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The seaside is a defining feature of the South West of Britain, and for good reason. From idyllic postcard-perfect sunshine views in the summer to dramatic, moody skies over waves in the winter, the UK coast is full of surprises, making it an incredibly popular destination for tourists. Whether you live in another area of the UK or are thinking of visiting from further afield, a coastal cottage holiday in the South West will provide beautiful views, immersive history and vibrant culture.

So, here are our top five destinations for a South West seaside holiday!

Seaside holiday cottages in Dorset

Image Credit: Richard Fraser (Visualhunt)

Set foot in one of the most ancient areas of the UK during an eye-opening coastal cottage holiday in Dorset. This dramatic area is steeped in history, which visitors can see in the thousands of prehistoric fossils that decorate its coasts. The area’s geology is world-famous, showcasing 185 million years of history in this UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site stretching from Purbeck to Lyme Regis. In fact, it was on a Lyme Regis cliff that Mary Anning, an English fossil collector and palaeontologist, discovered the world’s first dinosaur skeleton in 1811. While away your days in Dorset shopping in the arty seaside town of Bournemouth or seeing Old Harry rocks up close, before heading to one of the county’s many high-end restaurants for some exquisite dining.

Dorset holiday cottages are perfect for those who want all the appeal of a seaside break with less of the crowds. Artists and creative types will love the sophisticated seclusion of our barns set above heritage gardens, whereas our period cottages are perfect for romantic retreats for couples, and our apartments overlooking the beach are ideal for adventure-loving family holidays. With so much at your fingertips in this stunning region, you’ll never be short of areas to explore, each of which will uncover fascinating tales to stimulate the imagination.

Somerset cottages by the sea

Image Credit: Sarunas Mikalauskas (Flickr)

Straddling the connected yet unique cultures of England and Wales, Somerset is a spectacular county full of rolling hills, caves and, of course, beaches. Towards the west of Somerset, the coastline is dramatic, with the Exmoor plateau dropping into the sea with extreme cliffs and crashing waterfalls, all of which you can take in on the many hiking routes the county presents. In between the rural scenery, step into the scenic surroundings of historic harbours, or head to Minehead for family-friendly activities such as donkey rides, and, of course, the perfect fish and chips.

Whether you’re looking for a city base from which to experience both the cultural flair of Somerset and its more secluded areas, or alternatively a quiet, charming countryside lodge, we have a multitude of magnificent cottages in Somerset for every coastal holiday. From grand apartments in Bath to thatched cottages in West Chinnock, whatever setting suits you we have the perfect crash pad to relax in after a day exploring Somerset. In a county home to more than 520 ancient monuments and 200 conservation areas, these historic and beautiful cottages are the perfect complement for your holiday.

Coastal cottages in Cornwall

Image Credit: Darren Flinders (Visualhunt)

Cornwall, for many, is synonymous with the seaside, and this is a badge the county wears with immense pride. Boasting Britain’s longest coastline, Cornwall is a surfer’s pilgrimage site, with some of the finest swells in the country, if not the world. However, you don’t need to be a professional on the waves to appreciate the bounty that is presented by this ultimate coastal region. Whether walking along the UK’s most unique coast paths before stopping for a cream tea in the charming cobbled harbour of Clovelly, exploring the beachfront and discovering hidden caves in Bude before sampling the best Cornish pasties, or watching a play at Minack Theatre in South Cornwall, an outdoor amphitheatre resembling Ancient Greek architecture, there are an endless array of seaside activities to stimulate the senses in Cornwall.

Coastal cottages in Cornwall provide the perfect sanctuary from which to explore all that the county has to offer. Apartments in secluded manor houses, quaint converted chapels, wooden cabins set on the water’s edge, countless barns and even eco-friendly beach houses could become your dream hideaway to return to after a busy day of exploring. You will discover Cornwall’s Celtic history at every turn, from King Arthur’s castle in Tintagel to Geevor Tin Mine near Pendeen, where you can explore the underground workings of this historic industry before taking a stroll on the heather-covered cliffs. Cornwall is perfect for a coastal cottage holiday at any time of year. In winter, warm up by the log burner in your chic and traditional barn after a brisk walk in snowdrop-blanketed woods, and in summer, bask away the day on sunny beaches and share a barbeque with friends. Cornwall truly lives up to the saying, “life’s a beach”!

The New Forest – a stone’s throw from the Isle of Wight

Image Credit: Stuart Webster (Visualhunt)

Covering 220 square miles of pure mind-blowing beauty, the New Forest is home to some of Great Britain’s oldest natural history. But it’s not just woodlands that the forest has to offer – the area also has over 40 miles of coast perfect for family days at the beach, brisk morning walks and watching a stunning sunset. You can even catch views of the Isle of Wight across the Solent. With a fascinating history of nature, smuggling and industry, the New Forest hides many secrets among its wild woods and superb seascapes.

Our New Forest holiday cottages are scattered across this age-old area, from imaginatively-created barns in enchanting spots beside the River Avon, to magical hobbit houses in West Dean set among spectacular gardens. Each bears various features of traditional British building, such as wooden beams, thatched roofs and fireplaces. There could be no better place to relax after an afternoon walk through the ancient forest than these comfortable, chic cottages.

Beachside cottages in Devon

Image Credit: Robert Pittman (Visualhunt)

From the fiery red sandstone cliffs of Sidmouth to the chic seaside resort of Salcombe, Devon is a dynamic county of contrast and excitement. North Devon presents rugged headlands with granite cliffs and coastal landscapes to take your breath away, whereas further down in South Devon you can encounter something of a microclimate, where towns such as Torbay enjoy the exotic feel of palm trees and warm summer sun. For the adventurous, Devon’s two national parks provide a bounty of hiking routes in Exmoor and Dartmoor, where you can reach landmarks such as High Willhays – the highest point in the UK south of the Brecon Beacons. However, there is plenty more to tempt those looking for a relaxing retreat, such as fine dining overlooking beaches in Westward Ho!

From cottages and flats on the edge of Dartmoor itself to wood-clad barns near the historic town of Lynton and gorgeous converted barns in tiny hamlets near Ivybridge, our Devon holiday cottages are cosy and stylish retreats to return to after your day of exploring the diverse landscapes of Devon. Whether you’re looking for a secluded spot among ancient woodland or a property in the heart of one of Devon’s many bustling towns, these coastal cottages will bring you all the comfort you need in some of the most beautiful locations in the country.