Learn how to switch off and reconnect with the natural world on a coastal break without Wi-Fi or even electricity. Words: Alex Reece
1. FOR YOUR OWN PRIVATE ISLAND
Fort Clonque, Alderney, Channel Islands
There are no TVs, telephones or Wi-Fi in any of the nearly 200 properties owned by The Landmark Trust, and Fort Clonque, built on a rocky outcrop off the Channel Island of Alderney, is no exception. Founded in 1847 to fend off the French, it was designed to accommodate a battery of 10 guns, two officers and 50 men – however, owing to advances in naval capability, it was soon disarmed after completion. Delightfully, at high tide, the whole fort is cut off from the rest of the island, so there’s nothing to do but admire the elements at play and to practise the lost art of conversation. From Fort Clonque, Alderney and its Zig-Zag coastal path can be reached on foot via a causeway at low tide. From £715 for four nights, sleeps 13 (landmarktrust.org.uk).
2. FOR A SHEPHERD’S DELIGHT
Cwt Crannog, Nr Llangrannog, Ceredigion
Open since summer 2014, these two custom-made farmworkers’ huts have views down the Hoffnant Valley to the sea from their own private meadow. Both the bed hut and ‘facilities’ hut, which includes the kitchen and bathroom, have mains electricity, but there is no Wi-Fi or phone signal, enabling guests to enjoy the peaceful setting. Based on a five-acre smallholding, you can order a home-baked breakfast basket with organic eggs, or a first-night evening meal, from the farmer’s wife. If you can tear yourself away from the vintage-style set-up, the seaside village of Llangrannog is a three-minute drive. From £299 a week, sleeps four (underthethatch.co.uk).
3. FOR A TRIP BACK IN TIME
Penrhyn, Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire
Part of the appeal of staying at this remote, clifftop cottage is the experience of living in a bygone age. Without electricity, lighting is provided by oil lamps and candles, and there are books, games and a piano to help you make your own old-school entertainment. The interior is authentically furnished: slate floors and whitewashed walls are cosied up by Welsh blankets and an oil-fired Rayburn. Step out of the garden gate and you’ll join the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, for walks through craggy countryside to the nearby village of Fishguard – or, in the other direction, Porthgain for the best local seafood. From £464 a week, sleeps six (coastalcottages.co.uk).
4. FOR A SEASIDE LOVE SHACK
The Beach Hut, Noss Mayo, Devon
What could be more romantic than staying on a secluded cove, with no chirruping smartphones or email alerts to disturb your time together? The Beach Hut in South Devon is one such haven, free from Wi-Fi, phone signal or even power. Access is on foot by a cliff path and, besides the hut – originally a boathouse, dating back more than a century – there’s nothing there: just the cliffs, beach and sea. Accommodation is rustic yet comfortable: there is running water, a gas hob, solar-powered lighting, wood-fired outdoor hot tub and shower. Food hampers and organic barbecue food boxes are available to pre-order from Carswell Farm, where the hut is based. From £650 for two nights, sleeps two, open March-October, but not during school holidays (carswellcottages.com).
5. FOR GLORIOUS ISOLATION
Tigh Nighean Bhan, Trotternish Peninsula, Isle of Syke
The lack of Wi-Fi and mobile reception at this remote hideaway for two is in keeping with the traditional setting of a thatched blackhouse on Skye’s wild Trotternish Peninsula. Tigh Nighean Bhan (or ‘house of the fair lady’) was originally built by the church as a reading house, and was restored in recent years by architects Rural Design to include a smart bathroom and open-plan living/kitchen area. The cottage has views towards the Western Isles of Harris and Lewis (there are sailings from the nearby port of Uig) and is close to rugged walking country and the Old Man of Storr. From £560 a week, sleeps two (wildernesscottages.co.uk).
6. FOR RECHARGING BODY AND MIND
Ayurveda and Yoga Retreat, Neal’s Yard Holidays, Gower Peninsula
According to Neal’s Yard Holidays MD Ulrike Spire, the only complaint they ever hear from guests on this retreat is that they don’t want it to end. ‘The treatments and nature can be so nurturing,’ she says. The accommodation is surrounded by ancient woodland on a rural farmstead, and the package includes Ayurvedic treatments and yoga sessions, plus all meals. From £570 for three nights full board inclusive (nealsyardholidays.com).
7. FOR FAMILY FUN
Lochhouses Farm, Tyninghame, East Lothian
Surely more exciting for kids than any electronic gadget are these treehouses at Lochhouses Farm, sited between Dunbar and North Berwick on the east coast of Scotland. Rather like play forts for glamping, the five purpose-built timber structures stand on two-metre-high stilts, offering thrilling views of the sea and the Bass Rock from the deck – and no Wi-Fi. With no electricity either (except in the hot shower), cooking is done on a log-burning stove and lanterns are provided, as is a cool box for food storage. Swings hang below deck for children to play on – and with farm animals on site to feed, plus Tyninghame Beach next door, there’s little chance of them getting bored. Open March-Nov; from £148 per night, sleeps five (canopyandstars.co.uk).
8. FOR A TECH-FREE CITY BREAK
The Westin Dublin, Ireland
Since 2012, the five-star Westin Dublin, overlooking Trinity College, has offered a Digital Detox package to help further people’s enjoyment of the port city. On arriving at the hotel, guests can surrender their devices, or keep them in a safe in their room. Tech-free diversions take the form of breakfast in bed and an in-room massage. A ‘detox kit’ is also provided, including info on Dublin and a walking map, to lure you out into the real world. Along with cultural attractions, such as the Book of Kells, Dublin has a number of sandy beaches close by, such as Claremont. Just take the bus from the city centre. From €195pp, based on two sharing; single supplement applies (thewestindublin.com).