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“Relaxing stay, good location, great food.”

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The Woolacombe Bay Hotel
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Woolacombe
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 12, 2008

We (myself, husband, and 10, 7 and 2 year old daughters) recently stayed here towards the end of the Easter holidays, looking for a relaxing family break in a nice hotel, with good facilities, and child-friendly environment- we were not disappointed. The hotel is superbly located with lawns reaching down almost directly on the fabulous beach. The gardens include swings and great childrens "fort" style adventure play area, with a zip-wire that had the older girls hooked!

The indoor pool was lovely - nice and warm, with a hot-tub, sauna and steam room alongside if you want to use them. Deposit required for towels (fairly hefty at £5 per item), but we used the rtowels from the room. I guess that's the sort of thing that makes this 3* rather than 4*, but it's a pretty minor issue given the overall package price and the range of facilities on offer.

Children's entertainment is laid on during the school holidays, although the entertainer didn't turn up on the evening we were hoping to see the promised magic show. This was a little disappointing - don't know if this is a regular problem? The only other thing I'd say about the children's entertainment is that the hotel didn't really advertise what was available or where very clearly. They could do better on this, but I'd recommend asking reception and you might be able to get a "what's on" type of leaflet (we weren't given one and didn't realise they existed until it was too late for us).

Best of all is the food at dinner - excellent five course meal, superbly presented and cooked, infact the beef we had was amongst the two or three best I have ever tasted. Breakfast and children's supper a bit more average, but enough choice on a self-service basis so nothing really to complain about.

All in all outstanding value for money and a lovely, restful location - we'll probably be back!

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled with family
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Thank TwinkleWorcester_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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801 - 807 of 844 reviews

Reviewed March 23, 2008

We have just returned with our two children from a lovely few days at the Woolacombe bay hotel. The children are aged 3 & 11 and both were adequetly catered for even though we went out of season.
There was plenty for the children to do, the hotel was spotlessly clean, the pool and spa exceptional but best of all the restaurant served some lovely food in very elegant surroundings. We did the childrens supper and then ate on our own later on. In fact this is the only complaint i have about the break, in that as we ate around 8.30 and were obviously the last two diners of the night, we didn't appreciate the laying of breakfast settings whilst we were still on the main course. We were not the only couple to notice.

I accepted our room needs a refurb but the bathroom was new, was immaculatly clean with fresh bedding daily and was not distasteful. It was also well sized even with the children sleeping in the room.

We really enjoyed our little break which was excellent value for money and we will return very soon hopefully.

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled with family
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Thank katewolohan01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 23, 2008

I was in Barnstaple for an extended work assignment spanning 2 weeks. The admin who made my arrangements assumed I'd had enough of Barnstaple after multiple visits and booked me into the Woolacombe Bay Hotel for the weekend. She selected a package that included breakfast and dinner.

The room was on the first floor with a small terrace overlooking the grounds and the sea beyond. The room was small but comfortable. Breakfast was a little disappointing, with a selection of cereals and hot foods, coffee and juice. I would have preferred a better selection of pastries. Dinner was quite good with fresh seafood and meats. The dining room staff appeared pretty clueless - no knowledge of beer or wines, slow to return to the table to see if I needed anything, unclear whether to give me a bill or not. The waitresses were all pretty girls from eastern Europe so I was willing to overlook their shortcomings and put it down to being there in the offseason.

I wouldn't describe the hotel as outdated, but I've never been in such a rickety elevator (made entirely of wood) or had to go up and down so many stairs while allegedly remaining on one floor - not possible if I had been confined to a wheelchair.

Quiet, comfortable and sort of shabby chic. I was ready for another week of work in Barnstaple by the time the weekend was over.

  • Stayed: April 2006, traveled on business
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3  Thank BamaVol
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 30, 2007

