Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, an anniversary or special occasion – what better way to express your love than by sharing a couple of days immersed in the seaside? Here, the Coast team select some of the most romantic coastal getaways in the UK.
Words: Nicola Smith, Madeleine Barber, Jessie Johnson and Caroline Wheater
FOR A SECRET HIDEAWAY
The Dairy, Roseland, Cornwall
This plush converted 1930s barn on Cornwall’s dreamy Roseland peninsula combines Scandinavian-esque creams and whites with oak flooring and exposed beams, creating a homely haven that also boasts far reaching sea views. Explore the beautiful coast path on your doorstep, or hop on the ferry to bustling Falmouth to browse its shops and galleries, before treating yourselves to a meal at Olga Polizzi’s renowned Tresanton in nearby St Mawes, tucking into the catch of the day as St Anthony’s lighthouse, across the bay, lights up the water.
HOW TO BOOK: The Dairy is available to rent from £466 per week (cornishgems.com).
FOR A BUCOLIC CABIN
Kittiwake, Isle of Mull, Argyll
Made entirely from Mull wood cut on site by wood-sculptor and owner Matthew, this rustic hill-top cabin is refreshingly authentic. The roof is topped by an old workaday wooden rowing boat – a tribute to the Hebridean island’s rich maritime heritage. The cabin is set in peaceful woodland that hides secret sculpture trails and arty finds within. These are part of the host’s art centre, named ‘Art in Nature’, which lies 200 metres away and offers creative courses and exhibitions. The cabin rooms are tastefully decorated with seashore hues and pops of bright colour. The brass bed and wooden furniture are kept cosy by a wood-burning stove, and artistic touches can be found throughout. A sandy stretch with turquoise waters sits just 300 metres away. Or take a peek into Tobermory port with its picturesque painted houses, which isn’t very far.
HOW TO BOOK: From £75 for two people to stay the night (canopyandstars.co.uk).
FOR RUSTIC CHIC
The Gallivant, Camber Sands, East Sussex
Hang your hat just 300 metres from the beach in this California-inspired restaurant with rooms, where as much attention to detail has gone into the thread count of the linen sheets as the decadent Larder of Guilty Pleasures, which hides such treats as the delectable Goupie chocolate, made just down the road. Spend the day ambling around the nearby ancient hilltop town of Rye, with its cobbled streets and eclectic shops, before returning for some good local fayre: 95 per cent of the ingredients at The Gallivant are sourced from within 10 miles, and the chefs’ CVs include Buckingham Palace and The Dorchester.
HOW TO BOOK: ‘Bigger rooms’ start at £287 per night. There is a minimum two-night stay at weekends. Read our review of The Gallivant.
FOR BOUTIQUE BEACH HUTS
Beach Cove Coastal Retreat, Ilfracombe, Devon
Beach huts by name, but not by nature, Beach Cove’s roomy clapboard pads are set into the cliffside at Hele Bay, near Ilfracombe on Devon’s north coast. Book the Cairnwood Premier Sea View and relax in your private hot tub as the waves dance beneath you. Cycle the Tarka Trail, a 30-mile traffic-free route running between Braunton and Meeth, and finish the day with dinner at The Quay restaurant, Damien Hirst’s eatery on Ilfracombe harbour.
HOW TO BOOK: The Cairnwood Premier Sea View is available to rent from £370 for three nights (hoseasons.co.uk).
Want more Devon stays? Discover our Top 10 Coastal Hotels in Devon
FOR SEASIDE STYLE
The Retreat, Sandsend, North Yorks
You expect a property to have style when it’s the former home of a Vogue editor, and this 17th-century two-bedroom hideaway doesn’t disappoint, combining cosiness with a pastoral elegance. Sitting a few miles from Whitby, and a short walk from the village of Sandsend, the Retreat even has views of the North Yorkshire coast from the master bedroom. Take the steam train over the North Yorkshire Moors, enjoying a glass of winter Pimms before you dine in the classic Pullman carriage.
