There are plenty of reasons why Devon is special but having two major cities is one of them. In mid Devon there is Exeter and in the south is Plymouth, otherwise known as Britain’s Ocean City.
Plymouth is one of the most dynamic and fascinating places to visit in the county, it has a wonderfully rich maritime heritage and is the launch site of the Mayflower, which took some of Europe’s earliest settlers to America. To this day, it continues to be a nautical hub and is the place to be for anyone who loves boats, ships and sailing, head to Plymouth Hoe for some of the best views of the ships setting sail. Other top places to visit include the famous Seaton’s Tower and Sutton Harbour, the Barbican and Royal William Yard.
If you’re interested in soaking up the culture and finding out more about this incredible city, read on for our suggestions of places to stay, where to eat and things to do when in the area.
When it comes to places to stay, you’re really spoiled for choice. You can find everything from inner city hotels to guest houses offering budget stays and impressive country manors just outside the city.
Image: New Continental Hotel
If you want to be in the centre of the action, check out the New Continental Hotel. Located in the very heart of Plymouth, the hotel is surrounded by iconic architecture and local landmarks, so you’re never too far from live music, shopping opportunities and the host of attractions that the city has to offer. Whatever your taste and budget, you’ll find a room that suits you and with their guest parking and leisure complex, complete with sauna, steam room, indoor pool and air conditioned gym – a stay here is a real experience.
If luxury is what you’re after, then a stay at Boringdon Hall is a must. Set right on the edge of Dartmoor and with easy access to the city centre, this is a 5* manor house hotel with imposing stone towers, secret archways and lavish four poster suites. It is a remarkable feat of Elizabethan architecture, with fantastic views of the moor, the Gaia Spa offering luxury facilities and a sophisticated 3 AA Rosette restaurant, Boringdon Hall Hotel is a truly special place to stay.
Hotels aren’t for everyone, sometimes you just want to go at your own pace and have your own space. There are loads of options for apartments, lodges and cottages both in the heart of the city and in the suburbs. Strathmore House Apartments combine the refinement of a luxury hotel with the addition of privacy, comfort and space. Here you can relax and enjoy these apartments which are just a short stroll from the waterfront and ideally located to the shopping districts and cultural hubs. All the apartments on offer are complete, so you get bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and bathrooms all to yourself – so whether you’re travelling as a family and need the space for the kids or a group and want to be nearby while having your own room, these are ideal. Not only that, but the apartments are situated on the Hoe, giving you a view to rival that of luxury hotels.
Image: Strathmore House Apartments.
If you like the idea of a beautiful view and the convenience of being in the heart of the action, but also want to be able to escape the city for quieter evenings , take a look at Bovisand Lodge Holiday Park where you can really have the best of both worlds. The park is just seven miles from the city centre and yet is surrounded by countryside, has incredible views of Plymouth’s Breakwater and is right on the beach. Guests are welcome to use the park’s many facilities including a heated indoor swimming pool and sauna and the children’s play areas, plus there are friendly goats and chickens on site to keep you amused!
Similarly, there are cabins and lodges available at Churchwood Valley on Wembury Bay, just outside the city. This is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to get away from it all but have plenty to see and do right on the doorstep. Being located in the heart of the countryside, this is a peaceful and tranquil option with breathtaking scenery and plenty of wildlife. You don’t even need to take the car out with you, there are direct buses from Wembury village into Plymouth in just half an hour.
Now you’ve got more of an idea of where to stay when in Plymouth, you might be looking for things to do. Being a city you are never short of amusements. There are live music events, theatre performances, festivals and other events taking place all year long, a huge shopping district, museums and much more. One of the biggest events of the year is the National Fireworks Championships which take place every August and bring people from all over the country.
For those of you not travelling with children, make some time to visit Plymouth Gin, the oldest working distillery in England. They have been making Plymouth Gin according to the original recipe since 1793, so there is no place better to find out more about how the history of gin and how to distil your favourite botanicals. The building itself dates back to the 1400s and it is thought that the crew who set sail on the Mayflower spent their last night there before heading out. There are three different types of tour available where you can even make your own personal gin to take home with you.
Not only that, but there is also the Distillery, one of the city’s top restaurants offering a unique range of food and drink experiences all under one roof.
Whether you’re visiting as a family or not, the National Marine Aquarium is a wonderful day out, being a conservation charity, it is the perfect place for finding out more about our oceans and the life that can be found there. It is the largest aquarium in the UK and features displays from all over the world. Once you’ve found out all there is to know about the water, find out more about the city itself by visiting the Box.
The Box is Plymouth’s newest museum, gallery and archive. Opening at the end of 2020, the Box is the place to go if you want to know more about the Mayflower, which launched 401 years ago. There are nine permanent galleries showcasing local art, natural history, human history and archive collections. Even better, general admission is free!
Image: The Box
Have we inspired you to book a trip to Britain’s Ocean City? Make sure to tag us in your photos, you can find us at @visitdevon on Instagram.