Set within a bona fide Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Sidmouth Harbour Hotel is an equally attractive proposition: a bright, breezy boutique hotel on one of England’s most spectacular shores – the rugged Jurassic Coast. Huge windows in the Upper Deck restaurant survey the sands, and superb freshly caught seafood is served. There’s water, water (almost) everywhere, with several sea-view suites and a sunlounger-surrounded pool, which adds a little Miami glamour to the great British seaside.
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A candle from the hotel’s own range of spa products
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm, but also flexible.
Double rooms from $111.18 (£87), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include breakfast (freshly baked pastries, yoghurt, organic oats, cereals and juices).
Don’t miss the Devonshire tea, served with sea air on the terrace, or in the lounge, at 3.30pm daily. The hotel happily hosts seaside weddings – there’s room for up to 100 guests and a terrace supplies pictures with a beautiful bayside backdrop.
dir="ltr">Construction works will be taking place next door to the hotel until spring 2020; guests may experience some noise disruption during the day from about 8.30am to 5.30pm.
At the hotel
Spa, gym, parking and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, Nespresso coffee machine, kettle with a selection of teas, a minibar, free bottled water and White Company bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Keep watch over Lyme Bay in one of the sea-facing suites; opt for a Superior and you’ll have a balcony to admire it from, too. The Courtyard rooms are set away from the hotel in a separate two-storey building and might seem a little motel-like at first; don’t be fooled – they have all the breezy, beach-y charms of the main house.
There are two heated pools: a heated open-air pool with stylish sunloungers (open from July to September) for summertime swims in water that’s less chilly than the Channel, and a heated indoor pool in the spa. Both are family-friendly and welcome children from 8.30am to 10am, and 4.30pm to 6pm, daily.
The spoiling Harbour Spa offers all kinds of Espa-employing pampering, with facials, mani-pedis, pregnancy massages and body polishes, as well as options for children and men. There’s a gym, hydrotherapy pool, sauna, and steam room, and a sundeck by the pool to head to in a post-treatment trance.
Bring a fossil handbook for help identifying the archaeological relics strung along the coastline; and stylish swimwear for lounging on one of the white sunloungers around the pool.
The restaurant, bar and lounge are suitable for wheelchair access.
All ages welcome. Baby cots and extra beds can be added to certain room categories on request.
The Superior Double with Sea View and Balcony have space for a cot or extra bed.
Both pools are family-friendly, but only at certain times: 8.30am and 10am, and 4.30pm to 6pm.
Children are allowed in the restaurant and bar at all times. Highchair and Tommee Tippee bibs are available to borrow and the menu can be adapted to suit younger tastebuds. Staff will also happily froth up a babyccino or a create miniature ice-cream sundae.
No need to pack
Colouring books, bibs, travel cots and highchairs.
Bag a seat by the double-height windows for the best sea views with supper, or slump onto the cushion-strewn, camel-coloured banquette for added comfort.
Push the boat out with nautical navy and captain-worthy whites.
The Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant showcases the English Channel through vast windows. It has playful, sea-faring flourishes, such as hanging buoy-shaped lights and blue-glass candleholders. The chef champions British classics and regularly loots the fruits of the sea. Try various potted things (shrimps, crab, mackerel), the creamy cheesy soufflé with added oak-smoked haddock, salad Niçoise, Lyme Bay scallops or chargrilled pork and octopus. The menu’s predominately pescatarian but there’s a reassuringly carnivorous ‘cow and claret’ option on the menu: a Béarnaise-paired côte de boeuf for two, with thick-cut chips and the promised glass of plonk.
Order a vodka-enhanced rhubarb Bellini or a fragrant Bramley Smash and head out to the terrace for sundowners with a sea view. Sandwiches, salads and platters can be ordered here or in the lounge.
Breakfast is available from 7.30am to 10am during the week (8am to 11am at weekends). The restaurant serves food from noon right up until 9.30pm. The bar calls time at 11pm, but certain rooms have a free supply of gin and sherry to keep you going.
The bar’s menu can be transported by trolley to your room between noon and 9.30pm.
Sidmouth Harbour Hotel is on the south coast of Devon, between Lyme Regis and Exeter, in a spot of countryside so charming it’s recognised as an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The closest airport is Exeter (www.exeter-airport.co.uk), 10 miles away from the hotel by car; the drive should take around 25 minutes. Skybus services fly here from various destinations in the south west of the UK; Flybe has arrivals from major European cities.
