Photo of Essex

About Essex

Despite the best efforts of reality television to portray Essex as party central for the loud and proud wannabe WAG brigade, the county has a great deal of beautiful rural countryside. Indeed the majority of the best places to stay in Essex will be found in charming villages and stunning countryside which inspired the artworks of John Constable.

Colchester is a pretty market town with roots that reach back to Roman times - it claims to be the UK's oldest recorded town and is a good base for exploring the whole county as well as boasting several attractions including a Norman Castle, Roman ruins and zoo.

Essex also boasts 350 miles of coastline which is amongst the most diverse in Britain with a wide variety of wildlife. For a traditional holiday Clacton and Southend on Sea immediately spring to mind - both have award winning beaches and traditional piers. But if you venture just slightly out of these resorts you'll discover hidden coves and inlets, atmospheric salt marshes and mudflats, stunning cliff top walks and charming seaside towns, whose seafaring heritage dates back centuries.

What not to miss

  • Head off hiking and visit the ruins of Hadleigh Castle. Offering wonderful views and providing lots of information on the castle's history, there's also a farm shop with a café. Pack a picnic and spend the afternoon in this tranquil spot!
  • Colchester Zoo is a fabulous family day out. Boasting over 270 species set in 60 acres of parkland and lakes, you can learn all about the animals by watching one of their 50 daily displays. Kids will love the various play areas dotted around, and you can even join in with feeding the elephants and giraffes!
  • Spend the afternoon wandering around the delightful 7.5 acre Beth Chatto Gardens. This wonderfully-tended spot is a tranquil visit, complete with tea rooms to unwind in after walking around taking in the wonderful nature.
  • The county is littered with historic houses and gardens and for wine buffs there are a number of vineyards to visited and tastings to be had.
  • Swoop into the Imperial Bird of Prey Academy with memorable experiences on offer such as holding owls and hawks. You'll also learn a lot about all the different species through the very knowledgeable members of staff.

This county is a very popular destination for weekend breaks due to its proximity to London. So if you want to surprise a loved one with a room in one of the best places to stay in Essex, be prepared to book well ahead.

The Best Places to stay in Essex

For the coast

  • Opened in 1864 to put up passengers who had disembarked off sailing ships from the continent, The Pier at Harwich is an absolute delight for anyone who loves the sea and boats. Right on the harbour, it has fresh, modern, nautical design and a really great seafood restaurant which makes it a popular buzzy location with locals and guests alike. Rooms at the front of the hotel have huge windows overlooking the harbour with big squashy armchairs thoughtfully provided so guests can sit and watch the shipping slip by.

For a romantic break

  • Milsoms, just outside the charming village of Dedham, is a boutique hotel of fifteen rooms with a lively brasserie and bar. It showcases local art and has old fashioned telephones with dials and corkscrew wires in the rooms. Attention to detail in the bedrooms is good with wonderfully comfortable beds, lovely linen sheets and in the morning papers and coffee delivered to your room ensuring that you will want to linger even longer in bed.
  • For a traditional experience visit the The Sun Inn, a charming old coaching inn in Constable's village of Dedham opposite the church he used to paint. Just seven rooms, beautifully appointed, some with four posters.
  • Linden House is a small luxury hotel offering easy access to Stansted Airport. Smart rooms feature sink-in-to beds (the best are four-posters), free standing copper baths and crisp white linen. A cosy bar and contemporary British restaurant are a welcome respite. A very comfortable option for a stop over.

You can find further inspiration for romantic retreats in our list of hotels with hot tubs in Essex, or most romantic hotels in Essex.

For Foodies

  • The Pier at Harwich is a charming waterfront property overlooking the quayside. Boasts unfussy, contemporary accommodation with sea views and fresh seafood at the restaurant. What's more, there's a gin library and Prosecco cocktails served up!
  • Ideal for exploring rural Essex at it's best, The Mistley Thorn is a popular restaurant with rooms on the Stour Estuary with great food and good local walking. The Mistily Thorn has simple rooms but offers good value, especially with dinner.

For a Family Getaway

  • The Maison Talbooth is a sumptuously comfortable hotel with quirky touches in the heart of beautiful Constable country, outside Colchester. Popular for exclusive use bookings and weekend parties, it has a heated outdoor pool complex and hearty log fires (gas, but good). Family and dog friendly, there is a lovely tennis court with good coaching available. A friendly, relaxed, welcoming, fun hotel.

For total Relaxation

  • Feel a million miles away from all your worries at The Pier At Harwich. This charming waterfront spot offers chic yet unfussy accommodation boasting wonderful sea views. Spend your days on the beach before taking in the sunset on the restaurant's balcony whilst enjoying dinner.
  • Maison Talbooth, boasting chic interiors in a peaceful setting, is a wonderfully relaxing retreat. Spend your days in the spa, relax with a book outside by the pool (on good days!) and enjoy a casual game of tennis on their courts.

