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August 14, 2016

Dog-Friendly Holiday: A Review of Cary Arms Beach Hut Accommodation

If you are a beach hut lover then you won’t have been able to escape spotting the 6 amazing beach huts that have been built at Carys Arms in Devon.  Widely featured in the press including this article in The Telegraph, I’ve personally been in snooping on their progress regularly.   I was even more excited when I found out that pooches were welcome. My absolute dream holiday – a dog-friendly holiday at Cary Arms Beach Huts.

Its been a very long week and with a number of tough days in the run-up, I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I was relieved to be in the car on Friday and after a four and half hour drive, I made it down a final long windy and steep path and parked up at The Cary Arms for two nights.  Me, Millie and a bottle of champers (oh and some dog food), we were ready to test them out fully on our first dog-friendly holiday to Devon.


Dog-Friendly Holiday at Cary Arms Beach Huts

Dog-Friendly Holiday at Cary Arms Beach Huts



At the time of booking, with the exception of the press articles, there was no information available on the Cary Arms website.  I was literally buying an experience based on a few articles in the press, so I was keen to find out more before leaving for the weekend.

I found it impossible to find more information just before setting off.   This was quite hard and one of my niggles about the full end to end experience that I was looking for.  Firstly there isn’t a section on the website dedicated to the new Beach Huts and the information is sparse re what I’d find in them (i.e dog bowl, hair dryers, wifi etc).

I suspect this is due to the fact they are so new and would love to see this improve along with the ability to book online.   I was so excited about the trip, having more information and pictures on the website itself would only increase the overall experience (and I would have packed less!).

I did, however, receive two emails in the run up to my stay regarding booking a spa treatment and dinner reservation.   These also felt very brief and no welcome pack within the email itself.   Whilst I did ask some questions via email and received responses, they lacked the feeling of being willing to go over and above.  Just a small addition of “let me know if you have any other questions” or “shout if I can help with anything else” would have felt more friendly and welcoming.

Secondly, I also feel they should have informed me that there was work still being carried out on site with two beach huts still being built and the spa (I would find this out later – see service section below).

If you’ve found this review, then you are in luck as you’ll now know a huge amount more than I did before setting off for your own holiday.

Not the best start but well, I was off to stay in an amazing beach hut and ready to enjoy!


The Beach Hut

The star of the show, I was allocated Beach Hut 4, the 2nd in a small row of 4 beach huts.  You can’t help but smile when opening the doors (oh and look at those doors below!).


Dog-Friendly Holiday at Cary Arms Beach Huts


If you are following me on Instagram, you’ll have seen the full tour via Instagram stories.   It really is so hard to describe just how special these huts are in words but I’ll give it a go – in every nook and cranny, there was so much thought and detail.

The bed, sofa, and mirrors are all positioned perfectly to make the most of the panoramic views.    Whilst there are shutters that can be closed on the porthole positioned perfectly to view out of from the bed, I just couldn’t face doing it.  I woke up early each morning, staring out directly through the porthole.   On both mornings, I captured the most amazing sunrises and whilst there were fishermen out on the pier, it felt like I had these all to myself.

Oh and the bed.  How could I forget how comfy the bed was.  The pillows were so heavy and sumptuous, it was a struggle to get out of bed and after popping out to capture each sunrise, I was straight back into it!


Dog-Friendly Holiday at Cary Arms Beach Huts


My own hut was furnished in reds and blues and it really felt cosy walking in. There was a clean airy feel due to the light through the large porthole and full glass doors.

Those nooks and crannies contain shell-filled lamps, smeg fridge, coffee machine and large champagne cork stools.  The hut itself felt like it was made with natural materials with the contemporary touches of bold colour, bringing it all together.

The bathroom itself was stunning, with white company accessories and a stunning wall and walk-in-shower.  I think Millie thought this was just for her!


