Our Award-Winning Gardens at the Osborne Hotel

As we head towards the 19th Torbay in Bloom competition, we thought it was a good opportunity to take a closer look at the Osborne Hotel’s beautiful gardens.

So, we caught up with our head gardener Phil Marshall to find out what keeps the gardens in such a fantastic condition while getting his thoughts on the upcoming Torbay in Bloom competition and his hopes of winning in 2017 (the Osborne Hotel has come second for the last two years).

‘First and foremost, we select the planting based on whether the plants will sustain the summer, as we’re right in front of the sea and the salty sea air,’ explains Phil, ‘the second consideration is then colour coordination and whether the blooms will fit with the existing plants.’

The gardens at the Osborne Hotel are a big attraction for our visitors thanks to their year-round colour and considered planting that maintains your gaze but it’s not all flowers and shrubs, the fruits and vegetables are important too.

‘We grow a lot of food here including tomatoes, peppers, chillies, marrows, cucumbers, strawberries, rosemary and mint. You name a seasonal vegetable for the UK and we’ve probably grown it here,’ says Phil. ‘This year we also have our first year of Fennel producing.’

All that planting needs some serious pest-control considerations and here at the Osborne, we like to keep things as natural as possible – it’s why we have a pond in our poly tunnel.

‘Bugs live in the bark we have in the poly tunnel and once they’ve reached maturity, they can cause a lot of damage to the plants we have growing in there. The pond is there as a natural form of pest control because we have newts in the pond that hunt out those bugs and prevent them from causing too much disturbance to the plants.’

At the Osborne, we’re proud of the positive feedback we regularly receive about the garden but visitors should always expect to see some slight changes between visits as we consistently strive to establish a sustainable garden for our guests to enjoy.

‘We have a few plans for next year but the main one is growing more kitchen produce and we’re going to do this by reclaiming some of the borders and laying raised beds. This will mean a few less flowers to add colour but more fresh produce for guests to enjoy,’ adds Phil.

This year’s Torbay in Bloom competition takes place on Tuesday 19th September. If you’re a fan of the Osborne Hotel’s gardens please come down and show your support.

‘It would be a real privilege to win this year,’ exclaims Phil, ‘we have come second two years in a row to different winners each time and this year the garden’s looking fantastic so I’m hoping we’ll be top in 2017.’

If you would like to see the gardens or visit the beautiful Torbay coastline, then please get in touch by calling 01803 213311, emailing enq@osborne-torquay.co.uk or by filling out our contact form.

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Summer Holiday Activities Near The Osborne Hotel

The Osborne Hotel is only a stone’s throw from Meadfoot Beach, where you can soak up the sun to the sound of crashing waves.

But we know there’s probably a few other things you’d like to do during your stay as well, so we’ve compiled a short list of the best local attractions to keep you active and entertained during your visit.

Babbacombe Model Village

You will feel like a giant as you explore the four-acres of award-winning gardens that show hundreds of model scenes, vehicles and people.

Babbacombe Village is famous for its miniature landscaped gardens almost as much as its model villages and is one of Torquay’s top attractions, ranked number one on Trip Advisor for ‘things to do’ in Torquay and on the English Riviera.

Adults love the humorous representation of British life over the last six decades and the award-winning gardens, while children love the miniature characters and enjoy following the spotter sheet to see what they can find. It’s a must-see while visiting Torquay.

Kents Cavern

Kents Cavern is a cave system in Torquay, Devon, England. You can explore the caves and learn all about human history and how our ancestors survived nearby.

There’s a summer of prehistoric-themed fun this year where children can join the Stone Age School gane in the woodlands and discover pebble decorating, pouch making and spear throwing. You will also get to handle stone-age artefacts and make your very own stone-age pendant for your stone-age necklace.

Torquay Museum

You can travel back 400 million years with a visit to Torquay Museum, which is a family-friendly attraction with lots of hands-on activities for children and adults alike.

Come face-to-face with North-West Europe’s oldest human fossil and the sabre-toothed tigers he shared his Torquay home with 44,000 years ago, and explore life and death in Ancient Egypt, including the coffin of a 2,500-year-old mummified boy. Find out about Torquay’s explorer’s, including the inspiration for Indiana Jones and what life was like in an Devon Farmhouse in the 1800s.

