Review: Lincombe Hall Hotel & Spa
Did someone say adults-only £2 million coastal spa? Torquay's Lincombe Hall Hotel & Spa is speaking Muddy's language! Let's take a closer look, shall we?
What’s missing in this pic? Can you see? Look closer (no, not the capsule wardrobe) but anything else? Yep, you got it, it’s the kids!
We’re off for an adults-only overnighter to Torquay’s lush new luxury hub, Lincombe Hall Hotel & Spa, to check out the new £2million spa. Time to book the baby-sitter and pack the cozzie – we’re going in!
This is your archetypal boutique Georgian villa-hotel, transitioning from a traditional Torquay holiday destination, somewhere you might take your gran for a nice cream tea, into a jaw-dropping spa hotel.
Owners Brett and Jo Powis, Torquay locals and proprietors of two other hotels nearby, have made this a labour of love by bringing in a local interior company to gradually zhush it up over the next few years.
So, it’s out with the beige and standard lamps, and in with an opulent mojito-green bar and brasserie, shimmering with antiqued mirrors, bottles of local Devon gin and a cool cocktail menu.
It’s in with a contemporary city-style spa, with the emphasis on indulgence, rather than health and wellbeing. We’re talking topnotch design, high-end materials, attention to detail and cheeky selfies with your fizz by the pool.
Lockdown closure has hastened completion of the work, but not everywhere’s been done yet, including the 44 bedrooms and restaurant, plus there’s a private 20-seater dining room planned – with work starting after the summer rush in October.
Park up and put away the keys. Turn right out of the hotel and you’re just ten minutes downhill from the best part of town, Torquay’s harbour, with its Sunseeker-filled marina, bars and nightlife. Turn left towards leafy Wellswood and it’s million-pound houses and a shingly beach at Meadfoot, a locals’ fave for a dip or a spot of paddle-boarding.
Like all coastal towns, it’s got its shabby bits but with two big chain hotels opening here, Hampton by Hilton and a Premier Inn, Torquay feels like it’s on the up.
It’s that perfect mix of old and new, retaining all the period-porn charm of high ceilings, detailed cornices and marble fireplaces but with a fun, modern twist created by local interior design company, Ashton House Design, who are a dab hand at contemporary English country calm.
Hence the hats in reception, a playful take on the hallway hatstand? Or a maybe a subliminal invitation to arrive and feel at home, as in ‘wherever I lay my hat…?
The mesmerising bar in the brasserie gleams with textural mirrors and sparkly lights, an echo of the rippling spa you can’t wait to get to.
From the bar, there are two chic lounges, clad in leather and velvet, and shimmering with gold, perfect for your pre-dinner cocktail. Look up to the ceiling and those ceiling ‘fans’ are genuine wooden boat propellors.
Guests were an even mix between young urban couples, some down from the Big Smoke for the weekend, middle-aged couples trying to be urban (me and Mr Muddy) and older.
Covid-wise, we’re all wearing masks when moving about the public area (but not when eating), and they’ve niftily reduced contact time necessity with a pre-check in and a room key you can download onto your phone before you arrive.
Not that the staff don’t want to talk to you, quite the opposite. This is old school, with everyone, from Peter the GM, to the barmen and waiters super-friendly and helpful, with no shortage of colourful characters.
What a beauty! Your one-one-night stay comes with two hours in the spa where you can take a dip in the lap pool or bubble in the hydropool. The sauna, steam rooms and ice room – with its solid wall of ice – are all open and the Himalayan salt room is an optional extra as a treatment.
Because there are never more than fourteen people in at any time, it feels uber-relaxing – and everything is total quality from the serpentine rattan loungers – so comfy! – to the futuristic design.
This is decadent, indulgent spa time – you can call for a poolside drink, there are zero children, and a selfie in the bubbles – with your glass of bubbles – is de rigeur.
I loved the luxe changing rooms, with their GHD and Dyson tech, turquoise leather benches and loads of lockers. I’m sure I’m not the only one taken it by that hand print design in the frosted glass when you walk in the door (am I?).
Ooh, and a gym with a beautiful bespoke wall so you can feel like you’re as fit as the peloton.
There are five treatment rooms, including one for couples. The decor is all shimmery wallpaper, moody blues and mood music, with low lighting adding to the cocooned feel. This 100% pampering territory, nothing clinical here.
My treatment room was called ‘Nirvana’, a pretty accurate summation of what happens during the 90 minutes of their signature Champagne & Truffles facial.
It’s bells and whistles, using what feels like a zillion, delicious spicily-scented Temple Spa products from their anti-aging Truffles range, and finished with – did you guess? – a glass of fizz and chocolate truffles.
