A village in the north of England with a population of 400 has been crowned Britain’s best coastal destination, while some of the nation’s most famous resorts languished at the bottom of the rankings in a new Which? survey.
Thousands of holidaymakers rated their most recent visits to the seaside in a range of categories including quality of the beach, seafront, food, scenery, attractions and value for money.
Bamburgh in Northumberland triumphed over better-known and pricier destinations – earning a full five stars for its scenery and wild unspoilt beach – receiving a glowing overall customer score of 89 per cent.
Narrowly missing out on the top spot was Portmeirion (88% customer score), enviably positioned on the fringes of Snowdonia and with its Italian Riviera-inspired architecture made famous by The Prisoner earning it five stars for scenery, attractions and accommodation.
In fact, Wales had four entries in the top 20 of the Which? survey, with Tenby (81%) Llandudno (78%) and St Davids (78%) also rated five stars for scenery as well as value for money, which proved to be an important factor for the almost 3,000 holidaymakers who took part in the survey.
Three of these four Welsh resorts had an average hotel room cost of less than £100 a night – giving them a clear edge for those seeking a bargain staycation.
St Mawes (83%) pipped supposedly swankier rivals including St Ives and Padstow to be named king of the Cornish coast, with a bargain average room rate of £105. The fishing village boasts good seafood and restaurants, earning four stars for the quality of food on offer.
Picturesque Salcombe (75%) in South Devon had the most expensive hotel cost at £210. This did not deter those surveyed, as its famous sandy beaches earned the full five stars, as did the beachfront and scenery.
But the same outlay on a hotel would get you a three-night stay in highly-rated Tynemouth (75%), on the northeast coast (average hotel price £64) and still leave enough change for a fish and chip supper.
For those travelling to Scotland this summer, North Berwick (83%) and St Andrews (82%) both feature in the top 10 places of the Which? Survey. While both were at the pricier end of the scale for hotel costs, some of those surveyed suggested self-catering as a more affordable option.
Languishing at the bottom of the table were Bognor Regis in West Sussex and Clacton-on-Sea in Essex – with both only earning a 47 per cent customer score.
Despite regeneration in the area and attractions including a pier, annual air show and award-winning seafront gardens, Clacton received some particularly critical reviews – and at £116 for an average hotel room was also rated as poor value for money.
Although it is the sunniest town in Britain, Bognor Regis (47%) also received low marks for its scenery, value for money and attractions on offer.
While some said the town, which had an average hotel room price of £96, was “tacky”, others were more positive, praising the seafront promenade as “quintessentially English”.
Londoners looking for a hotel getaway should head to Rye (77%), Lymington (75%) or Whitstable (75%), with all three destinations scoring highly for accommodation despite being among the more expensive destinations for a night’s stay.
Those looking for a cost-effective option should head to Deal (73%). This Kentish town which is less than an hour and a half from London St Pancras, managed a full five stars for value for money with an average room rate of £67.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor said:
“These ratings won’t make happy reading for some of those destinations many of us remember from childhood breaks of times gone by, which may have failed to keep pace with trendier destinations or those offering a better overall experience for our hard-earned cash.
“But whether you fancy blowing out the cobwebs in Bamburgh, pottering around in Portmeirion or taking your bucket and spade to St Mawes, it’s clear that the Great British seaside has something for everyone.”
Notes to editors:
In February 2019, almost 3,000 Which? members provided feedback on their visits to British seaside towns in the last year, with 6,286 experiences recorded in total.