Are you looking for wonderful places to stay in Devon?
Two coastlines sprawl for miles, with tall cliffs leading down to wide beaches. In the middle of the county sits the enigmatic Dartmoor, home to tors with mythical connections – and Exmoor sits to the north, bordering the sea.
You’ll also find vivacious river estuaries, many with cycle triails leading along them, and a myraid of charming towns – some of which are ideal for watersports, other that bask in centuries of glorious history.
It’s no secret – Devon is one of the best places to holiday in the United Kingdom.
I’m a Devon local (I live in Exmouth) and I think that the epic nature and glorious beaches make it an ideal place for a seaside holiday in England.
There are plenty of popular holiday resorts which come alive in the summer months – although you’ll also find lots of quiet, less touristy places to spend your Devon holidays.
I’ve visited all of the best places to stay in Devon (before I lived here, I spent a while travelling around the West Country, so I can talk about it from a tourist and local perspective!). In this article, I’ll detail the best cities, towns and villages for travellers to this county!
Places to Stay in Devon: a run down
First, let’s look at the best places to stay for different groups and interests:
- Best places to stay in Devon with kids: all of these locations are feasible, but Torbay has the most attractions with kids.
- Where to stay in Devon for nightlife: The cities of Plymouth and Exeter are best for nightlife – they both have a sizable student population and plenty of pubs, bars and clubs.
- The best place to stay in Devon for culture: Exeter has a wonderful cathedral and is a beautiful city with an interesting history. Totnes is also brimming with history.
- The best place to stay in Devon for hiking: Pretty much everywhere! Even Exeter has easy hiking close by, and all coastal towns are connected to the South West Coastal Path. However, Dartmoor has more hikes than any other place I’ve mentioned on this list.
- The best place to stay in Devon for surfing: Hands down, Woolacombe. It’s my favourite sunset spot too!
- Most romantic places to stay in Devon: There are lots of beautiful hotels in North Devon, and it is generally a bit quieter than the southern beach towns.
- Best all-round place to stay: I’m biased, but I do genuinely think Exmouth is the best place to stay in Devon – so much so that I decided to stay there permanently!
Where to stay in Devon: the full list!
A two-mile long beach winds up towards the start of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast, and on the other side, it bends into the Exe Estuary (a haven for birdwatchers – it’s famous for its Avocet population!).
The town has plenty on offer for kids of all ages, including the World of Country Life, amusement arcades and an escape room, or, if you’re visiting as a couple or group of adults there are plenty of excellent restaurants in town.
Watersports opportunities are abundant on the sea and Exe Estuary, and if you’re into hiking, the Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton hike is an easy section of the South West Coast Path – and you can even extend the walk to Ladram Bay or Sidmouth, taking the bus back to Exmouth. There’s also a trail spanning up the Exe Estuary, ideal for hikers or cyclists.
On the opposite side of town to the beach, moorland begins and sprawls over the East Devon countryside – making Exmouth a perfect place to stay to explore this part of the county.
If you’re visiting Devon by train, Exmouth’s accessible – there’s a branch line from Exeter that runs every half an hour to reach the town.
I’m a bit biased, but I think that Exmouth is the ideal fusion between nature and amenities; it has walking trails, epic red sandstone cliffs (don’t just take my word for it, UNESCO said so too!) and one of the longest beaches in this part of the country.
In fact, all of Exmouth’s draws were so convincing that I purchased my first house here – that’s how confident I am that this is one of the absolute best places to stay in Devon!
Things to do in Exmouth
- Take a Stuart Line Cruise boat trip down the Exe Estuary or along the Jurassic Coast.
- Walk down the Exe Estuary, enjoying the rolling hills of the countryside on the other side
- Hike on the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast to Budleigh Salterton, Ladram Bay or Sidmouth
- Bask on the beautiful golden sands of Exmouth Beach and the other beaches of the area
- Visit the 16-sided house, A La Ronde, which is managed by the National Trust
- Try out a range of watersports, including paddleboarding, kayaking and windsurfing – equipment rental is available from Sideshore
Pros of staying in Exmouth
- There are plenty of amenities in the town itself, including a variety of restaurants, a fitness centre, plenty of pubs, two large supermarkets (Tesco and Lidl) and a range of other shops.
