The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon

The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon

Although my husband grew up in Devon, he did not know the North Devon coast very well. I had heard the surfing culture was strong and of course there was the lure of Exmoor national park. In terms of luxury hotels in North Devon, we were immediately drawn to the Saunton Sands Hotel for its location by the sea, proximity to gorgeous Saunton Sands beach and family-friendly reputation. All of these things were as advertised! We had a fabulous weekend break in the UK and the weather even cooperated for the most part.

The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

Surfing lessons at Saunton Beach for children

Saunton Sands Hotel is a four-star Devon hotel by the sea. The hotel is part of the family-owned chain of Brend Hotels which own 11 hotels in Devon and Cornwall.

Saunton Sands Beach

Saunton Sands Beach is a glorious swathe of white sand beach with waves perfect for playing, surfing and boogie boarding. The beach has as small cafe which serves food as well as a small store with souvenirs and necessities you may have forgotten. There are sand-friendly wheelchairs available for the use of less-abled visitors.

We saw surfers at Saunton Sands beach from the early morning until after sunset. These surfers were hardcore! You can arrange lessons with the schools on the beach through Saunton Sands Hotel. We saw many hotel guests with their surfing gear ready for a day at the beach.

The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

A sign showing the path from the hotel to the beach

You should note that Saunton Sands beach is a dog-friendly Devon beach all-year round. Very popular with dog owners, my kids were in their element with all the adorable dogs playing in the sand and water. I found the dogs well-behaved.  The Saunton Sands Hotel though does not allow dogs to stay.

The Saunton Sands Hotel Review

Saunton Sands Hotel is that rare hotel that does everything right – not only were the rooms great, the hotel has an excellent location and load of amenities. It’s a renovated Art Deco hotel in Devon which really looked like it could have come straight out of an Agatha Christie novel.

The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

The beautiful Art Deco hotel was built in the 1930’s.

The Hotel Room

We had an adjoining family room which had a layout that we appreciated. There was a queen bed leading to a hallway with a bathroom and another bedroom with twin beds. Both bedrooms had doors. The hallway had a generous closet so that we could have the clothes near the bathroom.

Many other family rooms in hotels we have stayed at prefer a duplex family room layout. Usually the adults’ room is upstairs and doorless. The kids sleep in the studio part downstairs which is usually where the bathroom is located. If you want to check in on the kids at night or use the toilet, you have to sneak downstairs quietly.

The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

Although the hotel building is art deco, the decor itself is fairly neutral with only the occasional art deco touch.

The rooms themselves are a good size with the usual seating area and tea and coffee facilities. There is a small refrigerator if you wanted to store anything. My kids loved the bluetooth speaker for their music.

I loved that there were flat screen televisions in both rooms so that I didn’t have to watch what they were watching. I could even close the bedroom door so that I didn’t have to hear them arguing on what they were going to watch!

We found the beds very comfortable.  I’m a stickler for mattresses and even I was impressed. There were bathrobes provided for the adults but not the kids (such a hard life!).

Saunton Sands Hotel Amenities

We really enjoyed that the hotel had so many amenities. With so much to do to keep them entertained, my kids didn’t even bother with their iPads for the whole weekend. I actually managed to catch up with some reading on my kindle with the great (free) wifi.

The pools

Beach hotels in Devon with a pool are a luxury, especially hotels with both an indoor and an outdoor pool. The indoor pool is a Godsend especially when its raining outside and the kids need to let off steam.  One end of the indoor pool has a separated shallow kiddie pool which is perfect for babies and toddlers.

Along one end of the pool, there is a small sauna and a ping pong table.  We spent a few hours lazing by the pool mixed in with some competitive ping pong.

The Saunton Sands Hotel Spa

Despite my love of spas, I did not have a chance to use the Saunton Sands Hotel Spa. There was so much to do at the hotel and the area, I decided I would rather hang out with the family then indulge in some spa time. Yes, I am a saint. And you know those activities have to be fun!

Other Amenities

Saunton Sands Hotel has a small gym and and a room with a large snooker table. My husband loves snooker and he’s been teaching our kids to play. My daughter has taken to it with the enthusiasm of a true pool shark.

The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

The making of a snooker shark (even though she needs a stool to reach the table)

Next to the large lawned area overlooking the beach, there is a small playground and a putting green.

Although it look really cute, Saunton Sands hotel has a children’s creche which my kids did not use. The hotel offers 2 hours free supervised care for children for under 8’s.

