The best hotels in North Devon

Wilder and less trammelled than the rest of Devon, the north of the county is comfortably old-fashioned, high-tech. Prices are, on the whole, cheaper than the more chi-chi resorts in South Devon, so it’s a great choice for extended families, large groups and those on a tight budget. Hotels generally focus on honest service and value rather than bells and whistles, although there are some notable options that offer both, which are included in the selection below.

There is a wonderful variety of options, including tranquil manor houses set in landscaped gardens, amenity-packed Victorian seaside hotels, thatched cottages, sophisticated adults-only country houses and fishing lodges. We’ve covered all of North Devon’s top destinations, including Woolacombe, Clovelly and Exmoor National Park, as well as some off-the-beaten-track resorts that offer peace and solitude, even in summer . Here are the best hotels in North Devon.

How we review

Each hotel on this curated list has been visited by one of our expert reviewers, and is usually hosted on a free basis. They stay for at least one night, test at least one meal and try other experiences the hotel may have.

At a glance, the best hotels in North Devon

Big views and big beds make this one of the most romantic bed and breakfasts in Devon. The six-bedroom house, set on a lushly-wooded hillside overlooking the seaside towns of Lynmouth and Lynton in Exmoor, is an ideal base for outdoor lovers. Each of the six large rooms has ‘feature beds’: Summerhouse has a huge Rococo headboard, Hollerday has a four-poster, and The Cleaves has a magnificent six-foot-wide Jacobean. Each is dressed in opulent silk throws, soft linen and feather cushions, and positioned to take advantage of the views. His strict no-child policy means guaranteed peace.

• The best hotels in Devon

One of the best places to stay in North Devon, Northcote Manor offers an escape from the quintessentially British countryside, tranquilly set amongst 20 acres of manicured lawns and natural woodland overlooking the River Taw. Comfortable rooms match the surrounding manor: the Kings Nympton room, for example, has a four-poster bed. Other rooms come with their own individual features, such as the Dragonfly suite, which has a private terrace. The staff are attentive and knowledgeable, especially in the award-winning restaurant for their inventive Devonshire fare. While you’re here, make time for the inviting pool and spa.

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The Red Lion is a homely country inn on the bay side of picturesque Clovelly, with some of the finest views in the country from its bedroom windows. You can hear the lapping of the waves from each of the eleven carefully designed rooms. The view in Room 5 through dual aspect windows is one of the best in the UK: one side is the ever-changing sea; the other is the pretty harbor of Clovelly with the majestic north Devon coast unraveling in the distance. Food is served in the cozy restaurant or pub, with much of the seafood coming straight from the harbor’s fishing boats.

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On the edge of the seaside town of Woolacombe, the hotel is five minutes’ walk from glorious Woolacombe Beach, a three-mile stretch of sand backed by dunes. The Woolacombe Bay Hotel, built as a hotel in the mid-Victorian era, is a stately, gabled building with attractive period features including an Edwardian lift, which is still in use. Facilities include a large outdoor lido, a smaller indoor swimming pool, a boutique gym, fitness classes, a thirty seat cinema, tennis courts, and a championship snooker table and a stunning spa.

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This is a rare breed of hotel that manages to be family-friendly and romantic at the same time, with an indoor and outdoor pool, a huge lawn and a sun terrace that leaves plenty of space for everyone. In addition, the beachside location, overlooking the North Devon coast and Lundy Island, is simply sublime. At the quiet end of Woolacombe Bay, the hotel has private steps leading down to Combesgate Beach, a small cove of sand that’s great for body boarding and rock pooling, but rarely gets busy, even in summer.

• An insider’s guide to Devon

Young anglers head to this comfortable country house hotel in Lifton to benefit from the expert instruction of instructors at one of the UK’s longest established fishing schools, or set themselves up to enjoy 20 miles of the hotel’s private fishing rights on the Tamar, as well as six of its tributaries. Best of all is the food, courtesy of chef Steven Pidgeon, the real deal: the best local produce cooked with care and flair such as Cornish scallops and wild black bream, Devon beef jerky and country cheeses local.

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This 14th century thatched inn is in one of Devon’s most picturesque locations, overlooking Lynmouth harbour, with dramatic views of Lynmouth Bay and Exmoor National Park. Inside, it’s extremely rickety and rambling, with a fire-lit bar, Exmoor cask ales, award-winning food and generous locals. The 14 rooms, off winding corridors and up narrow creaky staircases, are individually decorated in a tasteful traditional style. The restaurant serves traditional pub favourites, using local produce such as Lynmouth Bay Lobster landed at the door, Exmoor game and Porlock Bay oysters.

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Set in lovely well-tended gardens and carefully manicured lawns, the Old Rectory contrasts with the wild and riparian areas that surround Exmoor National Park. Among the best boutique hotels in North Devon, there are many nooks where you can put your feet up and get stuck into your favorite book. The best spot in the house, however, is the Orangery, a large conservatory with big, squishy sofas, glossy magazines and views of the gardens. The 11 rooms are decorated in individual styles, varying from classic French country – Toiles De Jouy wallpaper in pastel blues and pinks – to more contemporary.

Contributions by Anna Turns

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