Coastal breaks for couples, UK
My top ten coastal breaks for couples, UK
Do you love to spend time by the sea? If, like me, you seek out the nearest beach pretty much wherever you land in the world (our shared preference for seaside hostels led to Mister and I meeting in one in Adelaide), then surely the perfect weekend break would have to contain a healthy dose of fresh sea air. There are some cool places to stay by the sea in the UK, and they’re not all in traditional or even modern seaside resorts. From quayside hotels in Newcastle just a short Metro hop from broad, sandy unspoilt beaches to romantic, windswept cliff-top hotels in Devon, this list contains ten of my favourite staycation destinations. They all offer great coastal breaks for couples, here in the UK.
Well of course I’m going to include this spot – it’s where I chose to lay my hat over 17 years ago. (Not in the hotel itself though, of course – I reside in nearby Highcliffe.) It’s one of the closest coastal areas with sandy beaches to London too. I love Christchurch Harbour Hotel in Mudeford – from the modern coastal decor and free gin in the rooms to the complimentary water sports equipment hire. The restaurants serve fabulous fresh seafood and other impressive fare, with incomparable views over Hengistbury Head. Mudeford Quay and sandy Avon Beach are just a short stroll away.
You could try The Captain’s Club Hotel instead. It’s located right by the river in central Christchurch, so is just stumbling distance from the shops and pubs. The restaurant overlooks the water, as does the lounge bar and outside deck. This property has a relaxed yet upmarket feel, and a nautical theme. The beaches of Christchurch are to the east, while Bournemouth’s long sandy stretch lies to the west.
What to do in Christchurch
Enjoy the view from your room or the restaurant – then take the ferry from Mudeford Quay to Hengistbury Head to see the overnight beach huts. This is also a favourite spot with nature lovers. You can go crabbing at the quay then have dinner at The Noisy Lobster overlooking nearby Avon Beach. Stroll along the coast here to the Beach Hut Cafe at Friar’s Cliff, then from there it’s not too far to Highcliffe Castle, especially via the nature reserve at Steamer Point. Head inland to explore the New Forest, or in the other direction there’s Bournemouth, Poole and the Jurassic Coast to discover.
The Titanic Hotel is a stylish property located at Stanley Dock oozes sophistication, character and history. Spacious rooms and a lack of pretension make for a supremely relaxing waterside break close to all the shopping, eateries and nightlife of Liverpool city centre. Big draws include the spa with thermal suite and hydro pool, plus the Rum Bar that serves up over 60 varieties of the sweet, strong stuff. You simply cannot beat the scousers for both their sense of humour and giving everyone a warm welcome. Which is exactly why I stayed, and spent several years living in this friendly north-western city.
Football fans may prefer a stay at the Shankly – named for Bill Shankly, a former Liverpool FC manager. This football-themed property is packed with memorabilia, making a change from the music theme that prevails throughout the city. The luxury accommodation is praised for providing great value for money, and the location is central, close to all amenities in Liverpool city centre as well as Lime Street station. A fab one to book if it’s your boy’s birthday and he’s into footie.
What to do in Liverpool
After exploring the waterfront, take a ferry ‘cross the Mersey, or head to town for a spot of shopping at Liverpool One. Discover the music of the Beatles in the Cavern quarter or Beatles Museum, or by booking a tour. Hop onto a bus and head out to glorious Sefton Park, before taking a stroll down nearby Penny Lane. Back in town there are two impressive cathedrals to see before enjoying a pint at the Philharmonic pub – complete with its legendary men’s loos. Don’t miss Antony Gormley’s (Angel of the North) ‘Another Place’ installation out at Crosby Beach – and you must sample this city’s lively nightlife. Football fans, meanwhile, won’t want to miss seeing Anfield or Goodison Park.
When in Newquay we always stay in Porth – not least because it’s located in a laid-back spot between central Newquay and sweeping Watergate Bay. Porth Beach Hotel overlooks a pleasingly clean and compact sweep of golden sand, and sundowners on the terrace are a must on a warm summer’s night. Porth is convenient for central Newquay and its array of fine beaches, yet in some ways a whole – more peaceful – world away.