The path down to the beach also goes from the front of the hotel. It is wheelchair friendly (and Saunton Sands beach has sand-accessible wheelchairs for disabled guests).

The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

Easy access to the beach is a big plus point.

Saunton Sands Weddings

The hotel is a popular wedding venue and we ogled a charming Saunton Sands wedding on the Saturday. The wedding party went down to the beach for photos and the reception was in the ballroom adjacent to the hotel lounge.

The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

My daughter is at that age where she loves all things wedding for their glam romantic factor.

Unlike other hotels we’ve stayed in where there was a wedding, we were not disturbed by the wedding celebration. The music did not filter up to the rooms and the lounge/bar areas were not overtaken by wedding guests. In addition, the hotel kitchen seemed perfectly capable of running the food at the wedding reception without inconveniencing or delaying dinner guests.

Saunton Sands Food and Drink

The restaurants and bar are along the beachfront side of the hotel. We did see people enjoying drinks on the terrace but it really was too chilly for a meal outside.

The Bar

After (barely) winning their snooker match, my husband treated my daughter to a Shirley Temple at the bar area. There are comfy couches where you can sit and hang out. The non-alcoholic drinks were a big hit with my kids. We liked having lounge areas where we could sit which wasn’t in the hotel room.

Saunton Sands Restaurant

The restaurant serves a large buffet style breakfast with both cold and hot options. It has the traditional English breakfast options as well as yogurts, fruits and heart-healthier options.

In the evening, the restaurant menu for dinner has a good selection of surf and turf which caters to the tastes of the multi-generational guests. You have old British favourites like fish and chips as well as freshly caught fish and seafood and a selection of steaks. I thought the Lundy lobster bisque with freshly caught lobster on toast was divine.

The fine dining aspect is nice without being snooty. The ingredients are locally sourced and the food excellent.

The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

The lobster bisque made with local Lundy lobster was my favourite dish.

If you have younger children, the Saunton Sands restaurant does a children’s dinner in the late afternoon until 6:30.  Our children ate dinner with us and chose off the regular Saunton Sands restaurant menu options. My son had fish and chips and my daughter ate macaroni and cheese.

Why The Saunton Sands Hotel Devon?

For family-friendly weekend breaks in the UK all year round, or a longer holiday in North Devon, the Saunton Sands Hotel is a fabulous  hotel which will provide an enjoyable escape for everyone in the family, no matter the age.  A couple of things to note:

  • This hotel is great for the less-abled members of your family. Not only is the hotel accessible for the less mobile, so is Saunton Sands beach. I would definitely add Saunton Sands hotel to my list of luxury hotels with disabled facilities in Europe (even if you argue that Britain isn’t part of Europe despite its geographical location). This hotel is a wonderful example of the great British seaside holiday of yore.
The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

Isn’t the view of the bay glorious? photo credit: Saunton Sands Hotel

  • Saunton Sands is a really good base for a multi-generational holiday in terms of North Devon accommodation. I spoke to one family group that was celebrating the grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary. There are so many activities in the area that everyone will find something to enjoy. Next door to the Saunton Sands Hotel, for example, is the Saunton Sands public golf course. Teenagers and sporty types will enjoy the great surfing at Saunton beach. Children will love playing at the beach.
The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

Colorful beach huts at Saunton Sands Beach

  • Saunton Sands Hotel is located near many of the fun things to do in North Devon.  The Gnome Reserve (which my children loved) was a 45 minute drive from the hotel. In nearby Appledore, on the other side of the bay,  there was a book festival on the weekend we visited. Another great beach by Appledore is Westward Ho! which has a sheltered bay good for beginner surfers. For sheer cutesy charm, the cobble stone streets of the nearby town of Clovelly are hard to beat. Nearby Ilfracombe has boutiques, art galleries and a giant statue in the harbor by British artist, Damien Hirst.
The Saunton Sands Hotel, A Fabulous Family Hotel in North Devon | Saunton Sands accommodation | Saunton Sands Devon | luxury hotels North Devon |  Devon Hotels by the Sea

Westward Ho! has an even bigger sand beach than Saunton Beach.

Want a second opinion on the Saunton Sands Hotel Devon? The reviews for Saunton Sands Hotel on TripAdvisor are great as well.

