After a year stuck inside, our collective longing for wide-open spaces, natural light, vast stretches of ocean and immediate access to the wilderness feels more urgent than ever. From Camber to Cumbria, these properties have interiors as striking as their views, designed to reflect the natural beauty of their surroundings. Whether you want to immerse yourself in a waterfront community or retreat to the most remote corners of the country, we’ve rounded up the best studios, holiday homes, cottages and huts with views of the beach and beyond.
Tides Cottage, Whitstable, Kent (via Airbnb)
Set in a rustic row of beachfront cottages angled towards the south coast’s sublime sunsets, Tides Cottage is easily one of the most charming from which to bask in the sun’s afterglow – and spot ringed plover, little tern and migrating geese from the main bedroom. It’s finished with quality linens and reclaimed furniture: the worktops were salvaged from old groynes removed from the beach; stained glass came from Billingsgate fish market; the fully functioning Rayburn and record player all add to the low-key vintage vibe curated by host Jo. On arrival, she provides a wicker basket of eggs as well as pastries, brownies and sourdough from Grain & Hearth Bakery down the road. Products throughout the cottage are from British artisans such as Green & Spring and Austin Austin. Pop to pub on the beach the Old Neptune (locals call it the ‘Neppy’) for a pint and chips, or the Michelin-starred Sportsman down the road in Seasalter for something smarter.
Price: from £760 for a minimum of two nights
Seren Mor, Pembrokeshire, Wales (via Unique Homestays)
Not only is it ideally located for exploring the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, but glass-fronted Seren Mor provides a sweeping panoramic view of Newport’s paint-by-numbers estuary. The house’s name translates as ‘star of the sea’, and with showstopping views from the timber-decked balcony and wildflower-filled garden, it’s easy to see why. The upside-down RIBA award-winning property was designed by architect firm John Pardey, with the open-plan living room and kitchen on the upper level to make the most of the views. If you can’t get enough, walk the three miles to the top of craggy Carningli Mountain for more. The Chattocks, who own the place, also allow guest access to kayaks, kids’ wetsuits, a boules set, a barbecue and a secret pathway to the beach.
Price: from £2,395 per short break (four nights)
The Shipwreck, Whitsand Bay, Cornwall (via Unique Homestays)
The Shipwreck is both named after and built using materials scavenged from Kodima, a vessel that ran aground in Whitsand Bay in 2002. Its white cladding walls and wooden shutters are typically Cornish, but the vistas of Portwrinkle Beach are anything but commonplace. While there’s plenty to keep you busy in this south-east corner of Cornwall – try rock pooling, surfing, or paddleboarding – there’s only so much you can be expected to do when there’s a chrome bathtub with ocean views, and we won’t judge if that’s the closest you get to a swim. The Shipwreck is so near the beach it feels like private access, and Unique Homestays offers add-on packages such as dining experiences by chef Anna Humphreys to make your visit extra special.
Price: from £1,450 per short break (four nights)
Shingle House, Dungeness, Kent (via Cool Stays)
Much like Derek Jarman’s famous Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, the dark exterior of Shingle House references the old tarred fishermen’s huts that used to line the shingle desert. You can even still see rusting winches and decaying boats along the shoreline here. Inside, though, is a different story – white cladding and a split-level mezzanine design open the property up to plenty of light, with gleaming kitchen surfaces and giant foldaway windows that can be flung open straight onto the beach. Designed by Scottish architecture practice NORD, it’s considerably larger than most properties in Dungeness and sleeps eight comfortably. Our favourite part? The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway passes by at the end of the garden – little ones can wave at passengers, or you can book a ride for the whole family at rhdr.org.