You can also detect your way through Britain’s only Agatha Christie gallery at Torquay Museum, which is dedicated to the life story of the Queen of Crime.

Living Coasts

Living Coasts, Torquay’s award-winning coastal zoo and aquarium, is home to an array of marine life from around the world. Set in a state-of-the-art naturalistic environment, you can journey from the South African coast to a mangrove forest and then onto a sunken wreck.

On your visit you can mingle with the playful penguins, get up close with the otters and come face-to-face with the seals. In the aquarium you will see fish species from around the world while you’ll see birds in the Wader’s Estuary foraging in the grass and the shallow waters for insects.

With a host of events and activities throughout the year, you are sure of a great day out whatever the weather.

Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo is home to some of the planet’s rarest and most amazing creatures including gorillas, orangutans, giraffes, lions, tigers and rhinos. There are also hundreds of rare and beautiful plant specimens around the site.

At Crocodile Swamp you’ll come face-to-face with huge crocodiles and large snakes, turtles and fish and don’t miss Amphibian Ark or Monkey Heights.

Paignton Zoo is a registered charity, so not only do you get a good day out, you know your money is going to a good cause, supporting education, scientific research and practical conservation both at home and abroad.

If you want to visit Torquay then book one of our sea-view rooms directly with us for the best possible deals. Click here to book now.

Meadfoot Beach Is A Hidden Gem On The UK Coastline

You may say we’re biased but we believe Torquay has the greatest beaches in the whole of the UK and the one at the end of our gardens is the best.

Meadfoot Beach is the jewel in Torquay’s crown and the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a relaxing, quiet coastal holiday. As an owner of the prestigious Blue Flag, Meadfoot Beach’s water is tested annually by the Environment Agency and comfortably passes each time.

It’s not only the water that’s tested though. Meadfoot Beach is also marked highly against a number of factors including safety, litter management, available facilities and access for everyone. That means the only thing you need to worry about on your seaside trip is the sand in your sandwiches, although you can always join us for a fantastic sea-view lunch on our Terrace.

From the Terrace you can soak up the fabulous views of Meadfoot Beach’s sand and shingle coastline surrounded by awe-inspiring cliffs, watch holiday-goers enjoy the pedallos or canoes, all while you enjoy a relaxing drink.

You can take a slow walk through our beautiful gardens down to Meadfoot Beach from the Osborne Hotel but that’s not the only activity to get up to on your visit. The local area boasts a whole range of attractions to keep you occupied and entertained during your stay, from Paignton Zoo to Kents Cavern cave system to name just two. Click here to find out more about the local attractions on the official Osborne Hotel website.

Murder mystery fans will also enjoy the world-famous Agatha Christie Mile, which makes for a fantastic trip for Christie fans. You can see where the renowned writer swam, danced and crafted her best-selling novels.

Meadfoot Beach really is a hidden gem on the UK coastline. Most visitors to Torquay usually head to the often-crowded Babbacombe and Torre Abbey, while in-the-know locals head to Meadfoot when the sun’s shining.

If you would like to come and visit one of the UK’s best beaches and stay in the exclusive Osborne Hotel, then don’t forget to book direct to get the best offers. We will look after everything during your stay and have a range of rooms to suit your needs. Take a look at our superior sea-view rooms for the complete Osborne experience.

Click here to book your room now and make Meadfoot Beach your new favourite UK coastal break.

Half Term Activities in Torquay

If you’re planning a trip to Torquay this coming half term, you won’t be disappointed. There’s plenty to see and do for the whole family in this beautiful part of the world…

Head to the beach

Torbay’s mild micro-climate makes the average temperature warmer than the rest of the UK all year round. Take full advantage of it and bask in the sunshine on one of the glorious beaches. Grab a bucket & spade to build sandcastles on Torre Abbey Sands or collect shells and pebbles on Meadfoot Beach. If you’re more of an adventure-seeking family, try your hand at coasteering or climbing with Reach Outdoors at nearby Goodrington Sands, Paignton.

