A Weekend in East Devon and Our First Airbnb Experience

 

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Many of our favourite travel bloggers have been raving about the advantages of staying in rented AirBnB properties when travelling for short and also for longer stays, so we felt it was time to check it out for ourselves.

After joining the AirBnB site, giving our details and having few attempts at choosing a good photo of me and hubby (easier said than done, since some were too serious, others were too smiley, or too cheesy…)  and scouring available and suitable properties in the town of Seaton, we opted for a hill top property that had good reviews and looked rather old and charming. We sent the owners a request for a one night stay over the weekend of May 7th /8th 2016 and full of trepidation waited for their reply.

It was not long before we got their positive reply and started packing our bags for a weekend in East Devon, only 1:30 to 2 hrs away from our home in the South of England.

Since the weather forecast was for a dry day with spells of sunshine all throughout the weekend, we decided to travel there by motorbike, enjoying a taste of Dorset with some culinary stops along the way. Starting with  breakfast with beautiful views at Portland Bill, the Lobster Pot coffee shop and restaurant is conveniently located next to the Portland Bill Lighthouse.The Isle of Portland in the Southernmost point of the County of Dorset, England, is a limestone tied island, a barrier beach called Chesil Beach joins it to the mainland. The Bill has 3 lighthouse towers, see the main one below.

It was quite steep going up the hill and in particularly for me being in the back of the bike it did feel a little scary at times as we climbed higher and higher via some very narrow lanes and windy roads, but the views out to sea and beaches down below were getting better and better making it all very worthwhile.

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After exploring around the light house we continued our journey along the beautiful Dorset coast line, past Portesham a small village that I visit every month for work when I run a dietetic clinic at the extremely friendly GP Practice. The coastal road via Abbotsbury is very scenic with amazing views of Chesil Beach – this stretch of coast line became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001 due to its Jurassic Coast status and amazing geology that takes you back in time to 185 million years ago.

Our lunch stop was at the charming  Hive Beach Café  in Burton Bradstock where we indulged in some local sea food delights and a taste of their catch of the day. It is a very unpretentious place with top-notch sea food cooked to perfection; a gem of a place right on the beach.

 

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We tore ourselves away after a nap on the sand opposite the The Hive Beach Café  and then jumped back on the bike to continue our ride along the Dorset coast via another beautiful sea town … Lyme Regis nicknamed “The Pearl of Dorset”. The town has a harbour wall known as “The Cobb”, which features in the British writer’s Jane Austen‘s novel Persuasion, and in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, a novel by  another British writer  Mr. John Fowles, as well as the 1981 film of the same name which was partly filmed in Lyme Regis.

As per Wikipedia:

“The town is noted for fossils found on its beaches and in the cliffs which are part of the Heritage Coast—known commercially as the Jurassic Coast—a World Heritage Site stretching for 153 kilometres (95 mi), from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in the west, to Old Harry Rocks in the east. The coastal exposures provide a continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations, spanning approximately 185 million years of the Earth’s history. Localities along the Jurassic Coast include a large range of important fossil zones.

The Blue Lias rock is host to a multitude of remains from the early Jurassic, a time from which good fossil records are rare. Many remains are well preserved, including complete specimens of important species. Many of the earliest discoveries of dinosaur and other prehistoric reptile remains were made in the area around Lyme Regis, notably those discovered by Mary Anning (1799–1847). Significant finds include Ichthyosaur, Plesiosaur,Dimorphodon, Scelidosaurus (one of the first armoured dinosaurs) and Dapedium. The town holds an annual Mary Anning Day and Lyme Regis Fossil Festival. A fossil of the world’s largest moth was discovered in 1966 at Lyme Regis.”

We arrived in Seaton in mid afternoon and our Airbnb host waved us and our bike into their courtyard which had lots of space to park and securely leave the motorbike overnight until the next day.

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She was super friendly and invited us to join her, her husband, son and daughter-in- law for a cup of tea in their lovely garden overlooking the sea. We could not have felt more welcome and relaxed and after some chatting and getting to know them a little and find out about the local area and the history of their over 100 years old property, we were shown our room for the night. The room was spacious, it had facilities for making tea, coffee and cold drinks, and there was courtesy biscuits and some bottled water. We also had our own bathroom.

They recommended dinner for us at an old Pub by the river Axe an easy 2 miles walk from the house via the beach front promenade of Seaton. On the way to the Pub we explored Seaton, a small seaside town that dates back thousand of years to the Iron age. The Romans were also here and in 2013 builder Laurence Egerton, a metal detector enthusiast, unearthed the Seaton Down Hoard of copper-alloy coins. The hoard of about 22,000 Roman coins is believed to be one of the largest and best preserved 4th Century collections ever found in the UK.