If you want to be based by one of the UK’s top surf beaches, opt for Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa, featuring fresh, modern rooms overlooking the sea. This spot is also closer to the nightlife and retail outlets in central Newquay. Visitors rave about the spa, restaurant and cocktails, and of course those views.
What to do in Newquay
There’s so much to do in this area – especially if you love beaches. Surf spot Fistral is a must, as is Watergate Bay. Tourist attractions abound, but simple pleasures include sampling Cornish pasties and locally made ice cream. The Cornish Cyder Farm in Penhallow is worth a day trip, and other smaller resorts like Crantock and Perranporth make great pit stops. Back in Newquay the Blue Reef Aquarium is one star attraction, or head to Bodmin Moor to discover the Jamaica Inn made famous by Daphne du Maurier.
Positioned right on Cardiff Bay’s waterfront, Voco St David’s in the Welsh capital is a contemporary property that’s flooded with light thanks to large windows and a glass-backed atrium. Every rooms has its own private balcony, affording the occupants panoramic waterfront views. It’s also just a few minutes from Cardiff city centre, and very close to lively Mermaid Quay.
Alternatively, try the New House Country Hotel, situated among the Welsh Hills on the edge of Cardiff. This sumptuous four-star property has sweeping views over the Vale of Glamorgan, as well as comfortable deluxe bedrooms, open fires and a warm Welsh welcome.
What to do in Cardiff
Whether you’re into sports, shopping, street food or fine dining, there’s lots to do in Cardiff. The Principality Stadium is a must for many, as is Cardiff Castle. There is a range of beaches close to central Cardiff, including St Mary’s Well Bay and Penarth. Penarth Beach is just a few miles from central Cardiff, and the walk from Penarth Pier to Cardiff Barrage is great for blowing away the cobwebs. If you fancy exploring a little further afield, try Flat Holm island, which us just five miles from the coast. Barry Island isn’t too far away either, and it has vast golden sands.
Try something a little quirky by booking into one of these converted fishermen’s huts, located slap bang on the sands of Whitstable beach. Regulars praise dedication of the housekeeping staff and love the stroll along the scenic sea front to breakfast at the Hotel Continental, who own the huts.
What to do in Whitstable
Whether you prefer browsing the independent boutiques of the back streets or admiring artworks in a smart gallery, Whitstable has plenty to offer. The Fishslab Gallery supports up and coming creative types, while at Chappell Contemporary you can own limited edition prints via the interest-free ‘Own Art’ scheme. Food-wise things centre around seafood – book your table at foodies’ favourite gastropub The Sportsman as soon as you can, or grab fish and chips or local rock oysters all year round at beach shacks by the sea.
A literary name, great sea views, a selection of large boutique rooms and suites, rainfall showers, roll top baths – what could make for a more romantic seaside break than those? Add an unbeatable location close to the Lanes and buzzing Kemptown plus free parking, not to mention the lovely, helpful team who run A Room with a View. Perfection.
Musically named Strawberry Fields also has sea views, a Kemptown location and fabulous service. This spot is close to all the buzz of central Brighton, and guests love the location as well as the superb service.
What to do in Brighton
Apart from strolling along the Pier and soaking up the sun on the pebble beach, there’s lots to see, eat or buy in Brighton. From the breathtaking Royal Pavilion to the ultra-modern British Airways Brighton Eye (i360) which gives sweeping views over Brighton and Hove, there is plenty to keep you busy. Brighton is a city to shop in like no other, and you can pick up everything retro or boho here, from vintage clothing via handmade jewellery to vegan footwear in the Lanes and North Laine. The beach huts at Hove are striking, while the whole area is abundant in stunning Regency architecture.
As the name suggests, Staybridge Suites in my favourite city of all offers suites rather than just rooms. This hotel is located by the vibrant quayside, close to the Millennium Bridge and Baltic Centre. What’s more, the gorgeous sandy beaches of Tynemouth and Whitley Bay are easily reached via Newcastle’s Metro system, and my native Northumberland isn’t much further by mainline train.
