The best hotels in North Devon

Wilder and less hampered than the rest of Devon, the north of the county has a reassuringly old-fashioned, low-tech feel. Prices are generally cheaper than the more upmarket resorts of South Devon, so it’s a great option 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 a few notable options that offer both, included in the selection below.

There’s a wonderful variety of options available, including peaceful country houses set in landscaped gardens, Victorian seaside hotels packed with facilities, homely thatched inns, sophisticated adults-only country houses and fishing lodges. We’ve covered all the major North Devon destinations, including Woolacombe, Clovelly and Exmoor National Park, plus a few more remote locations that offer peace and solitude, even in the height of summer. Here are the best hotels in North Devon.

How we judge

Each hotel in this curated list has been visited by one of our expert reviewers, who are usually hosted for free. They stay at least one night, test at least one meal, and try out other experiences the hotel has to offer.

The best hotels in North Devon at a glance

Big views and big beds make this one of Devon’s most romantic bed and breakfasts. Set on a lush wooded hillside overlooking the Exmoor coastal towns of Lynmouth and Lynton, the six-bedroom house is a great base for outdoor enthusiasts. 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 Jacobean bed. Each is dressed with sumptuous silk throws, soft linen and feather-filled cushions, and is positioned to make the most of the views. A strict ‘no children’ policy means peace and quiet is guaranteed.

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One of the best places to stay in North Devon, Northcote Manor is a quintessentially British countryside escape, peacefully set among 50 acres of manicured lawns and natural woodland overlooking the River Taw. Comfortable rooms complement the manor’s surroundings, with the Kings Nympton Room boasting a four-poster bed. Other rooms have their own special features, such as the Dragonfly Suite with its own terrace. Staff are attentive and knowledgeable, not least in the award-winning restaurant, renowned for its inventive Devonshire cuisine. Make time for the inviting swimming pool and spa during your stay.

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The Red Lion is a homely inn on the harbourside 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 any of the eleven elegantly furnished bedrooms. The view from Room 5 through dual aspect windows is one of the best in the UK: on one side the ever-changing sea; on the other, the pretty harbour of Clovelly and the majestic North Devon coastline stretching out in the distance. Food is served in the restaurant or in a cosy pub setting, with much of the seafood coming straight from the harbour’s fishing boats.

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The hotel is situated on the edge of the seaside town of Woolacombe, a five-minute walk from the beautiful Woolacombe Beach, a three-mile stretch of sand backed by dunes. Purpose-built as a hotel in the mid-Victorian period, Woolacombe Bay Hotel is a sprawling, gabled building with attractive period features including an Edwardian lift, still in use. Facilities include a large outdoor lido, a smaller indoor pool, a boutique gym, fitness classes, a thirty-seat cinema, tennis courts, a championship snooker table and a truly magnificent spa.

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This is a rare breed of hotel that manages to be both family-friendly and romantic, with an indoor and outdoor pool, a huge lawn and sun terrace, meaning there’s plenty of room for everyone. What’s more, the beachfront location, overlooking the North Devon coastline 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, sandy cove that’s great for bodyboarding and rock pooling, but rarely gets busy, even in the height of summer.

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Budding anglers flock to this comfortable country house hotel in Lifton to benefit from the expert guidance of instructors from one of the UK’s longest-established fishing schools, or simply settle in to enjoy the hotel’s 20 miles of private fishing rights on the Tamar, as well as six of its tributaries. Best of all, the food, courtesy of head chef Steven Pidgeon, is the real deal: the finest local produce prepared with care and flair, including Cornish scallops and wild black bream, Devon beef tournedos and local cheeses.

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This 14th-century thatched inn is in one of Devon’s most picturesque locations, overlooking Lynmouth Harbour and dramatic views of Lynmouth Bay and Exmoor National Park. Inside, it’s delightfully ramshackle and rambling, with a bar with open fire, Exmoor cask ales, award-winning food and friendly locals. The 14 rooms, along rambling corridors and up narrow, creaking staircases, are individually decorated in a tasteful, traditional style. The restaurant serves traditional pub favourites, using locally sourced produce such as Lynmouth Bay lobster landed at the door, Exmoor venison and Porlock Bay oysters.

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Surrounded by lush, manicured gardens and carefully trimmed lawns, The Old Rectory stands in stark contrast to the wild and rugged surroundings of Exmoor National Park. Among the best boutique hotels in North Devon, there are plenty of nooks and crannies where you can put your feet up and read your favourite book. The best seat in the house, however, is the Orangery, a large conservatory with big, plush sofas, glossy magazines and views over the gardens. The 11 rooms are decorated in a range of styles, from classic French country house – Toiles De Jouy wallpaper in pastel blue and pink – to more contemporary.

Contributions by Anna Turns

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