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The next day was all about walking another stretch of the South West Coastal Path (we have being doing small sections of it recently) taking us from our host’s house in Seaton to the neighbouring little fishing village of Beer.

The route is not without its perils though, since nature takes its toll on the geologically unstable chalk cliffs and  landslides are common. In July 2012 after a prolonged period of heavy rain an 80 m long landslide of the cliffs adjacent to Beer took a big chunk of the old coastal path and so a diversion, to take the walkers inland along the new Beer Road ( B3172) had to be implemented. Our hosts told us how to avoid the dangerous area and where to pick up the safer path.

There were some steep parts at the start of the path, but plenty of gorgeous views across to Seaton Bay and the Axe River Valley, to reward our efforts along the way.

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We carried on along the path over the cliff top, with plenty of stops to take on the views until we started our descent to Beer beach and its charming fishing port. There are steep steps down through the Memorial Gardens with several benches and viewing terraces where one can get a good rest and relax taking in the beautiful views.

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We left for our walk early since we wanted to have breakfast at Beer and we were lucky to have had the most perfect crisp fresh, sunny morning with hardly anyone on the path… just us and nature with its peaceful silence interrupted only by the tweet of birds and the sound of our foot steps along the path. We found visiting this coastal town in the shoulder season, in this case May/2016, to be the perfect time, depending of course on the unpredictable British weather. Fewer tourists combined with the lower prices making it a great combination.

We later walked back the 2 miles, to our AirBnB house to collect our bike and  rode it back round to Beer where we parked the motorbike at the village car park and walked down to the sea front to find a yummy place for lunch. We did not have to walk far to find another charming old British Pub and enjoyed sitting in their garden with sea views and the traditional British plate of fish, chips and peas to polish it off….a fitting end to our weekend motorbike road trip.

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After our all fresco meal we rounded it off with a quick walk along the beach to help it down , then hopped on the bike for the run home and getting ready for the week ahead … refreshed and invigorated after a lovely break.

Our first AirBnB experience was a great success, our hosts were welcoming, friendly and helpful. They gave us the key to their home and left us to explore a new area at our own pace. The property was clean, spacious, comfortable and very charming.  The site is very easy to use once you subscribe to it. There are many great properties all over the world that vary from a room in someone’s house to a whole house or apartment. We have since stayed at another gorgeous AirBnB property in the Cotsworlds and have booked a stay at apartments in Lagos, Paris and Amsterdam.

Have you used AirBnB properties on your travels? What is your take on it? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

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28 Comments on “A Weekend in East Devon and Our First Airbnb Experience

  1. Devon sounds dreamy and just the thing for a nice brisk seaside visit!

    I’ve heard many good things about AirBnB, but I’ve never used it myself as I prefer to rent a complete home, rather than a part of it. And sometimes, I just want the service of someone making my bed when I’m not there lol!

    Nevertheless, this property and it’s owner sound wonderful. 🙂

    • Victoria, Devon has some beautiful little sea side towns. With AirBnB you can also rent a whole property, in fact I am going to Paris and Amsterdam soon with my sisters and we managed to rent lovely apartments in great locations in both cities. But having room service and someone to make your bed every morning is also a nice treat:)

  2. The views looked superb, Gilda. I’d love to see some of this coastline. 🙂
    My Edinburgh stay was my first Airbnb experience. I went for cheap and cheerful and for what I paid I couldn’t complain at all. The location was excellent.

  3. Hi Jo, the Southwest coastline is beautiful, you have to come over for a visit sometime. We have now used Airbnb few times and have not been disappointed, I like that you can also have a whole properly to yourself. We have recently visited Lagos in the Algarve and we found a lovely apartment in a very convenient location.

  4. I love your photos, you really captured the feel of the area. So pretty! We are heading out on a road trip to New England and will also experience our first AirBnB stay. New England at this time of the year is HIGH season because of the fall foliage, so finding a hotel room that didn’t break the bank was not going to happen. We’ve rented before from another site, VRBO, and had good success with it so we’re hoping for the same with AirBnB.

  5. Thank you Patti, I am trying to improve my photos although I usually just use my phone camera. A road trip in New England will be fantastic, I hope that you will enjoy your Airbnb property, I will be keen to hear how you get on.

  6. I have never used Air BnB for myself, but I did use it to find an apartment for my sister and her family. Our son, a digital nomad, loves AirBnB and uses them to arrange 2 week to month long stays all over the world.

    • Suzanne, we were delighted with our first AirBnB experience and have used it few times now with again great success. It is so easy to book the properties and the site feels very safe with the payment credited to the host only after you have arrived and used the property. We recommend it. Thanks for visiting and sorry about the delay in replying, I have been neglecting the blog recently with my crazy work commitments. I love your blog.