- It’s walking distance to some of the country’s most staggering scenery – the start of the Jurassic Coast!
- Exmouth Beach is two miles long, offers plenty of watersports opportunities, is great for swimming, has rockpools and is accessible for those with mobilitiy issues.
- There’s a fun holiday atmosphere throughout the summer months.
- Despite this, the town retains a local feel; it’s not somewhere that has been completely overtaken by tourism, which you’ll find in other towns in Devon and Cornwall.
- It’s accessible from all major cities in the UK, thanks to its train station that links to Exeter (there are also buses connecting Exeter and Exmouth.
Pros of staying in Exmouth
- There’s not quite as much going on as Plymouth or Exeter – we have plenty of bars and pubs, but only one club – I’ve been once for research purposes and we were nearly the only people in there!
- It’s also not as quiet and secluded as some spots on this list, nor does it have the quaint “fishing village” feel of others.
Where to stay in Exmouth
Budget Hotel: The Dolphin
The Dolphin is a friendly seafront guesthouse that looks over Exmouth Beach.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Devoncourt Resort
The Devoncourt Resort has a range of rooms and apartments for different budgets, 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.
Luxury Hotel: Lympstone Manor 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!
Torbay used to be a glamourous holiday hotspot on the South Devon coast, favoured by Victorian tourists because of its comparatively warm climate and beaches. In fact, it earned a title as The English Riviera because it felt so holiday-like!
Nowadays, it’s a little hit-and-miss. There are certainly plenty of gorgeous beaches, but the main two towns – Torquay and Paignton, are a little bit past their best, we’ll say.
That doesn’t mean that Torbay should be completely written off. In fact, I do recommend it as the best place to stay in Devon with kids, thanks to the huge array of family-friendly attractions.
Firstly, Paignton’s home to the UK’s largest outdoor waterpark; Splashdown Quaywest looks over Goodrington Sands, and while it’s not my favourite attraction in Devon (you can read my full, somewhat scathing review, here!), I recognise that it could be a great attraction for families.
There’s also Bygones which is an immersive Victorian history museum, the 900 year old Torre Abbey, the enchanting Kent’s Cavern Cave, the model village at Babbacombe and the Babbacombe Cliff Railway which leads down to Oddicombe Beach (one of my favourite beaches in the area).
22 miles of coastline sweeps along the south of the whole Torbay area. It’s all covered by the South West Coast Path, and you’ll encounter plenty of marine views and sandy coves.
Torbay also often has quite affordable hotels, and it’s well-connected to Exeter on the train line.
Things to do in Torbay
- Walk along the encapsulating Paignton Pier.
- Hike some of the South West Coast Path.
- Go back in time at the medieval Torre Abbey.
- Head underground at Kent’s Cavern Caves.
- Feel like a giant at the Babbacombe Model Village.
- Whizz down the slides of Splashdown Quaywest.
Pros of staying in Torbay
- There are plenty of family-friendly attractions.
- The coastline boasts tonnes of beaches, some of which are quiet and stunning.
- There are plenty of accommodation options.
- It’s in a good location to explore South Hams, Plymouth and Exeter
Cons of staying in Torbay
- Paignton and Torquay are both a little rough around the edges and definitely not as scenic as other towns and villages in Devon.
- It can be very busy in the summer season.
Where to stay in Torbay
Budget Hotel: Acorn Lodge
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.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Imperial Torquay
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 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!
Luxury Hotel: The Headland Hotel & Spa
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 for more information and to reserve your stay.
Boats bob on the Barbican, which basks in centuries of fascinating history. Climb uphill on the Plymouth Hoe, and you’ll be in the site where Sir Francis Drake was warned of the Spanish Armada. Or, pop into the Mayflower Museum, which will teach you all about the first European settlers in North America.
When it comes to naval history, Plymouth is unrivalled. Devon’s largest city, its neighbourhoods aren’t all charming – like most cities, there are some run-down areas – but there’s no denying that on a sunny day, Plymouth’s coastline is an absolute beauty.
