Best places to stay on the UK coast

Revitalising sea air and endless ocean views – nothing quite beats a seaside stay. Here's our guide on the best places to stay along the UK coast, including seaside hotels, cottages, remote bothies and campsites.

Kearvaig Bothy in Cape Wrath, Scotland

Here’s our guide to the best coastal places to stay in Britain, from the smartest seaside hotel to a remote bothy by the ocean.

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Kearvaig Bothy, Cape Wrath, Scotland

Kearvaig Bothy in Cape Wrath, Scotland
Kearvaig Bothy is located on the Cape Wrath Estate, Scotland, in the northern Highlands (Photo by: Vincent Lowe via Alamy)

Welcome to the end of the earth. If you want to escape to the wildest edge of Britain, make Kearvaig Bothy at Cape Wrath, in the extreme north-west of Scotland, your destination. It’s an epic journey to reach this otherworldly place; you’ll feel like you’re on a different planet when you finally hike or bike along the rough track that leads to this remote haven. Kearvaig is free and open to anyone, and just steps away from the front door is a gorgeous white-sand beach that looks like a Caribbean scene until you dip a toe in the ever-chilly water. Unlike some basic bothies, this is quite cosy – bring your own wood and you can bed down next to a crackling fire. www.mountainbothies.org.uk

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Troytown Farm Campsite
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Little Meadow Campsite, Ilfracombe, North Devon

This much-loved campsite has plentiful pitches and does allow campervans, but a clever use of grassy terraces means you’ll always feel you’ve got your own little private slice of it. All pitches have views to the blue waters and bright sailing boats of Combe Martin Bay, and there’s a well-stocked farm shop on site selling locally sourced goodies. As the name suggests, a wildflower meadow at the bottom of the campsite is the perfect place to picnic and gaze out to sea. Explore further afield by following a woodland trail that leads to Watermouth Harbour and delightful little boat café Storm in a Teacup. littlemeadow.co.uk

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Harbour Houseboat, Bembridge Harbour, Isle of Wight

Harbour Houseboat
The Harbour Houseboat, just off the St Helens to Bembridge road, is available all year round (Photo by:)

Bob your way to sleep aboard the Harbour Houseboat. You may not travel far while moored up to the Isle of Wight’s Bembridge Harbour, but that doesn’t matter when you can sit and gaze across the Solent from the deck. The outside of the boat, which is reassuringly nicknamed ‘Sturdy’, is sleek and simple but the inside feels like staying in a traditional coastal cottage, with squashy sofas, four bedrooms sleeping six people and a spacious kitchen complete with Rangemaster. There’s even a telescope on board for stargazing. The perfect sailing adventure for children, without having to actually sail anywhere. theharbourhouseboat.co.uk

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The Scarlet Hotel Cornwall

The Scarlet Hotel
The Scarlet Hotel features two relaxation rooms as well as indoor and outdoor pools (Photo by:)

This is a seaside hotel, but not as you know it. The smart, adults-only Scarlet manages to be both decadent and ecologically sensitive, with a thread of modern, sustainable design and contemporary art running through the building, most of which looks out through huge glass windows at Mawgan Porth beach. You can surf, swim and climb the coastal paths from the door, but be warned: it’s a bit of a wrench to leave the calm cocoon of the hotel, where there’s a restaurant serving food made from local ingredients, an indoor pool and spa, a seaweed-strewn natural outdoor pool and, best of all, two outdoor wooden hot tubs on a perch above the beach. www.scarlethotel.co.uk

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Eilean Shona Loch Moidart, west coast of Scotland

Eilean Shona
The cottage season at Eilean Shona opens at the end of March and closes at the end of October (Photo by:)

Escape to your very own Scottish island – kind of. “A wild, rocky, romantic island it is too. It almost taketh the breath away,” wrote JM Barrie of Eilean Shona, after a summer spent on the island inspired him to immortalise it in Peter Pan. The island that became the fictional Neverland boasts empty white-sand beaches with jetties to jump off, shallow clear waters to go crabbing in and a car-free forested interior where you might spot red deer and pine martens among the trees. There are a handful of cottages to rent on Eilean Shona, but all occupy their own little secret spots on the island. A coastal adventure the Lost Boys would be proud of. eileanshona.com

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Troytown Farm Campsite, Isles of Scilly

Troytown Farm Campsite
Troytown Farm is the only dairy farm in Scilly, and the produce is sold in cafés and shops all around the area (Photo by:)

Pitch your tent and wake up to what is possibly the finest view from a campsite in Britain. Troytown Farm – on the subtropical and car-free island of St Agnes in the Scilly archipelago – is a short hop by ferry but a world away from mainland Britain. The campsite is charmingly simple; three wide, grassy fields slope gently down to the ocean, and at the edge of the farm is a perfect sandy beach where you can swim, launch a kayak or lie in a hammock strung between two boulders. Wander shady lanes, catch a boat to the other islands and try the farm’s homemade ice cream. troytown.co.uk

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Whitby Lighthouse, Yorkshire

Whitby Lighthouse
The ruined Gothic Abbey in Whitby is said to be Bram Stoker’s inspiration for his novel Dracula (Photo by:)

