Best seaside staycations
Make this summer holiday a staycation with our coastal breaks for foodies – try house-cured gravadlax, local lobster and fish and chips on the UK's best beaches, then sleep in a secluded shepherd's hut or boutique hotel
Looking for the best British seaside holidays for a foodie staycation? Need a gourmet seaside break? Read our guide to the best British seaside holidays, from Devon and Cornwall to Suffolk, Sussex and Yorkshire, then check out our top 10 UK culinary escapes for 2022.
Please check with specific venues for the most up-to-date opening information and reservation requirements.
The genteel coastal town of Deal, on the Kent coast, has gone hip in recent years, attracting artists and second-homers from Hackney and Dalston, who can bomb down to “Dealston” in just over an hour thanks to a fast train service from St Pancras.
Where to stay in Deal
The Rose is a renovated Victorian inn on Deal’s high street. Downstairs is a bar, restaurant and lounge full of bright vintage furniture, while upstairs are eight bedrooms, each painted in a unique bold hue, inspired by the bright beach balls and deckchairs of the seaside.
There’s a relaxed vibe at breakfast with magazines and papers piled high and the menu chalked on a blackboard. Vegetarians can fill up on roast mushrooms with oregano and goats cheese on toast, while the Nordically inclined can opt for the Scandi breakfast plate – smoked salmon with avocado, egg, dill, whipped cream cheese and toast.
For dinner, The Rose’s restaurant offers British comfort food with a fresh Aussie feel (think chicken schnitzel jazzed up with fennel slaw), with most ingredients coming from neighbouring suppliers. You can reserve a table in the garden if you’d prefer to sit in the open air.
What foodies can do in Deal
Stop for ice cream at 1960s-style Deal Beach Parlour or for fish and chips at Middle Street Fish Bar after taking a stroll on deal’s shingle beach, fronted by multi-coloured fisherman’s cottages. Walk to Walmer Castle at one end and visit Deal Pier on your way back.
Doubles from £190, check availability at booking.com
Babbacombe is the kind of place Agatha Christie might have sent a recuperating character to: there’s Devon sunshine, blue seas, charming Oddicombe beach (made private by the shelter of a steep, tree-lined cliff) and even an art deco funicular railway linking the beach to Babbacombe’s pretty clifftop green. Standing sentinel over all of this is the Cary Arms, squeezed inside the curve of the bay directly above the beach.
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Where to stay in Babbacome
The 19th-century Cary Arms’ bedrooms (some dog-friendly) have a fresh, coastal feel. If there are more of you than two, rent one of the adjoining blue-and-white fisherman’s cottages or, for a romantic weekend, book a beach hut.
At breakfast, take in the sprawling views of the pink-soil cliffs of the English Riviera while tucking into grilled kippers or the Devon full English. For dinner, pick one of the chef’s seafood specials for the freshest catch, and eat out on the terrace.
What foodies can do in Babbacome
Walk along Oddicombe beach via a wooden walkway to reach the funicular (look out for crabs skirting the rock pools below) and catch a ride up the cliffs.
Doubles from £365, check availability at booking.com
Imagine Cornwall, only quieter. Much of The Kingdom of Fife, just over the Forth Bridge from Edinburgh, is neat farmland and its coastline is peppered with sand and old stone villages. Harbours team with fishing trawlers unloading creels of langoustine and lobster, and lanes are lined with fancy farm shops and Italian ice-cream cafés (check out Jannettas in St Andrews): in summer Fife feels like a giant picnic hamper.
Where to stay in Elie
The Ship Inn is a local institution with a newly designed upstairs restaurant and six contemporary bedrooms, decked out in a fresh, coastal style with a smattering of junk-shop finds. Contemporary comfort comes from roll-top baths, monsoon showers, flat-screen TVs and espresso machines. From the top-floor ‘Admiral’ room you can gaze down on dog-walkers weaving across the broad, sandy beach.
Famous for its fish and chips, the inn champions Scottish seafood and local shellfish (the crab, lobster and langoustine are landed at nearby Pittenweem).
What foodies can do in Elie
This is old-fashioned, make-your-own-fun, bucket-and-spade territory. Go cockling on the shore, build sandcastles, tuck into a barbecue in the beer garden or take a walk along the Fife Coastal Path.