The city still revolves around the water; it’s home to the UK’s largest aquarium, boat trips on the Tamar and watersports are popular in the summer months and it’s one of the country’s best spots for scuba diving. It’s also one of the best places in Devon for day trips.
Plymouth is nestled into the very southwestern corner of Devon – just over the River Tamar is Cornwall; a region with a distinctly different feel to Devon and the rest of England.
Cornwall is Celtic, like Scotland and Wales, which lends to its own culture, history and customs (my heritage is Cornish so I could speak about this for hours, but check out my is Cornwall in England post for a more detailed explanation). You won’t encounter this in Plymouth – it’s very much in Devon – but its position makes for ideal day trips across the Tamar into Cornwall, or Kernow, as we call it.
Plymouth has great nightlife – there’s also a univeristy in the city – although I’ve always been a little disappointed in its food scene. That being said, there is a handful of decent restaurants close to the Barbican/ Hoe area, plus a few chains in the city centre.
You won’t have nature on your doorstep if you have a city break in Plymouth, but you will have a range of hotels to choose from, enough restaurants for all tastes, plenty of nightlife and be in easy driving distance to some of Devon and Cornwall’s best spots.
Plus, it’s on the same train line as Exeter, so you can expect direct trains to London Paddington, Bristol and cities further north.
Things to do in Plymouth
- Explore Plymouth Hoe and its many attractions like Smeetons Lighthouse.
- Dine and drink at the Barbican.
- Get educated in The Box, Plymouth’s museum.
- Go on a walking tour around Plymouth city centre.
- Tour of the Plymouth Gin Distillery, the oldest continously operating gin distillery in the world.
- Take a boat over Plymouth Sound to the Rame Peninsula, a quiet and secluded area that’s often called “Forgotten Cornwall”.
Pros of staying in Plymouth
- It’s drenched in maritime history; there’s a lot to learn about in the museums and guided tours.
- It’s close to Cornwall – particuarly towns and villages like Looe, Polperro, Fowey, Launceston and Bodmin – and is in a great location for day trips to West Devon too.
- There are plenty of hotels, restaurants and other amenities.
- Excellent public transport connections make it easy to reach by train or bus.
Cons of staying in Plymouth
- It’s not right in nature (and there are plenty of amazing spots to stay at in Devon that are right in the heart of it!).
- It’s in the corner of southwest Devon, so it’s quite a long journey to get here (unless you’re visiting Devon from Cornwall).
- Parts of it are a bit grotty, with a decidedly urban feel – although the coastline is lovely (I particularly love the Mount Batten area which is just over the River Plym from the centre).
Where to stay in Plymouth
Budget Hotel: The George Guest House
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.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Ferry House Inn
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. There’s an excellent beer garden on site.
Luxury Hotel: Rooms by Bistrot Pierre
Rooms by Bistrot Pierre is a boutique hotel located in a Grade II listed building, and has beautiful stylish 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.
Special shout out – Boringdon Hall in nearby Plympton
Boringdon Hall is my favourite hotel in south west England due to its history, facilities, atmosphere and great value.
It’s a spa hotel and manor house with lots of history.
Enjoy the luxury five-star rooms, soak in the hydrotherapy pool at the spa and dine at one of the Michelin-star restaurants.
The hotel has private parking on-premises.
Stepping into Exeter’s Cathedral Close is like being in a time warp; in one view, you’ll see the 14th century Gothic cathedral and a line of Medieval houses.
Around the city, there’s more remnants of this architecture – Exeter was one of the wealthiest cities in the country during the Medieval period thanks to a flourishing woollen cloth industry. It was badly bombed in World War Two, so Medieval buildings sit amongst 1960s buildings; but in Exeter, there’s history all around you.
It’s not just a city for history lovers. With a large student population, Exeter has a buzzing nightlife scene, boasting plenty of pubs, cocktail bars and a few clubs.
The Exe Estuary starts at Exeter Quay; here, you can enjoy dinner at one of the riverside restaurants (I love the pizza at the appropriately named “On The Waterfront”) or hire watersports gear from Saddles and Paddles and explore Exeter Canals.
Also perfect for sports fans, Exeter is home to Exeter Chiefs rugby club – both the mens’ and womens’ teams are among the best in the country – and the not as prestigious, but still worth watching football club, Exeter City FC (myself and my family have always supported them!).