Having read through the mixed reviews given, I booked up the hotel with a little hesitation. Having spoken with the reservation staff, I tried to ascertain which rooms had been refurbished and which were of dated décor. Not having a very comprehensive reply we settled on me arriving and seeing the room, and if I wasn’t happy I could pay extra to upgrade to a superior room.
As it was, we arrived very late with two young children in tow and all I wanted to do was arrive in a room and unpack, and it wasn’t until later I remembered the possibility to upgrade.
As it was, yes the room was dated somewhat tired, but there wasn’t an avocado bathroom suite in sight (a lovely, large, clean white bathroom, although fresh towels were often stained!). The furniture in the main bedroom was very dated and not something I can see myself ever having chosen, but it was inoffensive, and very plentiful in terms of storing a weeks clothing for four people and all the paraphernalia that travels with a baby. The interconnecting room was a bunkbed with very orange pine furniture. Again not something I would choose in my house, but inoffensive.
From what I could tell and having spoken to reservation staff, there doesn’t appear to be a refurbishment programme in place. You have the choice of a bulk standard room and then you can choose to upgrade to a sea view, a balcony and a superior room, and I assume the superior room has the type of furniture you see in the brochures. For me that is fair enough. If I travelled again I probably would opt for the superior choice, just because I like to stay somewhere that has been furnished to the same standards as my own home, but we have to remember this is a three star hotel, not a four, and following our stay, we can only see that it is the standard bedrooms that prevent the star rating from rising for this hotel, and if the stars rose, the whole holiday package would inevitably end up much more expensive.

The public areas are lovely, a vast restaurant, with impeccable service and the food is what makes this holiday. A ballroom and bar area which are perfectly lovely, but we didn’t get round to using. The guest lounges (one for adults only and another for children) are very tastefully decorated. In fact all the public areas appear to have been decorated recently, it feels very plush. The bistro is very modern and great for lunch.

The hotel went to a great effort to think of your comfort. There is coffee served in the lounge after dinner (even though it was only decaf). Word of advice for dinner, do take along smart outfits for your dinner, you will be out of place otherwise. Someone arrived in cocktail dress, and that seemed a little too formal, but a smart outfit, similar to what you would wear to work, or a night to the theatre is great, and men are requested to wear a shirt and tie) A jigsaw is available for you to add pieces to collectively complete while having coffee after dinner. A small gripe here was it was completed on the second day of our visit (give or take a few missing pieces) and stayed completed until our departure. Would have been nice for a new challenge to be set for the guests as everyone loved doing it and it brought everyone together after dinner.

The Haven (the spa) was great, I had several treatments and I felt truly pampered. It is difficult to locate, you meander down a rabbit warren of stairs and corridors and through other rooms, it took several attempts to locate it, something many guests mentioned!!

A word of warning to those thinking of going out of season for children’s activities, the crèche is open for a couple of hours in the morning, but it is open in conjunction with the gym for locals who want to work out and leave their children for an hour or two. So it is more a gym crèche than it is a kids club, and they don’t seem to be expecting you to arrive. The regular children who attend while their parents go to the gym, are very much at home, and it does feel as though you are arriving uninvited to a party, my son didn’t settle as quickly as he does in other childcare settings and each day it took a bit of convincing which made me feel bad to be going off to the spa and we didn’t use it as much as we thought we would. It is run by one girl and when numbers go beyond what is allowed, she calls on someone from housekeeping to help out. It seems a very informal arrangement, no signing in or out arrangements in place, although the official sheets are filled in at some point during the session, but no passwords given, or information required as to who is collecting. There is a buzz in and out system available, but it was kept on the latch allowing anyone to walk in.

We chose this hotel due to its good child reputation, our child (toddler) is incredibly well behaved but the slightest noise he made did make us very conscious of other guests enjoyment as the hotel is very quiet, mainly older guests out of season. They did a nice tea for the children between 5 – 5:30pm, and after that children are welcome to join you for your dinner (but not to eat) as long as you are sitting at 6:30pm. In order to go to supper without your child, you can put them on baby listening, having the phone dialled in and left off the hook for the hotel to dial in occasionally to hear, we also chose to check in person between each course, we felt this was the best course of action as the restaurant is incredibly quiet and formal and any chatter from a child is clearly heard. They need to go to sleep before being left, but we also have a baby who we weren’t ready to leave in the room under the listening service, despite sleeping throughout every evening meal in her car seat beneath the table, the hotel’s rules are you have to be having dinner at 6:30pm if any child is to accompany you, so it was a bit of a challenge to get our older child to sleep in time for us to negotiate our own food.

Beware, it is not possible to push a pram in the hotel. There are several steps every few yards throughout the hotel, to get to the restaurant, bistro, spa, even in through the entrance there is a set of steps and then a revolving door (as shown in their brochure) you can just about make it round the revolving door with a car seat squashed in with you. The lift is a beautiful old fashioned one and isn’t big enough to accommodate a pram even if you did manage to get it into the lobby through the door, so your baby is constantly seated in a car seat while about in the hotel, so you might want to bring along a bouncy chair or your play gym for them to have time straightening their backs out.

