Posted May 23, 2011 by in TRAVEL

How to do a British seaside holiday without it being rubbish

by Lemon Tart

Oh look! TMC is doing an obligatory summer holiday recession article. Just in case your Monday wasn’t already irritating enough, I invite you to dwell on the possibilities of spending less money on a beach holiday if – like me – you simply cannot afford to go to the Caribbean this summer. And even if you can, looks like the Icelandic ash that’s about to cast its gloomy spell across the UK will stop us going anywhere fast.



Ellen and Portia. In St Barts. Lucky them.

The fact is, our country is actually a pretty great place to hang around in. I think I first realised this when I lived in Canada and met endless lovely people (everyone from that country is lovely. No really.) who actually wanted to go travelling to the Wales to see the views. When they’ve got the breathtaking Rocky Mountains nearby. Ok, so there was the odd nutter who was visiting because they were “from Cambridge” (cue: “How are you from Cambridge?” “Well, my great grandmother twice removed’s cousin worked as an optician there.” “So you’re not.” “No.”). But mostly, they thought our country was worth travelling across the world to see, over the Himalayas, or Luxembourg, for example.

So here you go, TMC’s guide to staycationing.

1. Try Cornwall- I went here almost every year when I was a kid, and can’t recommend it enough. Sure, it rains. But there’s always a yummy fudge shop or pub a step away to shelter in.

Perhaps the best thing to do in Cornwall is just to drive – without knowing where you’ll end up. Every so often you’re bound to come across a slightly tired, but huge old mansion, or a heart stopping view. This may all sound a bit Alan Titchmarsh, but so much of it is hauntingly beautiful. The Times did a great guide on Daphne Du Maurier’s Cornwall, for example – it’s a good starting point. Daphne was basically a repressed lesbian, and you know, that probably means we’ll enjoy the same views as her. Well, it doesn’t at all, but it’s a gay link.

St Mawes is a great place to stay – basically, from memory it ticks a lot of good pub/ nice fudge boxes. One of their most famous hotels is Hotel Tresanton, which is very Brit-chic, and their restaurant is unmissable. For something less pricey, I’d recommend camping or staying somewhere just as pleasant but a little cheaper – such as The St Mawes Hotel, but make sure you sup at the Tresanton at least once if you can. Further up the coast, Padstow is also a great place to stay, with Polzeath beach across the bay for good surfing, and Rick Stein’s four amazing restaurants within Padstow itself.

It’s worth popping into the Tate in St Ives too if you can.

2. You don’t have to go far from London, big smoke readers…

If you want to treat yourself to a seriously relaxing break, The Gallivant Hotel in Sussex is a good option – their restaurant looks like a stunner, and the beaches nearby are all expansive, dreamy places – Enya probably shot her music videos there. Probably. They have a great offer on this week for bed and breakfast at £99, until Thursday if you feel like pulling a sickie. Whitstable also boasts a stunner of a beach and is easily accessible by train in about an hour and a quarter. Plus it has a whole festival JUST for oysters in July. Wow.

3. Camping

So, obviously you can camp it up in Brighton all summer. And more obviously still, the best time to go is during Brighton Pride, best known for having the hottest girls of any gay festival, and the event at which you are most likely to end up asleep on a beach at 6 am, ruefully settling there after a love interest rejected you when you threw up a day’s worth of cider on her. YET it doesn’t have to be this way. Most hotels are already getting booked up, but for a cheaper accommodation option go to Air BnB – a great site where locals rent out their homes for at reasonable rates. I checked, and people still have rooms going.

Camping for real in Wales is reportedly pretty amazing too according to chums. Having trawled the internet for HOURS, I found this seaside wonder – Three Cliffs Bay. [Ok, in truth I stole it from the Guardian’s great article on beach campsites.]

4. Try Scotland…

There’s a great resource here for renting a cottage in Scotland, and the Telegraph picks out Sutherland as a great place to visit in this pretty persuasive article.

I haven’t been to Scotland as much as I’d like, but having seen this insanely high budget trailer for it at the cinema the other day, I was jolted into realising I should more. If this blockbuster of an ad doesn’t get the rest of Canada dashing over here for their holidays, I don’t know what else will. It’s made me want to drive a vintage car through the Isle of Skye, anyway.

5. Where would you recommend? Please comment below.