With plenty of hotels and amenties, Exeter is also within striking distance to Dartmoor and plenty of South Devon beach towns. You never have to drive too far to find spectacular nature in Devon, even when you’re in the cities!
There’s also the huge advantage of direct train connections to London, Bristol, Birmingham and even occasional trains running up to Edinburgh.
Things to do in Exeter
- Take a guided Red Coat Tour – there are several themed tours which focus on different aspects of the city’s history (and they’re all free!).
- Explore the Exeter Tunnels which are Medieval waterways running underneath the city.
- Visit Exeter Cathedral which is widely regarded to be one of the most impressive places of worship in the country.
Pros of staying in Exeter
- there are many hotel options
- lots of culture, restaurants, etc
- it’s not far from Devon’s beautiful nature
- it’s close to other counties; enjoy the natural attractions of Dorset and Somerset when you stay here!
Cons of staying in Exeter
- it’s not right in nature
- it’s not by the beach
Where to stay in Exeter
Budget Hotel: Holiday Inn Express
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.
Mid-Range Hotel: Townhouse Exeter
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.
Luxury Hotel: Exeter’s Hotel du Vin
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!
The white sand beach of Woolacombe, which borders the Atlantic Ocean and its tumultuous waves that beckon surfers, was once voted the best beach in the UK and the sixth-best in the world.
If I’m being totally honest, I can name six better beaches just in Devon and Cornwall, but Woolacombe’s soft sand and views out to the water – particularly during sunset – certainly make it feel like a special place.
Woolacombe is a small town, but it comes to life every summer with holidaymakers, and you’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars that cater to tourists.
It’s also one of the best places for surfing in Devon, with waves reaching up to X. If you’re new to the waves but want to give it a go, there are plenty of surf schools offering lessons.
Despite my best efforts, I’m not a natural surfer in the slightest – so I stick to hiking around Woolacombe, exploring the best beaches in the area (Barricane, Putsborough and Croyde Bay to name but a few!).
From Woolacombe, you can enjoy a beautiful day hike eastwards to Ilfracombe or Combe Martin, or traverse the headland of Baggy Point, pass by Croyde Bay and venture further – to Saunton Sands, Braunton or Barnstaple – which all sit to the west!
Things to do in Woolacombe
- Relax on Woolacombe Beach.
- Explore the other beaches near the town (see the full list).
- Hike on the South West Coast Path to Croyde Bay or Ilfracombe.
- Walk around Morte Point.
- Visit the shipwreck museum in Mortehoe.
- Enjoy the dynamic food scene of Woolacombe.
Pros of Woolacombe holidays
- It’s home to the award-winning Woolacombe Beach, and the sunsets are other-worldy.
- It’s a world-class place for surfing.
- It has a fun holiday atmosphere
- It boasts great hiking opportunities with fabulous views
Cons of staying in Woolacombe
- It can be very busy, especially during the summer months.
- It’s more expensive than other beach towns in the area.
- There isn’t really a local feel at all here.
Where to stay in Woolacombe
Budget Hotel: Lundy House Hotel
Lundy House Hotel is a cosy B&B with very friendly staff and views over Woolacombe beach and Lundy Island. The rooms are comfortable.
Luxury Hotel: Watersmeet Hotel
Watersmeet Hotel this one of the most deluxe Woolacombe hotels. The bedrooms and bathrooms are very well-appointed, with excellent features like huge windows with ocean views and roll-top baths.
The tiny village of Appledore sits on the River Taw, a short journey to the sea at Westward Ho!. Step into a slower pace of life as you hear seagulls chiming above you; there are a few pub gardens to sit in and watch the world go by, and walking along the river is a must-do.
While Appledore exudes charm, it’s definitely not a well-kept secret. The pint-sized village is brimming with holiday homes, particularly on Irsha Street, where each house is a different colour (it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in North Devon!).
However, there’s something about Appledore that always pulls me in. I’ve stayed at Skern Lodge Campsite twice, and have always adored evening walks along the river, a glass of white wine on a hot day from the Seagate pub and the five-mile hike into Westward Ho! (for me, it certainly beats staying in Westward Ho! itself).
