It goes without saying, all addresses in our guides are our favourites. Why else would we publish them? Here you’ll find a little cherry-picked selection, located in unexpected, lesser-known, not-so-touristy and far away spots around the British and Irish coastlines. To escape, or plan ahead and look forward to!
Norfolk coast, East England
A bit of Out of Africa along the Norfolk coast, why not! Divided into two private camps near Thornham Bay, Wild Luxury offers several safari-style luxury lodges, sleeping up to 12 people. The canvas lodges are well spaced out, so you’ve lots of privacy, and are fully equipped for self-catering, or you can have your meal delivered to the doorstep. Plus there’s a farm shop, and you’ve a wide stretch of white sandy beach and the Holme Dunes nature reserve nearby to go play outside/go and explore?. Closed in winter but opens up again at Easter.
Moray Firth, Scotland
We like everything about ACE Hideaways. There are only 8 pitches for tents, all with lots of privacy and space, there are 2 bell tents (sleeping up to 7) and 2 shepherd huts (sleeping 2) for rent. Both bell tents and shepherd huts have a log burner. Shower blocks (hot hot showers!) are squeaky clean. It’s a calm and thickly forested site from where you can set off on hikes, or join Ace Adventures on a rafting trip or other outdoor activity. Run by four outdoor enthusiasts, they and their friendly staff welcome you warmly and love to help you with information on all services and where’s whats. Open all year.
North Highlands, Scotland
A wee drive west along the coast from John O’Groats, you’ve the chance to rent a best-bunk-room ever for up to 6 people in a brilliantly converted barn, or both bunk rooms and have the whole of The Highland Haven to yourselves. The Scandi-style airy and spacious house is owned and run by Bronagh, originally from Northern Ireland, and her husband Dave, who moved to Scotland with their children a few years ago. It’s a high-ceilings, large open-plan kitchen diner lounge and woodfire, big windows wonderful home. You’ve a fully equipped kitchen and laundry room, a private garden and an outbuilding for drying wetsuits. There are beaches to left and right, and fabulous views to Dunnet Head and over the sea to the Orkneys – so you’re in a good spot for sunsets and seal, bird, dolphin and whale watching – and lots of gorgeous walks start from the doorstep. Bronagh will give you all the inside info on some nearby secrets to visit (we know about a couple of them, but we really can’t say). You can book a room or the whole space. And look out for collaborations with North Coast Watersports, as in upcoming retreats. We love, love, it’s all made and run with so much love. Open all year.
North Highlands, Scotland
The Melvich Hotel sits in a super central location on the north coast, right on top of one of the best surf spots, with plenty more within easy reach. Owned by Rob and Jo, who are much-loved folk by all about, especially the surf community, the hotel extends a genuinely warm and welcoming atmosphere and big friendly vibes to all who stay. It’s an old building, established as a hotel in 1850, which has been modernised over the years but still retains its character with lots of wood and light, and has unbeatable views, a delightful garden and outdoor seating area. They’ve a collaboration with North Coast Watersports, to run retreats and provide surf lessons and SUP fun for guests, you’ll get discount on NCW activities as a guest here. Dogs are absolutely welcome and will receive enthusiastic ‘noggin scratches’ at reception. Open April to October.
a. Melvich, Portskerra KW14 7YJ
t. +44 1641 531 206
Lewis, Outer Hebrides
Having met Donald in the community shop and got chatting about something travel guide or other, he mentioned his accommodation and, lo and behold, it was the fine little cabin overlooking the loch that we’d spotted already. For a sheltered stay on the peaceful sea-loch-side, just along from the Scallop Shack and a short drive to the beaches, the Otter Bunkhouse is comfy, cosy, and makes such a cute photo. Resident otters can be seen playing in the waters outside the modern cabin, where you’ve 8 beds, a spacious living area with kitchenette, shower room and separate toilet, and a drying shed outside for boards, suits, kayaks, bikes and whatever else you might have got wet while you were having fun. You can book a bed in the bunkhouse or the whole space for a group. Or book the Bothy for your own little private space: a cosy cabin for 1 or 2 people with comfy double bed, basic cooking facilities, and toilet and shower room all to yourself. The Bothy also has a decking area with seating to enjoy the beautiful view. Open all year.
With owners Kevin and Claire being keen travellers and campers themselves, they know just about every wish and need of a fellow camper. Their wonderful Trellyn Woodland Camping, amidst a forested area, has 6 secluded and spacious pitches, 3 yurts and 2 domes to rent. They’re the founders of the Greener Camping Club, so expect a planet and people friendly approach to water and waste management. You can safely build campfires at your pitch, and join in the wood-fired pizza nights, or warm up in the wood-fired sauna. You can even use one of their surfboards and wetsuits for free (on a first come, first served basis). It’s a Greener Camping Club Members only site, but you can join on the spot. Open from May to September.
Loveland Farm is a creative, magically peaceful eco-retreat where sustainability comes first, just a 5-minute drive from the centre of Hartland. With a choice of 6 incredible Geodesic domes and 3 ‘tentipis’, all offering stylish simplicity and comfort, from stargazer ceiling and wood-burning stove to a projector for movie nights. Each pod has its own private shower room, there’s an indoor swimming pool (heated with reusable energy) and communal fire pit, BBQ area, top notch food available to order, and even the eco toilet ‘thrones’ have sea views! Open all year.
The Old Bank House is owned and run by the friendly peeps of Narosa Surf Shop, and sits beside it; with shops, beach and eateries within walking distance. The building was a bank with an attached bank manager’s house from 1836 until 2015, when current owners Lee and Judith bought it and converted the bank into a shop with café and juice bar. Then the 7-bedroom house was renovated to add holiday apartments to their family home. The apartments are lovingly and refreshingly decorated, and the shared garden, complete with BBQ area and racks for boards and suits, is huge. The place is perfect for families to book either the downstairs apartment (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms), the upstairs apartment (4 large bedrooms, 2 bathrooms) or one of the recently added log cabins in the great big garden. Or groups of friends can book the whole lot together. We like. Open all year.
Clifden Eco Beach Camping is the only climate-neutral campsite in Ireland. Located right next to the ocean with a view of the Twelve Bens mountain range, it has a very natural feel to it, because of the surroundings and the way the site’s set up. There’s lots of beautiful space for tents and campervans to pitch up, and they rent out bicycles and kayaks, so you can set off in any direction without using the car. Dogs are welcome too. Open from March to October.
Family-run Pure Camping is a peaceful eco-campsite on the Loop Head peninsula. Besides a few pitches for tents and campervans they’ve fully furnished canvas Bell tents and off-grid wooden cabins for hire. The tents sleep up to 4, the cabins up to 6 people. There are outdoor fire bowls and a pizza oven, you can warm up in their wooden barrel sauna and join yoga classes in their yoga room. Regular mini retreats are also on the menu. Open from May to September.