There’s nothing quite like the British coastline, and a seaside hotel serves as an ideal connect-the-dots-style pit stop when you’re planning a road trip. Why not break up long days behind the wheel with a relaxing stopoff on a beach-front or prom? From Brighton to Blackpool and Bude to Braunton, Culture Trip picks the best beach-based places to stay.
The Bike and Boot won’t blink twice if you trudge in with a mud-flecked bike, soaked-through jeans or sand between your toes. The hotel acknowledges the adventurous allure of its coastal location with forward-thinking amenities such as a boot-washing station, changing facilities and secure bike and surfboard storage. Dogs are not just welcome, they’re wanted, with the dog-friendly rooms thoughtfully stocked with toys, grooming products and towels to dry off dirty paws. In each, vintage Scarborough posters double as blinds and pops of tangerine add warmth, while some also have enviable views of the sea.
The Cliff Hotel opened its doors in 1898, making its name as a luxurious retreat that once welcomed the Prince of Wales. Despite being ravaged by a fire years later, the hotel was rebuilt, and now mixes old-world furnishings and Victorian-style lighting fixtures with sleek leather and a glass-enclosed terrace. Sophisticated rooms include the Bath Suite – with a clawfoot tub in the middle so you can gaze out over the beach during a soak – and a fittingly large Family Room. The bar, with tartan carpets, baroque wallpaper and forest-green leather seating, is ideal for escaping the salty winds with a pint.
The Esplanade resides in a sky-blue townhouse in the idyllic seaside town of Tenby. Overlooking the South Beach, the family-run hotel exudes a homely warmth, both in their hospitality and traditional decor. Bold vintage carpets, thick floral drapes and bed canopies throwback to the Victorian-era in the rooms – some with far-reaching views across Carmarthen Bay. The tea room, decorated with peach hues and spilling ivy, is a picturesque setting for a smoked salmon and eggs breakfast, and people-watching through the large bay windows.
Steps from the beach, the Marine Hotel echoes its coastal surroundings with a palette of seafoam-reminiscent whites and blues, sandy tones and lush greens. Model boats sit in rooms with chocolate-coloured blankets and tufted armchairs – book a sea view to wake up to the sight and sounds of rolling waves. The in-house restaurant is fresh in both food and ambience, set with numerous potted plants and serving up locally sourced and sustainable fare. Wash down the traditional cod and chips with a pint of traditional Kentish beer from one of Britain’s oldest brewers.
Artist Residence, sitting at the head of Regency Square, owes its patchwork of styles to local artists who were offered board in exchange for unique design details (hence the name). The result is deliciously eclectic – mini pin-up figures and planets, an Aubrey Hepburn mural and an explosive collage of nature are just a few of the things found on the walls of rooms. Each includes a Roberts radio, reclaimed wood furnishings and Nespresso coffee machine, but if you’re after ocean vistas and a soak in a copper roll-top bath go for the Sea View Loft. You can also sip rhubarb spritz cocktails in jungle-like bar the Fix, or get lost in a book on the sun-dappled terrace.
A longstanding Bournemouth staple, built in 1812, the Royal Exeter Hotel was once home to Captain Lewis Tregonwell, the founder of the coastal town. The 19th-century building retains its historic charm with castle-like turrets and deep ruby-red rooms, while leisurely days can be spent making the most of the gym, neon-lit bar and plant-fringed terrace. With the beach right on your doorstep, it is a short wander to dig your toes in the sand before heading back to try the signature baked Alaska in the in-house restaurant.
Named after the golden ribbon of beach it overlooks, Saunton Sands promises seaside luxury with tennis courts, two heated outdoor vitality pools and a salt-infused steam room. Take a dip in healing mineral-rich waters and gaze down at the sea’s frothy waves, or treat yourself to a decadent Gold Rush facial which uses champagne, caviar and even 23ct gold to make your skin glow. Elegant rooms range from practical singles to luxury apartments with private balconies and kitchens. Bring your wellies for rambling historic trails and woodland walks, or (if the weather’s right) stroll down to sunbathe in front of the technicolour beach huts.
Loch Melfort Hotel sits in a 17 acres of landscaped gardens in the Scottish Highlands, ringed by tangled forest and rugged hillside. There is direct access to the beach at the foot of its sloping fields and the 19th-century hotel offers plenty of handy information on hiking trails and wildlife-spotting. Admire the postcard-worthy landscape over a wee dram on your private balcony in the Sea View Rooms, or upgrade to a suite for more space filled with antique furniture, subdued tartan accents and pillowy sofas.
Backdropped by the swooping rollercoasters of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the Big Blue Hotel takes centre stage with its bold and colourful facade. Thrillseekers looking to get their adrenaline fix in the charmingly old-fashioned amusement park can recharge in contemporary rooms with faux crocodile-skin chairs and power showers set over baths. Bunk bed rooms also cater to young families, with a dedicated children’s area kitted out with a Playstation 3 console and individual televisions. Head down to the Blues Bar & Brasseries to dig into classic comfort food like homemade pies, or take a stroll along the promenade, which is just minutes away.
Housed in a Victorian building, the historic design of the Beach at Bude means every room is different. Low, angular ceilings and bay windows create natural nooks to curl up with a book, while some have Juliet balconies and terraces that open out to views across the warren-like sand dunes to the sea. Each warm-toned space is decked out with splashes of burnt sienna, limed oak furnishings and ocean-themed cushions, while Calcutta marble bathrooms add a luxurious edge. If you’re after a refreshing evening tipple or two, passionfruit martinis are served up in the buzzy, ocean-facing beach bar.
The peach-coloured Four Saints Brig Y Don Hotel sits among a parade of pastel-hued buildings in the heart of Llandudno’s promenade. The beach lies just metres away – perfect if you want to brave an early morning dip before the crowds descend. Stripped-back rooms offer a cosy base with wooden furnishings and flatscreen TVs, while the downstairs pool table keeps you entertained on rainy days. If you’re not full from snacking on seaside staples like fish and chips or ice cream, Food Valley restaurant serves up a hearty roast of the day.