Dog-Friendly Holiday at Cary Arms Beach Huts


Key Information:

  • 1 double bedroom on mezzanine floor
  • Sonos wireless music system
  • 2 TVs – one in the main lounge area and a second in bedroom
  • Full bathroom suite with 1 waterfall walk in shower (no bath)
  • Full folding back bi-fold doors onto large decking area
  • Able to book for a varied number of nights – 2 days+, great if you are squeezing in a short break
  • Mini smeg fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Complimentary mini bar and snacks (including some amazing sloe gin – yum!)
  • Coffee Machine (including coffee/tea/hot chocolate)
  • Large ceiling fan
  • Residents dining area and residents lounge
  • Doggy Dinners available
  • Dog Bed and water bowl
  • Remote control gas fire
  • Larger beach suites are available including a beach hut with private dining ‘pod’
  • New spa currently being built – available soon
  • Breakfast served from 7am or continental breakfast delivered to your beach hut around 8.30 am. Lunch and Dinner available between 12-3pm and 6pm to 9pm

The Restaurant and Eating Out

The restaurant has a large outside area and terrace overlooking the bay and pier.   On both evenings I chose to eat at the restaurant in the residents dining area outdoors.  Making the most of the light and warm evenings.

I can’t rate the food highly enough.  There was a small menu but great range of dishes including a specials board, which predominantly focused on seafood.  If you have children with you, they have options for them too.  Oh and a large wine menu to accompany your meal too.

On the first evening, I opted for the battered fish and chips (it was Friday after all) whilst Millie had her first doggy dinner (rice, chicken, and gravy).  The fish was light and after the long journey, the meal just hit the spot. on the second evening, I opted for a crab salad from the specials menu followed by my all time favourite

On the second evening, I opted for a crab salad from the specials menu followed by my all time favourite dessert – sticky toffee pudding.  I couldn’t’ fault either which were immaculately presented with both plates thoroughly cleaned (and Millie’s too!).


Dog Friendly Holiday at Carys Arms


I opted to have the continental breakfast delivered to the beach hut both mornings, so didn’t get a chance to sample the full offering. If you do go for this, expect fresh orange juice, yoghurts, and pastries.  It hit the spot for me!

If you do fancy a chance in scenery, there is the option to eat out with a number of different options available along the coastline in Babbacombe itself.  Remember there is one very steep hill as the railway train doesn’t operate post 6pm – you may wish to get a taxi!


Dog Friendly Holiday at Carys Arms


The Service

So I’ve been struggling to write this bit.   Over both days, I found the service didn’t quite match up to its surroundings.  Don’t get me wrong I had a wonderful weekend, but there was always just something missing.

I’ll start with a positive.  The lady who checked me in on Friday night was very helpful and understanding with Millie who can be a little excited near water!    Over both days, she did seek me out and asked how my day was, which was a nice touch but the only high in terms of service.

There wasn’t really one incident that seemed to take the shine of the gorgeous surroundings – more the collection of several small incidents.

On the first night, my drink didn’t arrive until near the end of my dinner, Millie’s dog dinner bowl could still be seen the next evening and not collected, I had to ask for water bowls to be filled up.   My breakfast basket from the first morning wasn’t collected, even at the point of my departure.

This lack of attention to detail, seemed strange as they offer a turndown service and make the effort to pop sweets onto your pillow (but failed to pick up the basket as they walked past).  They also failed to note my breakfast delivery on the 2nd morning and despite booking a table for the second night, this wasn’t reserved when I arrived for dinner.

I also spent Saturday afternoon in the beach hut, chilling out reading and was disappointed to hear the noise of workmen behind.   It wasn’t significant but could see how this could disrupt the flow of a holiday. Being advised of work ongoing would have been courteous pre-arrival and during check-in.

The staff overall did serve quickly but without any ‘warmth’ .   With the exception of the lovely lady who checked me in and a cheerful lady who served me in the restaurant on the second night (thank you so much for being amazing with Millie), they failed to really create the wow factor that the surroundings provided for them.

The surroundings and buildings speak for themselves and they really are spectacular and must be seen.  However, it’s the service received that will keep guests returning year after year.   With just a little bit extra, training or encouragement, this could be magical.  All the basics are in place, it just needs cheerful, engaged, thoughtful staff to take initiative and create an environment that residents want to come back to.


Who’s Going to Love It

From honeymooners and those celebrating special occasions to beach hut enthusiasts, you will all love them!  Couples or solo guests will enjoy the seclusion and time-out.

