When it comes to classic seaside resorts, you can’t get more quintessentially British than Westward Ho! in North Devon. Ice cream vans line the award-winning, pebble ridge-backed beach; packed amusement arcades full of 2p machines are filled with the laughter of children and the dropping of pennies; and the waves crash blissfully in the distance as surfers, windsurfers and kayakers get their fill.
We were lucky enough to enjoy an evening there in early summer, staying in a simply blissful property on the edge of the village: Ocean Sunset. From the outside, you could tell that this particular cottage was going to be beautiful – an iron horse standing proud opposite the entrance – and, stepping into the property, our thoughts were found to be true. An opulent, open-plan kitchen/dining/living area was beautifully furnished with a colour scheme of grey, purple and gold only adding to the elegance.
Toward the rear of the two-storey accommodation was a lovely little patio area, complete with a dining set, recliners (perfect for sunbathing!), a BBQ and one of the most serene sea views you’ll ever set eyes on. The sun was blazing so we decided to make the most of it and enjoy the complimentary cream tea - left for us by the owners - on the table and chairs outside, basking in the warm glow. We had planned to take our four-legged friend with us, but he was sadly too unwell to travel – we’re sure he would have been pleased to find a welcome pack left waiting for him inside the property. Labelled “with love from Raffles”, the complex’s resident pooch, we know he would have been chewing on some lovely, Devon-made gourmet treats while we tucked into our scones and tea (the Devon way, obviously).
As the sun was out, we decided to make the most of the day and head off into the village, and so we took our bags up the wooden, spiral staircase to the lavish bedroom, home to a regal looking bed, standalone bath and balcony with hot tub (more on this later!), and headed out. The cottage has direct access to the stunning South West Coast Path and, after a short walk downhill, we joined the walkway and headed towards Westward Ho!. It took around 30 minutes from front door to the centre of the village, but we’d recommend allowing at least 40.
As we reached the village, we walked past Seafield House, a beautiful, abandoned property that sits on the edge of the coast (and is rumoured to be haunted!). Then we headed to The Pier House, where the extensive patio area was chock-a-block with people enjoying a tipple or a bite to eat in the sun, and the village green, which was full of life. Imagine benches lined with families enjoying a Hocking’s ice cream from the iconic yellow van by the sea wall; shouts of joy coming from the children’s play area, and the surrounding shops and restaurants enjoying some summertime custom.
We’d booked a table at Morans, also found just off the green, where we headed to indulge in their Sunday buffet – an all-you-can-eat offering of some scrumptious Thai cuisine. From there, we grabbed the last free table in their outside patio area and enjoyed our fill in the sun, people-watching as we like to do. Had we not been little piggies, we definitely would have frequented the Tea on the Green – an exquisite cafe just up from Morans which sells some of the most beautiful and tasty cake creations you’ll ever set your eyes on. However, three helpings of Thai food later, we thought we’d better walk it all off and so headed down towards the beach.
As luck would have it, the National Sandcastle Building Competition was running during the day, and so we were able to amble around the beach just off the slipway, enjoying some truly marvellous sandy sculptures. There was a car, a classic castle and a wonderful design that showed sea turtles and a whale – with litter strewn around them. It was visually, emotionally and morally striking, and people’s heads were certainly turning as they strolled by.
After a stroll further up the beach, alongside the picture-perfect pebble ridge – behind which lay a crazy golf course, go-karts and one of two amusement arcades in the village – we walked towards the sea to dip our toes in the water; you’ve got to, haven’t you?! The glassy blue water was packed with people of all ages having a blast; from grandparents and grandchildren jumping the waves hand-in-hand to young surfers showing their flexibility by riding the waves like pros. It looked like so much fun that we became envious – but luckily there are a handful of surf schools in Westward Ho! who cater for all ages and abilities, and so we settled to come back again and try our hand.
Feeling as though we could finally make the walk back up the coast path to the property, we set off and arrived back at our home-from-home 40 minutes later. The sun was just beginning to set, so we made our way up the wooden stairs and opened the glass doors to the balcony, making a beeline for the hot tub for two. Firing it up, we enjoyed a soak in the warm, relaxing bubbles while the sun made its way down, down, down, and over Lundy, its silhouette sitting proud in the Bristol Channel in the distance. The brilliant red glow was truly remarkable, unlike anything we’d seen before, and the resident horses seemed to agree, charging, hopping and galloping around their field in glee. It's no wonder this is one of Devon's top sunset spots!
As darkness finally fell, it was time to hit the hay – which means it’s time to talk about that bed. I’m not sure what the duvet or pillows were made from, but the luxurious, boudoir-style super-king-size bed gave us the best night’s sleep we’d had in a loooong time, while the freestanding bath opposite was utterly inviting, and, had I not just spent an hour or two in the hot tub, there would have been no keeping me out.
Perfect for couples (and one dog) to get away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, Ocean Sunset was a simply sweet property. With everything you need for a few nights away with your loved one, easy access to Westward Ho! and its pubs, shops and restaurants, and only one hour from the M5 motorway, we’d certainly recommend it for that much-needed romantic break.
Love the sound of staying here for a few nights? Take a look at our full collection of cottages in Westward Ho! to find the perfect place for you this season!