Things to do in Appledore
- Chill out in a pub garden with a cold beverage – you’re on holiday, after all!
- Walk the South West Coast Path, which juts inland at Appledore and travels beside the River Taw. See my instructions for the Instow to Westward Ho! walk which goes through Appledore.
- Go surfing and enjoy the family attractions (go-karting, mini golf, amusements and more!) at nearby Westward Ho! – see all the best things to do in this town here.
- Cycle the nearby Tarka Trail, which takes in some of the best riverside scenery in North Devon.
Pros of staying in Appledore
- There are lots of holiday rentals available.
- It has a wonderful holiday atmosphere and is a charming village that’ll feel completely different to life back home.
- It’s in proximity to surf beaches at Westward Ho!, the famous village of Clovelly, Exmoor and the wonderful stretch of coastline between Ilfracombe and Woolacombe.
Cons of staying in Appledore
- It doesn’t have a very local feel; it can be very over-touristy, particularly in high season.
- Prices for holiday rentals can be high.
- It’s difficult to reach by public transport (you’d need to take a train to Exeter St Davids, another train to Barnstaple, and then switch to a bus).
- There’s not a huge amount to do in the village itself.
Where to stay in Appledore
Campsite: Skern Lodge
Skern Lodge is a campsite just a ten-minute walk from the village. We’ve stayed here a couple of times, and it has a large field to pitch your tent, with bathrooms with warm showers.
The site’s main purpose is an activity centre for schools, but the campsite is open throughout the summer months too.
There are even camping pods – perfect if you want to try out glamping – and you can rent out watersports equipment.
It’s perfect if you’re looking for an affordable place to stay in Appledore!
Mid-Range Hotel: Sailors Rest
Sailors Rest is a chilled-out guesthouse in the heart of Appledore.
Bedrooms and bathrooms have been refurbished to make them sleek and modern; they now have coffee machines, flat-screen TVs and comfortable beds.
Plus, you can enjoy epic views over the estuary – all at a great value rate!
Luxury: Seagate Hotel
Comfortable, huge rooms, with epic views over the estuary; at the Seagate Appledore, you’ll step into the lap of opulence.
Some of the rooms boast huge bathtubs and all have cosy beds with crisp bedlinen, with luxury-looking panelling in the rooms.
It’s the perfect spot to unwind after exploring Appledore and its surrounding area!
A small North Devon beach town that my partner constantly calls “his favourite in North Devon”, Ilfracombe is the launch pad for the epic Lundy Island, a glorious rocky island that’s home to colonies of puffins and seals and has a chequered history including occupation by Barbary Pirates!
Many tourists visit Ilfracombe just to head over to Lundy, but the town has plenty of allure for a few days of your time too.
Check out the unique Tunnels Beaches – a network of beaches all connected by tunnels – eat fish and chips on the harbour, walk to Woolacombe or Combe Martin on the South West Coast Path or enjoy the range of family-friendly attractions in North Devon.
There’s something about Ilfracombe – although it’s only small, it’s enchanting, and it’s my favourite place to stay when I head up to the north of the county!
Things to do in Ilfracombe
- See the Verity statue by Damien Hirst.
- Take a day trip to Lundy Island.
- Enjoy Ilfracombe’s many beaches, like the famous Tunnels Beaches.
- Hike on the South West Coast Path.
- Try your hand at crazy golf.
- Check out the food scene of the town.
- Walk around Ilfracombe Harbour.
Pros of staying in Ilfracombe
- It can be cheaper than other destinations in North Devon.
- It has a pleasant atmosphere, a great mix between touristy and local.
- It sits on a particularly beautiful section of the South West Coast Path.
- It’s in a good location to access Exmoor, Barnstaple, Woolacombe and other North Devon locations.
Cons of staying in Ilfracombe
- It’s not the easiest place to access, particularly by public transport – there is a bus from Barnstaple, which has train connections to Exeter St David’s, but the whole journey would take some time.
- There isn’t a large, expansive beach right in town, like there is in Exmouth or Woolacombe.
- Some parts of the town can feel a little dated – although others are encapsulating.
