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Plymouth rocks! 12 cool city spots to get on your radar

Winter in the city! Where to eat, shop and stay plus hidden gems from the in-the-know author of a fabulous new book celebrating the Ocean City.

The marina at Royal William Yard

When the Pilgrim fathers set out from Plymouth back in 1620, little did they know a global pandemic would come along 400 years later and ruin the city’s best laid plans for a world class commemoration. While those are now happening in 2021 (yay!), it’s not delayed the publication of a brilliant new opus, Mayflower A Sea Change, compiled by a talented team including Crowdfunder co-director Dawn Bebe, ex-Channel 5 and Lonely Planet journo Juliet Coombe and James Edgar (Gordon Ramsay’s book designer no less).

Mayflower A Sea Change

A cross between a travel guide and a history book, it cleverly weaves the story of the Mayflower’s journey and its 102 passengers with the vibrant people and places of today. It’s also stuffed full of insider know-how, on everything from great places to stay, famous Plymothians, curious facts and hidden gems. I can’t decide whether to gift a copy to my dad who’d love all the history and the pull-out map, to my sister-in-law who’d love the insider info (definitely one for the coffee table) or be naughty and keep it for myself.

In the meantime, I tracked down Dawn and interrogated her for info. Here’s her top Plymouth picks you should know.

1/Cawsand Ferry

Not many people know you can get on a ferry at the landing stage on the Barbican, boat over Plymouth Sound and in just half an hour be eating an ice lolly in the quaint fishing villages of Cawsand in Cornwall. It’s a quick cute commute, and a super-easy day trip with kids.

2/Mount Wise

Most people know Tinside Lido, the Grade II listed Art Deco pool overlooking the Sound, but there is also the lesser-known Mount Wise swimming pool complex at Devonport. It also overlooks the sea, has three pools and stunningly for this day and age is free! And there’s a playground next door and Cafe Roma where you can grab a coffee.

3/Residence One, Royal William Yard

The Grade 1 listed architectural masterpiece, and Plymouth’s only boutique stay, is at the heart of Royal William Yard where you can enjoy living like the Admiral of the Fleet in one of 14 fabulous bedrooms. They overlook the secret gardens at the back, perfect for intimate wedding parties.

4/Plymouth Market

Plymouth has had an indoor market since the 1920s but it’s recently had major investment and is now full of super-cool stalls, including an Asian noodle bar, vegan waffles, and places to grab a coffee. It’s a real experience – a multicultural hang-out in the city centre – and a brilliant way to support local. There’s also an area where anyone can rent a bench for just £8 a day, so people thinking of setting up in business can test the market and meet potential customers while keeping their overheads low.

5/ Slogget & Son, Union Street

Union Street in Stonehouse was once down at heel and considered a really rough sailors-only part of town but now it’s ultra up and coming. Roland and Hannah Slogget have a long history with the street and have opened a home store, with loads of interesting vintage finds, mid-century antiques and Skandi chairs. Very on trend. Grab a coffee from The Clipper while you’re there.

6/ The Box

Pic credit Wayne Perry

I can’t not mention the biggest cultural addition to Plymouth in years, and the largest investment in the UK in a decade. The Box basically took a small well-loved museum, punched a hole in the side and transformed it into a world-class arts and culture centre.

glas fronted exterior of The Box, Plymouth

It’s packed to the gunwales full of fascinating archives and artefacts which had been sitting unseen in a dark room somewhere. There are huge ships’ figureheads hanging above you in the entrance, a life-size replica of a wooly mammoth (their bones have been found on The Sound), amazing art installations and The Box Kitchen, a stunning restaurant. It’s a really immersive experience and great for kids too.

7/View from the top, Crowne Plaza

The hip penthouse bar and restaurant at Crowne Plaza has been recently renovated (bye-bye brown carpets!) where you can get a 360-degree panoramic view around the city, over the Hoe and Plymouth Sound. It’s a cool place for a cocktail, and to get a bird’s eye view when the city’s amazing National Fireworks Competition returns next year on 18 and 19 August 2021.

