Hidden coves, crumbling castles and cliff-framed beaches – Cornwall will always hold eternal appeal for those who love a quintessential seaside scene. But a new wave of hip openings is also giving the English Riviera an urban edge.
What’s not to love about a traditional Cornish holiday? But while many of us may simply be happy to be beside the seaside, it seems that Cornwall is not content to rest on its laurels. Adding to its age-old charm is a raft of cool restaurants, boutique hotels and art installations, that wouldn’t be out of place in Shoreditch. Here’s my pick of the best.
UP AND COMING
St Austell is the latest Cornish corner to undergo a makeover. Set to bring some razzle dazzle to this area of the south coast is the £250m Carlyon Beach regeneration project starting this year and which will encompass luxury hotels, restaurants, spas and shopping. Cannis Rock Apartments, just outside St Austell, is already ahead of the curve. The contemporary home-from-homes have magnificent panoramic sea views – perfect for those in the know (holidaycottages.co.uk).
Forget seafood, the humble burger is making waves on the coast. Inspired by the street food found in New York’s Williamsburg district, Hubbox started life as a restaurant pop-up in a 30-foot shipping container. It now has four permanent sites, the newest being in St Austell, all with industrial-feel interiors and award-winning burgers (hubbox.co.uk). Sam’s At The Bay, meanwhile, is the latest project by local restaurateur Sam Sixton. The tiki hut on Crinnis Beach serves burgers, moules mariniere and craft beers set to a soundtrack of chill-out tunes and live music (weather permitting, samscornwall.co.uk).
MEALS ON WHEELS
Perfect for foodies wanting to burn off the calories is a new gourmet cycling tour of west Cornwall. The five-day itinerary, by Cornish Cycle Tours, covers 106 miles and takes in foodie hotspots at St Ives, Marazion and Porthleven, the site of Rick Stein’s newest harbourside restaurant Rick Stein Porthleven (rickstein.com). Cycle hire, luggage transfers and accommodation are all provided, cream teas are optional (cornishcycletours.co.uk).
Having won a Michelin star for his Padstow restaurant Number 6 and critical acclaim for his Italian eaterie Rojano’s In The Square, chef Paul Ainsworth is now venturing into the world of boutique hotels. Set to open this summer Padstow Townhouse will offer just six rooms in the heart of Padstow, north Cornwall’s answer to the Hamptons. Expect quirky interiors in an 18th century building (paul-ainsworth.co.uk).
With its marine stripes and cool colour palette, the new harbourside St Mawes Hotel, is the ultimate stylish stay. With just 14 boutique bedrooms and in-house restaurant serving locally-sourced produce (lobster and chips, homemade pizettes), there’s a real buzz to the place (stmaweshotel.com).
SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR SUMMER
The Eden Sessions at The Eden Project (12-17 July, edensessions.com) will see Paloma Faith, Paolo Nutini and Elton John play their sets in the eco project’s natural amphitheatre. Meanwhile the endless days of summer are kept alive at the Sundowner Sessions taking place at Lusty Glaze in Newquay. Ben Howard and the John Butler Trio are just two of the names playing in what could be the most picturesque music venue in the UK (until 25 August, lustyglaze.co.uk).
With our climate steadily getting warmer, the UK’s wine industry is going from strength to strength. Cornwall’s Knightor Winery in St Austell Bay grows its own grapes in vineyards in the Roseland and Whitsand Bay and is gaining a solid reputation for its premium quality still and sparkling wines. Visit for behind-the-scenes tours and wine tasting sessions in the historic converted barns. Recommended is the Madeleine Angevine 2013 served cold with a leisurely tapas lunch in the Cellar Door Café (knightor.com).
PUT YOUR FOOT IN IT
Kite surfing and shark safaris are so last year. Cornwall’s latest offering for sports fanatics is Football Golf. Try your hand (or rather foot) at the new hybrid sport. It uses the same rules as golf but instead of using clubs, players kick a football into holes avoiding various obstacles on the dedicated course. Perfect for all ages (cornwallfootballgolf.co.uk).
BE PART OF THE ART SCENE
Cornwall has long been a mecca for artists – think Barbara Hepworth and potter Bernard Leach – with a thriving art scene established from the end of the 19th century onwards. A glimpse into today’s art scene can be seen at Porthmeor Studios in St Ives, which has had a makeover and is now home to some of the county’s best artists, such as marine artist Mark Dion and painter Naomi Frears. Sign up for an artist’s workshop (schoolofpainting.co.uk/about-us/porthmeor-studios/).
WORK UP AN APPETITE
From the Rock Oyster Festival (10-11 July, rockoysterfestival.co.uk) to the Great Cornish Food Festival (25-27 September, greatcornishfood.co.uk), Cornwall is leading the artisan food movement. It’s no surprise that Jamie Oliver is at the helm. As well as hosting regular farmer’s markets, you can check out Fifteen Cornwall’s head chef Andy Appleton’s locally sourced dishes at Somersault’s Campfire Feast (23 July, somersaultfestival.com).
TAKE YOUR SEATS OUTSIDE
The balmy weather and spectacular scenery of Cornwall combine to provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor theatre. This summer Pentillie Castle, near Saltash, is opening up its grounds to a variety of companies and productions (pentillie.co.uk). Meanwhile, you can’t get more dramatic than catching one of the season’s al fresco performances at Minack Theatre’s famous Porthcurno’s cliffside location (until end of September, minack.co.uk). For more avant-garde tastes, catch 946, an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by experimental, nomadic theatre troupe Asylum (25 July-23 August, kneehigh.co.uk)
For more information, visit: stayincornwall.co.uk