The Chalet Saunton

nr Braunton, Devon, United Kingdom Book from Book from £350 per night

7 luxuriously minimalist self-catering apartments (each sleeps 2-6) overlooking the stunning, surf-lined beach of Saunton Sands
In a county of cosy B&Bs and cream teas, these luxuriously minimalist self-catering apartments are a brand new and boldly ambitious departure. Designed and built by owner Tim Fleming - a visionary London-based developer who grew up on this very plot of land - they are the epitome of a sleek, less-is-more aesthetic. What you get more of is top-spec appliances (including underfloor heating and temperature-controlled wine fridges), super-comfy beds, soul-cleansing marbled bathrooms, a smattering of impeccably chosen artworks and, above all, space. Each measures 1400 sq ft - more than most holiday cottages - with 2-3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an open-plan living area that you could hold a ballroom dance in. What you get less of is clutter - no shelves of dog-eared paperbacks or dated DVDs (but there's Sonos and Netflix-connected TVs), and definitely not a doily in sight.

Perched in prime position above one of Devon's (and England's) most awe-inspiring beaches - 3 miles of sand backed by endless dunes and Unesco-listed burrows - you'll also get more of (but never enough of) mesmeric sea views. Waters morph from silver to sunset gold, pinprick surfers play on Atlantic rollers, artful clouds scud by. It may not be the Maldives, but for painterly beauty inside and out, this spot can compete with anywhere in the world.

Highs

  • Every apartment has a wraparound sea-facing balcony or terrace and huge picture windows to pull in the panorama
  • Furnishings and fittings could not be higher spec: think Brume chandeliers, limited edition prints (we loved Tim Hall's Sky I), top-notch kitchens, Le Corbusier sofas in the penthouse
  • Pocket-sprung mattresses and down duvets are blissful, and the soundproofing bombproof: we slept like babies
  • It's just 5 mins' walk down a sandy path to the beach
  • With boogie boards to borrow, brilliant surf lessons, golf a short walk away, horse-riding at nearby Croyde, and lung-clearing coastal hikes all around, you won't get bored

Lows

  • As you will have gathered, this is not a place for those who like stacks of homely bric-a-brac
  • Be aware the set-up is self-catering: apart from a thorough meet-and-greet, you may not see any staff during your stay
  • If you want to dine out in reasonable style, you'll have to drive to Braunton (5 mins) or further
  • This level of quality and space does not come cheap

Best time to go

The apartments are open year-round and, with such indulgent living spaces and underfloor heating (plus woodburner in the Penthouse), you needn't worry about the weather. We visited in February and were captivated by the ever-changing winter skies and slanting sunbeams.

Summer is, of course, high season: roads can get crowded, as can the beach (but there's always plenty of space at the further reaches). Fixed year-round pricing makes it, effectively, better value in summer.

Our top tips

There are no set changeover days - another breakthrough for Devon - so arrive and leave whenever you want (so long as you fulfil the 2-3 night minimum).

We loved ground-floor (and pet-friendly) Apartment 1 for its direct garden access and southwesterly aspect; while Tim's favourite is second-floor Apartment 5, for its more elevated sea views and natural pebbly palette.

Try and catch the magical moment when encroaching evening tides cover the beach in a reflective film of water, creating an infinitely Instagrammable mirror sunset.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Apartments
  • 7 apartments for 2-6
  • Self-catering (shops 4km)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room: Apt 1

Rooms

Each of the 6 apartments has an identical - and very generous - footprint, with 3 bedrooms (2 doubles, 1 twin), 2 bathrooms (1 large shared bathroom and 1 smaller ensuite), and a vast, open-plan living-dining space. Expect clean white or muted Farrow & Ball hues (carefully chosen to complement the Traffic Grey exterior), beautiful blond floorboards, a smattering of art on the walls (perhaps a David Hockney or Slim Aarons), and the essential (but very best) furniture. In the sitting area is a large L-shaped sofa plus a couple of playful beanbags; in the bedrooms a super-comfy kingsize bed with eye-catching Mr Resistor cage lamps to read by. The master bedroom also gets a free-standing tub for lazy post-surfing soaks, and both doubles catch good chunks of sea view through tall double windows. The rear-facing twin is a bit smaller and darker, but perfectly cosy for kids.