Prefer a cottage or apartment?

  • If you think a self-catering option in Essex would best suit your needs then check out the wide variety available at our online partner booking.com

Travel Information

  • It's best to visit Essex over the summer months, with the average daily temperature reaching around 16°C. So it's hardly balmy, but on the warmer days you'll love exploring the countryside or heading down to the beach!
  • The best airport for international visitors is Stansted Airport located 50km (31 miles) from Colchester. Alternatively, most towns are served by their own train station which is probably the best way to visit (unless you're travelling by car).
  • For car hire prices, we recommend you visit our online partner Rentalcars.

Still not sure?


Monthly Weather in Essex

Best Hotels in Essex

  • Milsoms Colchester, Essex 15 rooms from £140

    Sights nearby  -  Flatford Mill and Munnings Museum close by
    Restaurant  -  Brasserie with all day dining.
    Great walks  -  Good for walkers.
    RestaurantPet friendlyDisabled access

    Where the River Stour meanders through Constable country in beautiful Dedham Vale, eat, drink and stay, at this boutique Hotel with a vibrant bar and lively brasserie serving excellent food. Close by is sister hotel Maison Talbooth with spa, swimming pool and tennis court See More

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  • The Pier at Harwich Harwich, Essex 14 rooms from £140

    Foodies  -  Wonderful fresh seafood meets a creative chef, simply divine! Not to mention the gin library and Prosecco cocktails!
    Total relaxation  -  Sit in the suite's bay window, or indeed on the restaurant's balcony, and watch the sun set on the sea- heaven!
    Sights nearby  -  Just around the corner is the Electric Palace Cinema, the second oldest cinema in England- well worth a visit.
    Views  -  Great views over the busy harbour and the Stour and Orwell estuaries.
    RestaurantPet friendlyViewsParking
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays

    A charming waterfront hotel overlooking the quayside at old Harwich. Contemporary rooms also capture the views over the harbour. The fish restaurant in a converted pub in the harbour is lively and popular with the locals. A great stay on the Essex coast. See More

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  • Maison Talbooth Colchester, Essex 12 rooms from £300

    Great walks  -  In Dedham Vale AONB
    Swimming Pool  -  Lovely Outdoor Pool
    Birdwatching  -  Good birding near the hotel.
    TennisSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessParking

    Quirky Essex hotel and spa in the heart of Constable country, with a pool and tennis, and spa facilities. Popular for hen parties and exclusive use. See More

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  • Church Hall Farm Broxted, Nr Stansted, Essex 3 rooms from £70

    Short break  -  A delightful country cottage just 7 minutes from Stanstead Airport. Ideal for stopping over on the way in or out.
    Great walks  -  Stroll through the scenic National Trust Hatfield Forest.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the impressive Stansted Mountfitchet Castle.
    Full of character
    GardenDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    A charming country cottage set in quiet surrounds just minutes from Stansted Airport. Three cosy rooms are traditionally dressed with cast iron beds, beamed ceilings, white washed walls and wooden floors. A characterful choice for airport stay overs. See More

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  • The Compasses Inn Chelmsford (Essex) 5 rooms from £75

    Country Escape  -  A charming family-run pub with excellent ales, roaring fires and hearty cuisine.
    Great walks  -  Discover the Essex countryside on miles of picturesque trails.
    Full of character
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessParking
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays

    A quaint country Inn with an atmospheric pub and five charming rooms. Traditionally dressed throughout - think beamed ceilings, fireplaces and well placed antiques. The popular restaurant and bar boasts a fantastic selection of ales chosen by the knowledgable owner. See More

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  • The Bell Inn, Essex Horndon-On-The-Hill, Essex 27 rooms from £80

    Hideaway  -  Charming, atmospheric and complete with an excellent traditional pub.
    Great walks  -  Take long coastal walks along the sea wall at Stanford le Hope.
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Full of character
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays

    A quintessentially British pub set in a 600 year old building, rammed full of character and history. The charming restaurant (serving excellent gastro dishes) is adorned with hanging copper pots and framed with a heavily beamed ceiling. The rooms are individually designed and delightfully cosy. See More

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  • Linden House Essex 9 rooms from £90

    Short break  -  Ideally located for a stop over on the way to or from Stansted Airport.
    Sights nearby  -  Explore the Jacobean mansion house Audley End House and Gardens.
    Great walks  -  Take long walks through the scenic Hatfield Forest.
    Full of character
    RestaurantPet friendlyParking

    A small luxury hotel offering easy access to Stansted Airport. Smart rooms feature sink-in-to beds (the best are four-posters), free standing copper baths and crisp white linen. A cosy bar and contemporary British restaurant are a welcome respite. A very comfortable option for a stop over. See More

