The Best Hotels in Torquay, England, for a Seaside Escape

The English seaside town of Torquay is brimming with charming cafés, pretty shops and Michelin-star restaurants, alongside cliff-baked beaches and secluded bays
The English seaside town of Torquay is brimming with charming cafés, pretty shops and Michelin-star restaurants, alongside cliff-baked beaches and secluded bays | © Billy Stock / Alamy Stock Photo
Mischa Smith

With a coastline dubbed the English Riviera, it’s safe to assume the seaside town of Torquay in England is trimmed with charming cafes, pretty stores brimming with seaside trinkets and Michelin-star restaurants. Not unlike its Gallic counterpart, the resort is scattered with cliff-baked beaches (Oddicombe) and secluded bays (Babbacombe). Expect hotels dripping in Art Deco romance and cool coastal abodes.

1. Osborne Hotel

Boutique Hotel

Osborne Hotel
Courtesy of Osborne Hotel / Expedia.com

Plonked on Torquay’s Regency crescent, the Osborne Hotel is a grand Georgian residence that evokes images of the glittering heyday of the English Riviera. Inside, rooms follow a traditional seaside aesthetic with a muted palette of blues and romantic Jack Vettriano prints that hint towards an older clientele. The optional little extras, such as champagne on ice, will start your stay off the right way – but if you’re going to spring for anything, opt for one of the sea view rooms that overlook Meadfoot Beach; from the higher floors, it looks as though you can actually reach out and touch the surf.

2. Orestone Manor

Boutique Hotel, Budget Hotel

Orestone Manor
Courtesy of Orestone Manor / Expedia.com

Orestone Manor, which could be drawn from one of Agatha Christie’s Poirot adventures, embodies the glamour and charm of the Art Deco-era English Riviera. Palm fronds jut out in every direction in the tropical garden that, thanks to the hotel’s rich colonial interiors, feels perfectly at home in the Devonshire countryside. Jostling for space with Asian antiquities, ornate fireplaces and stained-glass windows are paintings by John Callcott Horsley, who once called Orestone Manor home. The grand suite, named after him, boasts wrap-around views of Lyme Bay from white sash windows, is lit with a Tiffany ceiling lamp and furnished with a brass four-poster bed – trimmed with a palm tree jacquard spread that matches the drapes – marking a move away from the eclectic furnishings that characterise the stately pile.

3. Lincombe Hall

Boutique Hotel, Luxury, Spa Hotel

Lincombe Hall
Courtesy of Lincombe Hall / Expedia.com

Lincombe Hall is a trifecta of seaside delights: a sumptuous spa with indoor and outdoor pools, an Art Deco dining hall overlooking well-tended gardens, and warm and inviting rooms that hark back to the hotel’s early beginnings as a summer home for the writer Dr Alexander Sutherland. Designed as an escape in 1841, today the hotel sticks to this ethos with plenty of areas for lounging – sun chairs by the whirlpool tub are especially lovely in summer, while the leather sofa-strewn lounge by the open fire provides a perfect place to enjoy a tipple from the bar in cooler months.

4. Imperial Hotel Torquay

Budget Hotel

Imperial Hotel Torquay
Courtesy of Imperial Hotel Torquay

The South Devon coast stretches out in front of the Imperial Hotel Torquay, a mid-century-style building that belies its history as a hangout for well-heeled Victorians. This heritage is celebrated in the form of marble floors, towering four-poster beds and gilded chandeliers, while its clifftop position offers unspoilt views of the bay – best enjoyed from the comfort of the front-facing rooms or the ornately decorated Regatta Restaurant’s outdoor terrace. The outdoor pool, which is shrouded by European black pine trees, feels like the South of France – when the weather plays ball. During winter, English Riviera visitors won’t mind seeking solace in the elegant spa, which offers a compact list of classic treatments.

5. Haytor Hotel

Boutique Hotel, Budget Hotel

Haytor Hotel
Courtesy of Haytor Hotel / Expedia.com

Haytor Hotel, a Victorian villa just a four-minute walk from the harbour and cliff-backed Meadfoot Beach, sits pretty at the end of a tree-lined drive. Quaint cottagecore touches – such as mason jars stuffed with oat bran, chocolate flakes and nuts at the breakfast buffet – juxtapose the old-world grandeur of the dining room, most notably in the glass chandeliers and rich drapes covering tall sash windows. Meat lovers will rejoice at the cooked breakfast’s packed selection of local sausages and bacon, but vegetarian and gluten-free eaters needn’t miss out thanks to an array of alternatives.

6. Hotel Balmoral

Independent Hotel

Hotel Balmoral
Courtesy of Hotel Balmoral

The Victorian splendour of the Hotel Balmoral makes it a fabulous place for a Gatsby-themed party – it even has a fountain and a pyramid staircase leading onto the manicured gardens for your grand entrance. Glass chandeliers swing from a high stucco ceiling in the lounge and bar that has a wooden dance floor – should that party ever take place. Meanwhile, rooms are cheerily decorated and more pared-back than the rest of the hotel, so you’ll want to spend your time exploring Torquay’s attractions – Meadfoot Beach is literally on your doorstep.

7. The Meadfoot Bay

Bed and Breakfast

The Meadfoot Bay
Courtesy of the Meadfoot Bay / Expedia.com

As the name suggests, the Meadfoot Bay sits on sea road just a whisker away from the sandy skirt of Meadfoot Beach. Helmed by husband and wife duo Phil Harnett and Vicki Osborne, who draw on years of experience in the travel industry, the 15-room residence is decked out to recall the grandeur of the area in its early incarnation. Think Agatha Christie posters and stucco ceilings, all while maintaining a contemporary feel that’s void of the seaside tropes that befall other beachy abodes. Meanwhile, the Brasserie at the Bay is headed up by gastro whiz kid Callum Tasker who cut his teeth at the Michelin-star the Elephant – a local institution that the in-house restaurant is fast on its way to replicating.

8. Cary Arms

Luxury, Spa Hotel

Carey Arms
Courtesy of Cary Arms / Booking.com

This coastal retreat is backed by ruddy cliffs, lush green vegetation and the sapphire water of Babbacombe Beach, all of which help guests feel more like a visitor on a Bond-style island than a plush spa hotel. In keeping with a beachfront pile surrounded by nature’s bounty, Cary Arms is circled by the South West Coast path, and the wild Dartmoor is only a half hour’s drive. With sea views in each of the eight main residence’s New Englander style rooms, you needn’t worry about which you book – instead, concern yourself with trying to spot the local dolphin, porpoise and seal population. The sea-facing spa is a trophy sight, and, thanks to a wide range of treatments and spectacular lounge areas, you could easily lose a day here.

On a budget? Check out our guide to the most budget-friendly hotels in Torquay, England, bookable on Culture Trip.

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