Doubles from £190, check availability at booking.com
This seaside town sits within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A stretch of brightly coloured beach huts hug the shoreline that leads towards Walberswick – a quieter part of the coast backed with dunes and marshland.
Where to stay in Southwold
An extensive renovation in 2017 has breathed fresh sea air into The Swan hotel. There are 35 cheerful bedrooms, a relaxed yet refined restaurant (reservations essential for indoor seating) and separate cosy bar area (the Tap Room). Breakfast is a leisurely affair; make yourself a spicy Bloody Mary with Adnams vodka and Tabasco sauce and choose from the likes of smoked kippers with herb butter and lemon and poached eggs, served Benedict, Florentine and Royale style.
What foodies can do in Southwold
If you have a car it’s worth exploring the local area. Drive 30 minutes south to Aldeburgh to enjoy the freshest fish and chips, and cones of stem ginger ice cream on the seafront. Another 15 minutes down the road is Orford, a small town home to Pinney’s smokehouse – where you can stock up on locally caught fish – and Pump Street Bakery, for silky smooth hot chocolates topped with homemade marshmallows.
Doubles from £190, check availability at booking.com
Isle of Sheppey, Kent
Elmley National Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey is a sprawling, unspoilt patchwork of meadows and waterways. As such, it’s abundant with wildlife – spot birds of prey, hares, butterflies and dragonflies. You might even catch sight of water voles hiding out near the ponds.
Where to stay on the Isle of Sheppey
Situated on a farm, Elmley promises luxurious accommodation in the form of hand-crafted shepherd’s huts, a five-bedroom cottage and a six-bedroom farmhouse. Comfortable and cosy while keeping you close to the elements, these guest spaces really help you make the most of the tranquil surroundings.
Cook for yourself (on anything from a firepit to a portable gas stove) or give yourself a break and order meals to be brought to your hut in a wicker hamper. There are two choices for breakfast, lunch and supper, with many of the ingredients sourced from small local businesses and the Macknade farmshop in Faversham.
What foodies can do in Kent
Work up an appetite on a bike ride; there’s a 16-mile cycle route that will take you past all the most notable landmarks on the isle. If you fancy a drive, head out to one of Kent’s great foodhalls: Macknade, in Faversham, or The Goods Shed, in Canterbury.
With its cinematic beaches and big skies, the North Norfolk coast has long drawn walkers, cocklers, twitchers and bucket-and-spaders. But, increasingly, visitors are lured there by the food, with Norfolk’s north-west region being especially flavour-intense.
Where to say in North Norfolk
Handsome redbrick Titchwell Manor gazes across the marshes. Built in the 1897 as a farmhouse, it’s now a smart 31-room hotel that marries Victorian stateliness with bold, modern brio. The manor guestrooms are a riot of statement wallpaper, vintage pieces and acid colours. There are calmer, more neutral retreats in the converted outbuildings; best is The Potting Shed, a standalone hideaway with log burner, veranda and roll-top bath.
Like its rooms, Titchwell’s kitchen caters for all tastes: robust bar staples in the hotel’s Eating Rooms offer counterpoint to the Conservatory’s inventive menus and monthly supper clubs.
What foodies can do in North Norfolk
Take a trip to Brancaster Staithe, where the freshest mussels and local smoked fish are stuffed into baguettes at the Crab Hut, while among Burnham Market’s pretty flint-and-brick cottages, you can buy potted shrimp from Gurneys Fishmonger and Norfolk pork pies from Humble Pie Deli. In nearby Thornham, Eric’s Fish & Chips, opened by Snaith in 2015, elevates the old coastal faves: sustainable fish in beer batter, IPA pickled onions and pineapple fritters.
Doubles from £240, check availability at booking.com
Well on the way to the southernmost tip of mainland Britain, this historic, rough-around-the-edges Cornish town may not be as talked-about as its cousins of Padstow and St Ives, but has plenty of appeal for staycationers looking for a beach-side break.
Where to stay in Penzance
Chapel House is tucked away in Penzance’s Old Quarter. The Georgian building, which is replete with landscape paintings by students at Newlyn School of Art, has six stylish rooms. All come with sea views, painted white floors and a mix of antique and Scandi-style furnishings. Take breakfast either in your room, the large stone-flagged kitchen-diner in the basement, or – if the weather allows – out in the garden, and try the speciality of cod’s roe, smoked bacon, samphire and poached egg. On Friday and Saturday evenings, pre-booked suppers are available, too.
