The Big Six: English seaside hotels

The Scarlet, Cornwall

This resolutely contemporary hotel is set above the village of Mawgan Porth – just up the coast from Newquay – and a perfect, wide arc of sand to head out from with a board. The hotel, restaurant and spa are not just about location, though. The owners say they are committed to maintaining a low-carbon footprint, and The Scarlet is as easy on the environment as it is on the eye.

The Scarlet Hotel, Tredragon Road, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, TR8 4DQ (01637 861800; Double rooms start at £270, including breakfast.

The Cary Arms, Devon

A beachcomber's delight, this small waterside hotel at Babbacombe has a touch of the quirky 1930s seaside retreat about it. Many visitors come just for a meal in the attached pub, but it is well worth booking in for the night. As unpretentious as it is pampering, it is hard not to love a place that slips a hot water bottle into your bed on chilly nights.

The Cary Arms, Babbacombe Beach, Devon, TQ1 3LX (01803 327110; Double rooms start at £155, including breakfast.

The Woodlands, North Yorkshire

This straightforward seaside hotel has five rooms, each of which is themed. There is Jasper, with its bold African-inspired textiles, and Finley with a nod to all things nautical. Guests can explore the adjacent beaches and woodland or take a trip into nearby Whitby.

The Woodlands, Sandsend, Yorkshire, YO21 3TE (01947 893438; Doubles start at £105, including breakfast.

Number 43, Cumbria

Despite a location well away from the Lake District's main tourist areas, this B&B has won a dedicated following thanks to its six sybaritic bedrooms, award-winning breakfasts (suppers, too, in winter) and innovative add-ons. For example, summer guests can book a barbecue pack of local meat and fresh salads and sit out on the waterside terrace to cook their own feast.

No 43, The Promenade, Arnside, Cumbria, LA5 0AA (01524 762761; Doubles start at £120, including breakfast.

The George Hotel, Isle of Wight

It's the foibles you fall for here – the ship-like camber of some of the floorboards and the confidence in just being itself. Perched beside the Solent, The George does not try to follow trends (unless you count the relatively new addition of a brasserie). Owned by two couples – Jeremy Willcock and his cookery writer wife Amy, and former Dire Straits bassist John Ilsley and his wife Steph – it's reassuringly traditional, yet without an ounce of stuffiness.

The George Hotel, Quay Street, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, PO41 0PE (01983 760331; Doubles start at £190, including breakfast.

The Gallivant Hotel, East Sussex

Sussex meets New England at this beach house hotel. Its 18 bedrooms feature furnishings in fresh blue and white stripes and such hints of the seaside as shells inlaid into desks. The food is a big draw; the chef was lured from the Tate Modern to work his magic on the local produce.

The Gallivant, New Lydd Road, Camber, Rye, East Sussex, TN31 7RB (01797 225057; Doubles start at £85, including breakfast.