8/ Rock Salt Cafe & Brasserie, Stonehouse Street

Here is a family fave because the bistro food is fabulous, it’s affordable and fine if you’ve got kids in tow. It’s a hit with locals for the casual vibe and its really lovely laidback atmosphere.

9/Southside Street, The Barbican

Southside Street on the Barbican sums up everything that’s creative about Plymouth, full of galleries, foodie shops and lovely people. Check out Gosh & Absolutely for super-funky handmade lampshades made from vintage material, Victoria Sewart and her curated collection of contemporary British jewellery designers and the Choccacino team room for artisan chocolates and cake.

10/ Identity Fashion, Royal William Yard

Pic credit: Royal William Yard

Identity Fashion is a totally inspiring place to shop for clothes. The owner Deni is Bulgarian – her mum is a fashion designer – and the clothing she makes is a mix of cool, slightly edgy day-wear as well as amazing evening dresses. Deni is brilliant at finding your style – you come out looking and feeling amazing.

11/ Jacka Bakery, Southside Street

For amazing sourdough, pastries and awesome coffee, don’t miss Jacka’s Bakery on Southside Street on the Barbican. It’s the oldest bakery in Plymouth.

12/ Royal William Yard

Once a naval victualling yard now an award-winning Grade I listed destination with flats, offices, cools shops, cafes and restaurants with jaw-dropping waterside views of the Sound. At the far end you can climb a near floating staircase (the ‘Stairway to Devon’) to take you up to Devil’s Point where rumour has it witches were once dispatched. Just inside the main gate is England’s oldest postbox (no longer in use), and evidence of the old cooperage, brewery and the bakehouse where they made the ships biscuits still remains. For more insider history, like where in the Yard the Churchill film was shot or where Alice in Wonderland director Tim Burton stayed, take a tour with Jane Dymock or book yourself in for a Plymouth Walking Tour.

Want to get your Plymouth-loving paws on a copy?

Why didn’t you say? We’ve snaffled four copies worth a total £100 to give away to four lucky readers. Get yourself over to Muddy Devon’s Reader Treats for your chance to win.

Find more ideas here

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7 comments on “Plymouth rocks! 12 cool city spots to get on your radar”

  • Amy B. December 6, 2020

    As a Plymouth local, I honestly would have mentioned the Barbican as a whole, as there are so many interesting shops and lovely cafes in the area. Also Plymouth Hoe, home to some amazing war memorials and statues, with all the associated history (e.g. Sir Francis Drake, The Beatles), the barracks, the Marine Biological Association, the cafes, Tinside Lido, and of course Smeatons Tower! We also have the incredible National Marine Aquarium, beautiful Mount Batten, and the gorgeous National Trust house and grounds at Saltram. So many beaches too, with the Hoe foreshore, Batten Bay, Jennycliff… Not forgetting that we are a stones throw from Dartmoor too, of course! It’s a truly wonderful place to live, nestled between the sea and the moor. So many beautiful and interesting little places to visit.

  • Sophie December 4, 2020

    Thanks for the shout out about our lovely Plymouth Market 😍😍 esp the thai food and waffles…… Both gorgeous – there’s loads of awesome food and great indys selling interesting bits and bobs. A great thing to do too on a rainy day as its all undercover and has a car park right outside. We are regulars.

    • lisabuckland December 4, 2020

      Why thanks for saying Sophie and also for the useful info about parking x

  • DH 368 December 3, 2020

    Love these suggestions. Just one point though Union Street is in Stonehouse not Devonport.

    • lisabuckland December 4, 2020

      Noted and changed thank you x

  • M December 3, 2020

    Are all the photographs above actually in the Mayflower book?

    • lisabuckland December 3, 2020

      No, not all but it’s certainly stuffed full of great pics on pretty much every page, including that amazing aerial shot of Royal William Yard.


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