What foodies can do in Penzance
Stroll the mile-long shingle promenade beach, or visit one of the neighbouring coastlines, such as that of the fishing port, Newlyn. Drop by Penzance Farmers’ Market, which takes place on Fridays and pick up freshly baked bread and cake, as well as local cheeses and Wild Smoked’s seafood. Polgoon Vineyard is worth a visit too – take in the 24-acre estate and try a self-guided tour and tasting.
This small, picturesque fishing village on the edge of the North York Moors National Park comes with a charmingly rugged beach and a rich history. It’s right next to Whitby in North Yorkshire, and affords some great views of the town’s historic abbey, a few miles south.
Where to stay in Sandsend
Estbek House is a restaurant-with-rooms housed in an 18th-century mansion on the edge of the beach. There are five individually styled rooms here, all sympathetic of the building’s regency roots. The kitchen team take regular deliveries of fresh North Sea lobster, Whitby cod and diver-caught scallops, which all compete for your attention on the sustainability-focused, seafood-championing menu created by co-owner-chef Tim Lawrence.
What foodies can do in Sandsend
Once you’ve acquainted yourself with Sandsend’s own beach and taken in the views of the 7th-centry cliff-top abbey in the neighbouring town of Whitby, follow the coast down there and climb the 199 steps to see the ruins up close. Then, take that newly roused appetite to Whitby Deli and check out the counter full of fresh meats, cheeses, as well as the shelves lined with wine, craft beer and top-notch ingredients to take home and cook with.
Brighton, East Sussex
Known for its bohemian charm, gorgeous coastline and lush countryside, Brighton has long been a popular seaside destination for holidaymakers from home and abroad.
Where to stay in Brighton
Look out for the pink neon sign on Regency Square to find Artist Residence, a quirky boutique hotel. There are 23 bedrooms, each individually decorated with bespoke artwork and decked out with Robert’s radios, mini Smeg fridges and Tunnock’s caramel bars for nostalgic snacking. Larger rooms have free-standing baths to relax in while you enjoy that vista. Secure a sea-facing room at and you’ll have one of the best views in town.
The breakfast menu is a concise list of the usual favourites done well, while dinner promises an exciting new pop-up concept from the hotel's restaurant, The Set, open from August 2020 (Tuesdays to Saturdays).
What foodies can do in Brighton
Grab a takeaway coffee and pastry from Flour Pot Bakery, head to the beach and prepare to have those cobwebs blown away. Later, visit The Open Market (not far from the train station), which is packed with indie traders. Here you can stock up on ingredients – expect to find everything from fresh produce to store cupboard goods among the stalls – and tuck into delicious street food.
Doubles from £164, check availability at booking.com
Portrush, Northern Ireland
This Northern Irish town sits on the Ramore Head peninsula and has three sandy beaches to make the most of – no wonder it’s one of the isle’s most popular resorts.
Where to stay in Portrush
Nicola Neill has converted an Edwardian townhouse into a luxury B&B, Blackrock House. Welcome drinks and homemade whiskey cake greet guests when they arrive, and Nicola – who grew up nearby in Bushmills, home to the world’s first licensed whiskey distillery – has created a bountiful whiskey honesty bar.
Breakfast can be taken in the lounge, on the balcony or in your bedroom. Try a traditional fry up with Belfast tea, or pan-fried salmon and scrambled eggs with purple dulse seaweed. Nicola and her team throw occasional supper clubs too, to showcase produce from local farms and smokehouses.
What foodies can do in Portrush
Portrush is right on the Causeway Coastal Route, so if you have a car it’s well worth exploring for the gorgeous sea views. Before you set off, head to Babushka Kitchen Café for fab Swedish coffee and homemade bakes. Local foodies flock to Harry’s Shack in neighbouring Portstewart, where you can enjoy fish and chips perched above the beach before taking a post-lunch stroll along the shore.
A classic English seaside resort that’s been enjoyed by tourists since the 18th century, Margate still retains its appeal with more modern visitors, mixing its old-school coastal charm with cool vintage shops, the famous Turner art gallery and bubbling café culture.
