Top 50 Boutique Hotels

5 of the UK’s best beach hotels to visit this summer

By Helen Gilbert | 07/07/2022

With much of the UK basking in sunshine and the promise of further mini-heatwaves on the cards, now is the perfect time to escape to the sea.

Whether you’re a wave-chaser eyeing the best surf spot or simply looking to unwind in a child-free, luxury sea-view hotel, there’s a coastal getaway for you.

We round up some of our top picks below​:​

Watergate Bay Hotel, Cornwall

Perched atop a cliff overlooking a two-mile stretch of fine sand on Cornwall’s north coast shoreline and boasting spectacular views over the Atlantic, the surf-centric Watergate Bay Hotel offers vantage points aplenty to watch the waves roll in,​ and world-class surfers paddle out.

Fancy a dip but prefer the water a little warmer? Head to the 25-metre indoor infinity pool with its stunning seascape views, or unwind in the outdoor hot tub with its panoramic ocean backdrop.

In need of some pamper time? Book a Hot Stones massage in the spa, or pop in for a professional mani while simultaneously soaking up the scenery. Alternatively, retreat to your very own Hamptons-inspired bedroom. Some feature roll-top bathtubs set in bay windows overlooking the beach. Bliss.

Thrill-seekers can book a surf, stand-up paddleboard or outdoor fitness class through Wavehunters at the Extreme Academy, then refuel at the relaunched Beach Hut with classic dishes and plant-based fayre.​ ​The Living Space is great for coffee, salads, antipasti sharing boards, sandwiches and kids’ plates, while stylish restaurant Zacry’s is your go-to evening option for sundowner cocktails and meat and fish dishes designed by local produce executive chef Neil Haydock. If roasted scallops with truffle butter and baked Cornish hake whet your appetite, visit Emily Scott’s restaurant.

GOOD TO KNOW: Dogs are welcome at Watergate Bay. Pooch-friendly rooms include beach lofts with floor-to-ceiling windows and private access to the sands, to woof-tastic family suites and Village apartments.

The Gallivant
, East Sussex

Looking to book a seaside break on the East Sussex coast in a child-free hotel? Look no further than The Gallivant. Its tagline is ‘happiness is a place’, but rest and relaxation may as well be its middle name.

The vibe is distinctly surf shack, largely in part to its driftwood-style exterior and its location – stroll across the dunes for three minutes, and you’ll arrive at Camber’s golden sands, while Rye Harbour is a 15-minute drive away.
Restful rooms are decked out with Egyptian cotton sheets and fluffy bathrobes, while weather-timbered walls, oak panelling, and pristine white ceiling beams are offset by a palette of ocean blues.

Choose from Hampton bedrooms in either baby or large sizes, a Scandinavian beach-cabin-inspired Snug and a selection of garden rooms - the Luxury is a must for longer escapes. As well as the roll-top bathtub, the lodging has French doors that open onto a coastal garden and a private deck complete with teak furniture.

Early risers will rejoice at the healthy homemade breakfast options, from freshly squeezed juices and smoothies to granola, overnight oats, and chia seed pots. Choose from continental and vegetarian options, too.

GOOD TO KNOW: If you’re partial to sunsets and a tipple, check out the Drinks In the Dunes menu. The Gallivant will pack your drinks, glassware and a beach blanket in a reusable bag so you can enjoy sundowners on the beach come the evening. Perfect.

St Brides Spa Hotel, Wales

If you do like to be beside the seaside, a stay at the multi-award-winning St Brides will warm your cockles every which way. Located on a headland overlooking Carmarthen Bay and close to Saundersfoot Beach, a wide, flat sandy spot at low tide, there’s something for everyone.

Most of the 34 individually styled bedrooms come with a sea view and balcony, but there’s also a choice of six two-bedroom apartments, ideal for those with families.  
The hotel weaves beach culture into its design - think driftwood sculptures and shell-filled vases - while locally sourced handmade furniture, woven bed throws and artwork are sprinkled around the bedrooms. Look out for the mosaic-tiled floors and roll-top tubs in some of the bathrooms, too.

As the name suggests, the spa area is one of the​ main attractions​ of St Brides​.  Here you’ll have 90-minute complimentary access to the thermal suite, complete with its hydrotherapy pool, salt infusion room, sensation shower, aroma steam room, herbal rock sauna and ice fountain.

Do take a dip in the infinity-edge heated outdoor hydro pool that overlooks the waterfront. Or book a massage, expectant mothers included. (Compulsory medical form must be completed by all guests prior to arrival.)

GOOD TO KNOW: For a romantic date, head to the rooftop Cliff Restaurant, which serves up freshly caught fish or check out the more informal Gallery Bar and its sea-view terrace. Both have arresting views across the bay and harbour that capture the turning tides and the setting sun.

Links House at Royal Dornoch, Scotland

With its rolling hills and captivating coastlines, Links House Dornoch ticks all the boxes for those seeking nature, history and luxury rolled into one.

The five-star luxury property is set in the heart of the Highlands and imbued with Scottish heritage - each of the hotel’s 15 bedrooms is named after a North Highland salmon river and also features its own unique tweed.

Formerly a manse for the Free Church of Scotland, the original house is brimming with character, fine artworks and antiques. Here you’ll find five deluxe bedrooms, a small library, two comfy reception spots and a quaint ‘honesty’ bar as well as the kitchen and restaurant.

Head over to the separate Mews or Glenshiel buildings for the luxury suites. With ample room, Italian marble bathroom suites, heated floors and deep bathtubs, they are the perfect place to recline after a long day spent exploring the nearby rivers, lochs, and forests.

The hotel aims to provide ‘comfortable luxury’, so only Royal Warranted Hypnos mattresses are used. Guests can also choose from a selection of pillow types – perfect for those with allergies - and opt for either duvets or cashmere blankets to sleep under.  

GOOD TO KNOW: Dornoch Beach and the world-acclaimed Royal Dornoch Golf Club may only be a stone’s throw away, but don’t forget to enjoy a spot of fine dining at the hotel’s Mara restaurant, which sources ingredients from the Highland region. The hotel also has a comprehensively stocked cellar of old and new world wines. Cheers.

Titchwell Manor, Norfolk

What do you get when you combine an original Victorian farmhouse situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the North Norfolk coast? Titchwell Manor.

Today, the lovingly restored and extended 28-room coastal house hotel has a natural feel with the interior inspired by the surrounding salt marshes, seagrasses, flowers, sand dunes and fields.

Why not book one of the two romantic meadow-side luxury shepherd huts with private terraces and sunken hot tubs or select a signature room with super king-size beds and complimentary homemade liqueur?

Characterful cosy chambers can be found in the main building and the old chalk stable block, or opt for the larger abodes with outdoor seating set around a pretty herb garden at the back of the hotel. Here, some of the rooms here have been christened after local birds – there’s an RSPB reserve at Titchwell Marsh – the original building, or herbs.

Interestingly, the hotel has held 3 AA Rosettes since 2013 and uses fresh produce from the estate in its dishes. Curated under the guidance of chef-owner Eric Snaith, head chef Oliver Bacon-Hilton and his team, the seasonal menu includes braised leek, potato and brie pithivier, beer-battered fish and chips, and skrei cod.

GOOD TO KNOW: For a more formal atmosphere, choose a table in the Conservatory, which overlooks the pretty walled garden. For a relaxed vibe, head to The Eating Rooms for its outside dining terrace and views out to​ sea. It’s also the perfect place to catch the Norfolk sunset.