The best luxury destinations to visit in the South West of England
Relaxing by the coast, sipping Champagne and dining on freshly caught seafood – what could be more indulgent? If you’re looking for a taste of luxury, a visit to the South West is in order; not only are there miles upon miles of glistening sea to feast your eyes upon but it’s home to some of the best seafood restaurants in the UK, perfect for a different and altogether more delicious kind of feast.
If you’re wondering where to begin, here are the most extravagant destinations in the South West and a few extra-special activities you can get up to while you’re there.
This charming town at the mouth of the River Dart in South Devon has long been popular with those who like the finer things in life due to its abundance of water sports – in particular, sailing – and seafood. Surrounded by stunning countryside, it’s an extremely pretty destination with plenty to see and do.
Your first point of call has to be The Seahorse on the banks of the River Dart. Owned by acclaimed chef Mitch Tonks, this seafood restaurant has many accolades to its name and is second to none when it comes to fresh fish and seafood. The menu changes daily to reflect what catch has freshly landed that day and has complementary wine recommendations chosen by the chef himself.
For an extra-special celebration, book a trip aboard The Fizz Boat – a luxurious, purpose-built boat which cruises the picturesque River Dart while you enjoy some bubbles from the open-plan seating area. Or, if it turns chilly, head below deck to the heated cabin for a cosy retreat while taking in the views.
Once a small and tucked-away village in North Devon, Croyde now has a reputation as one of the UK’s surfing hotspots and boasts incredible cliffside houses that make the most of the stunning sea vistas over the wild Atlantic Ocean. The village has an old-world charm with many extravagant activities on its doorstep.
Book yourself into Saunton Sands Hotel’s spa, just round the headland from Croyde, for a pampering experience unlike any other. Overlooking Saunton Sands beach, you can look after your mind, body and soul in the steam room, sauna and pool or opt for a restorative treatment. Then unwind in the dedicated relaxation room.
All that pampering works up an appetite, so for dinner, enjoy Michelin-starred dining at The Olive Room in Ilfracombe, a few miles up the coast. Head chef Thomas Carr sources the finest local, seasonal ingredients to showcase North Devon’s abundant produce; the tasting menu is a real treat.
Formerly known as a fishing port, Padstow is now one of Cornwall’s premier foodie destinations, with many impressive seafood restaurants to visit. On the River Camel, it’s also close to many stunning and secluded Cornish coves just waiting to be explored.
Padstow is synonymous with the seafood chef Rick Stein, but we’d recommend booking a table at Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 for a truly high-end meal. Paul Ainsworth has trained under Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing and, as well as an à la carte menu, offers a three-course seasonal menu with wine pairings that’s simply spectacular.
Then climb about the Jubilee Queen for a boat trip around the gorgeous North Cornwall coastline – as well as taking in the scenery, you could spot puffins, hawks, seals and even dolphins. Or hire the boat for a private trip around the Camel Estuary and sample the local ales from the fully stocked bar.
This beautiful town, almost at Cornwall’s most southern tip, is perfect for culture lovers looking for an extravagant break. The views across the crystal-clear blue sea simply don’t get any better and, once you’ve taken in the area’s influential art at the many galleries, there are plenty of delicious restaurants to enjoy.
For a true taste of Cornish provenance, visit Porthminster Restaurant which has its own garden that stocks the kitchen. As you can expect from a restaurant overlooking the beach, seafood features heavily on the menu but there’s also an Asian twist to the dishes on offer.
If you’re looking to relax by the sea, visit HarSPA at the Harbour hotel where you can indulge and unwind in the treatment rooms, swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room, and then step out onto the sun terrace to take in those gorgeous coastal views.
West Bay has been a popular resort since the 19th century and it’s easy to see why – the soft, sandy beach is overlooked by the golden sandstone cliffs and the peak of Golden Cap. As well as traditional seaside pursuits, West Bay has lots to please the discerning visitor.
Spend the day at nearby Moonfleet Manor’s spa where you can make full use of the luxurious facilities, relax with a pampering treatment and enjoy a bite to eat. If you’ve got children in tow, you can even book them into swimming lessons at the on-site pool so you can enjoy some well-deserved peace and quiet.
Then book a table at Brassica in Beaminster, where 85% of the food served at the restaurant comes from within a 15-mile radius. The highly stylish restaurant boasts a Mediterranean-influenced menu and an equally strong wine list for an unforgettable meal.
With a long, sandy beach, undulating countryside and sea vistas as far as the eye can see, Swanage is a great destination for an extra-special Dorset break. Within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you can explore the Purbeck Heritage Coast before relaxing with a glass of bubbles as the sun goes down over the sea.
Enjoy fine food but informal dining at the two AA Rosette-winning Mortons House Hotel where you can expect to dine on only the finest local produce in the setting of a 16th-century Elizabethan manor house close to Swanage. If the sun is shining, take your lunch on the terrace and enjoy the tranquil setting.
For more indulgences, visit the Burlington Health Spa and Fitness Club at the Grand Hotel, Swanage, where you can make use of the indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and gym, as well as choose a restorative treatment from the extensive list.