Honiton rail station is the nearest, a 20-minute drive away. Great Western trains (www.gwr.com) arrive from London; there are direct routes from Waterloo (around a three-hour journey), but the train from Paddington takes two-and-a-half hours; from Exeter St Davids, Honiton is half an hour away by train.
From Exeter, the hotel’s a half-hour drive away. If you’re arriving from a northerly direction, leave the A30 just after Honiton and follow signs to Sidmouth. There’s free parking when you arrive.
Arrive via a Stuart Line Cruises ferry (www.stuartlinecruises.co.uk) from Exmouth if you want to get into the seafaring mood early – you’ll land directly onto the pebbled beach.
Worth getting out of bed for
Before you indulge in lashings of cream and yards of craft ale, the Jurassic Coast is on your doorstep and there are several ways to walk it, from the scenic (Sidmouth to Salcombe Hill) to the strenuous (Mutter’s Moor and the Lower Otter Valley). There’s even the annual Sidmouth Walking Festival in September paying homage to the art of ambling. In Sidmouth, improve your astronomy knowledge with a visit to the Norman Lockyer observatory or watch a film at the town’s art deco Scott Cinema. The hotel can help arrange evening cruises, kayaking along the coast or visits to the Donkey Sanctuary. Don’t miss a trip to cliff-backed Jacobs Ladder Beach, one of the biggest in the area and so-named for the series of wooden steps leading to it.
An outpost of gastronomic boutique hotel the Pig (a fellow Smith stay) can be found eight miles north of Sidmouth – The Pig at Combe and its freshly foraged menu awaits in the Otter Valley. In Lyme Regis, try Hix Oyster and Fish House for superb seafood in a superlative setting.
For a delicious Devonshire tea (top tip: it’s de rigeur to spread the cream on the scone first) and substantial slices of cake, visit Sidmouth’s Clock Tower Café. Axminster has a branch of the River Cottage, where the menu borrows the bounty of neighbouring counties; try Cornish sardines with apple, shallot and chervil salad; West Country goat and apricot tagine; and beetroot cakes with autumn vegetables.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel on England’s south coast and unpacked their jars of jam and pots of clotted cream, a full account of their coastal break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Sidmouth Harbour Hotel in Devon…
The weather might do its best to put a downer on it, but the British seaside puts up a good fight. Whether the sun’s out or not, refined redbrick manor Sidmouth Harbour Hotel on Devon’s Jurassic coast will dazzle discerning guests with its sea-facing suites and traditional white veranda. Set within the East Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the hotel’s surroundings are photogenic – but it keeps up the local standard with its nautical and New England-inspired sage, white and blue colour palette, vast countryside-showcasing windows and bright, breezy interiors. The heated pool, bordered by pristine wooden decking topped with white sunloungers, offers a bath-warm dip for those not up to braving British waters. Locally caught seafood stars in the dishes of the day in the restaurant, but huge hunks of steak and creative combinations such as pork and octopus also take pride of place. Other coastal towns could study Sidmouth for a lesson in ‘how to be kitsch and endearing but not faded and forlorn’. What’s a little rain when you’ve got buckets (and spades) of charm?
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Sidmouth Harbour Hotel’s Guestbook below.
The room we had (No. 6) was great, situated on the corner with a double aspect window, so nice and light. We were slightly disappointed by the fact there has been an extension built to house the kitchen, bar and restaurant, so when sitting on the balcony, you look across the roof rather than the patio and garden. But we still had a view of the sea and, because we had the corner room, a view down to Sidmouth sea front and amazing cliffs. The staff were all very friendly and helpful.
Our only negative was the constant drone of the piped music in the ceilings of the hotel. This was very evident within the ceiling of the restaurant, so seemed to permeate through the roof we overlooked. It was quite loud and the volume seemed to increase as the day went on. Saturday evening around 10:30pm was very annoying. I understand quiet music in the background is nice, but not that loud.
Stayed on 19 Jul 2019
The decor, the indoor pool and the spa. We didn't love the unreliable hot water in our room (28), which the hotel was unable to fix, but we appreciated their gesture to reduce our bill.
A lively stay in Sidmouth. We used it as a base for exploring the Jurassic coast.
