Why beach huts are a Staycation Gamechanger

For those of us without our own home swimming pool,surely the next best thing is a trip to the beach! How convenient then, would it be to have your very own indoor space whilst you’re there? Over 20,000 British beach hut owners have prioritised exactly that. A creation that mimics all the home comforts you could need, is literally a short walk across the sand. 

 

What is a Beach Hut?

 

Essentially a beach hut is a glorified shed that sits in a row with others permanently along the coast line. Beach huts can be used for all manner of things from storing wetsuits, to hosting a table and chairs to eat at, to shelter from the rain or for making a cuppa after your swim in the sea. 

 

Where Do Beach Huts Come From?

 

Despite most people thinking that beach huts were originally thought up in Victorian times, the concept of a portable ‘room’ or ‘bathing machine’ as they were known actually began in the 1700s. 

 

Prior to that the only folk who spent time at the seaside were generally fishermen, smugglers and pirates. 

Thanks to new medical advice that sea swimming was inherently good for you, people began visiting the beach and recognising how enjoyable it could be too.

 

The early bathing machines were essentially a horse drawn shed, deliberately portable so that bathers could travel from the top of the beach down into the sea and retaining their modesty whilst taking their naked dip.

 

Famously, King George III insisted that his own ‘medical bath’ would need not only the bathing machine but also a full quartet playing ‘God Save the King’ whilst doing so. 

 

By the time Queen Victoria was in power, visits to the beach and swimming in the sea in general was widely acceptable, but men and women would be kept separate. Queen Victoria had her very own beach hut built at Osbourne House in her beloved Isle of Wight in the 1840s.

 

By the 1900s, both sexes bathing together, along with wearing swimwear, had become the norm. That meant there was no longer a need for bathing machines to be moveable, and so the static beach huts we know and love today were born. 

 

Since then, demand has steadily risen for beach huts. No less so than during the pandemic, as Brits got accustomed to the potential loveliness and ease of a staycation. 

 

Quintessential Britishness

 

These picture-perfect mini houses by the sea are not just the ideal choice for a convenient, low maintenance staycation.

 

They’ve become a statement of personal expression too. 

 

The smartest pastel-hues to the vibrant paint-box beach huts are just the outsides.

Inside, they’re often fitted out to allow for all kinds of enjoyments, from comfortable beach sleep-overs tocharming summer evening dinner parties, with the sea air and sound of the tides setting the scene.

 

The Cost of a Beach Hut

 

These apparently unassuming huts are fast becoming one of the most desirable retro getaway opportunities.

 

So as you’d expect, the increased demand plus the modification of beach huts means a rise in prices too.  

 

Whilst back in 1980 you could buy your very ownbeach hut for just £100, in 2021 it’s feasible to pay awhopping £300,000 for a ‘high end’ luxury beach. 

 

Expensive Bournemouth, Brighton or Christchurch in the sunnier south or Wells-Next-The-Sea and Southwold on the spectacular east coast are some of the most desirable locations, which all ooze the unique andchilled, pure British ambience. 

 

Denisons, a specialist estate agents in the Christchurch area, confirm that prices have increased by 10% or so over the last year. 

 

In fact, of the 400 or so beach huts in Christchurch, Denisons tend to sell approximately five annually – sothe waiting lists can be long. 

 

Bearing in mind that the average UK property price is approximately £230,000, these prices are very steep, but beach hut converts wouldn’t change their lifestyle for a thing. 

 

In fact these low-maintenance little homes tend to remain in families for generations.

Unexpected Luxury

 

Traditional beach huts are usually made of timber, each with its own individual colour theme and modern or retro styling. 

 

The most beautiful can include sea-view decking, a barbeque or even a hot tub outside… but it’s on the inside that the 21st century has made the biggest impression. 

 

Some incorporate two, or even three-level living. Cosy mezzanine bedrooms, Wi-Fi, fully equipped solar-powered kitchen, hot water, toilet and maybe a cosy wood-burner and sofa, are all encased within classic whitewashed walls and wooden floorboards. 

Perhaps the ultimate luxury vision has been achieved by specialist architects Jak Studio. 

 

The Spy Glass beach hut at Eastbourne, combines nostalgia for this iconic symbol of Britishness, with a completely new physical form.  

