THESE chic seaside spots are three of the UK’s most popular staycay destinations — which will you choose?
Sandy Salcombe in Devon, social media-famous Kent town Deal and Cowes on the Isle of Wight are the very best the UK has to offer.
THE PAD: Is there a smugger feeling than scoring unseasonably warm weather on a staycay? Strike it lucky in Salcombe and you’ll be gazing across the waterfront from your private balcony.
Perfectly located near sandy beaches, boutiques and eateries, 36 The Salcombe is on the third floor of a Victorian building converted into holiday flats, set in pretty communal gardens with exclusive use of a heated outdoor pool.
Newly refurbished, there’s a generous living space, with a super-comfy sofa, kitchen and cosy bedroom that sleeps two with room for a toddler. There’s even a boat mooring available.
EXPLORE: South Sands is one of Devon’s most unspoilt beaches, and with shallow waters and shelter from the sea winds, it’s ideal for little ones.
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Get there on the legendary sea tractor, a colourful ferry bedecked with bunting that operates between the beach and central Salcombe. Adult tickets cost £4.65, and £3.65 for under-16s (Southsandsferry.co.uk).
Swing by family-run Bo’s Beach Cafe for a coffee (Instagram.com/bosbeachcafe). Ten minutes by car, North Sands is also worth a visit. With car parks close to the beach and disabled access, it’s a family fave. Weather on the turn? Salcombe is a shopper’s paradise, with retro sweet shops and fab art galleries.
REFUEL: Dining doesn’t get much more relaxed than at The Winking Prawn, which is so close to North Sands beach you can have lunch in your swimsuit. The whole crab, served with chips, salad and bread, £21.45, is divine. Kids can choose a tasty baguette filled with ham, cheese or houmous for £3.25, but remember it’s cash only (Winkingprawngroup.co.uk).
No trip to this part of the world would be complete without an ice cream the size of your head from Salcombe Dairy, where flavours include banoffee, honeycomb and — our pick — stem ginger, from £2.50 (Salcombedairy.co.uk).
DON’T MISS: Stock up on award-winning handmade fudge at Roly’s Fudge — shout out to the hot-cross-bun flavour (Rolysfudge.co.uk).
BOOK IT: A seven-night break at 36 The Salcombe costs from £723 (Sykescottages.co.uk).
THE PAD: Enormous Insta hype surrounds The Rose, a former pub on the high street of the picturesque seaside town.
With artistic charm, sumptuous decor and seriously good food, it more than lives up to expectations.
Rooms have huge, beautifully upholstered beds, organic toiletries and even your own record player with vinyl selection. And if you fancy something a little out of the ordinary for breakfast, the grilled oyster mushrooms and whipped goats curd on sourdough is delish.
It’s just a two-minute stroll to the wide pebble beach, but if rain ruins your plans, settle in at the hotel and enjoy the brilliant playlist with complimentary tea and shortbread, while trawling the area on Rightmove.
EXPLORE: On a sunny Saturday morning, there’s nowhere better to browse antiques and sample artisan food than Deal’s market, a fixture since 1699 and just a stone’s throw from the hotel. Super-friendly stall holders will tempt you with brownies, breads, cheeses and French wines.
The town also has great vintage shops, galleries and pubs. To explore the spectacular shores along the promenade and beyond, hop on a vintage bike from Pedaal Duwer, from £25 per day (Instagram.com/pedaalduwer).
REFUEL: Lunch at Deal Pier Kitchen at the end of the pier gives unbeatable views of the pastel-hued beachfront houses. Try saganaki — tomato, olive and cauliflower baked with feta and fresh bread, £10.50. They don’t take bookings, so be prepared to wait (Dealpierkitchen.com).
Back at The Rose for dinner, starters are so good it’s tempting to order several instead of a main — our pick is the grilled mushroom and brown-butter crêpe, £10. But that would mean missing out on the best burger we’ve had for years, with aged Alpine cheese and melted onions, £14.
DON’T MISS: A history buff? Take your pick from Deal Castle or the enchanting Walmer Castle And Gardens, both within a 20-minute walk (English-heritage.org.uk).
BOOK IT: Rooms cost from £125 a night, including breakfast (Therosedeal.com).
Cowes, Isle of Wight
THE PAD: Just four miles off the south coast, the Isle of Wight feels like going abroad — without the need for a passport.
Cross the water with Red Jet Ferries from Southampton, from £51 return (Redfunnel.co.uk) and stay at Onefifty, set in a gorgeous Victorian townhouse that overlooks the sea.
Just minutes from Cowes town centre, the hotel is peaceful and nothing is too much trouble for the welcoming staff, who’ll pick you up and drop you off at the ferry terminal free of charge.
Breakfast is a hearty affair and they’ll even make you a packed lunch (from £5 per person) for a day out exploring. Rooms are squeaky clean and tranquil — you’ll sleep like a log thanks to all that sea air.
EXPLORE: The iconic Needles Chairlift transports you down to Alum Bay, famed for its multicoloured sand cliffs, £3 each way, or you can walk it if you’re feeling brave (Theneedles.co.uk). Pack refreshments as there are no shops on the wide pebble beach.
Take a boat out to see the Needles Rocks and the lighthouse up close on a 25-minute cruise, £8 for adults and £5 for kids (Needlespleasurecruises.co.uk). And don’t leave without a visit to the Sand Shop, where you can fill a bottle with different coloured grains.
REFUEL: Murrays serves fab seafood at great prices, while kids have their own menu, including cod and chips and crowd-pleasing brownie with ice cream, £7.50 for two courses.
For grown-ups, start with salt and pepper squid followed by whatever takes your fancy on the fish of the day board, caught round the corner that very morning. Two courses cost £22.50 (Murrays.co).
While out and about, make a pit stop at Grace’s Bakery for lemon drizzle cake, £3.10 (Gracesbakery.uk). If you’re after a traditional pub lunch, The Anchor Inn has home-made pies, £12.95 (Theanchorcowes.co.uk).
DON’T MISS: High on a hill, Carisbrooke Castle has amazing panoramic views, inspiring gardens and donkeys. Entrance costs £11 for adults and £6.80 for kids (English-heritage.org.uk).
BOOK IT: Rooms cost from £90 per night, including breakfast (Onefiftycowes.co.uk).
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