At this time of year, you might think everyone would be sunbathing in Tuscany or the south of France (or the “S. of F.” as Nicky Haslam once called it on a postcard he sent me. Dead chic.) But no, the toffs go on holiday to the UK too. Here are the places where you are most likely to see one …
It has been a North Cornish favorite of Sloane for nearly three decades. Home to The Mariners pub, where teenagers (myself included) would hang out in hopes of spotting Prince William or Harry, and maybe even make out one of them on the nearby dunes (sadly I’ve never kissed either of them).
It’s best to own or rent a large house there (perfectstays.com has a good selection) or on Daymer Lane in Trebetherick (where David Cameron’s gaff is located), but it’s also acceptable to stay in or near Polzeath. Take a ferry to Padstow one day for lunch at one of the four Rick Steins.
An idyllic fishing village on the south coast of Cornwall, opposite Falmouth (but don’t be put off). Ideally, own one of the large, pretty waterfront houses, but if you can’t stretch to that, stay at The Idle Rocks, an impeccably decorated hotel with sublime rooms and a restaurant that juts out over the water (double the £ 265 per night; idlerocks.com).
Bonus points if you also own a boat moored in the harbor, because you can go up the Fal (a river) for a decent view of the majestic Palladian-fronted Trelissick. Don’t miss out on lunch at The Hidden Hut near Portscatho (hiddenhut.co.uk). This is essentially a glitzy shepherd’s hut handing out delicious homemade sausage rolls, haddock soup, and ice cream every day at noon. Get there early to avoid the queue.
Please don’t accidentally buy a house in East Wittering, whatever you do. West Wittering, a mile from its eastern cousin, is where you want to be. It’s a West Sussex seaside town that’s very popular with posh families who send their boys to sailing school here during their summer holidays because knowing how to tie a knot on the cliff is just as important as being able to play tennis and ski. Some of the houses here return to the magnificent strip of sandy beach which is handy for walking the Labrador in the morning. Keep your eyes peeled for local resident Kate Winslet.
Burnham Overy Staithe
A decade ago, Burnham Market was considered the most elegant town in North Norfolk because it was not far from the home of Prince William and Kate in Anmer, and it boasted an old Ethonian fishmonger. But since then, it’s packed with boutiques and gets pretty busy, so those who know more come to the nearby village of Burnham Overy Staithe. It’s smaller, quieter, and right on the water, overlooking the marshes. Also there is an excellent pub called The Hero (theheroburnhamovery.co.uk).
Park nearby, stroll along the trail to see the dramatic dunes of Holkham Beach, then head back for a well-deserved lunch. At one end of the village, there’s a Grade II windmill that seats 19 if you fancy staying somewhere a little different (£ 790-1,420 per week; coolstays.com).
Sorry, of course, but it remains an immensely chi-chi area of Suffolk, nicknamed Poshwold by some pranksters, Kensington-on-Sea by others and Notting-Hill-On-Sea by others. So popular, in fact, that one of the beach huts on the seafront was whipped for £ 300,000 earlier this year. There are many bouji boutiques, bakeries and a much loved bookstore. Lady Amelia Windsor is a big fan of The Swan, a pub with a jazzy interior and Soho House-y, located just behind the beach (double from £ 220 per night; theswansouthwold.co.uk). Read the full review here.
Any island in the Hebrides
Scotland has been a trendy summer place for toffs ever since Queen Victoria and Albert popularized it. Head up there in August and you can barely move for the men named Rupert striding out in tweeds. The largest types of all have their own Hebridean island or, at the very least, a large estate on one of them. You probably won’t be lying on a sun bed and getting a tan while on vacation here.
Instead, you will most likely kill things, grouse, deer or fish. Get insect repellent to (try to) keep the midges away. Pack the black tie as some large families still expect guests to dress up every night for dinner. Maybe learn the steps for some Scottish reels as they are very passionate too.
The Flete estate
An absurdly beautiful 5,000-acre estate on the south coast of Devon (where scenes from International Velvet and Sense and Sensibility were filmed), loved by some members of the royal family. Rent one of the houses or cottages (flete.co.uk) but be aware that you may be put on a waiting list – some families have been returning here for years and reserve their place for the following summer as soon as they leave.
Head to Mothecombe Beach for a dip in the morning before it gets crowded, then head up the hill for a quick one and a Bang Bang shrimp platter at the Schoolhouse (schoolhouse-devon.com). Stop at The Surfing Cow on the way back for a cone (or tub) of homemade honeycomb ice cream (surfingcowicecream.co.uk). It is the ice cream shop with the best view in Great Britain. Be careful how you go if you drive a Range Rover, as the narrow streets are clogged with them.
Another coastal location in South Devon, but good luck if you’re thinking of driving before any bank holiday weekend, as over half of the properties are classified as second homes, meaning the roads from Fulham will absolutely be rammed. If you don’t own a second home here, you might want to stay at the Harbor Beach Club & Hotel (doubles from £ 184 per night; harbourhotels.co.uk), a relatively new luxury hotel with a private pool, although locals might to you because the construction of the hotel was controversial. Book a table at The Winking Prawn for a lobster lunch (winkingprawn.co.uk); blend wearing Boden.
One of the Isles of Scilly, technically owned by the Duchy of Cornwall (and therefore by Prince Charles), but has been leased to the Dorrien-Smith family for over a century. It’s tiny, only two and a half miles long, and there are no cars, so you have to cycle everywhere. Perfect, in other words, for a real old-fashioned holiday with a bucket and spade: think of the white sand, palm trees and seas of almost tropical colors.
You could be spying on Prince William and Kate, who brought their children here for multiple family vacations. To get there, you could take the ferry from Penzance, but the smart way is to take the helicopter, also from Penzance, and land in 15 minutes.
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