Cornwall is having a moment. New retreats, cool family hideaways and foodie delights mean it’s one of my favourite place to decamp for a while. Here’s some of the latest happenings… just in time for you to book for the summer ahead.
GET A HEALTH KICK
If holidaying to you means packing in as much activity as possible then head down to Watergate Bay Hotel. The family-friendly north Cornwall hotel offers a plethora of inventive offerings.
Just launched is its Swimming Club offering a sophisticated beach house vibe, all centered around a 25m infinity pool overlooking the ocean. Members and hotel guests can chill out in quiet secluded areas, take a dip in the pool or enjoy cocktails or pastries in the Ocean Room. There’s a gym and spa treatments on offer, too.
Outside on the cliff terraces, you can kick back on steamer chairs or soak the hours away in the Canadian hot tub. There’s also the boardwalk, which links the space to the beach and the Bay’s renowned Extreme Academy (where you can learn to master just about every adrenalin-fuelled sport ever invented– from kite-surfing to hand planing).
Throughout the year, the hotel also holds fitness clinic weekends, book in now for September’s Barefoot Running Clinic. It will give a new meaning to footsteps in the sand.
Being ahead of the curve was how Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall made its mark when it launched six years ago. It’s now set to be back on the radar with Cornish foodies (not that it ever really left) following its newly vamped-up interiors. The all-white, sleek dining room with its oversize hanging lightbulb lamps is sophisticated yet still on the right side of laid-back (this is on the beach, after all). Most exciting is the new Antipasti Tavola where guests can drop in and simply pull up a stool at a circular bar and relish mini dishes inspired by the Italian Riviera. Stand-outs include the Cotechino Lentils with Salsa Verde and the Polpette di Melanzane, washed down with a crisp Campari. Meanwhile, the main dining room’s open kitchen features a new charcoal fired Josper oven. Come sundown, dining chairs are turned in away from the sea views to watch the theatre of the kitchen come alive. Delicious.
If you thought London was the home of the pop-up then think again. Cool St Ives eaterie Hub has made a name for itself based on its New York approach to food.
The simple, but brilliant, menu features Cornish rare-breed burgers, hot dogs, ribs and craft beers. But its runaway success has been its pop-up counterpart, Hub Box, based in Lemon Quay in Truro.
Created from an old shipping container, the metal doors have been replaced with glass ones and the interior features bespoke artworks and room for 20 diners. The pared-back menu features a special mackerel burger with beetroot jam and pulled pork sandwiches. Catch it while you can.
ON THE HORIZON
When it comes to amazing fish restaurants, there’s no beating Cornwall. Padstow-based Rick Stein, of course, is considered the king of the scene but acclaimed chef Nathan Outlaw could soon be claiming that crown. His restaurant Nathan Outlaw at the St Enodoc Hotel in Rock not only has two Michelin stars but has also been named Best Seafood Restaurant in the UK by the Good Food Guide. He also runs the more casual Outlaw’s Seafood and Grill at the same hotel and is now planning a new venture, Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Looe. Due to open for the summer, fishy fans can expect unfussy fish dishes (almost straight from the sea) in rustic surroundings carved out of a renovated harbour fish unit.
And if you can’t wait that long, then just nip to The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge to sample his oceanic fare at his London outpost Outlaw’s.
While Outlaw is busy cooking up a storm on the culinary scene, Rick Stein continues to make his name in Padstow. His new venture, however, has taken him out of the kitchen and on to a farm. Trevone Farm, a few miles outside of Padstow, is his brand new collection of properties available for holiday lets.
With interiors designed by Jill Stein – think coastal chic meets Scandi cool – the houses are ideal for extended family stays or a gathering of friends. Designed for all weathers, they boast outdoor showers, barbecues and al fresco dining areas for sunny days, while wood-burning stoves, huge sofas and reading corners will keep you cosy when it’s cold outside. Ideal for long walks on the Trevose headland, surfing on the nearby beach, and, of course, checking out those Stein restaurants in Padstow.
Cornwall has long enticed food lovers with its abundance of excellent eateries and wide range of local produce. But the new gourmet weekends being held at The Cornwall Hotel Spa & Estate are inviting gourmands to step away from the table and get hands on behind the scenes.
Check into the glorious south Cornish retreat at Tregorrick and you can opt for either fishing for mackerel and sea bass with local fishermen or foraging for wild edibles with expert Rachel Lambert. After a spa treatment or two, you can then taste your bounty at a special five-course tasting menu with matching wine tasting hosted by a sommelier from local Cornish vineyard Knightor. It’s better than singing for your supper.
One of the main attractions of Cornwall is undoubtedly time spent on the beach. Book into Marver House, which overlooks the stunning bay of Mawgan Porth, and you won’t have to go far to get your feet wet. Having just undergone a two-year refurbishment programme by interior designer Kerry Skinner, this is as far removed from traditional beach house as you can get.
Sleeping up to 14 people, the house features an eclectic mix of furniture, huge open-plan areas and bedrooms with Victorian bath-tubs. But it’s the outside spaces that have the wow-factor: where better to while away the summer days and long nights?
The decked terrace boasts a fire pit and hot tub and leads directly on to the beach, secluded seating areas are perfect to watch the sunset, while the outside shower found in a shepherd’s hut mean no time is wasted indoors. A beach lover’s idyll.
Budding artists looking for inspiration should opt for West Place House, a contemporary bolthole located on the seafront in St Ives. If the natural light that floods the house (and for which St Ives is so famous) doesn’t get the creative juices working, then no doubt the luxury design features will.
Upstairs, a state-of-the-art glass electric roof opens up to reveal a roof terrace offering blissful sea views, while downstairs a central atrium light well reveals a hidden garden – just the thing for still life moments. More inspiration needed? Then hop out of the back entrance of the house – it leads directly on to Porthmeor Beach and to the Tate Gallery. You’ll be in good company there. Cornishsecrets.co.uk
Lastly, the best of Cornwall are often the little finds that only the locals know about. The Hidden Hut café, for instance, is tucked away on the National Trust coastal path near Portscatho and St Mawes on the Roseland Peninsula. By day it sells local pasties, seafood paellas and organic ice creams (menu varies according to the day) and occasionally by night it opens to host pop-up feasts where only one dish is served.
Diners tuck into lobster and chips or mackerel grill, cooked outdoors on the wood fire or charcoal grill, then head down to the beach to watch the sun go down. Join the mailing list to find out dates.
Beerwolf Books, hidden away in the back streets of Falmouth, meanwhile, is another gem. Housed in a creaky 18th century building, you enter through a red door and climb the stairs to find a buzzy artisan pub.
Look further though and you’ll see shelves of books all around, for this doesn’t just sell excellent beers, it is also a bookshop. Books and beer? You read it here first.
A version of this article can be found in this month’s issue of The Mayfair Magazine