A chic beach retreat with added hot tub
STEVE HOWARTH heads down to Devon in style for a weekend break that really is beside the seaside...
‘OH I do like to be beside the seaside’ as the old holiday song goes... and you could not get any more ‘beside the sea’ than the fantastic Beach Cove Coastal Retreat on the beautiful North Devon coast.
It’s ‘bijou beach huts’ are perched above a charming cove and the luxury one we stayed in (a kind of cross between a chic vintage beach bungalow and top-of-ther-ange caravan) was literally feet away from the rolling waves.
Our ‘hut’ had the added attraction of a hot tub on the private balcony… and I can tell you there are few more relaxing and enjoyable experiences than luxuriating in a bubbling tub in the Devon late spring sunshine with your better half, watching the yachts sail past… and enjoying a glass of, what else, bubbly.
Our long weekend adventure began with an under five-hour drive to the North Devon Coast, which was relatively stress-free as it is motorway for most of the route followed by a pleasant few miles through beautiful Devon countryside… and it also helped that we were in an ‘on-test’ £180,000 Bentley.
On arriving at Beach Cove in picturesque Hele Bay we were delighted to find a quirky and immaculate site with some 26 charming ‘beach huts’ – which come in four levels of luxury – and that we were to stay in a ‘Premier’ lodge with that hot tub.
The hut/lodge was immaculate, too, and the whole development is clearly only a few months old as everything still feels relatively new. The accommodation consisted of a generous lounge/dining/kitchen area with that amazing sea view and a reasonable bedroom with a full-sized double – none of those silly caravan cut down beds here. With flat screen TVs in both lounge and bedroom, there were also docking stations for your smartphone and a well-equipped kitchen. Being late spring the nights were still a little chilly so the full-size gas-fired domestic central heating system and electric ‘wood burning stove’ were most welcome and meant we were snug 24-7.
The beautifully-kept park is cleverly laid out so all huts have that fantastic sea view and none are really overlooked by the others.
An initial foray found the bay had two pubs within a five-minute walk, both cosy and welcoming and one in particular serving excellent food.
Our first morning saw the serious business of coastal walks, which is one of the really big attractions of the area, and we took the mildly strenuous 30-minute path into nearby Ilfracombe – which in places follows the shoreline and has some cracking views.
Ilfracombe itself was charming too – reminding me very much of happy childhood holidays to Devon and Cornwall and boasting a number of attractions, some more traditional than others.
I can recommend a trek up Lantern Hill to the 650-year-old St Nicholas’s Chapel (which was once also the lighthouse) and boat trips around the bay plus the famous tunnels beach carved out by the Victorians. But what I was not expecting was a gigantic,i ti 20 20-metret hi highh bronze Damien Hirst sculpture of a naked pregnant woman brandishing a giant sword standing like something out of a Jason and the Argonauts film beside the harbour entrance... with half of her body in cut out. Bizarre – yet to some awesome. Others brand it an eyesore.
According to locals, since the sculpture arrived in 2012 it has drawn in lots of tourists.
Hurst, who has a home in Ilfracombe, has loaned the statue – which is taller than the more famous A Angell of fth the N Northth – t to North Devon Council.
The resort also boasts an almost equally amazing modern theatre building which looks a little like a couple of squashed power station cooling towers that also houses more of Mr Hirst’s works.
Other local resorts within a few minutes drive and worth a visit include Woolacombe with its vast, family-friendly sandy beach with surfing for the more energetic and Lynton and Lynmouth, where I can recommend a ride on the amazing, water-poweredt dVi Victoriant i cliff railway and mooching around both resorts’ charming shops.
Also worth a look is nearby Watermouth Castle, particularly if you have children as it is also a family theme park with rides, a maze, gnome land and even dragons for the kids while adults can explore the Victorian castle and its gardens.
But we kept coming back to our just-for-two bejou beach hut and that hot tub – it really is the perfect spot for a romantic break... honeymooners or that special anniversary.