In 2013, the number of English beaches awarded Blue Flag status dropped from 79 to 55. But fear not beachgoers of Britain; that doesn’t mean our coastline is now a flotsam-strewn length of biohazardous wasteland populated by oil-covered birds and dead fish. It turns out that this year saw the implementation of the strictest ever EU standards for cleanliness, so a slight fall was much to be expected.
Either way, there are still more than 50 beaches scattered along England’s coast -- from Cornwall in the southwest all the way round to Yorkshire in the northeast -- deemed worthy of the coveted award. That should be plenty.
Even better: we’ve put together a list of our favourite hotel deals near Blue Flag locations. And here it is…
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight gets more sunshine hours than almost any other UK resort. Where better to soak it up than on one of the island’s four Blue Flag beaches. This deal from Melville Hall Hotel & Utopia Spa in Sandown takes you there for two nights for £125; that price includes wine on arrival, dinner and breakfast on both days, a spa discount and car ferry travel. As well as a Blue Flag beach in Sandown itself, there are three more -- in Ventnor and Yaverland (both of which are near Melville Hall) and Colwell on the east of island.
Cornwall has no fewer than six Blue Flag beaches all to itself: Porthmeor, Porthminster, Gyllyngvase, Porthtowan, Polzeath and Carbis Bay. Just in case you needed another option, this Cornish deal puts you in a hotel overlooking surfing mecca, Fistral Beach. For £139 per person, you get three nights’ accommodation (based on two sharing), with breakfast and a 3-course dinner thrown in.
Reasons to visit Whitby: firstly, it’s Captain James Cook’s home town, and there’s a museum dedicated to him in the harbour, housed within the very building in which he lived while serving his apprenticeship as a sailor. Secondly, this is where Bram Stoker wrote his masterpiece, Dracula, and you can find out all about it at the town’s Dracula Experience. Reason number three: it’s home to one of Yorkshire’s two Blue Flag beaches (the other being Scarborough North Bay) and is one of England’s oldest seaside resorts. This deal for a stay at Burythorpe House in Malton, Yorkshire, puts you a few miles inland and gives you a chance to experience both the fine countryside of the area and its superb coastline. For £109, you get an overnight stay, a room upgrade, dinner and breakfast.
With four Blue Flags in both Poole and Bournemouth, the folks of Dorset are spoiled when it comes to top-notch beaches. Put yourself within striking distance of them all with this deal from The Chine Hotel in Bournemouth. For £99, it includes accommodation for two, breakfast and dinner in a sea-view restaurant to get you in the mood.
Heading for a hotel near Colchester on the Suffolk/Essex border might not seem the obvious route to beach-based nirvana, but don’t be deceived. With Blue Flag beaches in Lowestoft (Suffolk), Clacton-on-Sea and Dovercourt Bay (both Essex), plus four more just up the coast in Norfolk, this is a great place to base yourself if you’re of the beachcombing persuasion. Check into the Stoke by Nayland hotel (roughly 20 miles from Clacton) for a night and you’ll pay £119 per room for accommodation in a Superior Double or Twin room, full English breakfast, 3-course dinner and a complimentary bottle of wine on arrival. Come to think of it, getting through that little lot might not leave you much time to sample the local beach life, but you owe it yourself to try.
Click here to see a full list of our coastal hotel deals.