Devon's countryside is as impressive as its two very different coasts, with Dartmoor and Exmoor rising from a landscape of patchwork fields, thatched whitewashed cottages and traditional stone longhouses. There are many appealing properties here and our pick of the best places to stay in Devon are either dramatically sited on the coast or deep in the countryside further inland. Many of them reflect the region's chic new image, others are cosy old favourites.
South Devon is something of a hippy enclave which has become home to a host of music festivals and alternative lifestyle centres. North Devon is home to many grand stately homes set in glorious grounds, a contrast with the dramatic natural beauty of Exmoor.
Devon boasts no fewer than two National Parks and FIVE areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO Geopark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and two National Parks; Exmoor on the North Coast and Dartmoor towards the South.
Nobody who has been to the county would be surprised at this embarassment of UNESCO conferred riches. Perhaps the more famous of the National Parks is Dartmoor. Its rugged beauty inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Cyclists can enjoy the Drake's Trail and on both Exmoor and Dartmoor, herds of attractive wild ponies can be found roaming.
But Devon is more than just a pretty face. A haven for outdoor activites and extreme sports, its north coast beaches with their vast expanses of sand are as popular with surfers as they are with walkers and dogs.
The South coast too has much to recommend it. Dartmouth and the surrounding area are quite simply stunning and an increasingly popular summer holiday destination for those who prefer not to rack up the air miles.
There are plenty of good places to stay in and around the Devon towns of Plymouth and Exeter. Plymouth, site of Sir Francis Drake's famous game of bowls feels steeped in history, maritime and otherwise.
Parts of the university town of Exeter date back to Roman times. It also boasts an atmospheric high street with cobbled streets and squares housing high street and independent shops.
This county is rich in choice when it comes to accommodation, and the best places to stay in Devon range from boutique B&Bs to chic seaside crowd pleasers. There is certainly something for everyone and a range to suit all budgets.
For a rural retreat
Our favourites amongst the best places to stay in Devon for a rural getaway include The Arundell Arms, The Horn of Plenty, Percy's Country Hotel and Restaurant and The Endsleigh.
- The Arundell Arms is a traditional hotel with its roots firmly in country pursuits. But it still comes up trumps with comfortable rooms, a really warm welcome and fab food. Come here for fishing on the Tamar or shooting in season.
- The Horn of Plenty is a Georgian country house located on the edge of Dartmoor. If peace and quiet are what you're after, look no further. Plus it has great food, super comfy beds and glorious views.
- Percy's Country Hotel is an eco friendly, organic restaurant with rooms in the heart of Devon, between Dartmoor and the North coast. Come here for a total chill out, great walks and fantastic food.
- The Endsleigh is Olga Polizzi's stylish Devon pad. As you would expect the interiors are stunning, but the property has retained the air of an old hunting or fishing lodge as per its original incarnation. Book it simply for its stunning location in a hidden valley, surrounded by gardens designed by Humphrey Repton.
For the coast
There are a plethora of hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses along both coasts, but from our pick of the best places to stay in Devon, we'd suggest you try Nonsuch House, Fingals or The Henley.
- Nonsuch House is a charming guesthouse in Kingswear, across the estuary from Dartmouth. With only four bedrooms, it can be hard to get availability. But it's certainly worth it if you can: charming bedrooms with sensational views plus award winning brekkie and delicious dinners on offer four nights a week.
- Fingals is a quirky property a few miles inland from Dartmouth. Run along house party lines, it is incredibly laid back. The beautifully restored farmhouse offers eleven bedrooms with plenty of room for families. A swimming pool and grass tennis court make it ideal for the warmer months.
- The Henley probably boasts one of the best views on the South coast: a panoramic vista stretching from the Avon Estuary to Burgh Island. The five bedrooms are spacious and simple and make for an ideal seaside bolthole.
Best Places to Stay in Devon - Towns
- For urban sojourns we reckon the best place to stay in Devon would have to be the ABode in Exeter. Bang in the city centre and with wonderful views of the cathedral this old townhouse has had a good makeover and now offers a selection of rooms (ranging from Comfortable to Fabulous) depending on your budget. Food too is good here with everything overseen by Michael Caines.