25 country house hotels by the coast for seaside splendour

Not all country house hotels are inland – some of the best are coastal. Here are our favourites, from the Scillies to Sussex to Skye

Wherever you are in the world, if lockdown has had you dreaming of walks on the beach, muscle-busting climbs along cliff-tops and swoon-worthy views of the seas, the idea of a wildly refreshing trip to the British coastline is perfect for you.

Add to that a wholesome meal where the produce is sourced locally and the dishes presented with care and attention, a deeply distracting few hours at a spa, or a comfy, unlimited-thread-count cotton-dressed bed next to a roaring fire and the idea of a stay in a stylish yet homely county house hotel completes the picture. To blow the lockdown cobwebs away, here’s our guide to the best country house hotels on the coast, from a historic lodge on the sea lochs of Skye to a beachy retreat on the Isles of Scilly.

These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Note that our writers visited these hotels prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

England

Seaham Hall

Seaham, County Durham, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

A grand Georgian country house with pedigree. The poet Lord Byron was married here, and it was later owned by the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. Inside, the handsome proportions form the backdrop to a bold, modern look that stays just the right side of bling (think dark-wood floors, oversized velvet sofas, mirrored walls and dramatic lampshades and quirky sculptures). The modern spa is huge and there are free bicycles to borrow, a sports lounge, paved terraces and even a sandy area with deckchairs for summer drinks and views (just) of the sea. Seaham’s beaches are a 10-minute walk away.


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From


£
500
From this spectacular collection of antique-filled medieval follies it’s just a short stroll through a patch of woodland to the stretch of eroded coastline at Climping, with Littlehampton’s pebble-and-sand beach a little further on. Bailiffscourt was actually built in the 1920s by a Lord from the Guinness brewing family and his wife, a fan of all things Medieval. The site owes its authenticity to the extensive architectural salvaging of stone, bricks, beams, windows and doors from ancient buildings. The castle-style corridors and framed tapestries further set the mood. A highlight is the barn-conversion style spa, with an infinity pool and a spa tub outside.


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£
285
Set atop the cliffs of Lyme Regis, with views of the rugged Jurassic coastline and harbour below, the Alexandra’s location couldn’t be better for a seaside escape. You can simply weave through the cliff gardens to the beach while the front of the property brings you to the town centre, with its independent shops and cosy pubs. New life has been breathed into the building’s historic walls without sapping its charm: think original floorboards, nautical furniture and a charming grandfather clock. While constructing the sea-view Ammonite Restaurant the hotel discovered a seven-metre well which has now been glassed over as a central feature.


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£
180
Studland is a bucolic beauty with the added benefit of long beaches, and The Pig couldn’t have picked a better spot: high above the chalk cliffs, with spectacular views of the Old Harry Rocks formation. Inside this whimsical 16th-century manor house, there’s warmth in the nostalgic touches – fringed lampshades and frayed rugs – that are part of the familiar Pig style. If the inside is amped-up Victoriana, it flips to pure rural loveliness outside, where a terrace turns to lawn until cliff-edge. The 630-mile South West Coast Path can be joined here.


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From


£
299

The Nare

Cornwall, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

In a prime position on the Roseland peninsula, this beloved coastal country house looks over the lovely, wide beach and bobbing boats of Carne Bay (directly accessible from the hotel). With tartan carpets, birds of paradise-print wallpapers and political caricatures lining the walls, it feels loved and lived-in and has remained within the same family for more than 25 years. In fact, the art collection of the original founder, Bettye Grey, still hangs on the walls, and includes a watercolour by Prince Charles. There’s an indoor and outdoor heated pool plus covered hot tub for making the most of those views. Don’t miss a day trip on the hotel’s own boat, Alice Rose.


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£
299

The Rosevine

Portscatho, Cornwall, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Modern elegance is fused with heritage features at this Georgian-style house on the fringes of Portscatho. Think fireplaces and huge bay windows, Lloyd Loom furnishings, upcycled and chalk-painted furniture, and large comfy sofas next to antique pieces – all to a backdrop of greys and tranquil greens and whites. French shutters frame the dining room and bar where fresh Cornish fare is served and an impressive urban and pop art collection is displayed. There are 15 apartment-style rooms with large comfy beds and lounges with sofas and wood-burning stoves, plus a self-catering house. The heated indoor swimming pool is a boon, and the coastal path is a five-minute walk away.