Ever idly dream of upping sticks and moving to a lighthouse? Few in Britain are staffed by lighthouse keepers these days, but many are now becoming holiday homes where you can sample life in the thrall of the sea, at least for a little while. Staying in one of the two cottages beside this lighthouse on the wild Yorkshire cliffs feels like being miles from anywhere, but when you do leave the pared-back comfort of the cottage, the Cleveland Way walking trail runs right past the door and delightful Whitby is only five minutes away if you get desperate for a fish-and-chip supper. ruralretreats.co.uk

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The Art House B&B, Isle of Skye, Scotland

The Art House
The Art House is five miles along a single track road from Broadford on the Isle of Skye, and has a handful of restaurants to explore (Photo by:)

You have to commit to getting to the Art House on the Isle of Skye; it’s a drive down five miles of bumpy, sheep-strewn track to get to this lovely B&B. It’s all worth it once you reach the serene spot where Rob and Sally’s clapboard house faces out to moody Loch Eishort, with huge windows for spotting golden eagles in the mountains or watching the weather roll in. Inside, the house is full of artwork and quirky vintage finds. Sally and Rob know the best local hikes and the finest pubs to call into for a warming whisky. arthouse-skye.co.uk

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Tan y Bwlch National Trust cottage, Gwynedd, North Wales

Tan y Bwlch
Tan y Bwlch is a 19th century, a grade II listed cottage that has been restored for visitors (Photo by:)

Was there ever a more perfect beachside bolthole for two? Tan y Bwlch, a 19th-century crofters’ cottage, was recently restored by the National Trust, with a careful eye for keeping history alive without making it feel like you’re staying in a museum display. The Grade-II-listed cottage on the Llŷn Peninsula may be on the miniature side, but it makes up for its small stature with enormous sweeping views across Porth Neigwl Bay. Walk along Abersoch or Porth Neigwl beaches in summer or sit by the inglenook fireplace and watch storms out to sea when the weather draws in. nationaltrust.org.uk

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The Druidstone Hotel, Pembrokeshire

There’s an enchanting air of timelessness to the wonderfully informal Druidstone, which feels more like staying at a friend’s country house than a hotel. Perched on tall green cliffs above the wide sands of St Bride’s Bay, the family and dog-friendly Druidstone is all cheery colours and warm wood, with big cosy bedrooms and a laid-back downstairs bar with plentiful board games to play. Outside are eight hectares of what the hotel calls ‘wild garden’ to ramble in, perfect for letting little ones roam free, and the coastal path runs right past the hotel, inviting you to walk along some of the finest beaches in Pembrokeshire. druidstone.co.uk

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Treen, West Cornwall

Treen, Cornwall
Treen, Cornwall ©Getty

Down a rough track, and sheltered by stone walls and scented gorse hedges, this simple patchwork of Cornish meadows straddles the cliffs above one of the best wild coves in Britain. It’s a tricky descent down to the beach but the pink sand bars and turquoise lagoons, combined with views of Logan Rock, make it worthwhile and keep the crowds at bay. There’s a good shop and a pizza van on Thursdays, and a little seasonal café and pub five minutes’ walk away. The only downside is that they take no bookings, so arrive early.  www.treenfarmcampsite.com

The beach at Branscombe

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Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

Bedruthan camping ©Daniel Start
Bedruthan camping ©Daniel Start

Spacious and perfectly placed on the coast road between Padstow and Newquay, this seasonal campsite sits right on the cliff and has some of the best sea and sunset views in Cornwall. Bedruthen Steps beach is just below, an awesome mile-long stretch of low-tide sand with giant sea stacks and many lagoons and sea caves. Do take care though – this is the north Atlantic coast and currents are strong so you need to be aware of tide times and only swim if there is no swell. This is a basic campsite with only one hot shower and two loos, no other facilities, but there is a good tearoom at the National Trust car park. Campsite open July and August only. www.bedruthansteps.com

See more seaside campsites


Great places to stay near the beach

Stay near the beach this summer with a break in one of these coastal retreats.

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Rosehill Lodges, Porthtowan, Cornwall

Just five minutes’ walk from a fantastic Blue Flag sandy beach, Rosehill Lodges are the perfect Cornish retreat in the coastal village of Porthtowan. The local beach has great surf for the more adventurous and plenty of rock pools too.

The eco friendly lodges, each with its own private hot tub, has an out door lock-up that can house beach gear and also an outdoor drench shower and wet suit wash. Some lodges are dog-friendly. www.premiercottages.co.uk/cottages/rosehill-lodges

Cabin
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Rooke Cottages, near Padstow, Cornwall

Rooke Cottages are seven five-star properties ideally located to explore the coastline of North Cornwall. Both the sandy surfing beach of Polzeath and water sport beaches of Rock are nearby. Bikes can be hired for rides along the Camel Trail to the pretty fishing port of Padstow with its many restaurants including Rick Stein’s famous seafood restaurant. www.premiercottages.co.uk Dogs welcome.

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Cottages
Cwm Silio or Traeth Soden, Wales
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Shore Cottage, Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey

Right on the shoreline, with direct access to the Anglesey coastal path and just a short walk from the sandy beach at Red Wharf Bay sits the aptly-named Shore Cottage. Much of the ground floor of this luxurious new three bedroom property is open-plan, with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the water’s edge, leading out to a large garden with patio and hot tub. There’s a great choice of beaches in the area, with plenty of safe bathing and rock-pooling, secluded little bays along the rugged coastline, as well as some of Anglesey’s finest surfing beaches only a short drive away. www.qualitycottages.co.uk

See more places to stay near the beach