Spectacular British coastlines and seemingly endless rolling patchwork fields, Devon has few rivals for its crown. Every summer, tens of thousands of us flock to this beautiful county and it’s not hard to see why. With its quainter-than-quaint picturesque seaside towns and sumptuous ‘English Riviera’ feel, most would argue that it’s well-worth the traffic jam when you reach Salisbury.
If you’re dreaming of fresh hake and chips and long, sunny evenings gazing out to sea, we’ve rounded up four of the finest (and capacious) places to take the family in Devon this year. Fair warning, you may never want to leave…
The Downes, Bideford
Perched atop a hill in surfing mecca Bideford, North Devon (North Devon Surf School is a 20-minute drive away), this utterly divine Grade II listed Georgian house overlooks the glorious Torridge Valley and boasts its own tennis lawns and heated pool. With a whopping seven bedrooms, it’s the perfect choice for large families or groups of friends looking to escape the city for a few magical days. We’d also pay very good money to see in the New Year here.
Claw foot baths, thoughtfully chosen furnishings (including walls hung with wildlife paintings by the owner’s artist daughter) and easy access to blustery coastal paths make The Downes feel like something we dreamed up, as opposed to somewhere we stumbled upon during a fervent holiday search on Google.
Pitchford House, Salcombe
Even those fleetingly acquainted with South Devon will have heard of Salcombe: playground to Chelsea-dwellers and the UK’s best impression of Venice (if you don’t count Little Venice in London), this adorable sailing town is like something out of a picture book. Home to some of the most fabulous coastal restaurants in the county and some of Devon’s best-loved beaches, Salcombe’s popularity unsurprisingly never dims.
While there are dozens of heaven-sent holidays homes to choose from in this pretty town, we are particularly partial to Pitchford House. Another Grade II listed property, Pitchford sits in the very heart of the town enjoying outstanding panoramic views of the estuary. Sleeping eleven bodies in five gorgeously decorated bedrooms, this elegant townhouse has been finished in what can only be described as ‘nautical chic’: shades of pebble, mint and ocean blue daubed across window seats, weathered chests of drawers and sumptuous upholstery (topped off with a cluster of inevitable yet well-judged anchor motifs). We can think of little better than sitting out on Pitchford’s to-die-for decked outdoor area and watching the boats come in.
And if you don’t fit in at least one visit to Cranch’s Sweet Shop while you’re there, you’ll regret it.
The Quarry, North Devon
Just a mile and a half from the Ilfracombe Lighthouse in North Devon, The Quarry was built in 1890 as a holiday home for an Admiral & his family. A classical beauty of a home, the house still maintains many of its stunning original features yet has been sympathetically restored to create one of the most stylish seaside homes we’ve ever seen.
With seven bedrooms, the prerequisite incredible views, roaring log fires, a half acre of pretty gardens and even an Aga to bolster its exquisite rural charm, The Quarry is serious magazine bait: it’s even been featured in Conde Nast Traveller and The Guardian.
Despite its opulence, it’s totally child-friendly with a dining room that seats twelve and plenty of space. You also couldn’t stay much closer to the beach without sleeping under a jetty.
Phoenix House, Dartmouth
Nestled in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Phoenix House boasts the view to end all views. An impressive oak-framed, architect-designed home that sleeps 12 easily, this place sits above the historic town of Dartmouth, affording jaw-dropping panoramic views of the harbour that you really can’t find anywhere else.
The dining and kitchen spaces and all of the bedrooms share the spectacular 270° outlook, sweeping across Dartmouth and the Naval College, across the river to Kingswear and in the opposite direction to the ancient Kingswear and Dartmouth Castles guarding the river mouth. If you can tear yourself away from the view, this palace also boasts a cinema room, hot tub and a proper wood burner for the winter months.
Dartmouth is a glorious little sailing town, charming but with a bit more going on than some of the quieter seaside hamlets in the area. Potter around the Elizabethan streets and discover eclectic boutiques, inspired art galleries and fabulous gastropubs. If you’ve got a car, drive 15 minutes down the coast to Strete and try The Laughing Monk restaurant – your tastebuds will thank you.
Header image: Salcombe Harbour, Devon