From boutique B&Bs to luxury spa retreats, here are our top 10 coastal hotels in Devon for a holiday by the sea
Words: Anna Turns
1. FOR 1930s GLAMOUR
Burgh Island Hotel
WHY HERE? Some fly in by helicopter, but when the tide is high, arriving by sea tractor is magical. Dress up for dinner, drink cocktails in the glass-domed bar and dance the night away to swing and jazz at this Art Deco haven. Double dinner B&B from around £400, including transfers from the mainland (burghisland.com).
2. FOR MESSING ABOUT ON BOATS
Commodore Hotel, Instow
WHY HERE? This traditional hotel is the perfect spot to watch cargo ships chug down the River Torridge to Bideford and the pilot gig rowing boats racing past. Picturesque Instow sits across the estuary from Appledore, and the Tarka Trail cycle path passes just behind the hotel. Double dinner B&B from around £200 (commodore-instow.co.uk).
3. FOR SEASIDE CHARM
Sidmouth Harbour Hotel
WHY HERE? Overlooking Lyme Bay and the dramatic red cliffs of the Jurassic Coast, this newly refurbished spa hotel oozes luxury. Contemporary New England interiors and the rich, vibrant décor in the Upper Deck restaurant and bar make the perfect match to the East Devon seaside resort of Sidmouth. Stroll along the seafront, go hunting for fossils and then indulge in the heated outdoor pool. Double B&B from around £185 (sidmouth-harbour-hotel.co.uk).
4. FOR MUDDY PAWS
Soar Mill Cove Hotel, South Hams
WHY HERE? Dogs are welcomed at reception by Farley, the hotel’s own Labrador, and will love the walks down the secluded valley to the sandy cove below. If you’re feeling more adventurous take the rugged coast path east to Salcombe or west to Hope Cove. Set into the hillside, each room at the hotel has a private patio and the saltwater swimming pool brings the ocean into the spa. Double B&B from around £199 (soarmillcove.co.uk).
5. FOR VINTAGE STYLE
Saunton Sands Hotel, Braunton
WHY HERE? Dance the night away at one of the hotel’s party events surrounded by Art Deco architecture and original chandeliers. Then wake up to dramatic views of the surf and play on the sand dunes of Braunton Burrows to blow away the cobwebs. Elegant and quintessentially British, this hotel embraces the vibrant surf culture of North Devon, with free tuition for adults and children over 11 years staying during the school holidays. Double B&B from around £160 (sauntonsands.co.uk).
6. FOR BREATHTAKING SEA VIEWS
Watersmeet Hotel, Woolacombe
WHY HERE? Eight of the contemporary sea-view rooms have balconies – perfect for watching the sun set over Lundy Island. Walk south along the coast path to Woolacombe Bay or go north to see crashing waves at Morte Point. Private steps lead from the hotel to Combesgate Beach. Double B&B from around £160 (watersmeethotel.co.uk).
7. FOR BEACH CHIC
South Sands Hotel, Salcombe
WHY HERE? Every corner of this boutique hotel echoes the sandy beach and salty sea air just beyond the terrace. Stay in a beach suite, where dinner can be served. Or choose the romantic J-class room and watch the tide ebb and flow from two standalone baths by the bay window. Double B&B from around £175 (southsands.com).
8. FOR WATERSIDE SPECTACLES
Dart Marina Hotel & Spa, Dartmouth
WHY HERE? From Dart Marina in this naval town, watch the world sail by to the soundtrack of halyards clinking and see the Dartmouth steam train chugging along the opposite bank of the river. All 49 rooms have a balcony (with bird books and binoculars), ideal for watching Dartmouth Royal Regatta in August. Double B&B from around £180 (dartmarina.com).
9. FOR NAUTICAL NOSTALGIA
WHY HERE? Thurlestone Rock crowns the seascape and this coast’s seafaring heritage is reflected inside with vintage yachting photos, trunks and the cruise ship-inspired Voyage Spa. Full afternoon tea is a must, and then work it off at Thurlestone Golf Club. Double B&B from around £165 (prideofbritainhotels.com/hotels/thurlestone-hotel).
10. FOR FAMILY FUN
Woolacombe Bay Hotel
WHY HERE? It’s hard to imagine little ones ever getting bored of Woolacombe’s three miles of sweeping sands, but if they do this hotel offers horse-riding lessons, an adventure playground and afternoon screenings in their private cinema, in addition to the pool, pitch and putt and tennis. From around £70 pp, per night including breakfast. Children from around £20 (woolacombe-bay-hotel.co.uk).