The weather is finally starting to get a tad warmer and we’re dreaming of ditching the hectic London life to catch some long-overdue sunshine. Sandy beaches, freshly caught fish and chips and
quaint seaside pubs
are enough to turn any city-dweller green with envy.
The Cornish coast is often top of mind when it comes to gorgeous UK seaside destinations but not all of us fancy the five-hour drive from London (nor the Kafkaesque train journey). So with the ocean beckoning, we’ve done some digging for
seaside Airbnbs only a two- to three-hour drive or train ride from the capital. From the Kent coast to Suffolk, they’re all doable for a Friday-night, post-work journey with a return on Sunday evening. You can be back at your desk on Monday morning, hair in salt curls and sand between your toes.
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Location: Broadstairs, Kent Rate: £172 per night Guests: 4
The idyllic beach towns along the Kent coast are just over an hour and a half away from London, making it a great choice for a short seaside getaway. Broadstairs is home to some of the best beaches in the county, with soft, fluffy sands and water warm enough to take a dip in (during the hotter months). This 18th-century cottage is a great base to explore them all, with Viking Beach a literal stone’s throw away. Just note that due to the historic structure of the building, the staircases connecting the four floors are quite steep.
Book Old Anchor Cottage
Location: Margate, Kent Rate: £100 per night Guests: 4
Margate has been dubbed ‘Shoreditch by the sea’ and for good reason. A mere one hour and 40 minutes from London by train and just over two hours by car, it’s packed with art, culture, music and great food. This Victorian seaside town — complete with a promenade, pier and vintage tea shops — has undergone some serious regeneration, making it the prime location for a last-minute coastal jaunt. The Little Beach Retreat may not have seafront views but I’ve chosen it for its space: the back garden is perfect for chilling out if you find the beach too crowded (or just fancy an afternoon nap).
Book Little Beach Retreat
Location: Aldeburgh, Suffolk Rate: £505 per night Guests: 7
Yes, a rate that starts at £505 per night is
a lot. Unfortunately, unless you’re booking months in advance and out of season, you’ll be hard-pressed to find somewhere in the heart of Aldeburgh with seaside views for cheaper. Divided by seven for a group trip, however, it comes to a much more reasonable £72 per night. When you’re there, Aldeburgh Fish & Chips is the best in town, to be washed down at one of the nearby quaint pubs; there’s also a handful of small shops to explore and Maggi Hambling’s iconic scallop shell sculpture to admire. For days out, there are walks to Snape Maltings, boating at Thorpeness, Benjamin Britten’s Red House and the ruins at Dunwich. Public transport in this part of the county is tricky but it’s just two hours and 45 minutes by car from London. Book Hanover House
Location: Whitstable, Kent Rate: £95 per night Guests: 2
It takes under two hours by car and under one hour 30 by train to reach Whitstable, another coastal favourite of Londoners. A walk away from the centre of town and the beach, this mini apartment is the perfect hideaway for a romantic retreat — with its own entrance, you can be sure you won’t be disturbed. When you’re not sunning yourself on the beach, there’s plenty to see and do in Whitstable. Shellfish lovers won’t want to miss
The Lobster Shack with its fresh rock oysters. Book Red Gables Cottage
Location: Saint Osyth, Essex Rate: £180 per night Guests: 6
Set in the tiny hamlet of Lee-Over-Sands on the Essex coast, right by the Colne Point Nature Reserve, The Beach House feels a world away from London. With big, open skies perfect for watching sunsets and the beach a short walk over wetlands, it’s a true slice of tranquillity; a paradise for nature lovers and birdwatchers. Better yet, it’s just over a two-hour drive from the capital. Important to note, though, that you really do need a car to get here and to explore the surrounding area.
Book The Beach House
Location: Rye Harbour, East Sussex Rate: £150 per night Guests: 4
This one’s a little further away from London — just under three hours by car — and it’s complicated to get to by train, but once you’re here you won’t regret it. On the Kent and Sussex border, Rye Harbour is home to a nature reserve and yachting centre and is a great base for exploring Camber Sands, Camber Castle and Dungeness Beach. We chose Grace Cottage for its garden and cosy vibe, perfect for families or a romantic getaway.