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From


£
169
The seventh of the Pigs’ collection of unstuffy country house hotels is set on a grassy outcrop above Harlyn Bay, where stunning views of the Camel Estuary, a wildflower-strewn ha-ha and surrounding fields make for a truly gorgeous setting. From the outside, the 30-room Georgian house is handsome but no-nonsense, yet interiors are an enticing warren of low ceilings, higgledy-piggledy flagstones and histrionic decor inspired by the BBC’s Wolf Hall. Aside from this, reasons to visit include the 25-mile menus (must try: al fresco dining at the Lobster Shed) and treatments in the Potting Shed. Clifftop walks can be had from the door and the Bay’s sandy beach (which is good for beginner surfers) is a 10-minute stroll down a footpath.


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From


£
150

Hell Bay

Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Though more of a “beachy” retreat, Hell Bay Hotel stands out for its New England meets the Caribbean meets Cornwall style; fresh, seasonal cuisine; and spectacular setting on the western shores of Bryher. Inside, cool ocean blues and greens are offset with beach-comber chic textiles and enviable artworks by some of Cornwall’s leading artists. Facilities span a games area, pitch-and-putt golf course, outdoor heated pool and a seasonal pop-up crab shack restaurant. The rooms are just as stylish and ground-floor suites come with small garden terraces. First-floor suites boast balconies with far-reaching views across Hell Bay.


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£
135
BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE has made waves with his cream-coloured Georgian mansion. When a Michelin star is awarded within six months of opening it says it all; don’t miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. The house’s Hawthorne-garnished grounds slope right down to Devon’s Exe estuary, and its surroundings are lovingly referenced in the decor, with hand-painted wallpaper featuring local birds, wispy sage-green linen drapes and plump carpets woven from grey-silver thread. Burn off the calories by borrowing one of the free bikes or walk down to the Estuary via Lympstone’s orchard and grounds.


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£
360
Step back in time to the Art Deco heyday of the swinging Thirties. Everything in this hotel, located just a few hundred metres from Bigbury-on-Sea on the south Devon coast, has been restored to its 1929 glory. It’s the kind of place that offers champagne on arrival, hosts ballroom dances, and serves canapés and cocktails before a five-course black tie dinner. Most rooms are named after a celebrity visitor, from Agatha Christie (she wrote two of her books in the luxury Beach House) to Noel Coward. Like the location, facilities are eccentric – from the croquet lawn to the stunning tidal seawater pool.


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£
285
On a long stretch of stone beach, this attractive 1920s seaside house (first designed by architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis for the American actress and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper) delivers uninterrupted views over the Channel. Owners Lisa and Clinton have maintained its lovely nostalgic charm. While accomplished chef Clinton showcases his classic French cuisine training in dishes like freshly caught cod with lemon beurre blanc and succulent Romney Marsh salt lamb with Madeira sauce, Lisa runs a tight ship. The 10 bedrooms, seven of which feature ocean views, are fresher in feel than the traditional look elsewhere, with seaside prints and gingham checks. You can see France on clear days from the Seaview rooms.


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£
115
This Hampshire hotel is a popular destination for a weekend retreat to the New Forest, yet it is only a short walk through mature gardens and ancient woods to Naish Beach where you can see the Needles rising from the sea. The hotel is home to a world-class spa with what’s said to be Europe’s biggest hydrotherapy pool, an award-winning restaurant, and a golf course (plus much more), and is notable for its old-school elegance. The magnificent Marryat Suite – the hotel’s largest – is like Bertie Wooster’s apartment; even the smallest Garden Rooms have lovely views over parkland. Recently, the famous treehouse suites have been turned into self-catering accommodation.


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From


£
395
Expect shoreline views and a walkable distance to the historic town centre of Christchurch from this relaxed Victorian property. It’s rightly popular for its extensive spa facilities, easy access to the New Forest and East Dorset’s wildlife beauty spots, and the beside-the-water restaurant headed up by chef Alex Aitken. Mudeford spit, which forms a natural harbour, makes for a lovely day on the sand. Though the exterior gives off the vibe of traditional seaside lodgings, inside the space has been given a lift, as soft greys and whites across reception morph into a more vibrant palette (lots of striking orange). There are 64 rooms plus cottage accommodation.


