Southwold's Beach Huts in Suffolk, England

Home Away From Home: Southwold's Colorful Beach Huts

One of the stops on my wonderful trip to the UK hosted by Visit London and Visit Britain was the charming English coastal village of Southwold. Perhaps as famous and synonymous with the resort town as San Francisco's storied Painted Ladies is Southwold's strand of multicolored beach huts that trims the sand. Originally built as bathing/changing huts for Victorian ladies who wouldn't dare bare their skin, today the 300-some shacks, which stretch across the shore, are used to store beach essentials like towels, shovels, snorkeling gear, etc. Moreover, they're a place to just be and enjoy the sun, the shade, and the breeze.

But even measuring in around only six-foot square, the view of the North Sea will cost you. Ramshackled castles in the sand have been known to sell for upwards of £40,000 ($59,000) — and a record-breaking £100,000 ($148,000) — and on the low end, the huts butt up against the £10,000 ($15,000) mark. The purchase won't get you more than four walls and a roof, though. According to town regulations, beach hut owners cannot stay the night in these vibrant shacks, so they don't quite act as second homes. Some, but not all, have running water and electricity, allowing shrewd residents to set up a hot plate to cook up some swim break fare.

It's rare that Southwold's beach huts come on the market as many are tied to the deeds of local homes or owned by local bed and breakfasts. If you decide to make a visit to Southwold — which you should! — some hotels will rent you the huts for $150-$300/week, depending on the season. But, you'd better book in advance! Take a look at my photos and tell me what you think. Would you buy one?