Review: Beyond Escapes
Muddy discovers affordable luxury in South Devon. Booked your next break away yet? Just saying.
There’s no shortage of self-catering options in Devon, since we’re obviously in such a desirable part of the world (smug? us?!); but weeding out the really good ones among the more ‘meh’ offerings is all part of the Muddy mantra – and we take the responsibility very seriously indeed, especially when there’s a hot tub involved. Tell friends, family and anyone else visiting about Beyond Escapes; in fact, this one’s worth knowing about even if you live just down the road. Well, we all benefit from a change of scene once in a while, don’t we?
This is self-catering made easy, with oodles of options, depending on who’s coming and why. Beyond Escapes came shimmying onto the scene in 2017, offering guests a restorative and relaxing break, with a choice of lodges (many with hot tubs), deluxe apartments and mansion suites, all in an easy navigable complex. Lodges are contemporary and cosy, whilst suites are located in a more characterful building, just across from a luxury spa and restaurant, which is geared up to take on breakfast, lunch and dinner if you’d rather swerve the kitchen (I wouldn’t blame you).
Down a country lane, outside a village, it feels remote here and yet it really isn’t. Located about 5 minutes outside Totnes, just near the village of Berry Pomeroy and close to Paignton, you’re fully armed with plenty of options for exploring. If you’re driving from outside the county, it’s pretty easy to get to, since Totnes is about 10 minutes from the A38 and has a mainline station, connecting you to Paddington. Taking the train, you’re around 3 hours from London…or shall we say 3 hours from being in a hot tub with a glass of something nice.
Although we didn’t manage to sneak a peak at the mansion house, there’s a sense of uniformity about the lodges, spa and restaurant. It’s modern and relaxed, with calming colour schemes, designed to blend into the location. You can wander in to the restaurant at all times of day, for good coffee, afternoon tea, or something more substantial and the staff, everywhere, are super-friendly. In fact, we really liked the informal can-do tone of both the people who work there and the literature in your lodge, which sounds odd, but it’s nice to read do’s and don’ts and local recommendations that have been thoughtfully written, instead of blandly. There’s a real sense of determination to go the extra mile, which is always a winner, isn’t it?
You have lots of options, which makes it all the more appealing. If you’re travelling in a group, grab a larger lodge, or take a few next to each other. If you’re coming for a naughty weekend, you might want the character of a mansion house suite. If you need baby or dog-friendly, or accessible, you’re covered on all fronts.
We stayed in a 2-bedroom BE Lux Lodge with hot tub, which had a lovely secluded feel about it, despite being less than a minutes’ walk from the main hub. You get your own parking space outside, plus extra parking available down by the restaurant. And you have a lovely patio outside surrounded by trees, for lazing with a book or a session in the hot tub.
Inside is an open plan layout downstairs, while upstairs both rooms have en-suites, one with a bath tub.
Beds are super-comfy and little luxuries like bathrobes and slippers are provided, for all that padding outside to the bubbles. There’s underfloor heating and it can get very cosy, which I imagine makes for a lovely winter stay. In the warmer months, you’ll be throwing open the windows!
You can expect wifi, Sky Sports channels, plus some games in your lodge to entertain you on rainier days. And if that doesn’t grab you, well, you can always do this…
SCOFF & QUAFF
If you want to remain true to the self-catering ethos, then you’ll be pleased with your kitchen, which comes fully gadgeted up with all you’ll need. The open plan layout of the lodges means that you can still be sociable while you cook, too. But if, like us, you’re tempted away from cooking, you can make use of the restaurant’s pizza takeaway service, or head on over to dine out.
The restaurant is nicely situated, with a decking area, looking out across countryside towards Torbay’s sea views in the distance.
We managed all three meals of the day here and, I have to say, the food was really impressive. There’s an appealing menu focusing on traditional favourites, along with specials, healthy options and a decent children’s menu, too.
A special shout-out to chef’s award-winning brownie. Seriously, don’t plan a session in the spa after devouring that one!
Most definitely. For tots, you can opt for a BE Baby Lodge, which still comes with the luxuries, but is fully geared up for small people. The list of extras included will dramatically cut down on your packing, with everything from blenders to blackout blinds, sterilisers to safety gates.
In the restaurant, there’s a children’s menu and, as a really nice touch, when you check in, kids can borrow a complimentary den kit, encouraging them to make the most of being out in the sticks and have a go at channelling their inner Ray Mears. The Mudlet was thoroughly spoilt by the staff and we felt it was a nice, safe space to roam relatively free. As parents, you sometimes wonder if a short break is more hassle than its worth; this was easy.
If the baby in your life is a furry one, then you’ll be pleased to hear that pooches are welcome, too. Just book a BE Furry-friendly Lodge, which is kitted out with pet beds, toys, bowls, leads and poo bags.
The spa and gym is compact but nicely formed and is clearly popular with day visitors, coming for afternoon tea and a pamper (note to self, must book with the girls). There’s a vitality pool on the terrace and heated loungers, along with a treatment menu, offering both Elemis and Ishga facials and massages, plus all the other usual suspects you’d want to see at a beauty salon. I had a superb back, neck and shoulder massage in the early evening, sending me back to my lodge blissed out and ready for bed.
OUT AND ABOUT
Where to even begin? You want shops and culture? Head for Totnes, full of gorgeous independents and lovely cafes, or spend an hour or two exploring the shops at Dartington. You want history? The (apparently super-haunted) imposing Berry Pomeroy Castle is moments away, whilst a little further afield is Greenway, Agatha Christie’s former home, now a fascinating National Trust property overlooking the River Dart. Fancy an afternoon wandering a vineyard? Sharpham is a must-visit (ditch the car). Need bucket and spade fun? Head for the sandy shores of Torbay in one direction, or the sophisticated seaside town of Dartmouth in the other. It’s a prime spot that Beyond Escapes has snaffled, so make the most of it.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: The major plus is that this is actually a good option for everyone; families, couples and groups will all love it here for different reasons and it’ll appeal to spa lovers, walkers and those looking to get out and explore.
Not for: It’s worth knowing that, while you very much have your own space, lodges are quite close to each other and so you don’t necessarily feel in total seclusion. The close proximity to other lodges also means that you may pick up a little bit of noise, particularly if you’re near another lodge with a hot tub. That said, we didn’t really encounter too much and they’re very much on top of it, with polite reminders highlighted to guests in the handbook.
££: Looking at the prices, we thought it was all really good value for money, from the cost of short breaks, to the restaurant fare and even the spa treatments. You definitely get your moneys worth here. To give you an idea, 3 nights’ self-catered accommodation in a lodge, sleeping six in two bedrooms, with hot tub, arriving 2 Nov 2018 costs £337. See what I mean?
Fancy it? To book a break call: 03301 274300, or visit beyondescapes.co.uk