uk beach holidays harbour beach club

The best UK beach holidays for summer staycations

19 Apr 2023|By Kari Colmans

White sand and blue skies are much closer than you think...

If you’re looking to escape London, or just want to feel the sand beneath your toes and a sea breeze in your hair without having to get on a plane, then these top UK beach holidays will have you reaching for your Havaianas in no time. From Devon, Dorset and Cornwall to Suffolk, Wales and Ireland, choose a staycation for your summer break, and enjoy everything our local coasts have to offer. You’ll be ‘shore’ to find something to suit…

The Pig on the Beach, Swanage

It’s been a minute since the picturesque Pig on the Beach opened nine summers ago, but it’s still up there with the best of them. Set in an old coastal villa, it is the epitome of understated, escape-to-the-country charm — minus any nan’s house vibes. Combining its eccentric architectural style with beach-house chic interiors, the 23 quirky rooms are full of character, from the romantic attic suites with freestanding baths in clever nooks, to outside bedrooms including The Lookout and The Bothy.

While away your weekend sipping ale and nibbling on Dorset whelks in wild garlic butter on the sprawling lawn of the greenhouse restaurant, looking out to Old Harry Rocks, before heading to the Shepherd’s Huts treatment rooms for a massage or facial. If you’re celebrating something special, or are just happy to be alive, then choose the Roundhouse for a soirée. This rustic thatched room is perfect for private suppers with a view, complete with its own pizza oven, outdoor bar, and homemade ice cream trolley. The closest coastline of outstanding natural beauty to London, nearby Studland Beach is one of the very few sandy stretches in Dorset. Be sure to make good use of the hotel’s traditional beach huts.

From £210 per night, visit thepighotel.com

Harbour Beach Club and Hotel, Salcombe

From sunrise yoga in the sand and glorious coastal hikes to kayaking around the estuary and exploring the hidden coves and inlets of South Sands — not to mention bird and seal spotting — there are few better places to start a day in Salcombe than the Harbour Beach Club. Set in an Area of Outstanding Beauty, this family-friendly resort is inspired by its coastal surroundings, with most of the hotel’s 50 bedrooms and suites boasting sprawling beachfront views, complete with earthy-toned interior flourishes in sage, sand, and sunshine.

Enjoy fried whitebait and a crisp glass of white on the wraparound terrace of the all-day dining restaurant, before heading down to the beach bar on the lower deck to get the party started. The in-house spa, meanwhile, is home to a heated pool, hydro-pool, gym and juice bar, with all treatments inspired by the ocean. Choose the Soul Soother from the Sea, a natural sea salt body exfoliation treatment promising to leave skin smooth, refreshed and primed for the perfect tan.

From £259 per night, visit harbourhotels.co.uk

St Mawes Hotel, Cornwall

The jewel in the crown of the UK coastline, Cornwall is the obvious choice for a British beach getaway for a reason. The boutique St Mawes Hotel, which is surrounded by the beautiful natural beauty of the Roseland Peninsula, is simple yet refined, embodying everything we love about the region in a homely nautical style. Enjoy dressed Cornish crab and Wye Valley asparagus followed by Thai green mussels, on the upper deck of the delightful in-house eatery.

For sundowners, meanwhile, there are few better destinations than the sunny terrace of the lower deck bar. Be sure to grab an outside table facing the water — the top spot in town for watching the comings and goings of the harbour. If you’re heading down for the weekend, arrive a day early for Live Music Thursdays: an authentic taste of local culture with a showcase of some of Cornwall’s best up-and-coming musicians. For a cosy night ‘in/out’, choose the in-house luxury cinema, which screens a mixture of mainstream, classics, independent and cult movies, as well as sporting events. A favourite with locals throughout the year, expect to meet the fisherman who caught your lobster over a chilled beer or two. It’s a whale of a time.

From £260 per night, visit stmaweshotel.com

Lough Eske Castle, Donegal

Although technically the stunning Lough Eske Castle stands upon a lough (lake) and not directly on the beach, it is less than a 10-minute drive from the hotel to the famous Blue Flag beaches of the Republic of Ireland, such as Murvagh. And it really is spectacular. Named one of the Coolest Places on the Planet by National Geographic, the castle sits majestically at the foot of the Bluestack Mountains, just moments from the countless scenic gems along Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Way, including Europe's tallest sea cliffs, Sliabh Liag.

Most rooms and suites are classic in style — think dark woods, four-poster beds and muted tones — while the secluded Lake Lodge room offers total privacy on the water’s edge. Traditional afternoon tea, Sunday roasts, and everyday fare all hit the mark here (there’s also a vegan menu), ideal after working up an appetite surfing, horse riding, sea stack climbing, golfing (and spa-ing). Boasting a long history which is wrapped up in the story of Co. Donegal and Ireland itself — a tale of being won, lost, ruined, and restored — there’s no doubt this castle’s Irish charm will steal your heart forever.

