The view from our room is extraordinary. It comes as no surprise to learn Weymouth's beach, just yards from our hotel, has been voted the UK's best as there's something for everybody.

Stretching out before us is a lengthy arch of pebbles, flanked by beach huts, which turns into a crescent of golden sands overlooked by fish and chip shops and penny arcades. A line of small children riding donkeys passes a white wooden lifeguard station on stilts keeping watch on the swimmers, kayaks, paddle boarders and those on pedalos in the foreground and jet-skiers and racing dinghies further out. These are, we're told, some of the best sailing waters in Europe. Then comes the most spectacular part of the view.

Seven massive cruise ships have weighed anchor about a mile off the coast during the coronavirus lockdown as the bay offers secure anchorage with the prevailing weather. It's some 432 years since six English ships sailed from Weymouth for the fight against the Armada, but with the scale of the vessels you can see why some locals are likening The Aurora, Britannia, Queen Victoria, Marella Explorer, Marella Discovery, Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Caribbean ship Jewel of the Seas to the historic Spanish fleet.

The location of our hotel, the Prince Regent, is undoubtedly its greatest asset. It's an imposing Victorian building on the Esplanade. So for us it's just a short walk to the pedestrianised town centre and picturesque harbour, where there are many young children are crabbing and other people getting a bit crabby due to the throngs here. These crowds peak every two hours as the bridge lifts its 200-tonne leaves and a line of vessels passes through.

The town's heritage is rich. In the middle of the 17th century, Weymouth was heavily involved in the Civil War and the evidence is still there. In Maiden Street, a cannonball is still lodged underneath a window. On the peninsula is the impressive three-level Victorian fortification Nothe Fort, but the queue's just too long when there's so much else to do.

The hotel is one of ten run from Scarborough to Llandudno by Daish's Holidays. The firm runs group and bespoke breaks, but also caters for families. The Prince Regent offers free parking to those not arriving by coach, which is welcome in such a central location, but we find it's a bit of a scramble getting a decent space. More importantly, our bedroom is spacious, even for a family, well appointed and clean. Equally welcome is the no-fuss check-in. Inside the hotel is clearly marked out with social distancing one-way systems, but that's one of few concessions to the 21st century. If you like your hotels traditional, this is the place for you.

Breakfast is served for half an hour from 8.30am and you need to be similarly punctual for dinner. Every evening there's a choice of about three starters and five mains. They are all well presented, well cooked crowd-pleasers, which you choose ahead of arriving at your designated table in a well social distanced dining room. Nothing is too much trouble for our waiter. For those not wanting to promenade on the Esplanade or dip their toes in the sea there's some simple evening entertainment laid on several nights a week in one of the hotel's expansive bars. To ring the changes, we head out of the hotel for a meal, and it's easy to find something simple for everyone. Pizzerias, crab sandwich shacks and ice cream parlours.

It's the tea rooms, however, and their cream teas that dominate in Dorset. They seem to be around each corner we explore the Jurassic Coast, a 95-mile strip of sandstone cliffs and fossil-rich prehistoric shoreline. Even more so around Chesil Beach, an 18-mile long shingle barrier to the large saline lake known as the Fleet Lagoon. While the crashing waves onto the shingle makes Chesil atmospheric, the undisturbed brackish lagoon just yards away on the barrier's other side seems a world apart. We spot some dark bellier brent geese flying in wavering lines and common greenshanks wading in the waters with their tails bobbing. It's also home to a mute swan colony at Abbotsbury. There's crowds in the village as it's the only place in the world where you can walk through a nesting colony, but there's just not enough time to do everything this time round.


T: 01202 078652 or visit Prices for a five-day half board break in October starts from £134 per adult, based on two adults sharing a standard room. Children under five are free. If children are aged six to 12 then the first child is free and the second is half price.