Also for heating milk, or sterilising bottles, beware, the microwaves are industrial at around 1800 watts so do your sums and look at the manufacturers guide for equivalents to prevent bottles from melting and milk coming out too hot. The hotel did manage to find a standard watt microwave for us on the second day to use in our room, which was very accommodating of them.

The hotel are happy to provide milk for older children, beware of the industrial microwaves when asking for it heated.

Talking of heat, the hotel must have incredibly high energy bills. The entire hotel is boiling hot, and when walking in the corridors it is an achievement to make it to the lift without fainting, it really is stifling. Thankfully you can turn the heat down in your rooms and open windows, which we did.

We stayed just before the hotel closed to general guests and were caught up in their attempts to get ready to welcome the Christmas guests. It was lovely to see all the decorations going up, although I do feel the staff’s focus was more on their future guests than those already staying, and the only lounge we were able to go in (with children) was taken up for two days putting up decorations, stepping over fairy lights laid out on the floor.

As you can tell these are all minor niggles, the hotel is a fantastic three star, and I am very happy to recommend it to others, although I would choose to go at a different time of year with children.

  • Stayed: November 2007, traveled with family
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6  Thank holidaygetaway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 23, 2007

A party of us spent a week at this hotel in the autumn sunshine and we all seemed to enjoy our stay.We paid for upgraded rooms which were all spacious , clean, well appointed and newly decorated although some of the rooms were a bit warm and stuffy at times -mine was fine however. The food was nice although sometimes service was a little slow.On one night when service was glacially slow ,guests who placed their food orders long after is we served a great deal earlier than us , when we pointed this out to the head waiter for that night and rather than just aplogising which we would all have accepted , he argued with us .This left a bit of a nasty taste in the mouth so as to speak

In the main staff were helpful and unobtrusive and the hotel which has an excellent position and setting was a nice place to stay- loved the mini golf

Finally I feel I must metion the idiosyncratic lift which takes some getting used to

Stayed: September 2007
1  Thank Perktrav
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 1, 2007

We were lucky to spend a week with friends at the end of July, with unusually great weather! Our 9 yr old son had a whale of a time and made so many friends, playing cricket and football on the green every day, as well as golf, swimming, tennis, surfing, quad biking and horseriding. Our room was very nice with a balcony overlooking the pool and sea, and a big bathroom - but the best thing about the week was the food - fantastic! We really enjoyed our week, but I think our lad enjoyed it even more. Great for families and kids.

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled with family
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1  Thank Carol-Looker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2007

We stayed in the Woolacombe Bay hotel a few weeks ago with our two under 5s. The weather was excellent which further added to the superb location of the hotel. Five minutes walk to a lovely sandy beach with a clear stream running down it into the sea. The kids had a fantastic time splashing in the water and climbing the sand dunes. The beach was very clean and not too crowded (mind you, we avoided the school holidays).

The hotel itself was very clean and the food (both adults and the high tea for kids) was SUPERB. There's an indoor and outdoor pool and well-kept grounds with an adventure playground for the little 'uns. The room was very clean, and the decor newish (I've posted some photos). The only minor complaint was the temperature - very hot in the room at night, maybe becuase we were over the indoor pool / steam room. But the hotel provided fans immediately when asked, so it wasn't a huge problem.

Would highly recommend the hotel - we'll be going back!

Neil

  • Stayed: September 2007, traveled with family
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2  Thank Neil72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Woolacombe Bay Hotel

Address: South Street, Woolacombe EX34 7BN, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > Devon > Woolacombe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Woolacombe
Price Range: $209 - $242 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Woolacombe Bay Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 64
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Much of the Hotel has been lovingly restored from the mid 1800's, creating it's unique and tranquil atmosphere. High ceilings, chandeliers and comfortable, quiet lounges are a testament to that era, and where first class modern amenities are required, they have been skilfully incorporated into the existing Woolacombe accommodation. We place high value on our staff. Trained to be attentive yet unobtrusive and to provide the kind of personal service that is so often hard to find. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Woolacombe Bay Hotel
Bay Woolacombe
The Woolacombe Bay Hotel Devon

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