With two sprawling coastlines, enigmatic moorland, winding rivers and charming towns, Devon is one of the best places to holiday in the UK.
It benefits from a sunny climate – never too cold – and is one of the most popular places for a seaside holiday in the country.
That being said, there are still plenty of quiet, less touristy places to visit in Devon.
In this guide, we’ll look at the best places to stay at in Devon – including cities, towns, and rural areas.
Where to Stay in Devon: a run down
First, let’s look at the best places to stay for different groups and interests:
Where to stay in Devon with kids: all of these locations are feasible, but the beachy places like Exmouth and Salcombe have lots of fun things for kids to do.
Where to stay in Devon for nightlife: Plymouth is the only really feasible place for nightlife
The best place to stay in Devon for culture: Exeter has a wonderful cathedral and is a beautiful city with interesting history.
The best place to stay in Devon for hiking: Pretty much everywhere! Even Exeter has easy hiking close to it, and all coastal towns are connected to the South West coastal path
Most romantic places to stay in Devon: There are lots of beautiful hotels in the Barnstaple/ Ilfracombe area, and it is generally a bit quieter than the Southern beach towns here.
Best Places to Stay in Devon
Devon’s largest city, Plymouth is the place to stay if you’re looking for some kind of nightlife, want a good hub to explore Devon and Cornwall (it’s right on the border) or just like some urban life. Plymouth isn’t known as one of the best places in the UK, but there are still some cool things to do here.
Hang out at the Barbican with a drink in hand, visit the Mayflower Museum, or catch a show at Plymouth Arts Cinema. You can tick off the main attractions of the city in a day, but there are plenty of beaches, moors, stately homes and quaint villages to explore just outside of the city centre.
You won’t get nature on your doorstep if you stay in Plymouth, but you will get more hotel options, restaurants, and have to drive down fewer country roads to get to where you’re staying.
Pros of staying in Plymouth: lots of options, culture, arts, restaurants and bars nearby, near Cornwall, and not too far from nature.
Cons of staying in Plymouth: not right in nature (and there are plenty of amazing spots to stay at in Devon that are right in the heart of it!), one of the longest options to travel to on this list (unless you’re going from Cornwall).
Where to stay in Plymouth
Budget Hotel: The George Guest House is a pet-friendly hotel offering fantastically priced budget accommodation. Choose from a room with a shared bathroom or a private bathroom; all rooms have a flat screen TV and a kettle. It’s also really close to the city centre. Click here for more information and to book.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Ferry House Inn has a spectacular view of the river, located right on the Devon-Cornwall border. It’s a 15 minute drive from the city centre, but does benefit from a rustic setting and every room has a flat screen TV, desk, and tea and coffee facilities. Click here to reserve your room.
Luxury Hotel: Rooms by Bistrot Pierre is located in a Grade II listed building, and has beautiful boutique-style rooms with rustic exposed woodwork and beautiful white decor. Each bedroom is individually styled, but include a flat-screen TV and tea and coffee making facilities. The hotel is 1.2 miles from the centre of Plymouth. Click here for more information and to book your spot.
Devon’s second city, Exeter sits at the top of the Exe estuary which spans down to Exmouth at the end. There are a few historical sites to check out in Exeter; and like Plymouth, it’s a good hub to enjoy the surrounding nature, without being in it. Exeter is an easy drive to many spots in Devon and parts of Dorset and Somerset. Like any city, there are shops, bars, and restaurants to enjoy in Exeter – but like all of Devon, you don’t need to drive far to find some spectacular nature.
Pros of staying in Exmouth – many hotel options, lots of culture, restaurants, etc, not far from Devon’s beautiful nature, close to other counties
Cons of staying in Exeter – not right in nature, Exeter itself isn’t the most exciting city
Where to stay in Exeter
Budget Hotel: Holiday Inn Express is one of the cheapest places to stay in Exeter, and is reported for having high cleanliness standards in their communal areas and trendy rooms. The hotel is right in the middle of the city centre. Click here for rates and to reserve your room.
Mid-Range Hotel: Townhouse Exeter has charming rooms in a boutique style, all with a flat screen TV, tea and coffee maker, and an en-suite bathroom. A delicious breakfast is included in all room rates, and it is located just a five minute walk from the city centre. Click here for rates and to reserve your stay.
Luxury Hotel: Set in a beautiful historic building, Exeter’s Hotel du Vin has beautiful rooms with modern touches, including monsoon showers and flat-screen TVs. The building has a fitness centre, pool, spa, bar, restaurant and library – all you need! Click here for rates and to reserve your stay.
If you are looking for a compromise between nature and amenities, Exmouth may be your answer. It’s right on the beach, at the end of the Jurassic Coast and the Exe Estuary, with a good selection of restaurants (including award-winning fish and chips restaurant Krispies) and pubs, and the town backs out onto the moorland. It’s also very close to the Dorset border, and not too far from Somerset, and is on the train line from Exeter, making it fairly accessible.
Pros of staying in Exmouth – plenty of amenities, but also very close (as in walking distance) to some spectacular nature
Cons of staying in Exmouth – not quite as much going on as Plymouth or Exeter, and not as quiet as some other spots on this list. It all depends on what you’re looking for…
Where to stay in Exmouth
Budget Hotel: There don’t seem to be any budget hotels in Exmouth, so I’d recommend staying in nearby Exeter if you are on a budget. Check out the Holiday Inn Express in Exeter above.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Devoncourt Resort has a range of rooms and apartments for different budgets, and a gym, indoor pool, sauna and steam room on site, as well as its own bar. It’s just a 15 minute walk from the centre. All rooms have an en-suite bathroom, and some have sea views. Breakfast is available. Click here for rates and to reserve.