 

Incredibly, the whole structure sits on a sleek timber turntable, allowing it to be rotated at will to track the movements of the sun. Owners can literally switch between the sand and the pier as their backdrop of choice!

 

Of course not all of our beach-life aspirations run so high. 

 

In many cases the beach hut contains little more than a set of deckchairs and the ubiquitous kettle and a game of boules. A simple yet charming way of bringing the whole family together at the beach, making the special memories that will last a lifetime.

 

The Beach Hut Checklist

 

Thinking about buying your own beach hut?

 

Be sure to check out all the facilities, such as car parking, bathroom availability, power sources (which may be solar or calor gas) and standpipes – remember there will be no mains water, and beach hut life is essentially camping with benefits!

 

It’s also wise to consider whether local facilities will be adequate when the sun does decide to disappear – cafes and restaurants, cinemas and play centres, zoos and castles are all worth investigating.

 

As they are outside, beach huts can of course be liable to erosion, flooding and even vandalism – so insurance is a must. A specialist company such as TL Risk Solutions, can provide comprehensive beach hut cover, with annual premiums from around £150 up to £400 or more.

 

Maintenance should be minimal, but it’s sensible to budget for a repaint every three or four years too.

 

Beach hut owners are effectively renting land from the local council, and this will incur an annual licensing charge that can reach £2,500 a year. 

 

Thoroughly investigate any additional local authority restrictions, for example around daytime-use only of beach huts, whether access to the beach itself is seasonal or year round, whether dogs are allowed, and whether the all-important barbecue will be permitted!

 

Remember that there may be options to rent out your beach hut at times when you just can’t get away. Rental is often by the day or week, and may be managed with a minimum of fuss by a local agent. Prices achieved will of course vary with location and facilities – from £1,375 a week for a three-bedroom, chalet-style beach hut in Tresco, Isles of Scilly, to £150 a week for a traditional wooden hut at Alum Chine, Bournemouth.

2021 may be the year of the staycation – but British beach huts have the style, situation and sheer ease of lifestyle which can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

Beach Baby – Fistral Beach

This beautiful beach is a surfers paradise and various sources will tell you it’s one of the best surfing destinations in the UK. We have visited Newquay twice in both September and May just outside of the peak summer season.

There are huge car parks at Fistral beach which have an all day fee and a well established shopping and restaurant complex on the beach front with toilet facilities, deck chair rental and an ice cream store as well as outlets for surf hire and lessons. When we visited there were also life guards on duty too.

This beach is a vast expanse between two headlands and we recognised the ominous silhouette of the Headland hotel on the horizon as the setting for the infamous movie “The Witches” based on the book by Roald Dahl so we made sure to visit for an afternoon tea whilst in the area for a treat.

The Headland hotel is an extremely luxurious setting and the service and food quality was five star, we ate our lunch overlooking Fistral beach from the Cliff Top Terrace watching a storm as it passed over and faded away so that we could get back to the beach for the afternoon.

Back to the beach itself – it’s a beautiful clean and sandy beach with plenty of opportunity for exploring as the water is captured in rock pools towards the North headland as the tide moves out, and it’s such a vast space that there’s opportunity to sunbathe all day long too.

Behind the beach obscured by sand dunes is a golf course and you can walk along the cliff path to take in the wonderful seaward views. The beach itself is easily accessible from Newquay town centre and has public transport links too.

We have also eaten at the Fistral Stable which is a pizza restaurant which overlooks the beach and has outdoor seating. We found this to be extremely family friendly with high chairs and colouring activities but relaxed enough to enjoy a quiet drink too. We also made sure to get chips from the infamous Rick Stein restaurant.

There is something for everyone at Fistral beach and this is a must visit place if you are in the area.

Beach Baby – Bournemouth

Bournemouth is probably one of the most cosmopolitan beach destinations in the UK. You can walk from a department store to the pier in twenty minutes through a beautiful park.

The central focus of the beach is the Pier – a fabulous structure with amusement arcades, a zip wire attraction a café and a fabulous cocktail bar overlooking it all. Bournemouth beach has always been busy when we have visited and this is no surprise as there’s something for everyone here.

The beach has life guard patrols and various deck chair hire stalls, along with sea front cafe’s and public toilet facilities which were extremely clean. The area surrounding the pier was a hub of activity with games and activities for all ages and every Friday night there are fireworks over the beach which can be viewed from this area.

