Go West! Half-term getaways
Need to make a fast getaway? Don’t move a muscle till you’ve checked out my pick of 8 last-minute family breaks in the West Country.
LOWERS KEATS GLAMPING, TYTHERLEIGH, NR AXMINSTER
After starry night skies and flickering wood-burners? Somewhere you can escape the 24-hour Brexit updates? Glamping you shall go! These luxury safari tents sleep 6 and come complete with a hot shower and a loo, (yes!), a proper bed, a Chesterfield sofa and a gas hob, so no need to wait for the wood-burner to crank up for your morning cuppa. When you’re fed up of feeding them, there are twice-weekly pizza nights on site or head off to lovely Lyme Regis where you might even find an ammonite in the shingle, or to Axminster for a Stinger beer at River Cottage Kitchen. £750-£1200 for 7 nights; £500-£775 for 3-4 night breaks.
SAUNTON SANDS HOTEL, SAUNTON
How do we love you Saunton Sands Hotel? Let me count the ways: 3 miles of golden beach and dunes, a heated pool, 2 hours free childcare each day, a free family surfing lesson and loads of free family entertainment thrown in with your stay – and table-tennis, board games and a spacious lounge to well, lounge in. And here’s the clincher: for you, a free 45-minute relax in the Thermal Suite each day. Just imagine – sinking into a warm vitality pool of mineral salts with views out over the Atlantic breakers. How can you not pick up the phone and book right now? No wonder it’s won an award for family-friendliness. From £123 per adult per night with youngest child staying free (offer available from 19 Oct until 3 Nov).
11 AT THE BEACH, TORCROSS
This bijou 2-bedroom apartment isn’t just at the beach, it’s practically on the beach, with a Juliet balcony overlooking 3 miles of Slapton Sands and child-friendly waves and coast views from every window. Head out for a paddle or to the nature reserve at Slapton Ley behind to see the murmurating birds and wildlife. Gamers will love the recovered American Sherman Tank left behind from the practice D-Day landings next to the car park, and when you get bored of beach, there are all those South Hams delights – Dartmouth Castle, Salcombe, Kingsbridge – just a short drive away. 7 nights from 19 Oct, £690.
WHITE HORSE INN, EXMOOR
Need to get some air in your lungs? Slap-bang in the middle of Exmoor, The White Horse Inn is perfectly placed for hill walks, pony riding and getting kids off their i-phones and into their wellies. It’s bucolic heaven with ponies clip-clopping by and trout leaping in the river, and a big village green behind the hotel with a default play area when you don’t want to go too far. And you can take an off-road safari in a Landy when you want the views but without the blisters.
DREAMCATCHERS, ST MAWES
My go-to when I really want to relax and take a breather, St Mawes Retreats combine the convenience of self-catering with a range of concierge services, so you can outsource the cooking, laundry and even pack off the kids with the Wii in the play-room while a therapist comes over to give you a facial. Dreamcatchers’ reverse-level living has five beds and five baths (sleeps 10) and the living area opens out onto a huge terrace where you can read the paper or daydream over the bobbing boats, and though the village is small, everything you need is on your doorstep – a fish and chippy, two luxe hotels, a good pub and lots of options for walking, boating and getting the sea air. Book now and Muddy readers can bag a great deal – £1995 for one week (18-25 Oct) instead of the usual £2500 either at Dreamcatchers or Stargazers.
ROSE COTTAGE, BABBACOMBE
Award-winning spa hotel, The Cary Arms & Spa has oodles of family stay options this half-term, including suites and beach cottages with self-catering options. If you’ve got free-range tinies who don’t fit well with the constraints of a hotel, how’s about this gorgeous cottage? It sleeps 8, so it’s ideal if you want to come as a big family group and because kids under-12 can eat free in the restaurant, that means less time cooking, and more time for you in the hydrotherapy pool. Win-win or what?! There’s a beach, cliff railway and rock-pooling all a short toddle away and for rainy days, they’re also throwing in comp tickets to the prehistoric stone-age caves and stalacmites at nearby Kents Cavern. And Muddy readers can have 7 nights for the price of 5 on them.
LANGSTONE CLIFF HOTEL, DAWLISH WARREN
This family-run hotel has a gate from the garden that takes you straight onto the coast path down to Dawlish Warren beach just five minutes away. Younger kids will love the added thrill of the trains racing by on the most scenic railway line in Britain, which runs between the beach and cliffs (don’t worry, it’s just a distant rumble from the hotel). Plus, there’s an indoor pool, table-tennis room, tennis courts and soft play for littlies – with fish and chips, black swans and a putting green just a twenty-minute amble away along the sea wall at nearby Dawlish. £531 for a family suite, 3-nights dinner bed and breakfast.
CAPTAIN SCOTT PENTHOUSE, PLYMOUTH
Cool city penthouse more your family’s style? This two-bedroom apartment on Plymouth Hoe (sleeps 6) is the best of both worlds, overlooking the sea and Smeaton’s Tower with the city’s eateries and theatres on your doorstep. Head to the Barbican, Plymouth’s indie quarter for artisan shops and cafes, and the nearby marinas to see the yachts. Muddy never passes up on a trip to Rockfish for the best fish and chips around at Sutton Harbour, then it’s on to the National Marine Aquarium, the UK’s largest for some serious shark and octopus spotting. 7 nights from 19 Oct, £1179.