Since adopting Monty late last year we are always on the lookout for great dog-friendly holidays in the UK. I think it’s important to explore your homecountry’s beauty, for so many reasons! It makes you feel more connected with your own country and its culture, reduces emissions because you are not flying and quite often saves you money.
So when Darwin Escapes invited me to visit one of their resorts it was difficult to keep calm and collected! I love the British coast, so a weekend in Devon-based Hawkchurch Resort & Spa was just perfect for us. In this post I will review my thoughts of the resort. If you are looking for a more factual guide you can find that here. This stay was kindly gifted by Darwin Escapes, but as usual all views and opinions are my own!
On Friday morning we set off for Devon! A four hour long drive in our car loaded with clothes (don’t forget the swimsuits!), food and of course our little Monty. When we finally arrived it was nice to be greeted with a friendly smile at reception. I imagine that Friday afternoon at 4PM is peak time for the team, but you wouldn’t notice it from the service! A friendly smile from all the staff and reassurance I would be seen very shortly.
The reception area has a little shop with local delicacies like wine and biscuits, as well as more basic items you might need during your stay (table sauces, toilet roll etc.). It was nice to have a little look at this whilst waiting for my turn at reception. Although there were a lot of people and I expected quite a long wait, everyone was helped almost instantly – I was really impressed by this! Especially because the check-in service feels really personal. The team take time for a nice chat and give you recommendations for dog walks and things to do nearby. The park is quite big with different roads leading to the lodges so it was really helpful that the reception team show you exactly how to drive/walk to your lodge. I would’ve got lost otherwise!
Less than five minutes later we were all checked in and I was asked if I wanted to enjoy a glass of sparkling wine. Ehm, YES! Sadly though Will was waiting outside with Monty (he gets a bit nervous in new surroundings!) so I couldn’t hang around drinking wine. “No problem”, the lady said, “I’ll get you some plastic glasses and you can take it with you”. After a four hour drive and on my birthday weekend, this is exactly the type of service I needed! With our plastic glasses filled with bubbles we explored the park on the way to our lodge…
Walking into our lodge we straight away noticed two giant pink heart balloons on the dining table. I looked at Will thinking he requested it as a surprise for my birthday, but he relucantly had to admit that it wasn’t him. A bottle of prosecco and a basket with local biscuits, bread and other tasty treats was waiting for us: delicious! The wine didn’t even go into the fridge, we opened it straight away.
It felt so special to be greeted in such a personal way. I think it really shows the friendliness of Darwin Escapes accommodations, and we found this throughout our stay at the resort. Everyone we passed said hello, the staff were all lovely and accomodating and nothing was too much trouble!
Looking back I wish I had taken more photos of the actual lodge for you to see, but have a look on this page and you can find a lot of good pictures. Our lodge, the Coleridge lodge (as if they knew I’m an English graduate!), has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Two en-suites and one big bathroom with a super comfy bath. A big kitchen with all the necessities and more: a wine fridge, two ovens and lots of nice serveware. Two big sofa’s pointed towards a smart-tv and some boardgames for us to play. What I really loved about the lodge is the opening door to the balcony with stunning views across the countryside, lovely to enjoy in the late afternoon with a glass of wine.
Exploring the facilities
Because we were all pretty shattered from the long drive we decided to leave the exploring for the next day. In the early afternoon we thought we’d go for lunch in the on-site bistro. The menu is big with pizzas, burgers, salads and more so there is plenty to choose from. The veggie risotto was absolutely delicious! The bistro is dog friendly in the bar area, for us this was perfect as we usually enjoy a more casual dining experience. If I had to give any point of improvement for Hawkchurch Resort & Spa it would be that the restaurant could do with a little more atmosphere. It didn’t really feel like a place where you would go to enjoy a romantic or long dining experience. But it’s great for meal and with a big kitchen in your lodge you are not short of dining options!
The second I arrived at Hawkchurch I was desperate to try out the spa. Late afternoon it was finally time! I really liked the fact there were lockers and separate cubicles (with a bench) to change in, it’s always quite nice to do this in private. The pool itself is not very big, but as we were the only ones there it was big enough for us! There are two seating areas with bubbles that give you a super relaxing experience. Especially the half-beds with views over the park are fantastic, the only thing I was missing was a cold glass of wine! In the pool area you can also find a steam room and sauna for an ultimate spa-experience. Adjecent to the pool you will find the Enzina spa who offer relaxing massages and treatments, which you can find here.
The surrounding area
Although Hawkchurch has plenty to offer to keep you busy for a long weekend, you might want to explore the area while you are there. A lovely place to go for a Sunday roast or meal nearby is The Old Inn. You couldn’t get a more traditional Biritsh pub experience if you tried!
Of course the location of Hawkchurch Resort & Spa is perfect for multiple beach visits. Upon your arrival at Hawkchurch Resort & Spa you can ask for information about nearby places to go. The team are very knowledgable! We decided to explore the town of Seaton, about a 20 minute drive away and a lovely little coastal town. The beach is quite rocky though so it’s not an ideal place to visit with dogs.
If you are looking for a more dog and/or child friendly beach with wonderful views then Lyme Regis is a must visit. I’m sure you will have heard of the town, but did you know it’s generally called the “Pearl of Dorset”? Most of the beach in the area is sandy and Monty absolutely loved going for a swim here! It gets busy though so if you’re after some peace and quiet you might want to go early in the day or avoid it all together. The team at Hawkchurch Resort & Spa are very happy to give you more recommendations!
All in all – we had a fantastic weekend at Hawkchurch Resort & Sp. A big thank you to Darwin Escapes for gifting us this visit. We were sad to leave on Monday! If you want to take a break at one of their sites, explore the different locations here. And if I’ve got you really excited: you might like to know you can actually buy the properties as a holiday home! That means unlimited breaks at Darwin Escapes, I know what I’d do with my money if I won the lottery….