Whilst driving along the South Coast we paused for an afternoon, parked in the local event centre and walked through the park towards the pier and then along the promenade with Arlo in his pushchair enjoying a light summer breeze and an ice cream. There’s something unique about Bournemouth which makes it seem warmer than anywhere else!

Beach Baby – Sandbanks

This beautiful beach in Dorset is just along from Bournemouth towards Poole and well worth the drive, just to view the real estate – never mind experiencing the beach which is on a small peninsula which crosses the mouth of Poole Harbour.

We visited one April Morning bright and early to make the most of the sun before it got too hot, paddling in the sea and letting Arlo enjoy the clean sandy beach before a lovely breakfast at the Sandbanks beach Café.

Sandbanks is an award winning beach year after year and it’s no wonder – the sea sparkles like no other place in the UK and the sand is beautiful. On a clear day you can see the Isle of Wight.

We noticed that the beach was starting to get very busy towards mid morning during the school holidays so no doubt that during high season that this place would be jam packed – something to be aware of if you aren’t a fan of the crowds.

Just like many seaside places, Sandbanks has a lovely miniature golf course and a fabulous kids play area with a lovely little sensory area for babies and climbing frames for the big kids too, with clean toilet facilities.

The only thing I will add is that parking fees apply everywhere here and it is one of the more expensive places to park – we paid £2 an hour just beside the café.

Beach Baby – Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door

I had to write about both of these places together because you can use one car park transaction to visit both equally stunning destinations. We visited in April and decided to head to the cove first of all.

Lulwoth cove is probably one of the busiest areas I have visited along any part of the UK coast line and it’s no wonder why. A short walk from the car park takes you along past some picturesque cottages before you happen upon the cove. It’s a white pebble beach cove with the most beautiful blue water imaginable.

We sat for quite some time here just soaking in the atmosphere and balancing pebbles together, this was after lunch and we noticed that the area seemed to calm down as people began to wander off to visit durdle door.

In terms of facilities, there is a visitor centre alongside the car park and there are some stores to buy the usual tourist essentials such as swimming trunks and flip flops as well as ice creams. We paused here for refreshments and to change from flip flops in to our walking shoes for the durdle door walk – which is no mean feat.

We jumped in the car to get to the closer car park rather than attempt the longer walk with Arlo and we left the push chair behind as we were advised that the terrain was fairly steep by the staff in the store.

Durdle Door: The walk to the cliff top was long and not easy going but well worth the effort for the view and the pictures. At the time we visited we were unable to descend to the beach due to safety however this is on our “to do” list for next time.

This walk isn’t a leisurely afternoon stroll and so if planning this with young children be sure to pack a rucksack with plenty of drinking water and supplies for the warm weather and take a sling for a baby – this is not suitable for anyone who doesn’t have a head for heights.

The route we walked was extremely busy but when you get to the top you get the best view of the iconic Durdle Door which is a natural limestone arch.

There was a small kiosk at the top of the cliff however this was closed at the time we visited so as I mentioned – do make sure you pack water and snacks – the walk took us a good hour and then we sat at the top of the cliff to watch as the sun started to fade.

Seaside town of Padstow

On our first full day in Cornwall we decided to visit Padstow, a lovely town on the North Coast of Cornwall, about ten miles drive from Newquay.

It’s a town renowned for it’s food and also for it’s fishing, and we were delighted to be there early enough to see tradesmen all delivering fresh food to the restaurants, and for bakeries and fish shops to be arranging their window displays.

We had a wander around the shops and it was wonderful to find such an eclectic mixture of stores, from some high end brands, to art studios and everything in-between, this is the place to buy gifts and keepsakes alike.

We paused on the harbour front to gawp at some wonderful cakes, before noticing a sign for sea safari trips which caught our eye, so of course we had to book a little excursion – click here to read more about our trip.

The harbour itself was pretty quiet when we left on our boat, but we arrived back to the hustle and bustle of a busy tourist destination, we ate fish and chips overlooking the boats in the harbour before heading further along the coastline to the beaches to make the most of the glorious sunshine.

If you’re in Cornwall and have the opportunity, it’s well worth a day trip to visit this lovely little town.