  7. I’m so glad you had a great first Airbnb experience Gilda. Andrew and I have used Airbnb a lot in expensive places like the Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand and it’s always the cheapest option. We have also met some lovely hosts, particularly on our trip through New England last year. Looks like you had a beautiful weekend away, sometimes I forget how historical and beautiful the UK is; I have a friend in Devon and when I visit it feels like going back in time, the villages are so old and the pace of life seems so much more relaxed than London!

  8. Amy, you and Andrew have inspired us to use Airbnb and we found it so easy and secure to use the site. I am going to Paris and Amsterdam next week and have rented whole apartments on both cities. Devon is so lovely and within easy reach for us here in Dorset. I am loving all your posts from Chiang Mai…keep them coming ?

  9. We’ve been travelling full time now for over 2 years and the majority of our accommodation is Airbnb. You can rent rooms as you did, but you can also rent an entire apartment as we do. Also, we usually book a month at a time because most owners have monthly rates that can be 50% off the nightly rate (for example, instead of paying $100/night, we’ll pay $50/night for a month). For us this makes financial sense and gives us a base to explore/work in a city. We’ve done this in Prague, Budapest, Cape Town, Brasov, Lisbon, Sevilla…

    Some stays have been better than others but overall I don’t know how we’d travel with Airbnb, makes our lives a lot easier.

    Frank (bbqboy)

  10. Frank your blog has been among the few that have inspired us to try Airbnb and I am so glad we did. I found the site so easy to navigate and also feels safe, since no money exchange hands until you have used the property. We have found lovely and helpful hosts. Recently we have rented whole apartments and loved it. Getting a 50% discount by renting for a month can definitely make sense and so you can really imerse yourself in the local culture and feel part of it. I will definitely continue to use Airbnb on future travels.

  11. We have yet to use Air BnB ourselves, but I booked a small apartment for my sister and her family which worked out well for them. It was nice for them to have more room than a single hotel room. I can remember many one room, 2 bed motel nights traveling with our family of 5 when I was a child. As the eldest child, I usually eventually opted for the floor after being kicked in the head by one of my sisters a few times. I love the many walking paths in England. We did some of the coastal pathway in Cornwall before having our way blocked by an unhappy looking bull in a field we had to cross.

  12. Holy smokes! I would have never pictured such a beautiful place! The views are great. Makes me think we need to venture more outside London when we visit. So glad you had a great experience with AirBnB your first go. I have a love hate relationship with it. We started using them about 5 years ago but lately it’s been hit or miss as a lot of hosts have gotten greedy with prices, so l always make sure to check hotels too because a lot of times now, it’s a better deal..and they even throw in breakfast too. Lovely images ?

    • Kemkem, the countryside of England has a lot to offer with beautiful landscapes, culture and heritage. London is great but there is a lot to see only few hours from the capital. Do come over to visit us next time you are in the UK?

  13. I am constantly blown away by the ancient, historic and unique places that are so commonly found in Europe and I loved reading about yet another one in England to explore! And what a terrific place to visit – only a couple of hours away and your weekend becomes a vacation. We’ve rented over 30 places on AirBnB and, for the most part, we’ve been very pleased with our experiences. The quality varies from place to place and we never rent a place anymore without reading the referrals. On our one big disaster rental (an apartment we had rented in Cartagena, Colombia for a month a couple of years ago) AirBnB promptly refunded our money plus threw in a $100 voucher for our next rental. I’m so sorry we missed you on your trip to Lagos this time but maybe we’ll see you in your area of the world in a few months. 🙂 Anita

    • Anita, we have now became a fan of Airbnb and have used it few times including our recent stay in Lagos. It is good to know that they will refund your momey if the worst happens and the property is not good. We enjoy going for short getaways near home and the South of England has a lot to offer. Do come and visit, we have a spare bedroom ?

  14. We are just starting to use AirBnB and are finding it to be a great travel idea especially if traveling with more than 2 people. this spot looks gorgeous. The coast is so spectacular!

  15. It is a beautiful coastline here in Southern England with and many nice trails to explore. Airbnb is great for group traveling, it ends up being a lot cheaper than a hotel and you can get some very spacious properties. Thanks for commenting Sue?

    • Thank you, I enjoy writing here, although don’t post as often as I would like to. I appreciate your comment.

    • I have used Airbnb a lot since this post and would certainly recommend it. Particularly when travelling with a group of friends or family it can be a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel.

    • Agness, this was our first Airbnb experience, we have enjoyed it so much that we have been using it ever since. Thank you for commenting, I love your blog, you have been to some amazing places 🙂

  16. I enjoyed this post, I’ll be in the area during the summer, so I jotted down some notes. I love Airbnb, it’s the best way to travel in my opinion. So many wonderful new people to meet, a great way to save money and you get to experience a new way of living in each country.

    • Paula, the coastline in the South of England is beautiful, if you come to Dorset let me know it would be great to meet up 🙂

I would love to hear from you, leave a reply.

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