly sized bathroom (with bathtub) and plenty of wardrobe space. Dart Marina doesn’t miss a beat and they even offer their guests binoculars to keep abreast of what’s happening across the harbour. However, I must confess that I used these to spy on ferry passengers and to watch as the local steam train occasionally made it’s way along the opposite shore..
Sadly, it was a little too chilly to make the most of the room’s balcony; but I have no doubt that during the height of summer this hotel really comes into it’s own.
Among the leisure activities at Dart Marina, there’s a health spa which offers holistic treatments and an indoor heated swimming pool. In hindsight, I wish I’d tried these facilities, but I spent the vast majority of my time at Dart Marina in the comfort of my room, typing away at the writing desk or soaking in the bathtub.
For foodies, the hotel also offers an afternoon tea which looks spectacular but will set you back £59pp.
Where to Eat
The hotel has its own restaurant, which prides itself on ‘an exemplary’ standard of cuisine and offers dishes comprised of locally sourced ingredients. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to sample any of these dishes as I didn’t really feel like sitting and eating alone in the restaurant (something which I’m far more confident doing now).
Instead, there are plenty of restaurants in the town to enjoy, such as the brilliant Rockfish and The Seahorse Restaurant.
What to do nearby
The weather wasn’t too great during my visit and a thin grey drizzle seemed to hang about the air. But I didn’t let this damped my mood and in spite of the rain I took a stroll around the town to discover what sort of shops and cafes Dartmouth has to offer.
There are dozens of colourful little galleries and arty gift shops in the town. These seem to be fairly characteristic of Devon per se and I love to check out the work of local artists and browse walls of handmade jewellery and postcards. Many of the streets in the town are narrow and contain unique period features such as Elizabethan style facades – which I personally love. There was something about the town’s winding lanes and picturesque buildings that made me feel a little but like I was stepping into the pages of a storybook. Speaking of which, one of my absolute favourite things about Dartmouth was the abundance of independent book shops! I must have spent a full hour reading the blurbs of hardbacks in one little bookshop on Foss Street as I stayed inside to escape the rain (and purchase one, of course).
I thoroughly recommend visiting Dartmouth Food Festival, if you ever get the chance. The local foodie scene is strong and there’s plenty to see and do during that weekend. I also recommend just taking the time to stroll along the harbour and do a spot of seagull watching. There’s something incredibly peaceful about watching sailing boats bob on the water – even in the rain.
What’s the damage?
A stay at Dart Marina will cost around £180/night for a room like mine. Alternatively, they offer beautiful apartments from £300/night.
I wouldn’t think twice about staying at Dart Marina again and i’m already planning a return trip. The hotel feels luxurious-yet-unpretentious and the town of Dartmouth is charming. I remember reading Bill Bryson’s damning assessment of the town in his guide to Britain, in which he blasted Dartmouth for having seemingly little character. However, this is not the town that I discovered on my visit. Perhaps I may have been under the liberating spell of solo travel, but I left my trip feeling invigorated by the fresh estuary air and with a new found desire to explore more of the quaint little towns that the West Country has to offer.