“There are very few places that you can go to and really unwind and forget your cares. The beach hut is definitely one of them.”
With over 7,700 miles of coastline to enjoy and inspire us, it’s no wonder the Great British beach hut has evolved from a Victorian changing shed into, in many cases, a luxury coastal retreat. And with the value of beach huts rocketing in the last 18 months, intrigue around beach huts is on the rise, too.
As Vicky Gunn, owner of Millie’s Beach Huts, joins the team at Ryan’s to read through the many Beach Hut of the Year entries received for this year’s competition, we caught up with her to find out about her own love of beach huts…
How did you discover your love of beach huts?
I’ve always loved the coast but it wasn’t until I was living in Witham, in Essex, that I discovered the real value of beach huts. And by value, I don’t mean in a financial sense – their value for me is in the shut off that you can achieve there. I was working in finance and for the NHS and a break at the beach hut allowed me to completely switch off from work and to spend proper quality time with family and friends. That’s invaluable, isn’t it?
What’s your favourite thing to do when at your beach hut?
We’ve spent some wonderful celebrations and holidays in the hut…from birthdays to boxing day. I love to use it as a base for going swimming, and the dogs enjoy going for a puppy play date. It’s a great spot for a bacon sandwich, too!
You live in Scotland but your Beach Hut business is on the Essex coastline – how did that happen?
I started Millie’s Beach Huts while I was still living in Witham and I didn’t want to give up beach hut life when I moved back to Scotland. The business is the ideal reason for me – and my dogs – to make regular trips down to the beach huts. We have a camper van, so we can take the road trip easy and it's never a chore when we know what’s in store at our destination.
You were a judge for the Ryan’s Beach Hut of the Year competition last year as well. Where did you read the entries?
Last year, the judging coincided with me being in Walton while BBC 2 was filming in my hut, Harley, for ‘Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr’. There were so many different uses described in the entries and for everyone, with the sound of the waves and the sea air surrounding me, I was really able to imagine each setting. There were some really moving ones, too. It’s a lovely job but a very emotional one!
What entries do you find particularly moving?
For me, I love the community-based uses that people put their beach huts to. There are very few places that you can go to and really unwind and forget your cares. The beach hut is definitely one of them and it’s great that many organisations and communities have recognised the health and wellbeing benefits they can have. The competition is more about use than looks, but a nice combination, with unusual styling and not necessarily around a theme, is always lovely to see. I like to see that people have put thought into the décor, incorporating style and function with clever ideas. And of course, as you can see looking at a row of beach huts, all different colours and sizes - individuality is key.