Stayed on 5 Jun 2019
It was a fabulous hotel. We had a courtyard room on the first floor which had a lovely balcony area. The room itself was spacious and beautifully decorated. We used the indoor pool and sauna which was free of charge to hotel guests. The breakfast was outstanding and the staff could not have been more helpful. It was a short walk down to the town with all the amenities and we had the bonus of good weather.
The outdoor pool was closed, not sure why.
Stayed on 5 Jun 2019
The hotel is perfectly placed for peace and quiet, especially if you get a room in the main hotel overlooking the sea. We found the food to be very good and plentiful, though the bar prices were a bit on the pricey side. We supposedly had the best room in the hotel – it was good but not great, in need of a good refurbishment.
Wild nights – Sidmouth is a quiet English seaside town.
Stayed on 10 May 2019
The comfy bed and the views from the restaurant as the sun set.
The food from the restaurant, although good, never quite matched what was on the menu. It was like the kitchen staff had a slightly different menu to work from, with the same main ingredient but nothing else. So 'new potatoes with herb butter and salt' came plain. The 'Hamburger with bone marrow and pickled sea vegetables' came with bacon, lettuce and tomato. Fine if you aren't fussy or don't have allergies, slightly worrying if not.
Stayed on 4 May 2019
Loved the hotel, rooms, food and friendly staff.
Stayed on 8 Jan 2019
The cliff top location and the superb view of the coastline from the window (side) in our room. We had accepted an offer to upgrade our original room booking. The restaurant was of a good standard.
Our only complaint made to reception was the high room temperature, which was apparent on arrival and which could not be adjusted. There was limited space in the car park with some building work being progressed close to the hotel entrance.
Stayed on 30 Dec 2018
We enjoyed the attention to detail and the staff were extremely courteous and helpful. Nice modern hotel. Ideal location. The food was excellent.
Stayed on 24 Nov 2018
Well appointed room and really happy to find that the double bed was actually larger than a standard double. Cute little spa area. Staff were all charming and helpful. I was particularly impressed by one of the bar team, I'm guessing he was a more senior staff member (was wearing a purple shirt). He was a proper professional bar tender, sadly quite a rare find. The hotel is good value for money.
WiFi was an absolute pain. Had to keep logging on, which took multiple attempts each time. Although it was possible to receive mails and go online sporadically it was not possible to send mails at all: something to do with unsecure certificate. Intensely annoying Dinner was a bit of a mixed bag. My partner has a particularly good steak. I would not recommend the veal: it was very poor. Popcorn cockles were an excellent snack.
Stayed on 11 Nov 2018
Well located in the seaside town of Sidmouth. Walked the beautiful coastal path and enjoyed the charm of the town. Try the lovely fish restaurant Neal's and the Clock Tower Café for afternoon tea.
Air conditioning in the rooms which made for uncomfortable nights in the summer heat. High quality food service.
Stayed on 5 Aug 2018
The lovely spacious rooms, and the spa. The spa is excellent: well run, friendly and inviting, peaceful, with a beautiful swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and marvelous treatments.
Good food: it's incredibly mediocre from breakfast through to dinner.
Stayed on 15 Jun 2018
The sea views, the food, relaxed vibe and the helpful staff.
Nightclubs or a fast pace.
Stayed on 23 Feb 2018
The overall experience was good. The nice little touches like the free gift and the complimentary gin and sherry. Beautiful hotel in a beautiful area.
A good nights sleep if youre in room 9. Unbearable heat and no way to cool it down made for a terrible nights sleep despite the big comfortable bed. Unable to make use of the restaurant or bar due to a 90 per head black tie event which we weren't informed of until arrival. This meant we had to really struggle to find a place to eat out of the hotel on NY Eve.
Stayed on 31 Dec 2017
Really gorgeous rooms – all very cozy and well thought out, including the decanters of gin and sherry that are provided as part of the stay. Very friendly and helpful staff who provided us with a map of the area with all the walks. Dinner at the restaurant was also excellent: good wine choices and good value. We loved lunch at the Pea Green Boat on the esplanade.
Unfortunately our breakfast order was lost so we had a bit of a 'rushed job', and the water pressure in the shower could have been better.
Stayed on 28 Dec 2017
The balcony in our room and the public areas of the hotel. Neil's restaurant – a wonderful fish restaurant a 10-minute walk away from the hotel. The food and service were exceptional.
A spacious room, great water pressure in the shower or to be cool.