Price: from £1,495 per week
Dune House, Leiston, Suffolk (via Living Architecture)
Living Architecture was founded by philosopher Alain de Botton, who once wrote that ‘the prospect of a holiday is likely to persuade even the most downcast that life is worth living’. Life is most definitely worth living at Dune House, which has wraparound views of the Suffolk coast and the North Sea, plus a library space filled with local guides, travel literature, fiction, philosophy and books on architecture. And speaking of, Nordic firm Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects, who designed Dune House, are well-versed in the concept of Scandi summer houses – echoed in the polished concrete floor and walkway semi-submerged in the dunes. All the timber-lined bedrooms have bathtubs, so no one has to argue over who gets the first soak after a day boating on Thorpeness Meare, the nearby adult playground inspired by JM Barrie’s tales of Neverland.
Price: from £1,775 per short break (four nights)
More beach houses we like the look of in the UK and Ireland
While we have not stayed in every property included in this round-up, we have carefully selected these as recommendations based on their location, design, previous guest reviews and – for the Airbnbs featured – the fact that they have achieved Airbnb’s Superhost status at the time of our research. All Condé Nast Traveller listings are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Barefoot holiday home, Camber, Sussex (via Airbnb)
Weather-boarded beach house Barefoot is giving us a serious hankering for the Hamptons, with its sloping roof and glassy expanses. Sandy footprints are trodden into the decking, where a fire pit invites guests to lick melted marshmallows off their fingers with blankets over their knees. The pergola was added recently, but the railway sleeper, a favourite morning coffee perch, has been there for more than 14 years. Inside, it’s homey, with family photographs, art by host Mark’s mother Julie Leversedge, beach-combed driftwood and reclaimed features such as the dining room table, made from rescued scaffold boards. Bag the bedroom in the eaves – it has the best view.
Price: from £550 a night (two nights minimum
St Michaels, Whitsand Bay, Cornwall (via Airbnb)
This majestic cliffside retreat is a go-to for big gatherings and multigenerational holidays: outdoor seating accommodates both guests and visitors popping by for evening sundowners and post-surf suppers. There’s a giant utility room for wetsuits or swimming gear plus tons of irresistible comfy spaces with squishy cushions designed for sun-baked naps. The terrace overlooks Whitsand Bay, with Rame Head to the east and Looe Island to the west, and the 180-degree view means you can watch the sun’s arc from dawn till dusk. Take an early morning stroll up to Rame Head to see pods of dolphins, and when the tide is out spot seals on the rocks; by night, there’s a telescope for stargazing.
Price: from £500 a night (two nights minimum)
Blue Moon Studio, Skye, Scotland (via Airbnb)
Host David made most of the soft furnishings at Blue Moon himself, except the textile wall hanging above the sofa, which he found in a gallery in the south of Skye. The foaming blue seascape sets the interior tone and reflects the unmissable vistas across The Minch strait to the Outer Hebrides. The studio also looks down on Waternish, Lochbay and Stein, a village designed by the famous engineer Thomas Telford, where The Diver’s Eye boat trips from the jetty give you the best chance of spotting seals on a rocky outcrop, dolphins in the bay and sea eagles in the sky. Want to pop a sliver of Blue Moon in your pocket? Visit Cuckoo Tree Studio and Uig Pottery, where David sourced some of his trinkets.
Price: from £95 a night (four nights minimum)
Open-plan pad, Dungeness, Kent (via Airbnb)
Sophia’s mid-century-modern crashpad on Greatstone Beach overlooks the channel and the White Cliffs of Dover. On a clear day, you can see all the way to France through the floor-to-ceiling windows, which frame the ultra-sophisticated design as much as the beach view. If fairy tales were caffeinated, Goldilocks would be spoilt for choice by the family of Bialettis hanging in the super-slick kitchen. There are four gorgeous bedrooms, two of which open out onto the beach. Plus, there’s plenty to do nearby: historians will love the wartime Sound Mirrors in Romney Marsh, treasure hunters can head to
Rye for antiques, and oenophiles can sample pioneering local produce at vineyards such as Tillingham, Chapel Down and Gusbourne.
