The best family hotels in Devon

Advice

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Devon is a big draw for adventurous, active families, who come to swim and surf in its safe, sandy beaches, freewheel through quiet, gently-winding country lanes or yomp over its vast boulder-strewn hills. Less sporty families are catered for too, in nature trails and animal encounters, craft clubs and beach picnics. Family-friendly hotels abound, catering for both ends of the spectrum, but without compromising on style – all of our choices below have sophisticated interiors, excellent service and sublime food, and many have sea views. Most are relatively small and independently run, meaning there’s no fighting for space by the pool or beach, or queuing for the buffet.

Covering every parent’s budget and every child’s whim, from canoeing and croquet, to pool tables and private cinemas, you’re spoilt for choice for family hotels in Devon. Here is our pick of the best, in locations including Salcombe, Woolacombe, Dartmoor and Babbacombe, near Torquay.

At a glance, the best family hotels in Devon

 

Watersmeet Hotel

Woolacombe, Devon, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Watersmeet’s beachfront location, looking out onto the North Devon coastline and
Lundy Island, is simply sublime. Set at the quiet end of Woolacombe Bay, the hotel has private steps that lead onto Combesgate Beach, a small, sandy cove that’s fantastic for body-boarding and rock-pooling, but rarely gets busy, even in the height of summer. The overall feel is fresh and airy, with white and grey walls, wood floors, driftwood lamps, Lloyd Loom chairs and mesmerising views. There are dedicated family rooms, as well interconnecting rooms, while extra beds can be provided in other rooms. This is that rare breed of hotel that manages to be both family-friendly and romantic at the same time.


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From


£
138

per night

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Gara Rock

Salcombe, Devon, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Devon’s coolest coastal hotel has a range of garden and sea-facing self-catering cottages geared for families. There are two heated pools – one indoor and one outdoor – and although the hotel’s proximity to cliff edges rules out allowing young children to roam free, there are several sandy beaches nearby with shallow swimming (though no lifeguards). The restaurant, which serves the likes of Cornish rack of lamb, roasted cod and bubble and squeak polenta, has a relaxed attitude to children plus a kids’ menu. A private cinema shows daily child-friendly films. For tired legs at the end of a busy day’s exploring, a complimentary Land Rover escorts guests from East Portlemouth (where the passenger ferry to Salcombe docks) back to the hotel.


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From


£
225

per night

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Soar Mill Cove

Salcombe, Devon, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

With a rugged Devon cove and beach all to itself, this is very nearly the perfect package. Occupying a sensitively designed, one-storey building, rooms either face a sparkling triangle of sea or look up the valley. There’s a heated, spring-fed indoor swimming pool, grass tennis court and a playground. Use of tennis rackets, crab bait, buckets and spades and DVDs is complimentary. A bunting-draped coffee shop serves quick bites, children’s lunch and early dinners, and bedrooms and self-catering villas are all family friendly. The hotel’s yellow Labrador, Daisy, is popular with young guests, and the hotel is very dog-friendly so your family pooch can come too. The hotel is at the end of a long track, so children can run free with no danger from traffic.


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From


£
139

per night

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The Cary Arms

Babbacombe, Devon, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Set beneath the cliffs on the beach at Babbacombe, down a vertiginous hairpin lane, this spa hotel’s location is nothing short of spectacular. On arrival, children are given a bucket, spade and fishing net with which to go rock pooling on Babbacombe Bay, a quiet beach by the hotel that has calm water and a friendly local seal. There are two beach suites and six beach huts which can fit a cot or extra bed, nine self-catering cottages stocked with board games and children’s books, and eight bedrooms in the main inn. Children can use the pool between 8am-10am every morning, and free paddle boards and kayaks are available on a first-come basis. The restaurant has a children’s menu.


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£
255

per night

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Bovey Castle

Moretonhampstead, Dartmoor, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

This grand stately pile on a sporting estate in Dartmoor National Park is popular with rain-lashed ramblers, outdoorsy families and golfers who make the most of the property’s extensive facilities. Family-friendly activities include apple pressing, archery, goat feeding, air rifles, a deer park tour and free daily bird of prey experience overlooking Dartmoor. A new KidsZone has dressing-up boxes toys and crafts for under-eights, while a TechZone, for ages eight to 16, has virtual entertainment, including an Xbox. There are several interconnecting rooms for families in the hotel, while private lodges in the grounds sleep up to eight.


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£
195

per night

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South Sands Boutique Hotel

Salcombe, Devon, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Attracting style-conscious families with a yen for simple seaside R&R, South Sands is clean cut and breezy, with a laid-back New England vibe. The hotel is right on the beach, with wonderful views across the estuary – if you love walking or watersports, then this is the place for you. White sands and calm seas are a beach ball’s throw from the hotel, and use of buckets and spades is complimentary. Extra beds can be arranged in some rooms, while five beach suites are designed for families of up to six.


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From


£
175

per night

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Thurlestone Hotel

Salcombe, Devon, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

The setting is classic Devon: to the front of the hotel is rugged coastline while to the back there’s sheep-filled pastures. There are two well-equipped indoor playrooms for toddlers and older children, a playground, mini golf and family badminton courts. In school holidays, a busy programme of arts and craft sessions is put on, along with entertainers, movie nights, cooking and sports lessons. In the restaurant, a children’s buffet stocked with ready-to-eat pick and mix food to prevents hunger-induced tantrums. Family rooms have clever beds that fold into the wall or sofa beds that turn into bunk beds.


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From


£
275

per night

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Highbullen Hotel, Golf & Country Club

Umberleigh Bridge, Devon, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Highbullen is a luxury, gothic-fronted country house hotel spread over a 125-acre Devon estate. With a broad range of facilities on offer, Highbullen prides itself on being a ‘multi-generational’ hotel, catering for extended families. Dedicated rooms for families of four have sofa beds and pullout beds, while large families can hire out lodges exclusively. Spread over the estate are two swimming pools – one indoor and one outdoor – tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, a private fishing river, croquet lawns, snooker rooms, an indoor activity centre with games including pool and air hockey. A playground is due to open in June 2023.


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From


£
90

per night

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Frequently asked questions

    

Where is the best location to stay in Devon as a family?

On the north coast, the town of Woolacombe faces a long sandy beach perfect for surfing. On the south coast, upmarket Salcombe offers small sheltered coves such as North Sands and South Sands where younger children can paddle and build sand castles. Older children can hire sea kayaks or stand up paddle boards. Dartmoor National Park is ideal for families who love to walk or ride horses.

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