With a dozen lovely seaside towns, cities such as Exeter and Plymouth, and the Dartmoor National Park in its midst, Devon is the ideal destination for a family holiday or easy weekend away. Chic Retreats recommends boutique hotels in Devon in both the north and south of the county. Firstly, there’s The Hamptons, high up on a hill overlooking Ilfracombe with 7 rooms and a well-stocked honesty bar for guests. Some of the rooms have roll top baths, others have four-poster beds and Osborne is a junior suite with a lounge area so your best bet if you have children or just want a bit more space. If you’d rather be based in the south, then The Cary Arms in Babbacombe, a cross between a seaside boutique hotel in Devon and an English pub, could be for you. There are 8 rooms and 4 cottages, all with fresh, contemporary design (cottages have fitted kitchens). Dogs are welcome and childrenare kitted out with a bucket, spade and fishing net on arrival - perfect preparation ready for days out playing in nearby rock pools and on the beach to work up an appetite for supper from Hanbury’s, the town’s award-winning fish and chip shop. The Chic Retreats selection of boutique hotels in Devon are the very best in the county.
There are so many coastal towns in Devon that you’ll be spoilt for choice. In the south, why not take the Dartmouth steam train from Paignton, along the picturesque coastline for lunch in the village of Kingswear. Or in the north, why not explore the charming twin towns of Lynmouth and Lynton (the former is at the bottom of a cliff, the latter is at the top and the cliff railway is the easiest and quickest way to get between the two). Woolacombe is famous for its miles of golden sand while Croyde is a surfers’ paradise. Inland, outdoorsy types will love discovering the Exmoor National Park and Dartmoor with its archaeological remains, dramatic granite tors and wandering ponies. Go canoeing down the River Dart, downhill biking at Gawton Woods in the Tamar Valley and cycling on the off-road Tarka Trail (you can pick up the trail and hire bicycles at Barnstaple).
Shopping and food
There are plenty of historic market towns (Exford, Dunster and Tavistock are all worth checking out) but for shopping, you can’t beat the city of Exeter. Wander through the cobbled streets and squares that surround the 15th-century cathedral. There’s a high street with all the brand names you’d expect, including John Lewis, but for independent boutiques head to the Castle Quarter. Just a short trip out of town, you’ll also find Darts Farm where you can pick up local produce from bread and cheese to fresh eggs, and grab lunch in the restaurant. Other restaurants in Devon worth exploring include The Rockfish and The Seahorse, both in Dartmouth and both run by chef Mitch Tonks, and Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen in Axminster. And for Michelin-starred fine dining, book a table at Michael Caines’ Gidleigh Park at Chagford or Simon Hultone’s The Elephantrestaurant and brasserie in Torquay.