Price: from £300 a night (three nights minimum)
Weaver’s Cottage, Lower Largo, Scotland (via Airbnb)
Caron’s converted weaver’s cottage is perfectly located for a walking weekend: spend a couple of hours trekking up the ancient volcanic plug Largo Law, or set off on the six-mile Chain Walk to Elie, two of the best routes in Fife. Return to home-baked ginger cake and a cosy log burner. Come sunshine or storm, the views onto the beach and beyond are uninterrupted, and on a clear day the Firth of Forth is visible. The terraced seating area comes into its own by night – there’s no light pollution here, so stargazing to the sound of the ocean is as intoxicating as any nightcap.
Price: from £104 a night
Dunlin Cottage, Lake District, Cumbria (via Airbnb)
Built in 1715 as a fisherman’s cottage, Dunlin Cottage looks out over the estuary where three rivers (the Esk, the Irt and the Mite) meet. In winter, spot wigeon and goldeneye, oystercatcher, plover, curlew and, of course, dunlin from the decking. In spring, high tides lap against the sea wall, but at low tide you can walk across to Drigg Dunes equipped with wellies and binoculars. From Ravenglass, hitch a lift on narrow-gauge steam train La’al Ratty (little railway in Cumbrian) up Eskdale’s stunning valley, where the Boot Inn does proper pub grub – wholetail scampi or Cumberland sausage and mash.
Price: from £120 a night (seven nights minimum)
Bay View cottage, Whitby, Yorkshire (via Unique Homestays)
Stuffed with board games and books, Bay View makes a brilliant hideout all year round, so don’t just bookmark it for summer. Between the heather-topped moorland and the wild North Sea, the cottage overlooks Robin Hood’s Bay – whose name remains a bit of a mystery, even to local historians – in the seaside town of Whitby. With its slick underfloor heating, mezzanine bedroom and velvety interiors, you’d never know this building was originally a stable block. Nowadays, you’re unlikely to come across any equine animals, but there are deer, badgers, pheasants, rabbits and partridges to spot nearby. We like that owners Dawn and Steven provide Martini glasses and bathrobes – these are people who understand how to take a proper break.
Price: from £850 per short break (four nights)
Sands Studio, St Ives, Cornwall (via Kip Hideaways)
In the former fishermen’s quarter of St Ives and looking out over the bay, this streamlined studio apartment captures the sunlight in its golden lampshades, buttery blankets, pine parquet and brass hardware. A 15-minute walk from the nearest station, it’s a dreamy getaway for city escapees with high expectations of style and setting – Lucian Ercolani pebble tables, Tom Dixon pendant lighting and Lyby Mobler cabinets illustrate owners Angela and Olivier’s serious interest in interiors, but the studio itself is still playful and fun.
Price: from £82 a night
Cliff Beach House, County Waterford, Ireland
Owned by the team behind two of Ireland’s best hotels, Cliff at Lyons and Cliff House Hotel, this palatial private property is serviced by the latter, so guests can arrange exclusive access to chef Ian Doyle – a Noma alumni who earned the hotel restaurant’s Michelin star earlier this year – as well as a series of one-off experiences. If the gym, sauna, outdoor hot tub and cinema room don’t keep you occupied, a dedicated team of experts can arrange foraging, sea-otter spotting, wild hikes and expert-led workshops on soda-bread baking, foraging and painting. Book for late October – it’s whale-watching season, and you can spot fin whales, minke and the occasional humpback from the cliffs directly outside the property. We love the baby grand in the sitting room: with 12 guests and astonishing views of the Irish Sea, even the most informal live performance can feel like the hottest ticket in town.
Price: from £2,160 per night
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Carswell Beach Hut, Plymouth, Devon (via Canopy and Stars)
Isolation has had a bad rap this year, but if you’re not ready to give up your privacy and your personal space, this remote retreat offers guests the chance to rewild and reset without compromising on home comforts. There might be whistling winds and crashing waves, but there’s also a wood-fired hot tub and two sea-view hammocks. A 15-minute walk down a steep path to a private beach, the hut’s location means you can go several days without spotting a soul, but it also requires thinking ahead in terms of supplies, so factor in a trip to Ben’s Farm Shop down the road or opt for one of the four generously stocked hampers for breakfast, supper, cream tea or barbecue provided by hosts Geoff and Zoe.
Price: from £348 a night