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£
141

The Royal

Ventnor, Isle of Wight, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

The Royal is one of the Isle of Wight’s most prestigious addresses, perched above the resort of Ventnor and a six-minute walk from the beach. Public spaces in the hotel, built in 1832, are lofty and elegant and a bright conservatory is a good spot for afternoon tea. On a fine day, sit on Lloyd Loom chairs on the pretty trellis-covered terrace overlooking the pool and gardens or lounge out in the garden itself. With zingy south-coast crab and avocado mousse or warming seafood risotto, dining here is a treat. The hotel can also provide lunch hampers for days our or tours on their private rib.


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From


£
190
Once the home of Admiral Sir Robert Holmes, governor of the island from 1668, this historic 17th-century property still contains many of its original features, including a magnificent staircase. Newer, playful touches include a wall of ‘George’ portraits (the faces of celebs called George superimposed onto period portraits). In the winter relax in front of a fire in the characterful lounge. In the summer, enjoy the Italianate outdoor terrace dotted with olive trees, where you can watch the yachts bobbing on the Solent. The boutique rooms are beautiful, and the lively bar and brasserie make this a stay to remember.


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From


£
170

Grange Hotel

Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

With views of Grange-over-Sands and its bay, this seaside bolthole has all the necessary attributes of a genteel Victorian resort hotel, from the fashionable Italianate style and imposing size, to the creeper-covered walls and cast-iron porch. The 55 rooms hark back to the days of “grand resort” hotels where every guest was a VIP; even the standard Classic rooms are lavish with billowing curtains, tassled pelmets and canopied beds plump with satin-effect covers. Days can be spent exploring Lake Windermere (10 minutes by car), or the town’s promenade, ornamental gardens and tea rooms. Staff are genuinely friendly and the fine-dining food is surprisingly modern.


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£
106
An attractive 18th-century house off the coastal road near Bamburgh. Cross the road and you’re on Budle Bay, part of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (heaven for birdwatchers). It’s very much a period affair inside, and of the ‘more-is-more’ maxim. Ruby-red walls are crammed with paintings, photographs, mirrors, china plates and heavy-framed portraits, while surfaces are scattered with curios. The hotel is resolutely traditional and preserves the courtesies and comforts of an almost-forgotten era: sherries in the drawing-room and a formal dining experience each evening – canapés, amuse-bouches and sorbet palate-cleansers are all part of the show.


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From


£
140

 

Scotland

Knockinaam Lodge

Portpatrick, Southern Uplands, Scotland

9
Telegraph expert rating

With a perfectly private beach looking across the Irish Sea, Kockinaam is a place to know about. It’s completely hidden at the end of a tangled series of country lanes running down to the sea near Portpatrick on the Dumfries & Galloway coast. Expect riotously floral wallpapers, ormolu candlesticks, silver teapots and timelessly retro-patterned carpets inside. Naturally there are kidneys and bacon for breakfast or Galloway kippers, and afternoon tea with shortbread. Canapés and drinks are served before dinner, and the four-course set menu is as tempting as you could hope for. It’s all so quiet you can hear the clocks ticking, even though it feels as if time has stopped.


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£
330
Overlooking the Firth of Forth, Greywalls and Chez Roux is an Edwardian beauty of enduring charm. The popular seaside town of North Berwick and wild and windy Tantallon Castle are all less than 20 minutes’ drive away, but there are plenty of long walks and sandy beaches a short walk from the door. Full of books, pictures and family memorabilia, it pulls off country house style with aplomb. The restaurant pleases with updated classics like pickled mooli and lobster sauce or venison with blue cheese gnocchi and almond skirlie. At breakfast time, do the Scottish thing and have whisky, brown sugar and cream porridge followed by venison sausages for breakfast.