- The food scene isn’t as diverse as other spots in the area.
Where to stay in Ilfracombe
Budget Hotel: The Avoncourt Lodge
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: Royal Britannia Hotel
Royal Britannia Hotel is right on the beachfront and it has comfortable en-suite rooms and a delicious breakfast served daily. Some of the rooms have epic views over Ilfracombe harbour – the best in town! Click here to see up to date prices.
While Devon is quite rightly famous for its coastline, Dartmoor has attracted adventurous and curious travellers for decades.
It’s the largest national park in England, and comprises of shrubby moorland, tors (hills with rock on top), reservoirs, rivers and even temperate rainforest.
The area’s largely rural, with a small selection of villages and towns dotted around the park, each one with its own distinct character. Visit Okehampton and its Norman castle, Widecombe-in-the-Moor which springs from seemingly nowhere, Ashburton which is famous for its antique stores and Princetown which sits in the middle of the moor and is home to the notorious Dartmoor Prison – which you can learn about at the Dartmoor Prison Museum.
Of course, hiking is a must when you’re in Dartmoor – you can hike anywhere but do be careful of where exactly you are and don’t venture too far from your car without the appropriate kit and skills.
It used to be the only area in England where you could legally wild camp – you might have seen in the news that this is in the process of changing, although the rules are still grey.
Things to do in Dartmoor
- Hike up tors – my favourite are Brent Tor (which has a church on top), Hay Tor and Saddle Tor.
- Visit the temperate rainforest of Wistman’s Wood.
- Explore the enchanting Lydford Gorge.
- Visit Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England.
- Do a hiking expedition run by a skilled tour operator.
- Explore waterfalls like Becky Falls and Venford Falls.
Pros of staying on Dartmoor
- It’s a natural playground for hikers.
- There are plenty of adrenaline-pumping adventure opportunities, including rock climbing and 4X4 driving.
- The villages have a real rural atmopshere, and you’ll find friendly guesthouses with a homely atmopshere.
Cons of staying on Dartmoor
- It’s quite isolated from other parts of Devon.
- It’s not by the coast, so you’ll need to drive a way to get to the sea.
- Parts of Dartmoor can be very crowded at peak times – although it’s a huge moorland, so it’s usually possible to dodge the crowds!
Places to stay on Dartmoor
Higher Larkworthy Farm is a short drive from Dartmoor, but it’s a fantastic place to stay in the area. ou get your own shepherd’s hut with a comfortable bed, kitchenette and bathroom, and you can use the fire pit. It’s in a beautiful rural setting. We stayed here and loved it – you can check out my review here!
Mid-range hotel: Castle Inn Lydford
Castle Inn in Lydford is a charming pub with rooms and lavish features, especially in the deluxe bathrooms. There’s also a pub and restaurant downstairs.
Luxury Hotel: Bovey Castle
Bovey Castle is set in gorgeous grounds, with lavish rooms with comfortable beds and luxury bathrooms. There’s a fine dining restaurant on site.
I spend much of my life waxing lyrical about Devon’s incredible nature – but you don’t need to just take my word for it.
We have two national parks (and part of England’s only natural UNESCO site, but who’s counting?). Dartmoor’s more famous, but Exmoor is equally worth your time.
In fact, some may favour Exmoor over Dartmoor because, while Dartmoor sprawls across much of the centre of Devon, Exmoor begins with moorland, soars up to Dunkery Beacon, the highest peak in the area, and terminates with some of the tallest cliffs on the south-west coast of England, which then plunge down into quaint coves and beaches.
Now, while Exmoor is one of my firm favourites on this best places to spend a holiday in Devon list, it does actually mostly sit in Somerset – but it spreads across the border, with the westernmost part in Devon, so I’m still recommending it here!
Things to do in Exmoor
- Hike on the South West Coast Path.
- Explore the beautiful beaches of places like Combe Martin.
- See the charming towns of Lynmouth and Lynton.
- Hike in the Valley of Rocks.
- See the attractions of Minehead.
- Explore the delightful village of Porlock.
- Hike to Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in the area.
Pros of staying on Exmoor
- It’s a beautiful moorland with plenty of hikes.
- There are fabulous views from plenty of vantage points throughout the park.
