For years, the British seaside suffered from an image of crumbling piers, dirty beaches, tacky amusement arcades and downmarket B&Bs. Now our coastline is enjoying a revival: seafront properties are booming in value, quirky beach huts fetch thousands and old-fashioned charm (99 ice creams and candy floss) is now considered vintage seaside chic.
Head to southwest England, home to the stunning Sandbanks beach at Poole, and you’ll find three miles of fine golden sands. Hire a paddle boat, join the kite-surfing fun or ride the train that cruises up and down the prom. Located directly on the beach is the stylish Sandbanks Hotel, a family favourite with heated pool and dedicated children’s restaurant. Seven nights’ half board costs from £1,470 for a family of four.
Less commercialised is the South Devon coast with its quiet Famous Five coves and idyllic coastal scenery. Blackpool Sands, near Dartmouth, is unspoilt and picturesque. The flavour of the French Riviera mixed with quintessential Englishness, this Blue Flag jewel is a crescent-shaped stretch of golden shingle surrounded by green fields, magnificent pines and a turquoise sea. Facilities include a giant sandpit with specially imported fine sand, natural pools for sailing toy boats and theatrical performances for children during August. Stoke Lodge Hotel & Restaurant in nearby Stoke Fleming has family rooms both in the main hotel and in the gardens, and an indoor and outdoor pool.
For a stunning beachside resort, Cornwall’s Bedruthan Hotel offers the perfect setting, perched above the award-winning Mawgan Porth beach, where you’ll find waves for the adventurous, sandy coves to explore and numerous rock pools to fish and splash in. The hotel prides itself keeping its youngest guests entertained and has abundant play areas, daily entertainment, heated pools and unbeatable Ofsted-registered clubs. For grown-ups, there’s a choice of gourmet restaurants using fresh local produce, as well as a spa with a tempting menu of treatments. Stay in the hotel, villas, or, for more luxury, the new apartments with spectacular sea views. Prices from around £1,500 for a family of four for one week.
See Best beaches for kids: America and Best beaches for kids: Europe.