Well, it’s 2021 and it’s the year of STAYCATIONS! With the pandemic getting under control and more people getting vaccinated, life can somewhat get back to normal. So as predicted in my blog last year, 2021 was going to be all about staycations, with extended family members and visiting parts of the UK, that have been unexplored.
Being a Travel Agent means that I get to spend most of time looking at trips locally and aboard, so when I came across as great deal, I could not resist but to snap it up and get the family packing!
However, this year was slightly different, my parents decided that they wanted to join us and so did my brother and I knew my little boy would love spending time with them for a few days, so I booked 4 nights in Devon, and away we went! Paignton to be accurate…close to Torbay to be even more precise. Why Devon, I hear you say? Well, I have had many clients requesting to book accommodation in Torquey and I was always curious to know what the fuss was a about? So one day, I decided to do my research and saw it had award winning beaches and gave that holiday abroad feel, as it was close to the English Channel, so I thought, why not go and see what all the fuss is about?
We booked through one of our suppliers Hoseasons and it was a nice and straightforward booking. Everything was sent on time, and we knew where we were travelling to. The only downside is the check-in time. Due to Covid restrictions your unable to check in before 5pm, meaning most of day 1 is gone!
We booked a lodge for 6 people with 3 rooms and hot tub, as there was 5 adults and 1 child traveling, so that would be plenty of space.
The resort was called Landal Barton Pines Resort nested in a lovely town called Paignton. The beach was 3 miles away, and you would need a car to get there or grab the local bus. The road leading up to the resort is very narrow, almost one car space and there’s traffic coming both ways, so it’s recommended you drive up very slowly.
So, what did I love about the accommodation? Well, the lodge was in the middle of a forest with sea view from the reception car park. I wouldn’t call it enchanted but there were some quirky tin statues on the logs, within the resort that gave it that Tinkerbell touch!
There was also a restaurant and bar on site, a mini spa and a gym. However, some of it was out of use due to covid restriction (cue eye rolling emoji)! Nevertheless, we made the most of it. The lodge was very clean and tidy on arrival and had most of the facilities you would expect in a self-catering accommodation. We also had a hot tub in the back, which we were highly impressed about. The resort specially sends a person twice a day to make sure the water is cleaned.
Landal Barton Pines Resort is also pet friendly and so, if you’re thinking about bringing your dog, as long as it’s not bigger than a Labrador, they are fine with it.
Parking was ok and sometimes very tight if you wanted to park close to your lodge. However, extra cars can park at the front of the resort. There is also a small park for the kids to play and being surrounding by large tree’s it was actually very nice to breath in fresh oxygen!
The restaurant and bar staff were very friendly, and it is advised to book your table in advance. The food was amazing although the menu was slightly limited for vegetarians. I would highly recommend their fish and chips; it was one of the best I had ever had!
Exploring the English Rivera
The English Riviera is a family-friendly area, and with many long sandy beaches complimented by large greens, refreshment kiosks and playparks, there are plenty of options to enjoy a family beach day out.
Dartmouth Stream Train Ride
Goodrington Sands is a beautiful long sandy beach, with the Dartmouth Steam Train running idyllically alongside it. Behind the long sandy beach and shallow waters of Goodrington Sands you’ll find Youngs Park. There’s plenty of family attractions here including bumper boats and swan boat rides on the manmade lake, crazy golf and amusement arcades. For refreshments, I would head to Cantina Kitchen and Bar, which offers a warm welcome, great food and a lovely outdoor seating area. I would highly recommend taking the train ride as it takes you back into time when trains rans the old-fashioned way and the kids will love it!
A short drive from Paignton is Preston Sands, a great family beach. On this safe, clean beach you can sunbathe, swim or make castles in the sand, or grab a fishing net and explore the rock pools at low tide? This is also a great place to go for a swim, as Preston Sands has both Seaside Award.
Along the back of the beach there’s a promenade lined with colourful beach huts. This is an iconic image of the English Riviera, and you can hire one for the day, sit back and watch the world go by. Overall, one ofthe prettiest beach I’ve seen in England!
Where to discover Delicious Devonshire Cream Tea?
A trip to The English Riviera just isn’t complete without trying their world-famous Devon Cream Tea. Naturally, I recommend tasting the delicious local produce the Devon way - by putting the clotted cream on your scone first and adding the jam on top. There’s are two places I would recommend, the first is Victorian Time Tea and Coffee Shop, Paignton. Located in the heart of Paignton town centre this charming tearoom and coffee shop has plenty of quirky character and atmosphere. Freshly baked cakes and scones are produced on the premises, with 10 specialist teas and their own blend of coffee to choose from.
The second is The Palace Hotel Paignton for something a bit classier! You can enjoy a leisurely afternoon in the elegant surroundings of the Palace Hotel, once the home of Singer Sewing Machine inventor, Isaac Merritt Singer. The hotel has a delightfully bright and spacious, colonial style sun lounge, a perfect spot for an afternoon tea treats with friends or family. Afternoon tea is served daily from 2pm to 5pm and there’s plenty to choose including The Palace Afternoon Tea with the traditional sandwich selection, Cream Tea or Sparkling Afternoon Tea with a glass of Prosecco.
OMG… if you’re an Instagrammer you will love Dartmouth. It’s a paradise for photos and as I like to think of it as the Monaco of England. After travelling on the steam train to Kingswear, it is a must to jump on a short ferry across the pond to Dartmouth. It’s the home of crabbing and it’s where you can sample the best crab dishes in the Southwest of England.
Dartmouth is DEFINATELY Instagram-worthy in general, with its pretty streets, sparkling waterfront and staggering coastline, wherever you are in the town or the surrounding area you’re sure to snap a photo that’s gorgeous enough for any Instagram feed. Stretching along the riverside, the embankment is the ideal spot for a photograph, either looking at the beautiful buildings or across the waters to Kingswear.
Right in the heart of Dartmouth, the Boat Float or inner harbour makes for a stunning photo opportunity with its quaint vessels and surrounding historic buildings.
I would also recommend a River Cruise to see the surrounding buildings and boats. The cruise gives insight into the history and the best part is that they have a bar on board, so you can enjoy your trip with your favourite bevy in hand!
There is so much to see and do and I found 4 days might not have been enough. The Paignton Zoo is also a popular place to visit with the kids, as well the Paignton Pier. The colourful houses along the beach gives you that Miami vibe and fresh sea food is one of UK’s finest.
I now know why Dame Agatha Christie, one of the world’s best-selling authors of all time who was born in Torquay, John Cleese wrote Fawlty Towers after staying in the area and world-renowned band Metronomy recorded an entire album based on South Devon’s Beautiful Bay….it’s because it’s truly GORGEOUS and a wonderful place to stay, the folks are friendly and who says the only Rivera is the French Rivera…I personally think, the English is just as good… if not better!