Luxury Hotel: If you’re wanting a really lavish break, the Lympstone Manor Hotel is a great option. It has gorgeous rooms with deluxe bathrooms including roll top baths, super king size four poster beds, and elegant decor. On site is a restaurant and a bar. Check it out for yourself and see how amazing this place is! Click here for rates and to reserve your spot.
Known as ‘The English Riviera’, Torbay is a beautiful region on the South Devon coast. It’s one of the only places in the UK where you’ll see palm trees, and has the charm of an old-fashioned resort town. Victorian tourists favoured Torbay and its surroundings due to its ‘warm’ climate (note: this is still England, but I guess it’s warmer than other places in the country…) and holiday vibe.
You could spend an entire holiday just exploring the charm of Torbay; the other towns that are in the 22 mile coastline stretch are Brixham, Paignton, Babbacombe, and Torquay. Each has their own charm, but Torquay and Paignton are the largest and thus have the widest selection of hotels and amenities.
Enjoy some of the country’s best beaches, watersports, the South West Coast path, and some of the unusual parts of Torbay’s culture. If you are around in September, the Agatha Christie festival celebrates the works of the famous novelist, who based many of her books around the area.
Pros of staying in Torbay – beautiful towns to explore and wonderful nature
Cons of staying in Torbay – it’s not busy, but Torquay is a reasonable sized town, whereas Brixham and Paignton are nice and chilled. There aren’t many cons to staying in Torbay to be honest.
Where to stay in Torbay
Budget Hotel: Acorn Lodge is a friendly, family-run B&B close to central Torquay. Each room is well-appointed with all the amenities necessary for a comfortable night’s stay, and breakfast is offered each morning. Click here for rates and to book.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Imperial Torquay has a variety of rooms for all budgets, with beautiful decor in period style. The communal areas – including a bar, restaurant, and a fitness centre – are all decorated exquisitely, and there is an outdoor pool for guests to enjoy. Check it out and see how beautiful this hotel is! Click here for more information.
Luxury Hotel: The Headland Hotel & Spa features a spa and wellness centre, with beautiful gardens and sea views. Enjoy gorgeous decor in the reception and bedrooms decorated in period style. Click here to read more about this hotel! Click here for more information and to reserve your stay.
Barnstaple and Ilfracombe
North Devon’s largest town, Barnstaple is an ancient market town with a Norman castle. It’s a pleasant place to spend a day or so, but is also a great base for the North Devon region.
Located close to Exmoor National Park and some beautiful north Devon beauty spots such as Saunton and Woolacombe, Barnstaple is in a great position to enjoy this area of the county, while also being close to restaurants and amenities.
Pros of staying in Barnstaple – it’s a charming market town, it is close to national parks and coastline
Cons of staying in Barnstaple – it’s not close to a city (don’t come here for the nightlife)
Where to stay in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe
Budget Hotel: The Avoncourt Lodge is a family-run B&B in Ilfracombe. Rooms include an en-suite with toiletries, the lodge is set in beautiful gardens and a delicious breakfast is rustled up every day. It is walking distance to nearby beaches and the South West coast path. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Barnstaple Hotel is great value for money, with modern, luxury rooms with en-sutie showers and comfortable beds at great value prices. There are large gardens on site, as well as an outdoor pool and a gym. Click here for rates and to reserve.
Luxury Hotels: There are so many beautiful hotels in the North Devon area that are amazing for special stays. Check out The Park Hotel in Barnstaple, The Seagate in Appledore, and the Saunton Sands Hotel in Braunton for some examples!
Towards the west of South Devon is Salcombe, a beautiful beach town with blue waters and an intriguing smuggling history. Activities like the Salcombe Maritime Museum and the Dartmouth Steam Railway nod to the heritage of this area, and other fun activities like the South Devon Chilli Farm and the Salcombe Distilling Co are frequented by tourists. Those who prefer outdoor activities can enjoy surfing, hiking, kayaking, or paddle boarding. Or of course, relax on the beach!
Salcombe is close to Plymouth and Dartmoor National Park, so it’s a great place to stay for those who want to be out of the city but still be able to access it – and only be a short drive away from nature.
Pros of staying in Salcombe – it’s a lovely tourist town, close to Plymouth and Dartmoor for day trips
Cons of staying in Salcombe – it is very small, so hotels can be a bit on the pricey side
Where to stay in Salcombe
Budget Hotel: Burton Farmhouse B&B is a cosy guesthouse just outside of Salcombe town. Home to an adjoining restaurant and bar, the B&B is set in a gorgeous rural location. Rooms are cosy and charming, with patterned duvets and plush furniture. Click here for rates.
Mid-Range Hotel: Chillington House has classy and elegant rooms, some with four-poster beds, set in gorgeous grounds. Breakfast is included in all room rates. Click here for rates.
Luxury Hotel: The beautiful Salcombe Harbour Hotel has bedrooms awash with natural light and an on-site spa with five different treatment rooms. Some rooms have estuary views and balconies. Click here for rates and to reserve your stay.
The Best Hotels in Devon
I hope this list of places to stay in Devon has helped you when planning your trip here! Be sure to check out my other posts about Devon; including how to get here and what to do in the county, as well as destination specific posts 🙂