Where to stay in Margate
A new wave of boutique-style b&bs has increased Margate’s allure over the last few years. A great example of these chic new guesthouses is The Reading Rooms, housed in a 250-year-old Georgian townhouse and former ’60s bohemian hotspot. There are two rooms here – the Attic and the Salon – each spread out across an entire floor of the building and playing up to the Georgian heritage with varnished wooden floors, detailed cornicing and large sash windows.
Breakfast is brought to your room at a time to suit. Enjoy it at the dining table while gazing out of the windows on to the square below.
What foodies can do in Margate
Once you’ve had your fill of sea air on the beach, head to Old Kent Market, a food emporium housed in a former cinema, where you’ll find artisan produce, locally grown veg and plenty of street food. If it’s ice cream you’re after then seek out Melt, or for the obligatory seaside dinner of fish and chips, visit Peter's Fish Factory.
Isle of Wight
Brits have been holidaying in the Isle of Wight’s resorts since Victorian times, and its sun-soaked charm still remains. On the island’s southern tip you can stay in a hotel (The Royal) that the Michelin Guide has recommended every year since it was first published in 1911. But skip over to Newport or Cowes and you’ll find ambitious young restaurateurs using island produce in sleek, modern recipes.
Where to stay on Isle of Wight
The Royal hasn’t lost its Victorian feel, with manicured lawns and a lofty dining room that looks as if it once doubled as a ballroom. Bedrooms enjoy the same ambience and most are painted sky blue to complement the views of Ventnor Bay, a five-minute walk away. The Royal’s traditional dining room belies the kitchen’s clever, delicate cooking: try whipped goat’s cheese with beetroot sponge, or roasted pollock with fricassee of spring vegetables and pea velouté.
What foodies can do on Isle of Wight
Take in the beauty of Tennyson Down (the poet lived on the island for over a decade) on a walk from The Needles to Freshwater Bay, stopping off at Dimbola Lodge for fat scones with jam and cream.
Doubles from £270, check availability at booking.com
Lyme Regis, Dorset
Imposing cliffs, blue seas and historic landmarks earn this coastal resort the title of The Pearl of Dorset. Sandwiched between the Devon and Dorset areas of outstanding natural beauty, it’s right up there with one of the most scenic seaside locations in the country.
Where to stay in Lyme Regis
Hotel Alexandra was originally built as a house in 1735 for the Dowager Countess Lady Poulett. There are 23 rooms here, the most impressive being the sizeable Countess’s Room, with its towering headboard, floral furnishings and grand bay window overlooking the rear gardens and sparkling coastline.
The restaurant is named Ammonite after the iconic fossils found along the Jurassic Coast, and focuses on the top-drawer seafood and local produce from the surrounding area. For breakfast, tuck into the West Country plate of dry-cured smoked bacon and award-winning sausages from Axminster, or whole grilled kippers, smoked by Chesil Beach Smokehouse in Bridport.
What foodies can do in Lyme Regis
Visit local deli, Ammonite Fine Foods, and browse the shelves of locally produced food and drink – perhaps treat yourself to a bottle of Dorset’s award-winning Pothecary Gin. Drop into Baboo Gelato on the beachside after exploring The Cobb (Lyme Regis’ famous harbour) and the magnificent, 100-mile long Jurassic Coast.
Enveloped in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this scenic coastal town hugs the Kingsbridge Estuary and blends sea views with lush, rolling countryside.
Where to stay in Salcombe
Hip hotel Gara Rock, perched on a cliff over the harbour from Salcombe, has 12 rustic-chic bedrooms as well as a clutch of stylish self-catering family-friendly cottages – all of which are cleverly positioned to make the most of magnificent coastal views.
Gara Rock’s restaurant and terrace offers a relaxed vibe, a limited but reliable menu that caters for all culinary persuasions, and panoramic vistas through floor-to-ceiling windows (tables 115 and 117 have uninterrupted views).
What foodies can do in Salcombe
Work up an appetite with a 45-minute coastal walk from Gara Rock to sandy Mill Bay beach, refuel at the cute little Venus beach café, then hop on the jaunty passenger ferry from East Portlemouth to Salcombe, where you can make your own gin at Salcombe Gin and watch ice-cream being made at Salcombe Dairy.
Tuck into chargrilled scallops at cheery, bunting-garlanded beach café, The Winking Prawn. Book a visit to Overbeck’s, a National Trust property, and enjoy a mean cream tea in its tropical gardens overlooking the estuary.
Doubles from £548, check availability at booking.com