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  • The Mistley Thorn Mistley, Essex 7 rooms from £90

    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Views  -  Some rooms have views of the River Stour
    Birdwatching  -  Bird sanctuary nearby
    Great walks  -  Lovely estuary walks
    RestaurantPet friendlyViews
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays

    Popular restaurant with rooms on the Stour Estuary with great food and good local walking. The Mistley Thorn has simple rooms but offers good value, especially with dinner. See More

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  • Wivenhoe House Colchester (Essex) 40 rooms from £95

    Country Escape  -  A large country house with easy access to London. Ideal for a weekend away.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Colchester Castle, the biggest Norman keep in Europe.
    Great walks  -  Take a stroll through the beautiful Beth Chatto Gardens.
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
    RestaurantGardenDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    A smart country house with beautifully designed rooms mixing traditional features such as beamed ceilings and classical wallpaper with floor to ceiling windows, luxury bathrooms and a superb restaurant. The service is unsurprisingly on point too. See More

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  • Seven Hotel Southend 37 rooms from £95

    Sights nearby  -  Fans of Oliver Twist will love visiting Dickens World.
    Great walks  -  Go for a lovely walk along Southend pier.
    Seaside  -  Ideal for a seaside holiday.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Air conditioningRestaurantViewsParking

    Recently renovated, the Seven Hotel takes advantage of a superb positioning overlooking the sea. Contemporary and chic, the hotel offers spacious, comfortable rooms as well as an excellent restaurant. See More

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  • The Lion Inn, Chelmsford Chelmsford (Essex) 23 rooms from £110

    Country Escape  -  A converted pub, now restaurant with rooms, offering both the rural location and hearty British cuisine.
    Sights nearby  -  Stop by Chelmsford's small Tudor Gothic 14th century cathedral.
    Great walks  -  Take a stroll through the picturesque RHS Garden Hyde Hall.
    Air conditioningRestaurantDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    Long been run as a pub, the Lion Inn has now taken on a new form with an extensive conversion turning it into a restaurant with rooms. The rooms vary in style from the more traditional in the original building to slick and contemporary in the new. The restaurant is ever popular with the locals. See More

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  • The Pheasant, Essex Essex 5 rooms from £115

    Country Escape  -  The perfect country pub; warm, welcoming and excellent food and ales.
    Great walks  -  Discover the picturesque countryside on miles of uninterupted trails.
    Full of character
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessViewsParking

    An award winning pub boasting a secluded setting in a pretty part of rural Essex. Five beautifully designed rooms, located in the adjoining coach house, are immaculately styled and feature bold classic prints. The food is fabulous and service warm. The ideal rural escape. See More

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  • Greyfriars Colchester (ESSEX) 26 rooms from £120

    Local exploring  -  With easy access to both the centre of Colchester and the castle this is an ideal spot for exploring the town.
    Great walks  -  The property is perfectly positioned for exploring the Essex and Suffolk countryside.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Colchester Castle, the largest Norman keep in Europe.
    RestaurantGardenDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    An opulent hotel in the heart of Colchester located in an elegant Georgian building. Rooms are spacious and traditionally dressed. Plump for a suite for some serious luxury including a glistening free-standing copper bath. The restaurant has been Michelin recommended. A superb stay. See More

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  • Roslin Beach Hotel Southend (Southend-On-Sea) 62 rooms from £139

    Hideaway  -  Escape the city for the weekend and enjoy fine dining, spa and wellness services, and luxury rooms at the seaside
    Romantic Break  -  Enjoy cosy, plush and well proprtioned rooms with couples options in the wellness centre downstairs
    Lively area  -  On the vibrant seafront, this hotel provides excellent access to the local amusements and nightlife
    Seaside  -  By the banks of the Thames Estuary for a nostalgic seaside holiday
    Air conditioningRestaurantPet friendlyDisabled accessViewsParking

    Laden with carefully chosen design features, bold floral patterns and eye-catching artwork for a bold yet delicately chic aesthetic. The restaurant serves high-end British cuisine and there's a wellness centre for a little indulgence. A boutique English seaside escape. See More

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  • The Sun Inn, Dedham Dedham 7 rooms from £145

    Families  -  Kids menus, spacious rooms, a garden with swings and slides and local kid's activies such as the Zoo
    Local exploring  -  The B&B is an ideal base for exploring the wonders of Suffolk and Essex
    Sights nearby  -  Explore the village of Dedham with its fine Grade I-listed Georgian architecture and medieval buildings
    Great walks  -  Stroll along the River Stour and admire the Water Meadows and wildfowl
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyParking
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays, I Escape

    A charming 15th-century pub with seven rooms, situated in the heart of Constable's hometown. Rooms are comfortable and quirky some with four-poster beds, fireplaces and others a more modern feel. Excellent restaurant with regularly changing menu featuring the best seasonal produce. See More

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