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The UK’s best seaside hotels 2023

Britain’s blessed with beaches to rival those abroad – here’s where to stay for an outstanding coastal break

Wednesday 17 May 2023 14:17 BST
The UK has a wealth of cosy coastal hotels, including the Seaside Boarding House
The UK has a wealth of cosy coastal hotels, including the Seaside Boarding House (Ed Ovenden)

Pre Covid, holidays for Brits often meant flying to foreign climes for a taste of sun, sea and sand. But with the cost-of-living crisis hot on the heels of the pandemic, plenty of travellers are reconsidering their holiday habits and looking within the UK for their next trip.

Fortunately, our fair isle is blessed with fabulous bays that are so idyllic they look like they belong in the Med. In fact, Britain has a wealth of Blue Flag beaches to enjoy.

From England’s sandy coastlines to Wales’s rugged cliffs, there’s nowhere quite like a British beach – in all its sticks-of-rock, wind-in-the-hair, sandy-sandwich glory.

As for where to stay, our little island has plenty of great options along every coast – whether you’re after a fun family holiday, a dog-friendly pad or a rural romantic bolthole. Here, Jane Knight from The Good Hotel Guide picks Britain’s best seaside hotels.

South Sands

Location: Salcombe, Devon

South Sands has an unbeatable location (South Sands)

Stay just steps away from a sheltered beach at this smart, contemporary hotel. Head out on a boat, take the sea tractor linking South Sands to quaint Salcombe, or just relax in the sun.

When you’re hungry, there’s something for everyone – from a Devon crab sandwich or cream tea on the terrace to tapas or a three-course meal.

Rooms are decked out in nautical colours – the best has a Caesar-size bed, its own balcony and two slipper baths in a bay window, perfect for admiring the sea view.

Hotel Portmeirion

Location: Portmeirion, Gwynedd

Hotel Portmeirion overlooks the golden sands of the Dwyryd estuary (Hotel Portmeirion)

Enjoy a beach stay with a difference at the hotel that visionary architect, Clough Williams-Ellis, designed as the focal point for his ideal village. Overlooking the golden sands of the Dwyryd estuary in Snowdonia, and with an Art Deco bar and dining room recreated by Sir Terence Conran, it makes a great base from which to explore the Italianate resort.

As well as traditional rooms in the hotel proper, there are more contemporary ones in Castell Deudraeth, and others scattered around the village.

Scarista House

Location: Scarista, Western Isles

On “the edge of the world” at Scarista House (Scarista House)

It feels like you’re on the edge of the world at Scarista, with miles of remote, crowd-free sands on the southwestern coast of South Harris. Yes, the sea might be a tad nippy for a dip, but you can go surfing, kayaking or sailing, as well as walking.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, return to feast on owner Patricia Martin’s nightly changing dinners. She makes practically everything from scratch, from bread and cakes to pasta and ice cream. Meals might feature monkfish with fennel and pea purée, followed by cherry clafoutis with almond ice cream. Two of the traditionally styled bedrooms have sea-facing sitting areas.

Price: Doubles from £241, B&B;

The Gallivant

Location: Camber Sands, Sussex

The Gallivant has a cool New England feel (The Gallivant)

A cool New England feel and a chic, laidback vibe characterise this hotel just over the road from glorious Camber Sands. Bedrooms come with wood panelling, white-painted rafters and jazzy headboards; most have a terrace. Elsewhere, there are slouchy sofas and book-lined walls, with English wines on the menu at the copper-topped bar.

If you book the full package, it includes not only breakfast but also all-day elevenses, wine at 5pm, an exquisite dinner and wellness classes. Feel free to take your dog but not your kids – only over-16s are allowed.

The Seaside Boarding House

Location: Burton Bradstock, Dorset

The Seaside Boarding House terrace, with views over Lyme Bay (Seaside Boarding House)

It feels like a mix between Edward Hopper’s Cape Cod and an Edwardian seaside hotel in this white-painted villa above Chesil Beach. Owners Mary-Lou Sturridge and Tony Mackintosh, who created London’s Groucho Club, have filled the stripped-down interiors with marine salvage, seascapes and antique-shop booty.

Eat in the restaurant or on the terrace with views over Lyme Bay before retiring to one of the bright and light rooms with views of the coast, along with a retro dial phone and radio. Dogs are welcome in some bedrooms for no extra charge.

Price: Doubles from £245, B&B;

Polurrian on the Lizard

Location: Mullion, Cornwall

Polurrian on the Lizard enjoys a clifftop location (Polurrian on the Lizard)

The spectacular setting of this white clifftop edifice with mesmerising sea views through its walls of windows takes some beating. You can walk down to the hotel’s own little cove, just 10 minutes away, or take a longer hike along the South West Coast Path, which runs alongside.

Bedrooms are simple, with a contemporary style, while an all-day menu offers everything from pizza and burgers to steak or lobster. Children are welcome and there’s even baby-listening in the rooms.

No. 33

Location: Hunstanton, Norfolk

Stylish interiors at No. 33 (No. 33)

It may not be on the seafront, but Jeanne Whittome’s B&B is still a top spot to stay in this Victorian seaside town – the only west-facing resort on England’s east coast.

A concierge service can arrange everything from bike hire to birdwatching, and you can walk the coast path from “sunny Hunny” to Cromer, or cheat and take the CoastHopper bus.

Stylish interiors feature a palette of soft greys and white. There are also suites at nearby sister property Thornham Deli, which supplies No. 33 with continental breakfast for guests.

The Nare, Cornwall

Location: Veryan-in-Roseland

The Nare combines tradition and luxury (The Nare)

A self-styled country hotel by the sea, The Nare has beautiful gardens leading to the sands of Carne beach. You can enjoy breath-taking views from some of the bedrooms or fully immerse yourself in the picture by taking one of the hotel’s two boats out to explore the Cornish coast.

Owned by the Ashworth family for more than 30 years, the hotel is traditional yet luxurious. Expect daily complimentary cream teas, flowers, fruit and hot-water bottles in the bedrooms, and an hors d’oeuvre trolley in the fine-dining restaurant.

Price: Doubles from £360, B&B;

The Good Hotel Guide 46th Edition is out now.

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