A tiny village in the north of England has been crowned Britain’s best coastal destination in a new Which? survey, with some of the nation’s most famous resorts languishing at the bottom of the ranking.
Thousands of holidaymakers rated 100 seaside destinations, from their most recent visits, in a range of categories – quality of the beach, seafront, food, accommodation, scenery, attractions, peace and quiet, and value for money.
Bamburgh in Northumberland, which has just 400 residents, triumphed over better-known and pricier destinations, earning a full five stars for scenery, peace and quiet and value for money. Its ‘wild unspoilt beach’ also got top marks, helping it land an overall customer score of 89 per cent.
The coast with the most: Bamburgh in Northumberland has been crowned Britain’s best coastal destination in a new Which? survey. It scored top marks for its scenery and beach. It also got five out of five for value for money and ‘peace and quiet’
Narrowly missing out on the top spot is Portmeirion. It got an 88 per cent customer rating, with its seafront, hotels and attractions bagging five stars
St Mawes (83 per cent) pipped supposedly swankier rivals, including St Ives and Padstow, to be named king of the Cornish coast. It got five out of five for its seafront, scenery and peaceful atmosphere
Languishing at the bottom of the table is Bognor Regis in West Sussex (pictured) and Clacton-on-Sea in Essex. Both got a 47 per cent score. Some survey participants said Bognor Regis was ‘tacky’, while others were more positive, praising the seafront promenade as ‘quintessentially English’
Clacton-on-Sea in Essex only got a 47 per cent customer score, sending it to the bottom of the pile. Despite regeneration in the area and attractions including a pier, annual air show and award-winning seafront gardens, Clacton received some particularly critical reviews
A table showing the top seaside destinations. Bamburgh in Northumberland is the victor. St Mawes in Cornwall, Dartmouth in Devon and North Berwick in East Lothian are tied in third place. St Andrews in Fife and Beer in Devon come joint fourth, while Aldeburgh in Suffolk, the nearby town of Southwold and Tenby in Pembrokeshire are tied in fifth
Narrowly missing out on the top spot is Portmeirion (an 88 per cent customer score).
Enviably positioned on the fringes of Snowdonia and boasting Italian Riviera-inspired architecture made famous by the 1960s TV series The Prisoner, it gets five stars for scenery, attractions and accommodation.
In fact, Wales has four entries in the top 20 of the Which? survey.
Tenby (81 per cent), Llandudno (78 per cent) and St Davids (78 per cent) also get five stars for scenery and rate highly when it comes to being good value for money.
Which? said that price ‘proved to be an important factor’ for the 3,000 or so holidaymakers who took part in its survey.
The highly-rated Welsh resorts have hotels costing an average of less than £100 a night – giving them a clear edge for those seeking a bargain staycation.
This table shows the bottom 11 ranking seaside destinations in the Which? survey. Both Minehead in Somerset and Bridlington in Yorkshire scored 56 per cent. Western-Super-Mare in Somerset was given the same percentage score as Great Yarmouth in Norfolk – 53 per cent. Clacton-on-Sea and Bognor Regis in Sussex are joint bottom with 47 per cent
Dartmouth in Devon is tied at third in the survey, with an 83 per cent score. It gets top marks for its seafront and scenery
A view of the seafront at North Berwick in East Lothian, which got four out of five stars. The town is tied at third place
Those travelling to Scotland this summer might want to put St Andrews on their must-see list, as it scored an impressive 82 per cent, with survey participants giving its hotels and scenery a thumbs up
There were three seaside resorts tied for third place in total, with Beer in Devon (pictured) joining St Andrews and North Berwick in East Lothian in this position. Survey participants gave it full marks for ‘peace and quiet’
The Which? survey looked at 100 destinations and ranked them in eight categories, from beach to value for money. This map shows the top and bottom 10 seaside spots
Moving down the map, St Mawes (83 per cent) pips supposedly swankier rivals, including St Ives and Padstow, to be named king of the Cornish coast, with a bargain average room rate of £105.
The fishing village, which is home to ‘good seafood and restaurants’, also lands four stars for the quality of food on offer.
Picturesque Salcombe (75 per cent), in South Devon, has the most expensive hotels, with rooms averaging £210.
This did not deter those surveyed, as its famous sandy beaches bagged a full five stars, as did the beachfront and scenery.
