I do love a colourful beach hut on the seafront, and I’ve always been jealous of anyone lucky enough to own one. But what’s even better than a beach hut? A beach hut you can actually stay the night in. Shaldon Beach Huts in Devon aren’t your glorified wooden seafront sheds either – this is beach hut luxury. You get a proper bed, bathroom and kitchen, all wrapped up in a tiny, cute, beachside package. Perfect for a weekend break in… erm February? I was super excited when I won a two-night break to Shaldon’s Beach Hut No 1 in a competition – the only catch was that I had to use it by the end of February. So we packed the thermals and the wine and headed off to Devon to see if beach hut life lived up to my expectations, even in winter.
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Shaldon is on the south coast of Devon, not far from Torquay and just across the bay from Teignmouth. It’s a pretty little English seaside village with a few shops, pubs and restaurants. In February the beach was deserted other for than a couple of dog-walkers, but on a sunny summer day it gets packed. A bizarre local tradition means that, from May to September, the village holds a ‘1785 Day’ every Wednesday, where people dress in period costumes and there’s a market, dancing and plays on the village green. Shaldon is on a tidal estuary so when the tide goes right out you can walk to the end of the beach and around the headland into the next bay, where there’s a tunnel that was once used by smugglers. You can also get the passenger ferry across to Teignmouth if you fancy a change of scene and a few more things to do.
The main entrance to the huts is from the street and there’s a designated parking space for each one right outside. When you get inside, downstairs there’s a galley kitchen with a shower room opposite. The shower room reminded me a bit of being on a boat, it’s teeny and you have to sit right back on the toilet to get out the way of the washbasin, but the shower was good! Then there’s an open-plan lounge area, with a skylight and big windows so it’s lovely and light. It all incorporates cool vintage details like the porthole mirrors and retro sign, along with a nautical colour scheme of red, white and blue. The bed is on a raised sleeping platform, up a flight of stairs above the kitchen. It’s all very cosy, though you have to remind yourself not to sit up too far if you wake up in the night or you might knock yourself out on the ceiling.
The hut’s galley kitchen is surprisingly well-equipped for its size, with a full-size oven and fridge as well as a hob with two rings. We cooked dinner in the hut one night and had no problem. There’s no space for a dishwasher but you’re supplied with dishwashing kit. You’re also given basics like tea and coffee and we were left a box of tasty Hope & Greenwood clotted cream fudge to get us in the seaside mood. If you’re self-catering, there’s a small Londis shop in Shaldon and Morrisons and Waitrose supermarkets in Teignmouth. Otherwise Shaldon’s got a good selection of places to eat. Next door to the huts is the Clipper Café where you can get a cooked breakfast or afternoon tea and cakes, and they also have an evening menu. Also recommended for a special meal was ODE dining, and there’s a couple of village pubs too.
The back wall of the hut is made up of three big glass doors, so in the summer you can fold them all right back and let the sea air in. There’s also a patio area out the front with a table and chairs where you can sit and watch the boats in the harbour. No 1 has the largest terrace of all the beach huts and also has a gate at the end which takes you straight onto the beach. It was so nice to be able walk right out onto the sand for a morning walk along the beach, and in summer I could see myself spending all my time outside. It was still a lovely place to be in winter though – the double glazing and underfloor heating made it really warm and cosy, and the big windows bring the sea views inside when it’s too cold to go out.
- Guests are… there’s just room for two (take someone you like as you’ll be in close contact!)
- Staff are… keys were left in a key box, so although we spoke to the owners we didn’t meet them.
- Don’t forget… shampoo and shower gel as you’re not supplied with toiletries other than hand wash.
- Useful to know… pack light, as although there’s a hanging area near the door there’s not a huge amount of storage space or any drawers to store your clothes in.
Beach Hut No 1 is available to rent through Cottages Southwest – prices start from £130 for a one-night stay or £120 per night for two or more. There are also winter and last-minute three-night special offers. Beach Hut No 2 and Beach Hut No 5 are also available to rent through Discovery Holiday Homes. No 2 is almost identical to no 1, but no 5 a bit cheaper with a ladder up to the sleeping area instead of stairs.