From £360 per night, visit lougheskecastlehotel.com

St Edmunds House, Cornwall

If ever there was a present-day face of Cornwall, then it must be Rick Stein. Offering six luxurious and peaceful guest rooms, Stein’s St Edmunds House offers a real taste of Padstow. Relax and unwind with beautiful freestanding baths, huge four-poster beds and Juliette balconies, surrounded by the neutral tones and bare woods of the beach-chic interiors.

Be guided by the man himself when it comes to making the most of your stay. Don’t miss St Merryn’s Seven Bays, a collection of sandy beaches all within walking distance of each other and near the village of St Merryn (home to Stein’s pub The Cornish Arms), before exploring the rocky valleys and cascading waterfall at Tregardock and the stunning Porth Joke Beach, which is surrounded by fields of poppies from May to June. For further exploration, the Rick Stein group has several private, idyllic hotels dotted around the area, from Padstow to Penrose and Trevone to St Merryn. The food isn’t bad either.

From £295 per night, visit rickstein.com

Sibton Park, Suffolk

A Grade II* listed Georgian country house perched at the side of the Serpentine, Sibton Manor at Wilderness Reserve is as grand as country estates come. Just a few minutes drive from the sprawling heritage Suffolk coastline, it’s also a great option for a blended countryside meets beach holiday, with miles of sandy shores to explore from The Denes Beach to Dunwich. Once inside the house, the numerous reception rooms and bedrooms (sleeping up to 27) combine classic Georgian proportions with eclectic wallpapers and thoughtful furnishings, as well as open fireplaces, and a vaulted corridor, where you’ll also find the gym, private cinema, and games room.

For outside dining under expansive skies, there’s a private courtyard or a large terrace overlooking the surrounding parkland, perfect for BBQs or private dining. Explore and engage with your surroundings either by Pashley bicycle, rowboat or paddleboard on the Serpentine lake, or take to the ocean waves in a RIB from Southwold with Coastal Challenger. Let the games begin…

From £3,336 per night, visit wildernessreserve.com

Silva Lodge, Dorset

A romantic getaway perched high on the Portland Stone cliffs and just moments from Dorset’s abundance of beaches, Silva Lodge is all about celebrating its magical natural surroundings. The stunning accommodation is set across two levels and can comfortably house up to four guests across two well-appointed bedrooms, with open-plan living spaces and an en suite master bedroom guaranteed to wow.

Surrounded by blooming clifftop flowers and unique Portland Butterflies, it makes the ideal base for those wanting to explore the magnificent Jurassic coastline and all that the beautiful county has to offer. Unwind on the private terrace after a day of sun and sand, with views of the breathtaking sea below.

From £1,264 per night, visit oliverstravels.com

Walton Castle, North Somerset

If you want to impress your friends and family with the size of your turrets, then you could do worse than this 17th Century castle, with its casual panoramic views over wooded North Somerset on one side and the Bristol Channel to Wales on the other. The fairy-tale-worthy venue is organised across four levels in an octagonal keep, which sits in the centre of a beautifully maintained lawn and cobbled courtyard. Bedrooms sprawl between turrets, and there’s also a library and reading room.

On the final and second floor, there is a magnificent master bedroom with en suite bathroom boasting a roll-top bath as well as a private terrace — the perfect place from which to enjoy a drink while admiring the gorgeous views. Access to the indoor pool is via a sunken patio, while the ‘entertainment turret’ comes complete with pool table, table football, darts, lawn games, a 48-inch TV, as well as a living room, kitchen, bathroom and double bedroom. Now who’s the dirty rascal?

From £8,654 per night, visit oliverstravels.com

Three Mile Beach, Cornwall

It feels like our love affair with Cornwall has reached an all-time fever pitch. So, thank goodness for Three Mile Beach, a collection of 15 have-it-all beach houses on the north Cornish coast and designed specifically to conjure the carefree nostalgia of childhood seaside holidays (minus the car sickness and rain). Hidden among the sand dunes and long coastal grasses, the range of properties cater to everyone from couples, families, friends and pups. Think open-plan kitchen-lounge-diners, deep sofas, warming log burners and wraparound terraces complete with sunken cedar hot tubs, barrel saunas, and barbecues, while the playful interiors see local Cornish craftsmanship sit happily alongside eclectic artworks.

Just a stone’s throw from the rolling waves of Gwithian Beach, adored by surfers, paddleboarders and kite surfers, Three Mile Beach will arrange hassle-free wetsuit and surfboard hire delivered straight to guests’ doors, while group and private surf lessons can be organised with a nearby surf school. Awesome.

From £1,299 for a two-bedroom house for a minimum three-night stay, visit threemilebeach.co.uk

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