Whether you’re taking advantage of the first rays of spring sunshine, enjoying peak season or making the most of the last golden days of summer, there are some incredible alfresco dining destinations in the South West
The Old Quay House Hotel, Cornwall
A flute of Veuve Clicquot on the terrace of The Old Quay House Hotel (pictured), followed by a lazy lunch watching boats bobbing by on the estuary surely equates to alfresco dining at its glamorous best.
This Fowey find is a sanctuary for foodies in search of a high quality dining crafted from just-landed local seafood, Cornish-reared meats and vegetarian dishes.
Pair your glass of fizz with a starter of salt and pepper squid, and follow with casual classics such as fish and chips or a sirloin steak.
The Idle Rocks, Cornwall
If you are in any doubt about whether the British weather will be a willing accomplice to your alfresco lunch, it might reassure you to know that in the 1960s, in order to prove that St Mawes was the warmest spot in England, The Idle Rocks promised to waiver guests’ room charge if there was ever fog or snow.
The Cornish boutique hotel on the Roseland Peninsula remains a jaw-droppingly stylish spot, and its Waterside Terrace is a real insider’s go-to for a memorable feast.
The coastal location is central to a menu that includes just-landed fish from local fishermen. Imbibe the sea air, tuck in to fabulous dishes crafted around Cornish produce, and drink in stunning views across the Fal estuary.
Crab House Café, Dorset
Feasting on oysters and sipping Champagne is universally accepted as a delightful experience, but doing it alfresco, while drinking in views over Chesil Beach in Dorset (and in the knowledge that your molluscs have been harvested from beds just a stone’s throw from the restaurant) is sublime.
Pair dishes of ultra-fresh fish and shellfish with a side order of salty sea breeze, plus a view of the Fleet lagoon and the cafe’s very own Portland Pearls oyster farm.
Start with nautical nibbles such as popcorn monkfish or crispy curried sprats before tucking in to the likes of plump Portland oysters, rope-grown mussels and razor clams, or warming dishes such as tandoori gurnard.
Psalters at The Luttrell Arms, Exmoor
Overlooked by a fairytale castle on a hill, with the soundtrack of birdsong in your ears, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more romantic spot for lunch than the gardens of The Luttrell Arms in the medieval village of Dunster.
A visit to this Exmoor hotel and its gardens – where a recent archaeological dig unearthed the remains of 18th century buildings and cobbled paths – is steeped in intrigue and history.
Gourmet burgers, a proper ploughman’s and other casual dishes prove hugely satisfying to those in search of top-notch pub food, while dinner in Psalters restaurant offers a more refined experience.
The Bath Priory, Bath
Never has the salve of nature been more needed than it is now, so lunch on the terrace at The Bath Priory with its views of luscious mature gardens, provides balm for both body and soul.
If you’re sightseeing in Bath and want to escape the city centre, the smart hotel offers a welcoming casual dining experience based around The Pantry’s menu of burgers, steaks, sandwiches and croque monsieur.
Follow the feasting with a postprandial potter around the stunning garden which is tended by Chelsea Flower Show Medal winner, Jane Moore.