Book Grace Cottage
Location: Hove, East Sussex Rate: £94 per night Guests: 4
Set just along the coast from
Brighton’s bustling centre, Hove is a quieter and often cheaper base for city and beach exploring. There’s a reason why Brighton and Hove are London favourites: the train is a straightforward hourlong journey, while it takes a little over two hours by car. Perfect for a Friday-to-Sunday mini break. Book Hove Prom Apartment
Location: Shatterling, Kent Rate: £130 per night Guests: 2
Busy and bustling seaside towns are all good for a day trip but sometimes being a little bit set back from the coast offers a more relaxing stay — especially when trying to get away from the pace of city life. In the village of Shatterling, The Rabbit Hole is the best of both worlds: a base for exploring the Kentish countryside and just a 25-minute drive from Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs. You can’t get more non-London than a big, airy barn conversion, even if it’s only two hours and a 20-minutes drive away. Another rural spot, this isn’t the best for public transport.
Book The Rabbit Hole
Location: Lymington, The New Forest Rate: £235 per night Guests: 7
You can’t get closer to the sea than this, a 28ft yacht docked in Lymington marina which can sleep up to seven guests. This would make the most romantic (and unique!) weekend break for two — imagine having evening drinks while watching the sun go down over the sea. This one is also a lot easier to reach via train (about two hours), while the route via car is a little bit longer at two and a half hours.
Book Lymington Boat
Location: Brook, Kent Rate: £160 per night Guests: 4
You might not want to leave this beautiful 18th-century cottage in the heart of the Kent Downs – it’s been restored with all its original features (vaulted ceilings and wooden beams) and the master bedroom comes with a proper roll top bath. But with the Kent coast on your doorstep (Folkestone and Hythe are a 25-minute drive, Dungeness 35 minutes), you’re not lost for things to do. For those travelling via train, Ashford International Station is only a 15-minute taxi ride away.
Book 18th-Century Cottage
Location: Burley, New Forest Rate: £143 per night Guests: 2
Sure, Burley is a 30-minute drive from Bournemouth’s seven miles of beach but at the Studio in The Forest, you get a lot more for your money. It’s perched on the edge of the New Forest and so has acres of beautiful countryside to explore, it’s five minutes from the local pub and can easily be the base for days at the seaside. Plus, you’re away from the madness of Bournemouth on a sunny weekend, not to mention the town’s often steep prices. The village of Burley is just over two hours from London by car but public transport requires a few changes.
Book Studio in The Forest
Location: Gorleston-On-Sea, Norfolk Rate: £115 per night Guests: 5
At just over a three-hour drive from the capital, this is the furthest Airbnb on this list — but with these views, we had to include it. Inside it’s bright and airy, with large windows overlooking the Norfolk coast. Just to the south of Great Yarmouth, Gorleston is an old port town with stunning cliffs, an Edwardian theatre with seaside shows, traditional amusements, yachting ponds, golf greens and tennis courts. For those keen to make their trip longer, it’s also a great place to start exploring the Norfolk Broads.
Book Sea View Penthouse
Location: Mersea Island, Essex Rate: £87 per night Guests: 2
Set in the popular Anchorage area of Mersea Island, you have everything you could need on your doorstep: the beach and local pubs are a two-minute walk, the village five minutes and East Mersea only a five-minute drive. Even better, the island is only a two-hour drive from London (the train takes just a little longer). The Nook is a simple but comfortable stop for a beach weekend.
Book The Nook
Location: Hastings, East Sussex Rate: £120 per night Guests: 6
Just a three-minute walk away from St Leonards Beach and close to plenty of restaurants, pubs and shops, this Hastings cottage is a cosy retreat for a group holiday. A major bonus is how easy it is to get to Hastings, especially for those taking the train — there’s a direct line from London Bridge which takes less than two hours.
Book Seaside Cottage
Location: Capel-le-Ferne, Kent Rate: £153 per night Guests: 2
Now, just look at that view! Truthfully, you don’t need much more to sell this Airbnb, but we’ll try anyway. It’s a cosy and retro-style, silver Airstream trailer perched on a cliff overlooking the Channel; the perfect romantic hideaway for two people.
Book La Vue
Location: West Mersea, Essex Rate: £153 per night Guests: 2
Just a two-hour and 15-minute drive from London is Mersea Island — a tidal island and reputably the earliest inhabited island in the UK. Here, when you wake up, you’ll be greeted by the wilds of Essex’s creeks and marshes. Even better, if you don’t drive, the nearby town of Colchester (25 minutes away by car) is reachable from London via train (taking only 50 minutes on the fast track).
Book Cottage On The Beach
Location: Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset Rate: £148 per night Guests: 2
If you’re train-ing it then this Airbnb is perfect. Weston-super-Mare is only just over two hours from London by rail and at the other end you’ll be greeted by this beautiful, quaint stone cottage, draped with fairy lights and with its own hot tub.
Book Seaside Retreat
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