You could also try Malmaison Newcastle, a hotel that celebrates Newcastle’s shipbuilding heritage and overlooks the Tyne Bridge. The position cannot really be bettered when it comes to seeing the fog on the tyne – or the Quayside’s buzzing nightlife. Visitors praise the comfy beds, big bathtubs plus great food and – of course – wine.
What to do in Newcastle
Geordies love to party, so don’t miss a night out in the Toon – whether you opt for the brash Bigg Market or sophisticated Quayside. By day, there’s plenty of retail therapy to be had all over the area, from Northumberland Street and Eldon Square to Grainger Market and the Metro Centre. Newcastle’s underground Metro network is great for getting around, so you can easily visit some of the area’s great beaches, while history buffs won’t want to go home without seeing Hadrian’s Wall. For football fans, St James’s Park is clearly a must and its close to the city centre too.
Bushmills, Northern Ireland
The Bushmills Inn is located close to the dramatic Giant’s Causeway, and Game of Thrones fans will love to see the locations used in filming. This cosy former coaching inn is romantic and packed with character, offering boutique style and exceptional service. Sample an Irish whiskey at the traditional gas bar, or cuddle up in a hayloft snug or by a crackling fire.
For panoramic ocean views, try the Bayview Hotel just down the road. A highly regarded on-site restaurant, magnificent sea views and a four-star rating draw people to the North Antrim coast village of Portballintrae. This hotel is just a from Bushmills Distillery and Giants Causeway.
What to do in Bushmills
Take a tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery – it’s been there for over 400 years and as such is the world’s oldest – to sample some fine Irish whiskey. Giant’s Causeway is a big draw too, with its characteristic hexagonal basalt columns, or simply soak up the unspoilt coastline and countryside while enjoying some warm Northern Irish hospitality and fine, locally sourced food.
I went to a wedding at the Sandy Cove, and the location was just breathtaking. We were blessed with sunny weather, but I imagine the setting to be just as romantic during a storm. Gorgeous place, with one of the most stunning settings you’d find anywhere. The perfect place to propose, surely? No pressure…
The Saunton Sands Hotel close to Croyde also boasts a dramatic location overlooking vast swathes of sand dunes – and surfers riding the crashing waves of the ocean. There are also exclusive views over Braunton Burrows, a World Heritage Site. If you like your coastal panorama to be as magnificent as they come, then book into this special spot.
What to do in North Devon
The small resort of Combe Martin – near the Sandy Cove hotel – has some pleasing beaches and traditional Devon ice cream shops. You can also head further out, to Woolacombe, to see the beach that is consistently voted Britain’s best. Don’t miss sampling beer and a burger at the Red Barn, or browsing the wares at some of the best surf shops in the country. Catch a wave at nearby surfing Mecca Croyde, or get a a culture fix at the Museum of British Surfing in Braunton. The Victorian resort of Ilfracombe is also close at hand if you crave somewhere a little bigger and brasher.
My mum used to live in Ayr, and this underrated Scottish resort used to have a Butlin’s that I once went to, long before she loved to Ayrshire from north-east England. This Burns country town boasts a fabulous broad sandy beach with long promenade, a compact and walkable town centre and friendly folk. Fairfield House is styled along classic yet contemporary Scottish country house lines and displays local artworks.
Ayrs and Graces
Or you could try Ayrs and Graces, a lovely, luxurious boutique B&B. Feast each morning on a full fry-up, freshly cooked by the welcoming hosts. Guests love this first class establishment, and many return again when they next visit Burns country.
What to do in Ayrshire
Golfing fans will love this part of the world, with its many world-class courses close by, while fans of literature can see the former abode of Scotland’s own bard at the Robbie Burns Birthplace Museum. Rozelle Estate, meanwhile, features Rozelle House, set among 37 hectares of parkland that are home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. Henry Moore sculptures are displayed throughout the estate, and Rozelle House Galleries houses a collection of 54 Tam O’Shanter paintings referencing Burns’ best known poem.
Have THE most relaxing and romantic time on whichever of these coastal breaks for couples in the UK you choose, won’t you? Maybe you’ll even want to try them all…
- Best UK honeymoon hotels
- Sandy beaches near London
- Kent pubs with rooms
- Top North Devon hotels
- Nightlife in Newcastle
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