At the top, a single, stunning Penthouse covers the whole floor, with oodles of space (and one bedroom less): a stupendous honeymoon hideaway. The master suite has a shiny nickel bathtub and Balinese four-poster, while the glass-roofed living area comes with wood-burning stove, Le Corbusier sofas and Bang+Olufsen sound system (vinyls included). Full-height sliding windows give access to a secluded terrace, the perfect spot for a sundowner.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob or stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Tumble dryer
  • TV
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

The sleek white kitchens are a joy to use, with the full range of implements (chef's knife set, graters, corkscrews), of gadgets (including the obligatory Nespresso machine) and of appliances (electric ceramic hob, full-height fridge-freezer etc). There's even a wine cooler to store celebratory champagne at the ready. A kitchen island keeps it sociable, and a dishwasher helps clean up afterwards. Or you can book a chef to come and do the hard work - ask Tim for his recommendations, when booking.

For shopping, head to Braunton (6 mins' drive): besides two good-sized supermarkets, the Fine Foods Deli stocks superb cheeses, pastries, charcuterie, wines and cakes, some of which may appear in your welcome hamper.

It also has a couple of cafés and restaurants - Le Bistro du Coin gets good reviews - and several pubs; though Croyde and Georgeham's pubs have more atmosphere. If it's a special occasion, sample some of Devon's finest cuisine at Kentisbury Grange (35 mins), courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines.

Features include:

  • Chef on request
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Toaster
  • Welcome hamper
Eating: Apt 1
Activity:

Activities

  • The stunning beach of Saunton Sands is at your feet: 3 miles of golden sands, backed by endless dunes and Unesco-biosphere burrows (grassy hillocks brimming with wildflowers and songbirds)
  • There's world-class surfing too: book a lesson with British champion Sarah Whiteley and her superb team at Walking on the Waves (in summer, they'll even Land Rover you down to the far end to escape the crowds). Or just borrow a boogie board from The Chalet
  • Gallop across Croyde beach with horses from Royston Stables, or book a gentler pony trek for the little ones
  • Hike the Southwest Coastal Path: we love the 2.5-hour loop from Mortehoe (pub) down the jagged rocky spine to Morte Point and along the wave-pounded coast to Bull Point lighthouse
  • Take a boat or helicopter trip to tiny Lundy Island to see seals, ponies, prison caves, sea cliffs and (from March to August) puffins
  • Book a round of golf at Saunton - one of the best 36-hole links complexes in the country, and a "proper test of your golfing ability" (Golf Monthly)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Sailing
  • Surfing
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing

Kids

All apartments are a perfect size for a family of 4-6, with 3 bedrooms (2 doubles and 1 twin) and 2 bathrooms. You'll find a small selection of beach toys and indoor games, but no baby equipment besides a cot and high chair on request.

The beach is a godsend: toddlers will love building sandcastles and splashing in the shallows, while older kids can try boogie-boarding or surfing (the lessons are very child-friendly).

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The rear-facing twin, though a bit smaller and darker than the doubles, is perfectly cosy for children: ours slept until 10am (a combination of beach exhaustion and near total silence)

Baby equipment:

    High chair & baby cot (on request)

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Surf lessons (Saunton Sands)
  • Pony trekking (Croyde)
  • Tarka Cycle Trail (Braunton - Meeth)
  • Boat trips (Ilfracombe, Bideford)

Families Should Know:

The apartments and gardens are not designed with babies or toddlers in mind: check for sharp edges and unprotected drops

Distances:

  • Shops: 6-8 mins' drive (Braunton)
  • Hospital: 20 mins' drive (Barnstaple)
Kid Friendly: Learning to surf with <i>Walking on the Waves</i>

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
8/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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