The Somerset holiday resort of Weston-super-Mare has long been a favourite for Brummies and has even been dubbed ‘Birmingham-on-Sea’.
But I’m backing a fresh contender for that title. My advice is to do a U-turn and instead of heading down the M5, try motoring up the M6, turning left before Liverpool.
Using the quickest route, Prestatyn is just 18 miles further away from central Birmingham than Weston. And it’s just six miles further if you cut through Cheshire on A roads.
The small Welsh town may not have a shiny new pier like Weston but there’s one good reason why it’s more worthy of the tagline Birmingham-on-Sea – it has sea!
As a boy, I holidayed in Weston and I remember it taking an eternity to wade through the knee deep mud to reach the shoreline – my mum using binoculars to keep watch.
Some 30 years later and it was a very different story in Prestatyn, where I recently spent an enjoyable weekend with my wife and 22-month-old daughter.
The Irish Sea tickles the split-level promenade and soon reveals the town’s jewel – miles of sand just perfect for family fun such as sand castle building and kite flying.
Prestatyn’s beach has been awarded a Blue Flag for its cleanliness and facilities, which is another reason why the Denbighshire town trumps Weston.
We stayed the night as guests of The Beaches Hotel, which stands in splendid isolation on the seafront, about one mile from the town centre.
The Beaches Hotel in Prestatyn
A warm Welsh welcome awaited us in the spacious reception lounge and the excellent customer service was also evident during dinner, breakfast and at check-out.
We booked into an inter-connecting family room which had what I’d call a proper sea view, as do most of the hotel’s 69 rooms. The others face the Prestatyn hills.
The restaurant, which sources its food locally, offers a real taste of Wales and our evening meals were of a quality far greater than you would expect from a 3-star hotel.
Hotel Choices included Welsh lamb shanks and, for those with a big appetite, Beaches Surf & Turf – Welsh sirloin steak served with tiger prawns, onion rings and chunky chips.
On the sea front, the Promenade Bar also offers a choice of lunches and snacks which can be enjoyed on the large outdoor seating area when the weather is behaving.
The Beaches also has an excellent indoor swimming pool with whirlpool, steam room and sauna, although when we visited the changing rooms seemed in need of some TLC.
There’s a small gym, free parking and free wi-fi throughout while right next door is a championship links golf course, established in 1905 (from £15 for 18 holes in winter).
Prestatyn has a few claims to fame. It was the childhood home of Countdown’s Carol Vorderman and the birthplace of Labour bruiser John Prescott (brains and brawn, eh?)
Most importantly, it’s the starting (or finishing) point of the Offa’s Dyke National Trail, which skirts the present England-Wales border for 176 miles to the Severn estuary at Chepstow.
The defensive earthwork was built on the orders of Offa in the eighth century, probably to divide his Kingdom of Mercia from rival kingdoms in what is now Wales.
Prestatyn’s history dates back even further, to Roman times, and the remains of three buildings were discovered in 1984, the best preserved being a bathhouse.
Indeed, history lovers are spoilt for choice in the area with medieval castles at Rhuddlan, Flint and Denbigh, plus Basingwerk Abbey and St Winifride’s Well in the town of Holywell.
Even closer is Prestatyn’s sister seaside resort, Rhyl, where you’ll find a theatre, a miniature railway, a tropical water park and an aquarium with sea lion shows.
If that sounds a little lively, remember you can just roll out of bed and laze on Prestatyn’s golden sands when staying at The Beaches.
The Beaches Hotel, Prestatyn, is part of the respected Castle Hotel Group, which has a collection of successful hotels in Ireland plus two in Highland Perthshire. The Beaches is now offering a two-night ‘Autumn/ Winter Dinner Getaway’ for £79 per person. The deal includes two nights B&B plus a complimentary dinner for two with wine on the first night. Children up 14 stay free and just pay for any meals they have. Call 01745 853072 or click on www.thebeacheshotel.com