St Brides Spa Hotel, Saundersfoot

Gillian Thornton explores the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park from this luxury seafront hotel

I can never resist a pool with a view, but the view from the infinity pool at St Brides Spa Hotel in Saundersfoot was like nothing I’d ever experienced in Britain.  Lying back amidst gently popping bubbles, I watched the early evening clouds turn pink as the sun set over the silver water of the bay. Just two lazy strokes and I felt I could swim across the warm water of the spa pool and on over the sea to the distant headland.

A treat at any time of year, this glorious hydrotherapy pool is a highlight of the thermal suite at St Brides Spa Hotel in Saundersfoot on the Pembrokeshire coast. And in late October, it was an absolute tonic, affording views over the harbour and sandy beach of this tranquil seaside resort.

A short drive from its higher profile neighbour Tenby, Saundersfoot proved a delightful choice for the second half of my short break holiday in Britain’s only truly coastal national park.  My husband and I had begun our Welsh adventure further west at St Davids, Britain’s smallest city. Now we were spending a couple of days in the far eastern corner of the National Park.

St Brides Spa Hotel is located on the side of a cliff but having driven down the hill from Tenby and parked behind the hotel, the Wow-factor didn’t hit until we were shown to our room. Full-length windows opened onto a balcony overlooking the length of Saundersfoot beach – at low tide, it is a vast expanse of pristine sand; when the tide’s in, waves lap the promenade and boats bob gently in the harbour below.

I loved the blue and white décor of our room, reflecting the seaside scene beyond the window, but was less keen on the towelling elephant and basket in the centre of the bed. Expertly done but this cruise-ship touch seemed a touch out of place, especially in an eco-friendly era when we are encouraged to reuse towels.  

But it’s a small niggle.  We loved everything else about this clifftop hotel which offers 34 individually styled bedrooms, most with sea view and balcony, as well as six two-bedroom apartments. Or book in at St Brides Village Apartments, a choice of one- and two-bedroom apartments just a short walk from the hotel, some of which are dog-friendly. Hotel room rates include breakfast, unlimited access to the Fitness Suite and a complimentary 90-minute session in the Thermal Suite and Hydrotherapy Suite.

As you would expect, the Cliff Restaurant and Gallery Bar enjoy the same dramatic views of the bay and changing tide, and focus on Pembrokeshire produce.  As a fish lover, I chose scallops for starters, followed by Fillet of the Day – lemon sole with crushed peas – whilst John enjoyed duck terrine and succulent Rump of Welsh Lamb.

In such glorious surroundings, it was tempting to stay put and just enjoy the hotel but there were so many temptations on the doorstep. Barely ten miles away to the west are the impressive remains of Pembroke Castle, birthplace of first Tudor monarch Henry VII.  South of Pembroke, we enjoyed the National Trust estate at Stackpole with its tiny harbour, cliff walks, and lily ponds and we topped up our medieval history amongst the ruins of Manorbier and Carew Castles. Don’t leave without exploring Tenby with its rainbow-coloured houses, quaint museum, and winding promenade walk.

There’s a delightful walk too from the hotel, down the short hill into Saundersfoot and along a marked trail that once carried a tramway for collecting coal from the cliff mines. The path is wheelchair and buggy friendly, passing through three illuminated tunnels to the adjacent bay. Just the thing to work up an appetite for dinner.

After a day spent exploring the glorious Pembrokeshire coastline, I could think of no nicer place to watch the sun go down than from the warmth of the hotel’s infinity pool.  Except perhaps over a glass of my favourite tipple on my private balcony.  Decisions, decisions…!

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Gillian Thornton

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