Whilst I didn’t feel the beach huts were kitted out for families and stipulated for 2 guests only, there are other accommodation and cottages that would be suitable.

Whilst I visited during August and wasn’t disappointed with the sunbathing opportunities, winter season could be spectacular here.  Sitting behind the big glass doors with the fire on and hot chocolate would be bliss.  Most of you know that I do believe that a beach hut isn’t just for summer and there is a cosy residents lounge you could also snuggle up in.


The Area

Babbacombe beach is a small pebble beach directly in front of Carys Arms.  You’ll find several sailing boats moored up and lots of activity out on the water. Perfect for people watching whilst having a drink on your deck.

There are several spots perfect for fishing and you may also spot Sammy the seal during your stay.  He popped to say hi several times over the weekend with two other family members, though we didn’t spot the dolphins which are also known to visit.  Millie wanted to jump into play at several points but it was amazing to see them so close to the shore and enjoying the fish being thrown in for them.

You can also walk along to another pebbly beach near to the Babbacombe Cliff Railways stop (recommended to avoid climbing those steep hills and steps – £2.20 return).    There is  a small cafe on the beach serving ice cream (I’d recommend the vanilla – yum!) and snacks along with another option on the second bay area.  Note that the second beach area, whilst bigger is not dog-friendly with restrictions in place from May to September.

If you are looking for those long beach runs, you’ll need to head out further along the South West Coast to find those sandy beaches or Dartmoor National Park which are a half-hour drive away.   Millie and I didn’t go that far exploring – we found lots of little sections where we could fetch the ball out of the water and Millie loved it.  Just show her the water and she’s happy!

The South West Coastal Path is also on the doorstep and Millie and I spent Saturday morning exploring the coastline.   If you have a bit longer you can also explore the lively harbour towns of Brixham and Dartmouth.


Dog Friendly Holiday at Carys Arms



Ok – so here’s the catch.  It’s expensive.  The view, decor, and all those little touches cost £375 per night in a beach hut plus an additional £20 for a dog each night.

I’d personally splurged on my two nights having recently made the decision to leave my full-time job and make the leap to work full-time on my own business.  A last ‘splurge’ and celebration before knuckling down with a strict budget in a start-up year.  Far from a regular visit and thus I was looking for the wow factor and last taste of luxury.

I can understand the hefty price tag, staff costs, property prices and cost of developing the beach huts alone would generate a high price tag.  However what you really want to know is whether they offered value for money? Where they worth the splurge?

So if you’ve read the above, you’ll know it’s a difficult one for me.  I love that fact that I’ve experienced them and they were certainly ‘wow’.  I felt amazing sitting on Saturday afternoon, admiring the view and sundown.    However, the pre-arrival and service just took that shine off.

Deep down I wanted to write that they were but I can’t, in light of my overall experience.   As a beach hut enthusiast and dog lover, I’m desperate for them to be successful.    With some thought, service training and more attention to detail on customer service – I would be more inclined to save up those pennies for a return visit.


Millie’s Top Tip

As I arrived in Babbacombe, I couldn’t help but notice a dog groomers whilst finding my way to Cary Arms. I called this next morning as Millie is at that point of needing a groom but unfortunately, they were fully booked.   However, I did stop by for 5 minutes on the first day to pop in and say hi and have a look around.

Brush Puppies is based just a few minutes from the top of the cliff railway and offers a full grooming service along with baths. They also have a shop area selling collars, leads, dog clothing and treats!  Millie was pleased with the latter and we picked up some treats along with a paw butter.

If you are planning on staying at Carys Arms then I’d recommend booking in advance.  You could take a stroll into town whilst your pooch is pampered.  After spending so much that play time on the beach, they’ll deserve it!


Dog-Friendly Holiday at Cary Arms Beach Huts


Links and Booking

You can find late availability on the Cary Arms website here. However for all other availability call 01803 327110 or email


You can also have a snoop around on various social media sites or check out reviews on Trip Advisor:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Innandspaonthebeach/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/caryarms/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/CaryArms

Trip Advisor – https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review


If you love a UK beach holiday, you may also want to check out my previous blog reviewing Lusty Glaze Beach Cottage – it’s dog-friendly too!

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