Decadent or what? Even better, if you’re off to the spa post-treatment, you get to take it with you poolside (decanted into a plastic glass, of course).
Your 90 minutes of heaven-in-a-heated-blanket starts with a hot stones’ back massage, followed by a really thorough facial, which involves two masks, including a glycolic peel, and one which peels off for you to look afterwards, wrinkles, warts and all. Eery. Plus, your arms, hands and scalp all get in on the massage-action.
Nirvana indeed – my therapist, Jaydee was tres expert, especially for one so young and petite. Cloud nine springs to mind for the souk scents and fluffy unguents. Apparently, they’re inspired by the Mediterranean but if Christmas was a facial, this would be it. At £135 it’s at the pricier end, but what a treat. Or gift perhaps? (I’ll send my address, thank you.)
SCOFF & QUAFF
There are two dining options, including a vegan menu, all included in the cost of this stay. The brasserie serves a set modern menu (think burgers, pad Thai curry), while the restaurant has a more formal three-course menu which changes every three days, so you won’t get bored if you’re staying for a week, although it’s worth knowing there is the Michelin-starred The Elephant within walking distance on the harbour-front if you want to push the, er, boat out.
We were awkward customers – I fancied the Brasserie menu and Mr Muddy the restaurant menu but they’re very accommodating. You can eat the brasserie menu in the restaurant for a small surcharge.
The hubster had ham hock terrine, which he likened to a perfect Brittany lunch with cider, though he wished he had some pickle. He did have the local Sandfords cider though.
I had the grilled vegetable tower, featuring Mediterranean veggies, with melted Somerset Brie and homemade basil pesto to ramp up the flavour.
For mains, Mr Muddy had fresh local Brixham cod filet and triple cut chips, he gave it a safe seven out of ten.
The authentic flavour of my pad Thai curry belied its beige colour, although a few more chillis and herbs wouldn’t have hurt.
If I was to nitpick, I’d say the wine menu could be more comprehensive and while the menu has much to appeal to a younger crowd, the style of cooking isn’t as contemporary as the stunning spa.
For brekkie, Greek yogurt, granola and fresh berries in a glass Weck jar, instead of plastic – a neat touch.
My poached eggs were cooked perfectly, with avo on a slice of granary (although no-one has cut off my crusts since I was six).
And Mr M loved his veggie full English. Given, the hotel had opened the day before our visit and the service was impeccable – slick, fast and smiley.
You’ve got 44 bedrooms to choose from, as well as apartments, ranging from Compact starting at £125 a night to the biggest Signature Rooms from £165.
We stayed in number 16, overlooking the heated outdoor pool and loungers and we loved it.
The bathroom was shiny brand-new and spacious, with Temple Spa products in the shower. The bed was a Superking, so huuuuge I could hardly hear Mr Muddy complaining about my snoring (jokes!). The TV had Netflix, and while the tea and coffee making facilities were fairly standard we hoped they’ll be adding mini-fridges once the rooms get upgraded. It was very comfortable and we even managed a bit of work time, thanks to the sofa and desk, all well laid out.
If you want a new bathroom, ask for Room 14, 15 or 16 – these have all had the Ashton House treatment.
OUT & ABOUT
Don’t miss a walk round the marina, grab a coffee from Ella’s cute Citroen van and gawp at the yachts. For a bird’s eye view of the waves, brave the Ferris wheel or get on board a boat ride to Brixham – or adrenaline seekers might prefer a rib ride. Hop in the car to Cockington Court to see the sculpture garden and craft workshop, or upmarket Dartmouth, with its beautiful riverside, art galleries and cafes is just 11 miles away.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
One those unexpected gems you want to keep to yourself and a total bargain for the luxury and quality of that spa. I’d go back again. And again. And again. Get booking NOW before everyone else gets in on the act.
Good for: an defrazzling escape from the littlies; a coastal retreat but with urban options; romantic date nights; a big birthday or anniversary; bonding time with the mum or your gals; champagne spa selfies to make your mates jealous; afternoon teas – there’s a complimentary sparkling cream tea with your name on it if you stay before 30th September 2021. Spa days are also on the menu, a morning or afternoon spa costs £95.
Not for: children or dogs, although the hotel will accept children over 12 as your guests if you want friends to visit you during your stay, provided they’re accompanied by adults. Weddings or hen nights, so you can sure your chilled getaway won’t be spoiled by big drunken gaggles.
The damage: Dinner bed and breakfast for two in a Signature Room cost £300, including two-hours in the spa. The Champagne & Truffles facial is £135. Between June and September it’s two-night minimum stay.
Lincombe Hall Hotel & Spa, Meadfoot Rd, Torquay TQ1 2JX. Tel: 01803 213361