There is something special about heading somewhere new as a family with no real plans other than to unwind, relax and enjoy each others company. This is exactly what we did just before Christmas when we were kindly invited to stay at the Langstone Cliff Hotel in Devon.
With no plans and places we had to be, we headed off on our journey, a long but an easy one. The Langstone Cliff Hotel is in the village of Dawlish Warren and a 3 hour and 45-minute car journey from our home here in Essex.
Arriving at the hotel it was all lit up with Christmas lights both outside and in, with lights and decorations all around the front and sides of the hotel and the big tree in the car park even decorated. This immediately put us in the Christmas spirit and the children were very excited seeing all the decorations inside, every part of the hotel was decorated for Christmas in a beautiful and subtle manner, nothing overbearing or tacky.
For our stay we were in one of the large family rooms, this consisted of a large bedroom with a kingsized bed and two full sized singles. There was also a dressing table/desk unit and stool, as well as a table and 2 chairs, a large wardrobe which was big enough for all our clothes, cases, coats and shoes and for the kids to play hide and seek in.
The bathroom was also a nice size with a bathtub and over bath shower and all the essential toiletries we all welcome in hotels.
The room was tucked away in a quiet corridor with stair and lift access to it, with a lovely garden view overlooking the outdoor pool and children’s playground.
After some bed jumping – why do kids feel they absolutely have to do this on any new bed they sleep on? and the usual argument of “But I want to sleep closest to Mummy”, we went off to explore before dinner.
The first thing the kids wanted to find was the pool, this was a lovely size with a separate baby pool, its own changing rooms and seats around for spectators, it was also very warm which was a very welcomed surprise and certainly needed as it was December after all and freezing outside. I would like to see toilets added to the changing rooms however as there weren’t any only a shower, baby changing facilities and lockers. There are toilets at this end of the hotel but you have to leave the pool area and head up the corridor which isn’t ideal if you are wet from swimming, you then need to reenter the code to get back into the pool, and if you are swimming alone with children it poses lots of other issues of getting them out and wrapped up to go with you – I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable letting them stay in the pool if I needed to go to the loo.
After a swim the children went to play in the playroom, this is a decent sized room geared for younger toddlers and babies, of course, it didn’t stop the kids playing with all the Teddies, in the soft play area and making up their own games and playing on the ride-on toys.
There are lots of areas in the hotel where you can sit comfortably to relax, read or even watch cartoons. A snug/library with a TV, board games and lots of books you can borrow. You are also able to sit in here to have a spot of lunch quietly which we did do one afternoon, it meant the children could watch TV while their jacket potatoes and hot chocolate cooled down and we could eat our lunch in peace, chat and read our books.
There are also games rooms in the hotel, one room which turned out to be the children’s favourite housing a table tennis table and another was a snooker room for adults only. We all played table tennis every day, at least twice a day and with some practice, the kid’s were becoming much better and could actually get a short rally going.
Outside there is an outdoor pool, of course, it was closed off being Winter but I can imagine in the summer it would be great to sit around catching a few rays while the kids swam. There is also a tennis court and a kids play area which kept the children entertained greatly – before we headed in to grab a hot chocolate to warm up.
The staff go above and beyond to make the children feel comfortable and happy here, and an added touch was hiding the Elf on the Shelf around the hotel for the kids to find. Once found they could take him back to the reception to exchange for a free hot drinks token which they absolutely loved, even if it did cause a few arguments.
There is a children’s high tea option available to book for those who prefer to eat early, we didn’t book this as they are more than happy to eat with us a little later. We stayed for two nights, one night dining in the restaurant and the other in the buffet-style restaurant where breakfasts are also served.
Our first evening meal was in the small restaurant where you are treated to a 5-course meal, we could only manage 3 courses as sitting for any longer with the children just isn’t possible sadly. There is no children’s menu available and they order from the set menu but there was more than enough on that that the children would eat and it did make them feel more grown up to have the same meals as us, with Harry ordering a prawn cocktail and Emmy Melon. For mains Emmy choose the chicken breast and Harry had mushroom stroganoff, now if there was a children’s menu they certainly wouldn’t have chosen those choices but they actually prefer these and ate it all (something they don’t do with nuggets, fish fingers or other standard kids choices). The evening meals on both evenings were 5 courses and these cost £25 per head.
The food and the service were amazing, glasses filled as soon as they were empty and the next course arriving very promptly, and it was all delicious.
The second evening we ate buffet style which meant we could self-serve our meals adding which vegetables and sides we all wanted. The children always enjoy this although do have a tendency to overfill their plates. The food was also very tasty but we did prefer the luxury of table service in the other restaurant.
Breakfast is also a buffet style in this restaurant with everything from a full English, continental choice to fresh fruit and cereal. It was always very well stocked and the food hot and very tasty too.
There is also a treatment room for massages, facials etc and onsite hairdressers which as it was my birthday when we stay, I booked into and Paul paid for my haircut – I was amazed at the price difference for a haircut compared to at home with my cut costing less than £15.
The hotel itself is a short walk away from the beach and amusement arcades, there are also a few pubs nearby, cafes and small local mini market type places to grab food, souvenirs or even to head to for lunch/dinner should you not want to eat at the hotel. As we visited in the winter it was closed season so all the arcades/rides etc were closed but we did enjoy a lovely long walk in the fresh air while the kids ran around blowing away the cobwebs and taking in the sea air.
We would certainly love to visit again in open season and plan to head back to the hotel again as it was so nice and relaxed.
Disclaimer: We were invited as guests of the hotel for two nights, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.