Hotels in Plymouth, United Kingdom
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Plymouth – The Sound of Hundreds of years of Maritime History
The destinies of Plymouth and British seafaring have been intertwined for centuries. An important port since medieval times, Plymouth is best known for the Pilgrim Fathers’ voyage to the New World on the Mayflower and Sir Francis Drake planning the defeat of the mighty Spanish Armada whilst playing bowls. Visit Plymouth nowadays and you can discover a city proud of its maritime heritage and its beautiful Devon coastline. You can also explore some of the UK’s finest beaches and craggy coves, once favourites for smugglers and pirates and today loved by families, hikers and water-sports enthusiasts.
High Plymouth, steeped in history
Once a major shipbuilding port, Plymouth still hosts one of the UK’s three royal naval bases: HMNB Devonport. The city is also home to a ferry terminal with routes to Roscoff and St Malo in France and Santander in Spain. If you are travelling on one of these routes, why not stop over and explore this fascinating city for a night or two? There are many guesthouses and hotels near Plymouth’s ferry port and a selection of traditional English pubs and taverns in the streets around.
If you do stay here, you’ll also be right next to an incredible mount with a wealth of history: Plymouth Hoe. Literally meaning ‘high Plymouth’, this grassy area offers stunning views over the seafront, Barbican and the Sound (Plymouth’s bay).
As legend has it, Sir Francis Drake calmly finished his game of bowls here until the wind and tide changed before launching his assault on the awaiting Spanish Armada. The statue that commemorates this historic event, however, is overshadowed, somewhat, by a much more powerful and thought-provoking monument: The Naval Memorial. You will no-doubt take time to reflect on the horrors of armed conflict as you are confronted by the names of 23,000 allies who lost their lives at sea in the two world wars.
Magnificent coastal views
Perched on the edge of the Hoe is Plymouth’s iconic lighthouse – Smeaton’s Tower. At 72-feet high, you can get some absolutely breath-taking views of the craggy coastline from its lantern room.
The Hoe welcomes many events and commemorations throughout the year, including a grand fireworks festival. With a few cafes dotted around, it makes for a lovely stroll. On a fine summer’s day, you can also cool down in the grade II listed art deco swimming pool – The Tinside Lido, which offers an unforgettable view overlooking the tip of the coastline.
Being such a beautiful and historic place, it is little wonder that Plymouth’s finest four-star hotels line its frontiers. There are also many bed and breakfasts and guesthouses in the streets around.
In the footsteps of the Pilgrim Fathers
To get more of an authentic flavour of Plymouth’s maritime past, you’ll need to head down to the Barbican area of the old harbour. Unlike the majority of the city, the Barbican escaped more or less intact after the devastating Blitz by the German Luftwaffe in World War II. There are indeed a couple of Tudor buildings left standing, including the Elizabeth House, an ancient merchant’s house that you can visit by the waterfront.
The Barbican is also from where the Pilgrim Fathers famously set sail to discover The New World in 1620. Although their ship, The Mayflower, originally departed from Southampton, it had to dock in Plymouth for some repairs. The city has been linked to their voyage ever since. The Mayflower Steps commemorates the spot where they embarked on their epic journey across the Atlantic. To find out more about their story you can visit The Mayflower Museum.
The Pilgrim Fathers were also said to have spent their last night in Plymouth in the gin distillery. You can sample some of Plymouth’s famous spirit yourself after a fascinating and colourful tour around it today. On the opposite side of the harbour, you can then immerse yourself in the magnificent National Marine Aquarium, the largest in the UK.
You can also wander along the cobbled quayside of the Barbican and stop for some fish n’ chips, a Devon pasty, a drink or a snack at one of the cafes or restaurants in this redeveloped area. The Barbican Theatre offers an intimate and atmospheric setting to watch a play. Alternatively, you can soak up the ambiance of a more high-profile musical or concert in the larger and more central Royal Theatre.
The modern city centre
If you are looking for a good-value hotel, you can find a selection of lodges and chains in Plymouth’s city centre too. This modern and pedestrianised area is also great for shopping – especially in the centrepiece Drake Circus Shopping Centre – and hosts some of the best independent spas in Plymouth. There are additionally a number of reasonably priced hotels near Plymouth’s railway station, a few minutes’ walk away.
Jaw-dropping country surroundings
Around Plymouth lies some of the most incredible countryside in the UK, including some beautiful stretches of sand and hidden coves, such as the National Trust beach at Wembury and the splendid National Trust property of Saltram House.
The rugged wilderness of the Dartmoor National Park also borders the city. Filled with its famous Tors (granite piles dating back millions of years) this park possesses the largest number of archaeological remains in Europe, including stone circles and menhirs.