My stay was courtesy of the Saunton Sands Hotel. All words and opinions are my own. This site also generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Family Days Out in North Devon: A Gnome Reserve Not To Miss

Family Days Out in North Devon: A Gnome Reserve Not To Miss

What would you do with 4 acres in North Devon? Artist Anne Atkins created a gnome reserve with more than 2000 garden gnomes – a veritable gnome village if you will.  And, an adjoining wildflower trail (free space for the gnomes to frolic?).  One of the quirkiest places to visit in North Devon, this gnome world makes a great family day out. Sort of like the Elf Garden in Iceland, my kids thoroughly enjoyed their time. We met a few families who were return visitors so clearly this gnome world in Devon is a popular attraction.

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

Family Days Out in North Devon: A Gnome Reserve Not To Miss

The Gnome reserve and wildflower trail is a quirky quintessentially English experience. For a child, it’s a world of romping in forests and magical mystery adventures that Enid Blyton would recognise. For an adult, the gnome world is English eccentricity in all of its random yet harmless outrageousness.

Gnome Ann

Founded in 1979 by trained artist Ann Atkins, the Gnome Reserve and wildflower garden is a charming place tucked away in a corner of North Devon. Ann mans the visitor centre and her family operate the gnome village and wildflower centre. She seems to be about 80 years old so she clearly is enjoying her work if she’s still doing it almost 4 decades later.

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

Gnome Ann painting her gnomes and pixies

The Gnome Reserve has a lot of appearances on television and in books. We’re talking more than 70 times!  Ann’s art and prints are located in collections around the world.

Not only does Ann create the gnomes, Ann paints magical scenes of fairies and pixies that are sold in the gift shop. Of course, my daughter got a painting for her room and my son got a gnome with an Arsenal shirt for his favourite football team.

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

The English gnome football team (and they actually win trophies!)

Gnome Village

This visitor attraction will be part of the 25,000 people who visit annually. Like my kids, these are also the same sort of people who have seen Gnomeo and Juliet several times.

Visitor’s Centre

The Gnome reserve has a small visitor centre which has a gift store where you can watch Anne Atkins work on her projects in between tending to her visitors.

You can also see displays of some antique gnomes and grab some snacks to tide you over after walking four whole acres. British snacks of course involve cream tea, sandwiches and Ribena.

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

The royal family gnomes. Is it wrong that they actually look better than the real ones??

Did you know that the world’s most expensive garden gnome is insured for 1 million pounds and is stored in a bank vault? Try and snicker at that if you will.

Gnome World

Be prepared to don a gnome hat to visit the gnomes. It’s only polite to fit in with the locals.

Sheltered among the trees, the 2000+ gnomes are busy going about their business whether it’s fishing or practicing for the London Olympics. Amidst the gnomes, you get other cute creatures such as bunnies.

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

The gnomes have a case of invading bunnies

Fishing for stones makes for a nice interactive activity. Of course, my kids made it a competition to see who could get the most stones.

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

When you join the gnome world, you got to learn to fish.

Ann has so many gnomes her collection has entered the Guinness Book of World Records.

A Gnome World Gallery

Who knew gnomes could do everything that a person can do? My daughter decided her favourite gnome was the one practicing yoga and my son’s favourite was the one doing karate.

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

A game of gnome chess

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

A friendly game of gnome football

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

Nothing gnomes like better than fishing

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

A very British gnome wedding

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

Just hanging with the gnomies

Wildflower Trail

I have to be honest I expected more flowers in the wildflower trail sort of like a wildflower meadow. It could have been the season, but the wildflowers we saw were more plants that were clearly labelled.

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

The wildflower field is full of butterflies.

In fact, there were more than 200+ types of British wildflowers which are all labelled. I have  heard of many of the plants but had never seen them in real life. Or, if I did I didn’t know what they were!

For example, you hear about spearmint all the time as a chewing gum flavour but it was interesting to see (and to smell) the real plant.

A wildflower quiz kept the kids attention well.

Gnome village | gnome Ann |  gnome reserve | family days out in North Devon | gnome sweet gnome| gnome reserve Devon | gnome world Devon

A quiz to fill out on the wildflower walk

Visiting The Gnome Reserve Devon

The Gnome Reserve Devon is located in West Putford, near Bradworthy (a few miles from Closely) and near the border with Cornwall. It is open 7 days a week from March through October. Check out the Gnome Reserve Devon for costs and times.

Dogs are allowed in the reserve on leads. The narrow paths could be difficult with wheelchairs but fine with baby buggies.

We stayed at the Saunton Sands Hotel, a great family-friendly four-star hotel, approximately 45 minutes away by car from the gnome reserve.

What do you think?  Would you or your family enjoy a visit to the world’s first Gnome Reserve? 

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave