The best places to stay on the South Coast

Coastal, Destinations

Posted by Kate Atkin on 21st March 2024

A street scene in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight

The South Coast of England is defined by its beautiful mix of sandy shores backed by chalky cliffs, historic villages exuding timeless charm, and some of the most scenic countryside views in the UK.

Our guide to the best places to stay on the South Coast encompasses the five regions of Hampshire, the New Forest, Kent, Sussex, and the Isle of Wight. Whether you're looking for a nostalgic seaside holiday filled with ice cream, sandcastles and water sports, or a peaceful break in the rolling countryside, read on to find the perfect setting for your next getaway.

Or if you’d like to jump straight into our collection of holiday cottages on the South Coast, then click the button below.

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A montage of HMS Victory in Portsmouth, the Hampshire coast, and a couple cycling through the South Downs

Hampshire: best place for family-friendly holidays

A perfect blend of city, coast and country, Hampshire is one of the best places to stay on the South Coast of England. Its eclectic mix of landscapes includes two national parks: the New Forest National Park with its ancient woodlands, tranquil rivers, and free-roaming ponies, and the South Downs National Park, home to breathtaking vistas and countless hiking trails. If you’re looking for golden, sandy beaches, then Hampshire has those too – many flaunting far-reaching views across the Solent.

From our holiday cottages in Hampshire, you can delve into the county’s rich heritage by hopping aboard a harbour cruise around Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard and see Nelson’s iconic HMS Victory, or visit the captivating city of Winchester and admire one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe. And if you’ve got the kids in tow, include a trip to Paultons Park – the home of Peppa Pig World.

Highlights:

The best places to stay in Hampshire


A montage of Bucklers Hard, a New Forest pony in the heath, and a man walking his dog in the New Forest National Park

New Forest: best place for enjoying the great outdoors

The New Forest lies within the county of Hampshire and boasts one of the UK’s largest and most unspoilt areas of forest, pastureland, and heath – perfect for visitors who want to make the most of the great outdoors. The national park is criss-crossed with more than 140 miles of walking and cycling trails which wind their way through dappled woodland, past enchanting gardens, and alongside spectacular stately homes.

Once a royal hunting ground for William the Conqueror, this unique landscape has been shaped by the animals that still graze it today. It’s rare to travel more than a few miles without coming across one of the Forest’s famous free-roaming residents, including wild ponies, donkeys, cows, and pigs. And if that’s not enough of a reason to stay in one of our holiday cottages in the New Forest, there’s also a glorious coastline to discover and a wealth of cosy pubs for a post-adventure pint.

Highlights:

  • Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary – one of the best places to spot deer, with a purpose-built viewing platform
  • Bucklers Hard – a charming 18th-century shipbuilding village and museum
  • Exbury Gardens – 200 acres of woodland gardens world-famous for their rhododendrons and azaleas

The best places to stay in the New Forest


A montage of Hever Castle, Stone Bay in Broadstairs, and Aylesford village in Kent

Kent: best place for picture-postcard scenery

Affectionately known as ‘The Garden of England’, Kent is one of the most beautiful places on the South Coast. This verdant county is decorated with traditional oast houses, fruit-laden orchards, rolling vineyards, and an extensive coastline brimming with award-winning beaches and maritime heritage. Booking a holiday cottage in Kent will give you easy access to some of the county’s best attractions.

History buffs will appreciate day trips to Leeds Castle, Sissinghurst Castle, and Canterbury Cathedral, as well as some of Britain's finest National Trust properties and inspirational gardens. Or, if you enjoy a walking holiday, the famed White Cliffs of Dover, the Kent Downs National Landscape, and the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will give you plenty to explore.

Highlights:

The best places to stay in Kent


A montage of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, Battle Abbey, and Camber Sands

Sussex: best place for lovers of history

Choose one of our holiday cottages in Sussex if you’re looking for a staycation steeped in fascinating history. A visit to 1066 Country offers crumbling castles, historic stately homes, extraordinary gardens, and ancient battlegrounds such as Hastings, Battle, and Rye.

History isn't the only thing on offer here though. With an abundance of seaside towns and pockets of pristine coastline, the county is an excellent place for a holiday by the sea. And towards the mainland of Sussex, you can immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the lush woodland of the Sussex Weald.

Highlights:

  • Battle Abbey – explore the site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings
  • Camber Sands – one of the purest and longest dune systems on the South Coast
  • Ashdown Forest – a magical forest that was the inspiration for Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh

The best places to stay in Sussex


A montage of a couple admiring the view over Alum Bay, yachts sailing on the Solent, and The Needles

Isle of Wight: best place for being on the water

Nestled in the calm of the Solent between Southampton and Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight is England’s largest island. It’s in the perfect position for water-based activities and hosts the world’s most famous annual sailing regatta, Cowes Week. Reached via a short ferry ride, our holiday cottages on the Isle of Wight are a great choice for those who appreciate kayaking, paragliding, sailing, coasteering, and long, scenic coastal walks.

When you’re not making the most of the beaches on the Isle of Wight, there are plenty of attractions on the island to enjoy, too. Delve into royal history at one of the incredible National Trust and English Heritage sites, explore the art galleries, museums and shops in Victorian seaside towns such as Sandown and Ventnor, or treat yourself to some fresh-off-the-boat seafood in one of the island’s tempting eateries. And don't forget the many Isle of Wight festivals!

Highlights:

  • The Needles – a row of three enormous chalk stacks which rise from the swirling sea
  • Osborne House – the magnificent former royal residence of Queen Victoria
  • Blackgang Chine – the oldest amusement park in the UK filled with family fun

The best places to stay on the Isle of Wight


Discover your perfect holiday on the South Coast

With so many wonderful places to visit on the South Coast of England, now is the perfect time to book a relaxing getaway. From romantic cottages for couples to fun-filled houses for the whole family, our self-catering accommodation on the South Coast will create a wonderful setting for a memorable break.

Our South Coast cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.