There are no play areas apart from the beach, so this is better suited to families with older children who will enjoy Salcombe's teenage social buzz.
Family rooms sleeping four cost from £230 a night with breakfast, suites from £320 a night (01548 859000; southsands.com).
Babington House, Frome, Somerset
This lovely Georgian house and estate is the country outpost of Soho House private members' club in London – and the place to bring your children for some early-years media networking. Fourteen years after it opened, Babington remains undeniably cool, but it also manages to be friendly, buzzy and not too intimidating for ordinary families.
Children from one year can be looked after in the Teeny House crèche, and there is a cinema, a good spa, great food in the conservatory restaurant, acres of grounds with a swimming pool, tennis court and croquet lawn. It's also just 12 miles from the sights and shopping of Bath.
Knoll House, Studland, Dorset
(Open from March 26)
Coming here is a bit like staying with older relations – the sort who are particular about meal times, can't see the point of designer décor and have years of experience in keeping young children happy.
The hotel grounds extend to Studland Bay, one of the loveliest beaches in Dorset, and there's an outdoor pool, as well as a pirate ship adventure playground, tennis courts and a golf course, with an indoor pool in the spa. Young children are expected to eat in the separate children's dining room and there is baby listening until 11pm.
From £297 a night for a family suite with interconnecting rooms and breakfast (01929 450450; knollhouse.co.uk).
£100 to £200 a night
Bedruthan Steps, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
Don't be put off by the hotel's uninspiring facade; inside it is light and comfortable with views across a green swathe of clifftop to the sea. Set above a classic north-Cornwall surfing beach, the hotel is really well set up for children, with an indoor and outdoor pool, spa, surf school, indoor and outdoor play areas, children's clubs and high tea. One restaurant is currently being refurbished but will reopen at the end of March.
A sea-view family room sleeping four costs from £190 per night, including breakfast (01637 860860; bedruthan.com).
The Polurrian Hotel, Mullion, Cornwall
A new parent's dream: a fully staffed crèche for children over three months, high tea and baby listening while you enjoy the excellent food from Charlie Mozley, who trained at Bocca di Lupo, the fashionable Soho restaurant. This clifftop mansion has been given a stylish modern makeover and sits in 12 acres of grounds containing a swimming pool, tennis court and sports field. There is also a playroom for older children, a spa and an indoor pool.
A room sleeping two adults and two children costs from £175 a night with breakfast (01326 240421; polurrianhotel.com).
Also part of the same group – and offering similarly high standards of childcare – are Moonfleet Manor on the Dorset coast and Fowey Hall in Fowey, Cornwall – both excellent bases for families. See luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk for details.
Less than £100 a night
Come to Good Farm near Truro, Cornwall
Families are encouraged to get involved with feeding chickens, collecting eggs and lambing (in season) at this friendly b & b on a working farm. Children have plenty of room to let off steam and the Eden Project and the beaches of the Roseland Peninsula are nearby.
Coverack Youth Hostel, Cornwall
The YHA has been gifted 11 superbly sited coastal houses in Cornwall over the years. A recent multimillion pound upgrade has raised standards considerably, not least at the clifftop Edwardian villa in Coverack, where an en-suite family room, sleeping four, costs from £84 a night.
Bryher Campsite, Isles of Scilly
This is a lovely, back-to-nature campsite with views of Hangman Island and Tresco, but its location, between two hills, means it's relatively sheltered. Bryher, the smallest of the Scillies, has an other-worldly quality with a magnificent sandy beach at Green Bay and a quieter cove at Rushy Bay for swimming. If you're looking for a cosy pub/café, try Fraggle Rock, or for a break from campfire cooking treat yourself to local seafood at the Hell Bay Hotel. Site facilities include free showers, washing machines and tumble dryers.