21 West hotels are the 'ultimate' according to new guide of Britain's best
Westcountry hotels occupy more than a fifth of all the slots in a new guide to top British places to eat and sleep.
Twenty-one establishments - some well-known, some not so well-known - feature in the Sunday Times Ultimate 100 British Hotels list.
And, as one of the sections is completely about London hotels, the percentage could have been higher.
Sisters Emma Stratton, Deborah Wakefield and Rebecca Whittington are celebrating after their hotels - The Scarlet and the Bedruthan Steps - each clinched a top spot.
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The Scarlet was named the top of the 10 ultimate spas in the country.
The Sunday Times said: “A spa that feels sincere about saving the planet, but is not the slightest bit worthy is a rare and wonderful thing.
“There’s a lot to love about this place at Mawgan Porth: its extravagant use of space (most hoteliers would have doubled the bed count), the floor-to-ceiling views of the Atlantic, cutting-edge design, eye-catching fabrics and seasonal menus.”
The Bedruthan Steps, also at Mawgan Porth, was number one in the top ten family hotels.
A week there has “become a middle-class rite of passage” according to the newspaper’s travel writers.
The owners “know exactly what young families need on a seaside holiday, and have the space and the budget to provide it” they say.
The result is “a bit Boden-on-Sea”, it says, but, “you can’t argue with the unfussy, well-mannered way in which it is run, or with the magic brat-filter they seem to have installed at the front door”.
Three more of the region’s hotels feature in the 10 ten list of family hotels.
At five is Bovey Castle on Dartmoor. Here “kids will love collecting eggs from the chickens and meeting the ferrets, and this must be the only hotel in the world that lends out Lego sets via room service”.
Soar Mill Cove in South Devon, at seven, “offers space and distractions aplenty”
“The service is the clincher, though. It’s family owned, and they obviously love the place, running it with passion and an unflinching eye for detail,” says the guide.
Eighth was The Bull at Bridport in West Dorset.
While shooting Broadchurch in the county, actor David Tennant apparently eschewed the local five-stars in favour of the coaching inn.
In the spa top ten, Yeotown, in Snapper, North Devon, was third.
There, the rooms are described as “classy” and the walks around the stretch of coast at Lynton “magnificent”.
It’s no surprise that seven of the ten best seaside hotels are in the Westcountry.
Watergate Bay Hotel took the top spot because of its
ocean views, watersports academy, infinity pool, beachfront cafe, and magnificent beach.
The Alexandra, which overlooks The Cob at Lyme Regis, was second. It strikes “the perfect balance between elegance and informality with dozens of cosy corners to nestle in”.
Fourth was the Tide House at St Ives. There’s “no undoubting the care with which this luxurious B&B has been put together or the pride with which it’s run,” says the Sunday Times.
Fifth was The Nare at Veryan-in-Roseland. According to the guide the Nare is “old-fashioned and proud...the grande dame of Cornish seaside hotels, made special by its sun-trap beach, painstaking service and country-house interiors”.
At six is a relative newcomer, the Idle Rocks at St Mawes, which is “not so much by the sea as in it”. Its rooms are described as “jaunty and uncluttered”.
Devon is not left behind.
At seven and eight are the Cary Arms and the South Sands.
The Cary is described as “defiantly kitsch downstairs but charming, with a menu just for dogs”. The bedrooms are “lighter and fresher, with decanters of sloe gin, sticks or rock and knockout views over Babbacombe’s red cliffs”.
Salcombe’s “yachties” love the ocean-liner terrace at the South Sands where rooms “have an uplifting New England glamour”.
There’s also no surprise to see Michelin-starred rivals Michael Caines and Nathan Outlaw squaring up in the list of ‘foodie’ hotels.
Gidleigh Park, near Chagford in Devon, takes the honours at number two.
“Arriving at this mock-Tudor manor on the edge of Dartmoor is an otherworldy experience and Michael Caines’s French food is equally surreal - and sublime,” says the Sunday Times.
St Enodoc might be at Rock in Cornwall - “Chelsea-on-Sea” - but “the atmosphere is unpretentious, the decor as breezy as a North Cornwall beach,”. It also has a “sky-high reputation” for seafood.
Of course, you can’t be a holiday region without a B&B. Two feature in the guide’s top ten.
Third is Penzance’s Artist Residence, which is “cheerful, upbeat, a bit scatter-brained” and the style is “art-school ecletic”.
Treann House, an Edwaridan semi on the edge of Padstow, “eschews seasidey cliches in favour of antique beds, whitewashed floorboards and orchids”.
The popular Gurnard’s Head at Zennor is fourth in the budget category - for hotels with rooms up to £100).
According to the writers: “The coast between St Ives and Pendeen is one of the wildest in Cornwall, and the Gurnard’s Head is exactly the kind of place you’d hope to find there.
“Low-slung, granite-walled and warmed by open fires, it’s a relaxed, no-ceremony establishment and serves some of the best fish in the county.”
Downton’s Dan Stevens apparently took a shine to the place while filming in Cornwall recently.
And if it’s romance you’re looking for, Devon and Somerset is the place to be.
Romance may sparkle at third-placed Burgh Island, “a bright art-deco jewel on a plug of rock at the end of Bigbury Beach” or at Endsleigh House near Tavistock, “one of the last great Regency country houses - and gorgeous with it”.
If you’re looking for a romantic stopover in Somerset, At The Chapel in Bruton - where “soaring ceilings, 17th century lancet windows and views over the 12th century church add to the atmosphere” - is recommended.