8 UK hotels by the sea where the wine lists shimmer

From the Isle of Skye down to the Isle of Wight and many destinations in between, discover the best boutique hotels by the sea offering something exceptional to those seeking relaxation and exciting wine while at the coast

Words by Fiona Sims

The view from The Terrace Room & Wines
The view from The Terrace Rooms & Wine, which overlooks the Channel from the southern coast of the Isle of Wight

Fine wine, good food, stylish hotels and sea air are all desirable components of a weekend break but managing to combine all four can prove difficult. To offer help and inspiration, we’ve created a guide to the best boutique hotels by the sea in the UK for the bon vivant. Each one has its own distinct character, from a six-room guesthouse on the Isle of Wight serving imaginative small plates and wines from a 500-bottle cellar with a sea view, to a restaurant with rooms on the Suffolk coast dishing up whole grilled fish paired with a mineral Peloponnese white available by the glass.

The seaside hospitality scene in the UK is blossoming and for that we must thank, in part, London’s creatives, fed up with city ways and on the hunt for a more relaxed lifestyle by the sea, decamping to coastal regions. This is helping to drive regeneration of forgotten towns and resorts, some of which, such as Margate in Kent, are now undergoing huge transformations. The pandemic also played its part, leading people to reassess their lives and opt for a more grounded existence, one in which sourcing local became their raison d’être and a walk on the beach their new drug of choice. And, as any coastal dweller will assert, everything tastes better by the sea.

The Three Chimneys
The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye, which offers exciting organic and biodynamic wines, as well as beautiful views of Loch Dunvegan

Wine-savvy coastal boutique hotels will offer lists carefully compiled to complement fresh seafood and fresh breezes rolling in off the shore. And if there’s space for natural wines, so much the better, with organic and biodynamic examples an important factor in any selection designed with an eye on current trends. Choose a destination from the eight below and get ready for a relaxing, flavourful break.

The beach at Camber Sands
Dunes at Camber Sands, a beach that's less than a 10-minute walk from The Gallivant, a stylish hotel and mecca for English wine enthusiasts

Eight of the best boutique hotels by the sea for wine lovers

Dining at The Gallivant

The Gallivant

Camber, East Sussex

The Californian vibe of this effortlessly cool seaside retreat (the owner’s wife was a Hollywood film stylist) is reason enough to visit, along with The Gallivant’s impressive selection of English wines, which is the largest in the UK. A daily English wine tasting is available for all those staying over, along with the daily yoga class. In the buzzy brasserie, the passion of chef Nico Fitzgerald is clear as him and his team deliver perfect wood-fired roasted  fish. And it’s simply impossible to forget that in-room cocktail hamper, transported to your chosen spot in the dunes.

Best for: English wine


Food at the White Hart Inn

The White Hart Inn

Mersea Island, Essex

Mersea might only be an island when the causeway floods at high tide but it still has that yearned-for remote feel, despite the short driving distance from London. It also has The White Hart Inn, fashionably renovated last summer by owner Piers Baker, with six smart bedrooms and a lively, plant-filled restaurant (complete with locals who still drop in for a beer) where diners scoff elegant plates of food. Head chef is Eliot Craven, who oversees the creative menu that makes a feature of local speciality oysters, alongside an imaginative wine selection split into unusual sections, such as ‘Not white but shades of’.

Best for: an entertaining wine list


Food at Cary Arms

Cary Arms

Babbacombe, Devon

Serial luxury hoteliers Peter and Lana de Savary spared no expense restoring this historic seaside inn, once patronised by Queen Victoria. Overlooking picturesque Babbacombe bay and its pebbly beach, listen to the waves crashing from one of its New England-style bedrooms after lounging in its state-of-the-art spa. Then enjoy a lavish dinner in its Conservatory restaurant (or on the terrace if it’s warm), where Torquay-born chef Steve Poyner serves up posh pub grub accompanied by wines plucked from a list packed with big names, with an additional ‘cellar’ list for the bigger budgets. Don’t forget to enjoy the selection of artisanal gins in the bar beforehand.

Best for: splurging on classic wines


The dining room at The Suffolk

The Suffolk

Aldeburgh, Suffolk

What started out as a pop-up in lockdown, when the owners of iconic Soho restaurant L’Escargot had to temporarily close its doors, has now morphed into the East Coast’s hottest new opening: a restaurant with six tranquil bedrooms. Seafood is under the spotlight alongside other local produce, all credited at length on the menu. Wines are chosen to match the food emerging from the kitchen, including a handful of well-chosen rosés, a line-up of different cuvees of house fizz Laurent-Perrier (including the Lady Gaga collaboration), plus a selection of mineral whites that kicks off in the Peloponnese from the Tsmibidi family-owned Monemvasia winery.

Best for: Soho-wine-bar vibe


The Wine Library at The Terrace Rooms & Wine

The Terrace Rooms & Wine

Isle of Wight

This six-bedroom Victorian beauty overlooking the picture postcard sandy bay in Ventnor is from the folks behind popular Yarmouth eatery, The Terrace. Its USP is The Wine Library, a room with a stunning sea view that is lined with 500-plus bottles, a brown paper neck tag stating each wine’s ‘drink in’ and ‘drink out’ price, with mark-ups significantly below the industry average. Peruse the racks and then enjoy your chosen bottle for lunch on the glass veranda with co-owner and chef Tom Fahey’s inventive small plates menu, which transforms into an impressive tasting menu in the off-season.

Best for: low mark-ups


The bar at Fort Road Hotel

Fort Road Hotel

Margate, Kent

Margate’s regeneration continues at a pace, with new life breathed into it by a growing community of creatives. It’s now fizzing with spirit and there are great places to eat and stay, including the recently opened Fort Hotel. Transformed from a tired boarding house by a consortium of cognoscenti, it offers 14 rooms and a restaurant headed up by chef Daisy Cecil who takes late 19th century and early 20th century female food writers as her inspiration for the dishes. This is served alongside a playful wine list that sits Basque Txakolina next to Chardonnay from Kent.

Best for: hip wines


Three Chimneys

Three Chimneys

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Set on the shores of Loch Dunvegan, this legendary restaurant with rooms still leads the way, now owned by Scottish luxury hotel guru Gordon Campbell Gray and his Wee Hotel Company. Seasoned head chef Scott Davies continues to head up the kitchen and make the most of the island’s beautiful produce. The wine list makes a feature of organic and biodynamic producers and has won Three Chimneys an AA wine award – Loch Dunvegan crab, almonds, ginger, and yoghurt sauce with a Rheingau Trocken Riesling from Peter Jakob Kuhn is a divine combination.

Best for: organic and biodynamic wines



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Penally Abbey

Penally, Wales

With gardens tumbling down to the sea, this handsome, rare 11-bedroom Strawberry Gothic house has been brought back to stylish life by the Boissevain family, who certainly know their food (foraging and fermenting is a thing here) as much as their wine. In addition to the main list, you can choose from a selection of the owners’ wines ‘collected during our travels’, fine wines by the glass kept fresh under Coravin, and a range of Welsh wines, before walking it off on the 30-minute stroll into picturesque Tenby.

Best for: Welsh wine