Enjoy the festivities

Celebrate the UNESCO-recognised Global Geopark at the Geopark Festival 2017. There are various activities happening throughout the week. Take a trip to Occombe Farm where you can discover the secrets of the Geopark (27th May – 4th June) or let the little ones play chef at the Marvellous May Kids Cookery event (30th & 31st May).

Join in the fun on the fossil trail at Kents Cavern. Track down the fossils that have been hidden around the site and figure out who has left them to win a prize! (27th May – 4th June.) There’s also the opportunity to enjoy a magical production of Alice in Wonderland… underground! (29th May – 2nd June.)

Take in the sights

Explore the sights of the English Riviera, from Torquay to Paignton, on an open-top bus tour. Or, take in a stunning 360-degree view of Torbay with a ride on the iconic English Riviera Wheel. Located in the picturesque Princess Gardens, the wheel is taller than Nelson’s Column – measuring 60 metres!

The Osborne Hotel is perfectly located to enjoy all the best that Torquay has to offer. Plus, with unrivalled sea views, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts and restaurant, you’ll have just as much fun back at the hotel! Check availability.

 

All About Torquay

Now a popular holiday resort, Torquay’s origins can be traced back to the Stone Age. From pre-historic caves to famous novelists, discover the history of this beautiful coastal town…

In the beginning

The town’s inhabitants resided in the coastal caves, now known as Kents Cavern. The caves are one of Europe’s significant Stone Age sites, with rocks dating back 400 million years. Unsurprisingly, Kents Cavern is a key tourist attraction and visitors can take a guided tour to learn all about the 15-year-long Victorian excavation, led by local archaeologist William Pengelly, that unearthed the caves’ history. Tourists can continue their voyage of discovery, with a trip to Torquay Museum where more than 500 stone tools are on display – many of which were found in the excavation.

What’s in a name?

Torre was the town’s ancient name and means “weathered rock outcrop.” It took its name from the remains of the historic quarry, which you can still see on Tor Hill Road. Quay was added at a later date due to the town’s increased fishing activity.*

19th century developments

Torquay’s major phase of development occurred in the 1800s. The Palk family were notable residents and owned much of the land in Torquay during this era. It was under the Palks that a new harbour was built in the early 19th century which increased Torquay’s importance as a fishing town. It was in the second half of the century however, that Torquay came to be known as a popular leisure destination. As seaside holidays became fashionable among the upper classes, Torquay’s mild climate made it one of their preferred holiday spots.

The Osborne Hotel also has its roots in the 19th century developments. It was Sir Lawrence Palk, 4th Baronet, who commissioned the construction of Hesketh Crescent; the grade II listed Regency crescent building we call home. Completed in 1848, it’s a fine example of 19th century architecture and is said to be one of West England’s most elegant crescent buildings.

Notable buildings

Aside from Hesketh Crescent, there are many significant historic buildings in the town. Torre Abbey was founded in 1196 as a monastery. Dissolved in 1539 during Henry VIII’s Reformation, today it’s home to four floors of art exhibitions, heritage and interactive displays.

A mile from the seafront, you’ll find Cockington Court – a stunning manor house built in the 16th century. Now it’s more commonly known as a thriving crafts centre with over 20 studios. The house is open to the public along with its beautiful walled and Tudor rose gardens.

A little bit of mystery

Torquay’s most famous resident is probably crime novelist Agatha Christie. Born in the town in September 1890, her childhood home provided much inspiration for the setting of her popular crime mysteries. Fans of the author can discover more about how Torquay influenced her work with a walk along the Agatha Christie mile, which includes the Princess Gardens and Beacon Cove.

Experience the wonder of Torquay yourself with a stay at our seafront hotel: check availability.

*Source: Travel Wessex.

What’s on this Easter in Torquay?

Think bright blue skies, beautiful beaches and flourishing countryside – Easter is the perfect time to visit the English Riviera. With the school holidays fast approaching, here’s what you can expect from a visit to Torquay this Easter…

Dinosaur Quest at Kents Cavern

Just a short drive from The Osborne Hotel, you can treat the kids to something a little different with this underground experience. There are daily tours of the caves plus exciting activities including the Dino Quest – see if you can find the dinosaurs hidden around the site. And your visit wouldn’t be complete without taking part in the Easter Egg Hunt!

