Classic Victorian beach resorts are making a comeback. Grab a stick of rock, throw on a stylish parka, and head to the beach with our pick of the best Victorian resorts.
BURGH ISLAND HOTEL
WHY? Built in 1929, this International-style model was the haunt of celebrities of the day: Agatha Christie and Noël Coward were regular visitors to the hotel during its glamorous heyday. Carefully restored to its Deco origins, it continues to attract urbanites and design buffs. Access is by marine tractor (or on foot if the tide is out) and mobile phone coverage on the island is poor, so leave your worries (and contacts) at home.
The South Devon coast near Bigbury-on-Sea. A stone’s throw from Exeter and some of Britain’s most stunning coastline.
You’ll need to dress to impress, so be sure to pack your prettiest cocktail dress. Black tie is the order of the day here, and dance classes are available if you fancy some strictly inspired action. With live music from a white grand piano on Wednesday and Saturday nights, you’ll be dancing the night away and channeling your inner Gene Kelly before you know it. The restaurant uses mostly local produce: a Salcombe purveyor literally dives for hand-caught scallops.
Add drama to your bedroom with Deco-inspired wallpaper and a paneled faux headboard.
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Feast on a plate of oysters and take in wonderful ocean views at Burgh Island’s locale, the aptly named Pilchard Inn. Steeped in history, it’s a 14th-century smugglers’ inn overlooking the sea and complete with its own poltergeist, or so the legend goes. For a retail fix, venture half an hour further to the Cider Press Centre, Dartington. It’s packed with local crafts and home-made delicacies and since all proceeds go to a local charity, you can enjoy a guilt-free splurge spot. The Friday flea market in Totnes is the place for vintage finds.
From £360 including breakfast and dinner. (01548 810514)
Southport is one of England’s classic seaside resorts, with a wide sandy beach, one of the UK’s oldest piers and a Parisian-style shopping parade dating back to the 1820s.
The hotel is on Lord Street, right in the heart of the main shopping area and 10 minutes from the beach.
Rooms have the feel of a metropolitan bachelor pad, combining walnut wood with white bedding and floor-to-ceiling sliding blinds. The restaurant offers a mix of local and fresh produce, as well as a full sushi menu. We ate British classics like bangers and mash, and took advantage of the V-Spa, which offers full-day and one-of-a-kind treatments using Espa products.
In the bar, they have created a gentlemen’s club feel by combining black walls with a mirrored ceiling and luxurious leather furniture.
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With over a mile of covered shopping areas, Lord Street has plenty to keep you entertained. Head to the waterfront to see the newly renovated wharf, or walk along the coast to Liverpool. Stop along the way at Crosby Beach to see the figures of Antony Gormley.
Doubles from £99 including breakfast. The Vincent is a member of Design Hotels. (00800 3746 8357)
Hastings is on the rise; catch him before the crowd does.
Swan House is located in the heart of the old town, tucked away on quiet Hill Street. Originally built in 1490, it’s Tudor on the outside, but inside, the elegant style and friendly service make it a thoroughly modern retreat.
Once you’ve settled in with a cup of tea, served between the low beams and wood-paneled walls of the reception area, head to your room for a relaxing soak in the hand-decorated shell mosaic bathroom. When the morning comes, try to get away from the comfort of your room: the homemade breakfast with local products is not to be missed.
Combine textured antique linens, raw solid wood, hand-blown glass, and natural wool rugs in a subdued palette to create a modern take on coastal style.
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Lovers of design classics should head to The Retro Warehouse. Shop for sweets at the Judges Artisan Bakery. The Electric Palace is a great arthouse cinema. Celebrate your loot at the popular Dragon Bar with a lively drink and fine gastronomic food. For fine dining, try St Clement’s.
Doubles from £115, including breakfast. (01424 430014)