Two charming Belle Époque villas make up this lively, laid-back hotel. Each villa has eight rooms so some overlook St Malo’s promenade and long sandy beach while others look onto a fairly quiet residential street. The area is well-heeled and, inside, owner Fabrice has been working hard to bring the place up-to-date. You’ll find local art on the walls to buy, live music nights, bistro-style dishes flying out of the kitchen and small, individual, nautically themed bedrooms. The dining room is enticing with panoramic views out to sea; you eat here or on the terrace when the weather’s fine. Breakfast is a generous continental spread of pastries, crepes, fruit, ham and cheese while dinner is mainly fresh-as-can-be seafood (it’s open to the public too). Hire bikes to explore St Malo, hit the waves, get the ferry (or walk – it takes about four hours) to refined Dinard for lunch and a mooch around. This ticks all the boxes for a fantastic, affordable base with heaps to do nearby, and it’s easy peasy for the Portsmouth ferry.