Distance from the hotel: 5 minute drive.

Bygones Easter Egg Trail

Step back in time with a trip to Bygones. Three floors showcasing over 100 years of British history, from the Victorian Era to Wartime Britain. Get involved in this year’s Easter Egg Hunt, taking place 1-17 April.

Distance from the hotel: 10 minute drive.

Cockington Explorers

If you’ve got some adventurous little ones on your hands, feed their curiosity with a visit to Cockington Court. Grab one of the Court’s backpacks full of activities when you arrive to keep them entertained. There are packs suitable for under 5s and 6-9 year-olds, available 11am – 3pm.

Distance from the hotel: 15 minute drive.

Torquay Mystery Treasure Trail

Explore the story of Torquay whilst getting out and about in the spring sunshine. On this self-guided two mile trail, you can take your time – simply follow the directions to stay on the fixed walking route. The kids will be kept engaged with clues to solve en route. Pick up the trail from Vaughan Parade.

Distance from the hotel: 5 minute drive.

And something for the grown-ups…

When you’re ready to relax after your fun-filled activities, why not stop by our hotel and enjoy a traditional Devonshire cream tea for a true taste of Torbay?

The top five outdoor activities (within 10 minutes of our hotel)

South Devon; some of the best beaches in England, stunning coastal walks and beautiful countryside. Explore the culture and history of our county with our guide to the best outdoor places to visit, which are all within 10 minutes of the Osborne Hotel.

Paignton Beach – 3 miles from the hotel

The Marine Conservation Good Beach Guide lists Broadsands Beach, Hollicombe Beach and Preston Sands in Paignton amongst its top recommended beaches.  The beaches are family friendly, safe and clean.  There is a huge range of water sports on offer from kayaking to water skiing. The sands are lined with cafes, shops and pubs – so after all the sand castle building, you can recharge before heading back to the hotel.

Coastal Walk – 0.1 miles from the hotel

The South West Coastal Path was originally formed as coastguards walked the cliff tops watching for smugglers. Today the 630 mile long path is the longest National Trail in the country. Starting at Minehead in Somerset, it runs along the coastline of Exmoor, continuing along the coast of North Devon into Cornwall. Running in front of the hotel, follow the path from Meadfoot; head north (keep the coast on your right as you walk) and climb the hill to Thatcher’s Point, Hopes Nose and around to Anstey’s Cove. Walking south will take you to Daddyhole Plain; a limestone plateaux which offers great views of the bay and harbour. The coastal path travels through an area once cultivated by Victorian gardeners but is now preserved as a wildlife conservation area, rich in rare plants with its own colony of the nationally endangered horseshoe bats in a former wartime lookout post. Watch out for the Devil in his limestone cave!

 Babbacombe – 2 miles from the hotel

Only 10 minutes’ drive from the hotel is the quaint village of Babbacombe. Enjoy a peaceful stroll around the independent shops and tearooms before exploring the pretty coastal and woodland walks which offer spectacular views and a treasure trove of hidden coves. No visit to Babbacombe is complete without a trip to the model village or cliff top railway. The railway was built in 1926 and takes visitors down the 240-foot cliff face to Oddicombe beach.

Cockington Country Park – 3 miles from the hotel

Cockington Country Park and Gardens is an award winning country park and is part of the UNESCO English Riviera Global Geopark. A paradise for walkers, gardeners, nature lovers and families alike, the park contains wild woodlands and formal landscaped areas, such as the rose garden, arboretum and ornamental ponds.

Kents Cavern – 1.4 miles from the hotel

Kents Cavern is one of the most important Stone Age sites in Europe. It is a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (since 1952) and a Scheduled Ancient Monument (since 1957). As you walk through the extensive labyrinth of caverns, you’ll be surrounded by 400 million year old rocks and spectacular stalagmites and stalactites. All tours are guided so you will need to check the times before you arrive.

Planning a trip to Torquay? To get the best rates and terms it is best to book direct. Stay and dine at the Osborne Hotel this winter and take advantage of our special package – £60 pppn for dinner, bed and breakfast. To read more about this offer, visit > http://www.osborne-torquay.co.uk/offers.