Blowing away the excesses that surround Christmas is a breeze if you head for the sea. And seaside hotels that attract visitors as much for the good food as the bedrooms are the answer to jaded palates and sluggish bodies, whether or not you plan to spend the night.

Blowing away the excesses that surround Christmas is a breeze if you head for the sea. And seaside hotels that attract visitors as much for the good food as the bedrooms are the answer to jaded palates and sluggish bodies, whether or not you plan to spend the night.

La Terrasse, Sandgate Hotel, The Esplanade, Sandgate, near Folkstone, Kent (01303 220444). This delightful French restaurant with rooms in a Victorian seafront house is so good it's fully booked between now and New Year, and then it closes until February. Resolve to book well ahead to eat locally caught fish and cheeses from across the Channel. During the week there's a three-course lunch and dinner menu for £22, at weekends five courses are £31 or the à la carte menu at around £35 without wine.

Hotel Continental, 29 Beach Walk, Whitstable, Kent (01227 280280). Daily lunch and dinner (closed Christmas Day). Sister of the more famous Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company, the Imperial Oyster Cinema and the fishermen's huts that accommodate visitors to the mollusc-dominated seaside town. This 1930s beachfront hotel has had a restrained and stylish Art Deco make-over to appeal to hip young Londoners, and has a large log-fired bar that's great for hanging out in, and a dining room with picture windows framing the sea. Food is straight down the line French, less fishy and better value than WOFC. Moules are a popular starter - highest price is £7 for dressed crab; main courses cost from £6.75 up to the fluctuating price of a whole lobster. Crÿme brûlée and tarte tatin for afters. Rooms £45-£125.

Biskra Beach Hotel, 17 St Thomas's Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight (01983 567913). Daily lunch and dinner. Relatively new, informal and stylish hotel fashioned from three Victorian houses has won rave reviews from the glossies. It overlooks the Solent, is easy to reach from Portsmouth, and has rooms from £58 out of season. Open 26-30 December, it's full over New Year but back to normal from New Year's Day. This means anyone can come for zippy dishes in the restaurant where there's a £5 lunch menu, and à la carte dinner or lunch for around £25. Dishes typical of the modish, well-considered menu might be fish soup with rouille or scallops with seaweed and lemongrass butter sauce, pheasant with glazed shallots and Agen prunes, hot lemon soufflé with ginger biscuits.

Tresanton Hotel, Lower Castle Road, St Mawes, Cornwall (01326 270055). Daily lunch and dinner. Olga Polizzi (one of the Forte family) understands hotels. Her Riviera-like place, perched among palm trees on a peninsula, exudes style and subtlety and attracts the less flashy wing of the jet set. The wood-panelled, white-floored restaurant is crisply napped with big white plates. Zesty, accomplished cooking majors on seafood: Italian tomato and bean soup or crab citrus salad, roast turbot with warm olive sauce or slow-cooked lamb shank with chilli, pea and ricotta, fig and elderflower jelly with honey ice-cream or kirsch cherry pudding with clotted cream. Dinner is £33, lunch £15 for two courses, or there are salads and smart sandwiches for £6.

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