The glorious county of Devon has lots to offer the holidaymaker;charming seaside resorts, scenic countryside, delightful walks and of course let's not forget the world-renowned cream teas.
However, these delights are as nothing if your chosen accommodation is not up to your expectations. My wife and I had decided that this year we would holiday in one of those charming resorts - Sidmouth (actually she decided I as usual just nodded).
And so we sat down with an armful of brochures in order to find that perfect retreat. We were fortunate as Sidmouth certainly has its fair share of pleasant looking hotels although many of those in prime positions along the seafront were a tad on the expensive side.
"This one looks nice," exclaimed 'She who must be holidayed,' pointing to a glossy photograph of The Royal Glen Hotel; a white fronted edifice with arched windows and castellated walls, "A family run hotel and only two minutes from the seafront as well," she added excitedly. After a quick glance at the weekly rates I agreed that it was a definite possibility.
"It's steeped in history as well," she continued. "In 1819 the Duke & Duchess of Kent stayed here with their baby, the future Queen Victoria, although at her age I don't suppose she had much say in where they were staying," she mused. I was on the point of saying 'I know the feeling' but then thought better of it. "Well if it's good enough for royalty then it should be good enough for us - Mr Ivebineverywhereboy, get booking," she proclaimed with authority...
We arrived in Sidmouth at the start of what was to be a mini heat wave that lasted for the duration of our holiday. The exterior of the hotel was just as pleasing as the brochure had portrayed, so no air brushing in evidence here then. After parking up in the rather small car park we made our way to reception and with formalities completed in a very friendly but professional manner we were escorted to our bedroom on the first floor, which turned out to be no less than the Duchess of Kent's boudoir.
The room was large and airy and if I stood on tiptoe I could actually see the sea. It was also dominated by one of the largest wardrobes I had ever seen and no doubt in its time had been the repository of many royal mantles and gowns. We had not travelled lightly and yet the hanging area was so cavernous that for once ‘she who must have space’ had no need to lay claim on any part of mine.
Clothes duly hung it was time to test the beds. Now the wardrobe may have been of antique status but the beds certainly were definitely 21st century vintage and not and even she with the sensitivity of the 'Princess and the Pea' fairytale could find no fault with the comfort level of the mattress. The bathroom was clean and simple and boasted both a bath and shower although space for toiletries was somewhat limited. There was also a reasonably modern TV and the usual tea making facilities and all in all we were both happy with the room where we were destined to spend our next 7nights.
The hotel exuded tradition and this was nowhere more apparent than in the large lounge that faced our room. It was furnished in the style, which was no doubt popular when the Kent family was in residence. With a little imagination one could almost visualize the family sitting among the comfortable furnishings, with perhaps the young Victoria taking her first steps across the finely carpeted room.
There were also a couple of other lounges, one more like a study, equipped with a large TV and computer for the use of guests and there was also free WI-fi connection available if required. I must admit though that our favourite was the large bar lounge where guests gathered each evening for pre dinner drinks; and what a friendly lot they were. On that first evening we felt a bit like gatecrashers at a party, as the majority of the guests appeared to know each other well. We later learned that this was because many of them were returnees to the Royal Glen and so lasting friendships had blossomed over the years, which of course boded well for the hotel's reputation. However, we were not 'outcasts' for long and within the course of that first drink we had been warmly welcomed into the 'Royal' fraternity.
Drinks consumed, we made our way into the large airy dining room, which was beautifully laid out and were shown to what was to be our table for the week. We had not long to wait before being presented with menus that offered lots of choice and it would be a very fussy diner who could not find a dish to enjoy. The service from the restaurant team was impeccable and everyone was made to feel like the most important diner in the room - nothing was too much trouble. Breakfast fare and service was equally faultless and after our first full day we knew we had chosen our hotel well.
With the entire basic requirement tick-boxes duly filled, we wondered what else the hotel had to offer the discerning guest? We soon discovered that to complement the high standards of accommodation and dining already observed, the Royal Glen also boasted an indoor swimming pool and a well-equipped gym' - It all augured well for a delightful holiday.
So, hotel credentials fully established and with the weather set fair for the week, we wondered what other Devonian delights could sunny Sidmouth offer us? Well the town itself has a lovely beach; a bit pebbly but with some sandy areas exposed at low tide. There's a pleasant promenade that's just the right length for an after dinner stroll, lined with some inviting hotel bars where one can nip in if the stroll turns out to be a little longer than you were led to believe. For the slightly more energetic there is a testing 18-hole putting green, tennis courts and bowling greens. Why they even have a croquet lawn, a game, which is a lot harder than you would at first imagine. For those who prefer watching their sport rather than partaking, there is a large cricket ground where matches appear to be played on most days during the season. The town is also blessed with a variety of interesting shops (guess who made me add that little snippet) and a whole host of delightful little teashops and cafes when refreshments are needed.
If you feel like venturing outside the town limits then there are a number of resorts along the coast that are worth a visit either by car or better still, why not make use of the excellent bus service that operates from the town square? Exmouth to the west is worth a visit and Lyme Regis to the east is a must if only to have a stroll along the famous Cob. However if you prefer the smaller and quieter resorts then the likes of Seaton, Beer and Budleigh Salterton are sure to please; the later boasting the Premier Cafe that lovingly provides probably the best fish & chips in Devon - And then of course there is the big city virtually on the doorstep - Exeter.
Now when 'She who was born to shop' heard from a fellow devotee about the prestigious shopping malls to be found in the city, we just had to make the journey - But a word of caution - Take the bus - Exeter is every driver's worst nightmare to enter and when you do get to the city centre you can spend most of your day trying to find somewhere to park. However, once I overcame my desire to strangle the garrulous 'devotee', I realized that the city had something to offer us both - the shops for her and the cathedral and quayside for me, both should be high on every visitor's itinerary.
All to soon our week in Sidmouth came to an end and it was with a tinge of sadness in our hearts that we sat in the lounge on that final evening with our new found friends and raised our glasses to The Royal Glen for acting as the perfect holiday hosts and providing us with our every need.
The one and only 'niggle' I would have with the hotel was in their small print, which decreed that bills settled by credit card would attract a surcharge. I don't think that I am alone in holding the view that this can be off-putting to anyone who uses a credit card extensively and although I realize that these transactions have to be paid for, I firmly believe that hoteliers should either bear the cost or absorb it in their tariffs. However, to the credit of the management when I presented my card the surcharge was waived.
And so we departed in the blazing sunshine, which had been our constant companion for the whole 7 days. As we drove out of the gates I could have sworn that a childlike voice announced that she would not be 'amused' if we did not return sometime in the future - Rest assured Victoria - We will!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Royal Glen is situated in its own secluded garden, 500 yards from the seafront esplanade. There is parking for 25 cars, a small gym and indoor heated pool. The restaurant serves a 4 course table d'hote menu with choices using Devon produce. The bar offers a comprehensive wine list & the Drawing room opens out on to a sunny veranda. The grade 1 listed building has accommodation in both traditional and contemporary styles. The family run Royal Glen offers personal service in a friendly atmosphere. It is ideally situated for exploring the county and coast from the beautiful resort of Sidmouth. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Royal Glen Hotel Sidmouth, Devon
- Royal Glen Sidmouth