- Unlike Dartmoor, it’s coastal – you’ll find are wonderful beach towns like Lynmouth and Combe Martin.
- It’s a rural getaway.
- It’s usually a little quieter than Dartmoor.
Cons of staying on Exmoor
- For some, it can be too quiet!
- Some of the roads are narrow and winding, which can be unnerving if you don’t have much experience.
- Public transport in the area is severely lacking.
Hotels in Exmoor
Budget Hotel: Myrtle Cottage
Myrtle Cottage is a beautiful Porlock B&B based in set in a historic thatched-roof cottage. It has cosy rooms and serves a delicious breakfast every morning.
Note: Porlock is in Somerset, but it’s close to the Devon border.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Bath Hotel
The Bath Hotel is based in Lynmouth and has airy, bright, sophisticated rooms. It serves a delicious breakfast each morning and there’s a bar on site.
Luxury Hotel: The Seawood Hotel
The Seawood Hotel in Lynton has bright and luxurious rooms, some with jacuzzis outdoors. The hotel is set amongst majestic grounds and there’s a bar on site.
But the best thing about this hotel is the glorious look out over Lynmouth (this part of Devon is known as “the Switzerland of the UK”, after all!). It might be the UK, but it seriously gives the best hotels in Sorrento with a view a run for their money!
Smuggling history? Check. A gorgeous estuary? Check. Nearby beaches? Check. It’s own local gin? Check.
Salcombe is basically all I love about the west country, encapsulated into one tiny town.
Activities like the Salcombe Maritime Museum and the Dartmouth Steam Railway nod to the heritage of this area, but tourists often frequent other fun activities like the visiting the South Devon Chilli Farm or gin-testing at Salcombe Distilling Co.
Hiking, kayaking or paddleboarding opportutnities are in abundance, or South West Coast Path hikes include venturing to the nearby Hope Cove.
The village is also close to Plymouth and Dartmoor National Park, making it an ideal location for those who want a mix of nature and urban attractions on their Devon holiday.
Things to do in Salcombe
- Watersports on the estuary.
- Hike on the South West Coast Path to Hope Cove.
- Relax on the beautiful nearby beach of Soar Mill Cove.
- Try out Salcombe’s favourite tipple at the Salcombe Distilling Co.
Pros of staying in Salcombe Devon
- It’s a beautiful town, with stunning estuary and coastal views.
- There’s quite a lot to do for a settlement of its size.
- It’s in a great location to enjoy day trips around South Devon.
Cons of staying in Salcombe Devon
- It’s one of the smallest coastal resorts in Devon, so hotels can be a bit on the pricey side.
- Due to its size, it can often feel overrun by tourists.
- It doesn’t have great public transport links.
- The roads to get here can be a little hair-raising!
Where to stay in Salcombe
Budget Hotel: Burton Farmhouse B&B
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.
Mid-Range Hotel: Chillington House
Chillington House has classy and elegant rooms, some with four-poster beds, set in gorgeous grounds. Breakfast is included in all room rates.
Luxury Hotel: Salcombe Harbour 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.
Probably my favourite non-coastal town in Devon (yes, I have rankings for all categories!), Totnes is one of the most historical places in the region – if not, the whole of the UK.
It all started with Totnes Castle.
Along with the Norman fortification, there are historical places to visit at every step in Totnes – see the 11th century Benedictine Guildhall, see the Brutus Stone where Troy of Brutus took his first step on British soil and delve into the town’s history at Totnes Museum.
Nowadays, a growing art culture is emerging in Totnes, with galleries displaying and selling sculptures and paintings on the main street. You’ll also find a small but impressive array of restaurants that serve food for all dietary requirements.
Things to do in Totnes
- Visit the English Heritage-owned Totnes Castle.
- Walk through the charming old town.
- Go shopping at the many independent stores.
- Try some of the best local food at its restaurants.
- Explore beautiful spots along the River Dart.
Pros of staying in Totnes
- It’s brimming with history.
- There are lots of things to do in the town.
- While it’s inland, it’s close to Dartmouth for the beach.
- It’s in the middle of Exeter and Plymouth – so you can visit both on day trips.
