A Night in Dartmouth

A few weeks ago I found myself in Dartmouth visiting the renowned food festival. My home for the night was the Dart Marina Spa and Hotel. Situated right on the banks of the River Dart it is in a perfect position so you can explore.

I arrived just after lunch and was warmly welcomed by reception who talked me through the hotel and spa’s facilities. The usual information was provided; breakfast served between 8am and 10am and the pool from 7.30am and 7pm. I had packed my bikini so was eager to try out the spa. So after depositing my overnight bag in my rather lovely room I headed down to the pool. A few lengths done, a blast in the jacuzzi and a steam in the steam room I felt revived and ready for a little exploration.

I made my way into town along the river taking in the wonderful views as I went. The walk from the hotel to the harbour is no more than 10 minutes so you feel part of the throng without being directly in it. After a mooch around the pretty town, taking in all of the sights, I decided it was time to make my return to the hotel.

I wanted to freshen up before finding somewhere to dine that evening. A power shower and a bit of a pamper using all the wonderful Elemis products in the bathroom made me feel like a new woman. I was ready for an aperitif and the hotel bar with its panoramic views was calling me. A wonderful array of wines were on offer including a fine selection of local wines. Unfortunately none available by the glass so I settled for a rather nice Chenin blanc.

So, here’s a little bit of hotel history for you. The owner, Richard Seton acquired the hotel in 1994 and some twenty years later, the hotel has had a multi-million pound’s refurbishment. In 2013 the elegant River Restaurant was created which has been cleverly designed to ensure that all tables have a panoramic view of the River Dart. In April 2015, thirteen stunning new Deluxe Rooms and three luxurious Junior Suites were added which has taken the hotel to a new level of style and luxury.

After a drink in the hotel bar made my way back into town to see what nightlife was on offer. It was the night before the food festival so there were plenty of people milling about. Most bars and restaurants were full and buzzing. I found myself in a little pub called The Cherub. Obviously a locals watering hole with no airs and graces but I found it rather endearing. I overheard a local tell another that the pub was the oldest building in Dartmouth. I was standing amongst the history of the town so I decided to stay for supper. I wasn’t expecting much in terms of haut cuisine but the menu looked ok and just what I needed. I knew that the following day I would be right in the thick of Devon’s best producers at the food festival so wasn’t worried that I would be dissapointed. I ordered whitebait to start and hake with vegetables as my main course. The whitebait was very nice as was the hake although the veg was over cooked. I sat and listened to the locals as I ate before winding my merry way back to the hotel.

A sound nights sleep in my gorgeous bed left me raring to go in the morning. I love hotel breakfasts (or any breakfast for that matter) and couldn’t wait to see what was on offer. I made my way downstairs to the River Restaurant where I spied a table by the window so I could take advantage of the panoramic view of the River Dart and surroundings. Tea ordered it was time to peruse the cooked breakfast menu. I eventually decided on the poached smoked haddock and poached egg with some mixed toast. I wanted something that I would never cook for myself at home and this fitted the bill. Beautifully fresh ‘off the boat’ fish poached to perfection in milk which was presented to me with a perfectly poached egg perched precariously on the top. I cut into it and the yolk oozed down over the fish and onto my plate. I knew from this point that I was going to have a top notch breakfast.

Toast and marmalade followed along with Greek yogurt and various fresh and stewed fruits. I was in breakfasting heaven. On top of all this I got to enjoy my breakfast gazing out at the busy River Dart. I could have asked for nothing more.

I felt completely set up for the day and ready to take on the challenges of the Dartmouth Food Festival on a full stomach. Probably not the best idea but at least most of my purchases made it home with me instead of getting consumed on the spot!

I can’t thank the Dart Marina enough for being the perfect place for me to stay. Wonderfully attentive staff, locally sourced food, wine and beers plus having the option to go for a swim or jacuzzi was definitely a winner. I also love the fact that this hotel is totally independent which makes it a one off and in my eyes that makes it a very special place indeed. I have already started planning my next visit to the beautiful and charming Dartmouth and just hope there is a room free for me at the Dart Marina Spa and Hotel when I book.

I think the next time I visit I will definitely being staying for supper too. I mean, who can resist a cheesecake when it looks as wonderful as this?

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