If the prospect of crowded beaches and never-ending queues (or not being able to get a room for love nor money) has thwarted any possibility of a summer trip in the South West this year, don’t write off the idea of an autumn break.
Seasoned staycationers know post-August is the prime time to visit thanks to the (usually) good weather, warm sea temperatures, peaceful pace and phenomenal seasonal food. Read on to discover our favourite little-known coastal staycations for an autumn escape
Hope Cove House, Devon
Even when the busy summer season draws to a close, seaside-chic Salcombe is still abuzz with G&T-clinking, seafood-slurping visitors. However, wander just eight miles along the South West Coast Path to Hope Cove and you’ll discover a little slice of serenity in the South Hams.
Perched above the lucent blue waves of Inner Hope Bay, Hope Cove House is a don’t-tell-your-friends favourite with foodies who crave a healthy dose of peace, quiet and natural wine. The family-run hotel is petite and personal, with just ten bedrooms and a small but highly rated restaurant (currently only open to residents) adding to the home-from-home feel.
While the hotel aesthetic is cool and contemporary, the vibe is pleasingly casual. The menu at the restaurant is written daily and includes simple yet delicious dishes such as lemon sole with beurre noisette, onglet and peppercorn sauce, and mussels and chips.
The Alexandra Hotel, Dorset
A stone’s throw from the Devon/Dorset border, the arty seaside town of Lyme Regis is a hub of creative activity – welcoming epicureans hungry for a taste the terroir as well as fossil hunters who comb the Jurassic Coast digging for old bones.
A short walk up the hill from the harbour is The Alexandra Hotel. Its position above Lyme Bay means guests can enjoy panoramic views over the heritage coast from the gardens and some of the bedrooms, as well as uninterrupted relaxation away from the bustle of the town.
If your holiday plans usually revolve around what you’ll be eating and drinking, you won’t have to travel far to find exceptional fine dining as The Alexandra’s restaurant is well-regarded (it gained Higher Member status in the 2020 Trencherman’s Guide). Feast on the likes of Lyme Bay mackerel with apple and charred lime.
The Pig at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall
The Pig’s collection of gourmet hotels across southern England are hot spots for city types who regularly escape commuter life for a dose of fresh air and green space. However, having had to postpone the launch of its first Cornish hotel due to the pandemic means The Pig’s latest addition has gone rather under the radar.
The beautiful new destination at Harlyn Bay is perfectly placed for a greedy weekend in Cornwall: The Lobster Shed (The Pig’s all-day dining option in the gardens) offers alfresco feasting with a side of sea breeze, while the seafood meccas of Padstow and Rock are just a short motor over the water.
Soar Mill Cove, Devon
South Devon isn’t short of luxury hotels with good restaurants and knockout views, however this family-owned retreat named after the cove it sits above is really rather special.
While nearby beaches throng with visitors, Soar Mill Cove is off the tourist track and is usually a quiet haven to kick back with a book or explore the surrounding caves by paddleboard. Stay at the contemporary hillside hotel and there’s a good chance you’ll have the beach to yourself if you take an early morning walk or post-dinner stroll.
The Rosevine, Cornwall
Finding a hotel that will be popular with both kids and parents is a Herculean task, yet this ‘big house by the sea’ on the Roseland Peninsula is a winner with guests of all ages.
A playroom, daily children’s tea party and indoor swimming pool (not to mention sandcastle constructing and body boarding at the beach at the end of the lane) keep the kids entertained, while grown-ups can take advantage of the baby-sitting service, brilliant food and extensive cocktail list.