- It has great public transport links, with a station in town with direct trains to London.
Cons of staying in Totnes
- It’s not right by the beach, although Dartmouth isn’t too far away.
- It doesn’t have a huge range of accommodation options.
- It’s not right in the heart of nature – although you won’t need to drive too far to find it!
Where to stay in Totnes
Budget Hotel: The Old Forge
The Old Forge is located in a 600-year-old building and has cosy rooms. It serves up a great breakfast each morning and there’s a walled garden and conservatory.
Mid-Range Hotel: The Royal Seven Stars Hotel
The Royal Seven Stars Hotel is located right by the river and has gorgeous, modern rooms with fresh linen. There’s also a bar on site.
Luxury Hotel: Dartington Hall
Dartington Hall is a lavish place to stay that’s just a short drive from Totnes. Rooms are decorated stylishly, with comfortable beds and luxury linen. Dartington Hall is a historic property with a Medieval courtyard and charming gardens.
As the bright blue River Dart meanders southwards, with vivacious green trees on either side, the town of Dartmouth is on the western side of the bank.
It’s home to a range of attractions, including the 14th-century Dartmouth Castle which was built to protect the town against raids by the French during the 100 years war. Nowadays run by the English Heritage, it’s a fascinating look back into Devon’s medieval history.
The Dartmouth Steam Railway is on the other side of the river, leading from Kingswear to Paignton in Torbay (you can easily hop across the river on a regular ferry service).
Dartmouth town has pretty buildings painted in pastel colours and an array of local bars and restaurants, many serving local seafood. The beach is just a short walk away, but the town buzzes with a vibrant holiday atmosphere throughout the summer season.
Things to do in Dartmouth
- Visit the enchanting Medieval castle close to the town centre.
- Take a cruise along the River Dart up to Totnes.
- Learn about the town’s heritage by walking the Dartmouth town trail.
- Try out some watersports on the river.
- Enjoy the gorgeous blue waters of Blackpool Sands Beach.
- Visit Greenway House, Agatha Christie’s former summer home.
Pros of staying in Dartmouth
- It’s a beautiful town with incredible river vistas.
- It’s a great base for exploring some of South Devon’s best destinations, including Torbay, Totnes and Dartmoor.
- There are plenty of great restaurants and bars in town.
- There are lots of attractions for all the family!
Cons of staying in Dartmouth
- Unlike other Devon towns, there isn’t a beach right in the centre.
- It’s harder to reach than other South Devon locations; the drive is longer and public transport is fiddly.
- It can feel quite touristy in the high season.
Best hotels in Dartmouth
Dartmouth offers some excellent boutique-style hotels, ideal for a stylish break without breaking the bank! Here are a few favourites:
A posh bed and breakfast on the harbour, Waterfront House has comfortable rooms with plush bedlinen – some with Velux windows – coffee machines and a delicious breakfast included.
It’s a two-minute walk from the town centre and is a dreamy place to relax after a busy day of exploring.
A bistro and bar with a few rooms, Browns Hotel is in the middle of town and offers comfort, classic and premium rooms – so there’s something for every budget!
The premium rooms have sleeker features, like velvet headboards and more floor space, but the comfort and classic rooms are also ideal for a stay, with en-suite bathrooms and comfortable features.
All rooms are dog-friendly, but pooches much be booked in advance.
Bayards Cove Inn
The best place to stay in Dartmouth if you’re a fan of history, Bayards Cove Inn is a 14th century hotel by a local merchant – it’s the second oldest building in Dartmouth.
It’s been lovingly restored over the years and nowadays encompasses seven rooms; two of these being family suites.
All rooms are fashionably decorated, taking inspiration from Dartmouth’s naval history.
While there are reminders of Dartmouth’s past everywhere, modern features like comfortable bedlinen and loose-leaf tea and locally roasted coffee will ensure a comfortable stay.
Now you know where to stay in Devon!
North or South, Jurassic Coast or Moorland – there are countless incredible places to stay in Devon!
Whether you want a coastal break with the family, a solo trip to one of the cities or a hiking excursion on Dartmoor, this post should have highlighted some of the best areas in Devon for a staycation, with plenty of recommended hotels.