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£
293

The Torridon

Wester Ross, Highlands, Scotland

9
Telegraph expert rating

Venturing to this large Scots Baronial pile is part of the magic as the mountains darken the skies on all sides, stags skip across in front of you and the Atlantic starts to tease in the distance. The hotel, with a sea loch and surrounding soaring mountains, has been plucked straight out of the late 19th century. Originally built in 1887 as Ben Damph House by William King-Noel, the first Earl of Lovelace who married renowned scientist Ada Lovelace, it has nods to the then-reigning monarch Queen Victoria in the Hall and an unusual Zodiac ceiling in the Drawing Room. Many original features survive, but are brought into this century with elegant, yet not over-fussy décor, and an abundance of cosy armchairs and sofas.


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History runs deep at this remote lodge on the sleepier southern shores of Skye. It was originally a hunting lodge back in the days when the Macdonald clans held sway on Skye, until the Seventies when the 8th Baron Macdonald of Sleat and his wife transformed it into a hotel. To this day, it remains in the family, run by their hands-on daughter, Isabelle, whose eye for design and detail has led to the success of Kinloch’s calmly luxurious rooms, local produce-focused restaurant and homely atmosphere. The location is spectacular – even for this part of the world – with the whitewashed hotel gazing out over shimmering water and a glowering hill. Kinloch’s own ghillie can help guests explore the estate’s natural beauty.


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£
280
Settings don’t come much more dramatic than that of this self-styled “country house hotel by the sea”. It peers out from its sea-loch perch over the Atlantic, with the isles of Luing, Scarba and Jura (where Orwell wrote 1984) dancing an ever-changing light show in the distance. Inside the whitewashed dame, which dates back to the 19th century, contemporary and classic Scottish art adorns the walls and enough historical throwbacks keep the country house vibe going.
Food is a highlight here, with the likes of Loch Fyne smoked salmon with lemony emulsions, or roast halibut fillet laced with truffle-scented mash and a thyme fondue, tempting favourites. Expect trim rooms, smouldering sunsets and a genuine Scottish welcome.


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£
58
The hotel forms the cornerstone of Portmeirion Village, the architectural folly of Clough Williams-Ellis, inspired by the facades of Portofino. It is situated on a sandy estuary that leads to the coast of Snowdonia, North Wales, though the coast-proper is just a 15-minute drive. Adapted from the old manor house, the hotel feels stately and lavishly grand. There are 46 serviced rooms with 14 in the main hotel and 32 in the village, plus 13 self-catering cottages in the wider grounds and 11 in the Castell Deudraeth. Make time to visit the cottage favoured by George Harrison (Watch House) and The Prisoner Shop for souvenirs of the cult Sixties TV series.


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From


£
124

Penally Abbey

Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales

9
Telegraph expert rating

One of Pembrokeshire’s loveliest boltholes. The beautiful bones of this Strawberry Gothic house have been brought back to life by a family who run it with love, decorate it with a keen eye for interiors, and source food locally. In the middle of the small, well-kempt village of Penally, which has its own beach and train station, guests don’t have to venture far to reach the coast; it’s just a 30-minute walk down to the seaside town of Tenby where there are plenty of ‘secret’ beaches to explore. Back at base, there is a cosy bar, a suntrap of a conservatory, sitting room, an elegant dining room with vast windows overlooking the sea and lovely gardens that tumble in lush levels down towards the sea.


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From


£
150
This fish-scale-turreted mansion on the coast of Anglesey was built for Lady Sarah Hay Williams as a dower gift from her husband John (the name means ‘ladies abode’). The design is based on five castles in the Loire Valley, a region the couple loved. There is plenty to do in the area but the spectacular scenery of Snowdonia, Newborough beach and South Stack cliff top the list. It’s fascinating to explore inside, too; everything from the ceilings to the fireplaces are mini works of art. After sympathetic restoration, today its many rooms, cloisters and nooks are filled with interesting artefacts and decorated in rich fabrics and bold colours.


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From


£
84

Contributions by David Atkinson, Suzy Bennett, Jade Conroy, Elizabeth Day, Fiona Duncan, Tina Ediss, Hattie Garlick, Sherelle Jacobs, Gabriella Le Breton, Linda Macdonald, Robin McKelvie, Benjamin Parker, Natalie Millar-Partridge, Helen Pickles, Sarah Stirling, Anna Turns, Kerry Walker, Rosalyn Wikeley and Antonia Windsor

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