But the same outlay on a hotel would get you a three-night stay in highly-rated Tynemouth (75 per cent), on the northeast coast, where hotels average £64 a night.
Those travelling to Scotland this summer might like to note that North Berwick (83 per cent) and St Andrews (82 per cent) both feature in the top 10 places of the Which? survey.
Aldeburgh in Suffolk ranks fifth along with the nearby town of Southwold and Tenby in Pembrokeshire. It got top marks for its accommodation and peaceful surroundings
While both are at the pricier end of the scale when it comes to hotels, self-catering was suggested as a more affordable option by some of those surveyed.
Languishing at the bottom of the table are Bognor Regis in West Sussex and Clacton-on-Sea in Essex – both only earn a 47 per cent customer score.
Despite regeneration in the area and attractions including a pier, annual air show and award-winning seafront gardens, Clacton received some particularly critical reviews.
And at £116 for an average hotel room, it was also rated as poor value for money with one star out of five.
Although Bognor Regis was once lauded for being the sunniest spot in Britain (the Met Office calculated in 2011 that West Sussex gets 1,902 hours of sunshine every year) and has been named as the Sussex Riviera, the town only got a 47 per cent rating with one-star ratings for its beach, seafront, attractions, scenery, value for money and peace and quiet.
While some said the town, which had an average hotel room price of £96, was ‘tacky’, others were more positive, praising the seafront promenade as ‘quintessentially English’.
Londoners looking for a hotel getaway should head to Rye (77 per cent), Lymington (75 per cent) or Whitstable (75 per cent).
A view of the Great Yarmouth quay as night falls. The seaside town got four out of five stars for its accommodation offering but only got one out of five for its scenery, peace and quiet and value for money
A view along the beach towards the port and market town of Fleetwood in Lancashire. It only bagged one star for its beach and seafront but got four for its serene atmosphere
Holidaymakers enjoy the golden sands and seafront at Skegness in Lincolnshire. The survey found hotels here average £65 a night but those polled didn’t think the town offered good value for money – it only scored one star in this category
All three destinations scored highly for accommodation despite being among the more expensive destinations for a night’s stay.
Those looking for a cost-effective option should head to Deal (73 per cent) – no pun intended.
This Kentish town, which is less than an hour and a half from London St Pancras, nets a full five stars for value for money with an average room rate of £67.
Commenting on the survey results, Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: ‘These ratings won’t make happy reading for some of those destinations many of us remember from childhood breaks of times gone by, which may have failed to keep pace with trendier destinations or those offering a better overall experience for our hard-earned cash.
‘But whether you fancy blowing out the cobwebs in Bamburgh, pottering around in Portmeirion or taking your bucket and spade to St Mawes, it’s clear that the Great British seaside has something for everyone.’
Commenting on Clacton’s ranking, Alex Porter, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism at Tendring District Council (TDC) said the survey was disappointing as Clacton had so much to offer.
‘There are so many great things about Clacton I cannot list them all,’ Cllr Porter said.
‘Whether it’s the Clacton Airshow or other events, our award-winning sandy beaches, great weather or attractions such as the Pier and Pavilion, there are numerous reasons to visit.
‘It would be interesting to know how many people actually had their say on Clacton. An average price of £116 may be right for a top hotel during the Airshow – but doesn’t apply to a budget room in October half-term, when Clacton still has plenty to offer.
‘TDC works closely with partners to make Clacton the best it can be. It is not perfect, there is still plenty to be done, but we are working together on lots of things – such as our recent bid to the Better High Streets Fund – to keep improving Clacton.
‘If you’ve not been to Clacton recently – why not come and judge it for yourself?’
Billy Ball, Managing Director of Clacton Pier, said that Clacton attracts millions of people every year – and they can’t all be wrong.
‘It is about horses for courses and providing for an ever-expanding variety of visitor tastes and choices,’ he added.
‘England is fantastic at offering an amazing range of places to visit. Clacton has its loyal followers who come back year after year.’
The survey took place in February 2019 with almost 3,000 Which? members providing feedback on their visits to British seaside towns in the past year.
In total, 6,286 experiences were recorded.
Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset is home to one of the UK’s shortest seaside piers. The town only got one star for its attractions and seafront