HOW TO BOOK: The Retreat is available to rent for a minimum of two days from £650 (gorgeouscottages.com).
FOR A COSMOPOLITAN ESCAPE
Drakes, Brighton, Sussex
This seafront hotel smacks of all the good things in life – sea views, bespoke cocktails, craft beers and a restaurant which has been awarded the highest score of all Brighton restaurants in The Good Food Guide 2016. Check into the Signature Room, with views over Brighton Pier from the chaise longue and the freestanding bath, before splashing out on the VIP Champagne experience on the Big Wheel, sipping bubbly from the capsule as you soar above Brighton Beach.
HOW TO BOOK: The Signature Room at Drakes starts at £300 per night for a room only. Read our hotel review of Drakes.
FOR GRAND COUNTRY STYLE
Rathmullan House, County Donegal, Ireland
Step back in time when you check into this grand country house in County Donegal, with wide-reaching views over Lough Swilly. Take a beach trek on horseback before returning for a pre-dinner dip in the indoor pool. The food, served in the hotel’s Cook & Gardner restaurant, is locally sourced – in part from its own walled garden. Book one of the hotel’s Superior Rooms, complete with Lough Swilly views, and snuggle into the king-size bed – but not before a cheeky night cap in the Library.
HOW TO BOOK: A Superior Room starts at €100 (£70) per person B&B (rathmullanhouse.com).
FOR REMOTE LUXURY
Jan de Groot, John O’Groats, Scotland
With views of the Pentland Firth, immerse yourselves in the remote North of Scotland while enjoying some rustic luxury. The one-bedroom Penthouse Suite, part of the Inn at John O’Groats, has numerous large windows that bring the dramatic outside in. Start the day with breakfast at the Inn’s Storehouse café, before hiring bikes and exploring the North Sea Cycle Route with views of the Orkney islands of Stroma and Hoy. Warm up with a tour of the Old Pultney Distillery, followed by a dram of whisky, before returning for sustenance from the welcome hamper of local food and wine.
HOW TO BOOK: Jan de Groot is available to rent from £87 per night (traveltogether.co.uk).
FOR FANCY FOOD
Fowey Harbour Hotel, Fowey, Cornwall
Perched with its toes in the sea, this seafront hotel dates back to 1882 and exudes grandeur, with its ornate Victorian lift, lofty ceilings and sea-view drawing room. Treat yourself to the Harbour’s Afternoon Tea, including pastries, cakes and homemade scones, with an accompanying bottle of fizz or perhaps a cocktail or two. But first, take a stroll to Readymoney Cove, or head to the Eden Project for a turn on its seasonal ice-skating rink.
HOW TO BOOK: Rooms cost from £160 per night (harbourhotels.co.uk/fowey).
FOR AN ISLAND RETREAT
The Broch, Borve, Isle of Harris
From the outside, The Broch looks like an ancient Roman watchtower, but from the inside, it’s an Art-Deco lovers’ paradise. Navigate the cylindrical build and climb the windblown beech tree and iron-woven staircase to the third floor bedroom, where you’ll find a four-poster bed and circular skylight, perfect for stargazing. Underfloor heating and two fireplaces keep visitors toasty warm and with views over the Sound of Taransay, the sea is never very far. Find golden sand at the mouth of Allt Borgh Beag river, which is nearby.
HOW TO BOOK: For three nights in February, two people can stay here for £514 (borvelodge.com).
FOR A UNIQUE STAY
Clifftop Railway Carriage, Ceredigion, Wales
Charming and pleasingly original, this Edwardian railway carriage has been converted into a lavish seaside escape with breathtaking 180-degree views of the famed Cardigan Bay from its clifftop location. Spot cormorants and kestrels in the air and dolphins and seals in the sea from each passenger window before relaxing in front of the fire in the contemporary open-plan kitchen/dining/living room. The carriage also has French doors opening out on to a sun deck for a romantic breakfast on those crisp, sunny mornings. The sandy Blue Flag beach at Aberporth is just a couple of hundred metres away, and the Ceredigion Coast Path runs nearby.
HOW TO BOOK: To rent the carriage for one week, prices start at £380. Sleeps two (welsh-cottages.co.uk).
FOR MODERN MOODS
The Coastguard Lookout, Dungeness, Kent
Isolated, stylish and quirky – this bolthole has it all. Sat in the middle of the pebbles on Dungeness’ quiet shores, this former coastguard’s lookout has been reborn by interior architecture firm Johnson Naylor. It’s retained the original 50s structure, while integrating quality furnishings such as limestone floors. The minimalist design calls for no doors – simply walls – and a metal staircase that oozes modernity. Not one for young children, this eccentric seaside escape is the perfect love nest where you can step out of the tower and on to the beach.
HOW TO BOOK: Prices start from £744 (bloomstays.com). Photo: Visit Kent
FOR HISTORIC VIBES
The Pigsty, Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire
This Mediterranean-inspired sty was built in the nineteenth century by Squire Barry of Fyling Hall as a home for his pigs. Now, it’s a small but comfortable place to stay for those with a hankering for history. The sty embraces compact living on one floor, and although not palatial, its location – sandwiched between the North York Moors and the sea – is fit for a king. The Landmark Trust has lovingly restored and maintained the ancient property, including its iconic timber columns, so that the sty is better suited to a much higher breed of inhabitant. Enjoy views over the undulating Yorkshire hills towards the glistening horizon of Robin Hood’s Bay, which is within easy walking distance – approximately one mile. Once there, you’ll find a long stretch of golden sand to explore.
HOW TO BOOK: Sleeping two, The Pigsty costs £260 for four nights (landmarktrust.org.uk). Photo: The Landmark Trust
FOR SCOTTISH TRADITION
Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye, Scotland
HOW TO BOOK: The ‘Digital Detox’ package – have your phone stored away in a safe place on this two-night stay, which includes a Botanical back massage and dinner on both nights – prices start from around £479 per person (01471 833333, kinloch-lodge.co.uk).
FOR OLD-SCHOOL ROMANTICISM
Penally Abbey, Pembrokeshire, Wales
FOR SHEER ESCAPISM
Cliffside, Whitsand Bay, Cornwall
FOR AN ISLAND HIDEAWAY
The Clockhouse, Ventor, Isle of Wight
FOR CHAMPAGNE BREAKFASTS
Dunbrody Country House Hotel, Wexford, Ireland
FOR A LUXURY MANOR HOUSE
Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa, Arundel, West Sussex
FOR A RIVERSIDE LOVE NEST
Dart Marina, River Dart, Dartmouth
FOR A CLIFFTOP HIDEAWAY
The Chalet, Carbis Bay, Cornwall
FOR STARGAZING & INTIMACY
Woodside Bay Treehouse, Wooten Bridge, Isle of Wight
FOR A WILD ISLAND ESCAPE
Inis Meain, Aran Islands, Galway
FOR A RELAXING SPA BREAK
Isle of Eriska Hotel & Spa, Nr Oban, West Argyll
The Ship at Dunwich, Suffolk
FOR SPECTACULAR SEA VIEWS
Fisherman’s Loft, Porthleven, South Cornwall
FOR A COSY COTTAGE
Little Pearl, Robin’s Hood Bay, Yorkshire
FOR CLASSIC STYLE AND WINDSWEPT BEACHES
The Seaside Boarding House, Burton Bradstock, West Dorset
FOR ROMANTIC WALKS
Shell Haven for Two, Amroth, Pembrokeshire
FOR A FLIGHT OF FANCY
Doyden Castle, Port Quin, North Cornwall
For more holiday inspiration, take a look at our coastal guides or reviews of places to stay. Engaged? We’ve picked out the top 12 weddings by the sea. Also, keep up to date with our latest travel features in the magazine.