A visit to the Cornish coast is therapy in itself: clifftop walks, salty sea air and sandy beaches provide the perfect soul tonic for town and city dwellers. For a friends and family trip, we’ve found the perfect spot for self-catering surrounded by spectacular vistas. Or, to enjoy the peninsula’s exotic flora and indulgent foodie experiences, there are luxury hotels with breath-taking gardens and A-star restaurants to match. And if you’re craving restoration – as much as Cornwall’s irresistible cream teas – look to a stunning spa resort inviting therapeutic retreating.
Below, find five Bazaar-approved coastal hot spots for a charming Cornish getaway.
Winnow, The Village, Watergate Bay
Situated 250 metres above Watergate Bay – one of Cornwall’s best-known beaches adored by swimmers, surfers and sandcastle curators – lies cliffside self-catering collection The Village, with the newly transformed four-bedroom property, Winnow.
An eco retreat designed by Interior Design Masters winner Banjo Beale as the prize contract for the show, its interiors tastefully nod to the characterful county, blending reclaimed materials, vintage and designer pieces with luxury ‘beach house’ comforts. His aim to create a “little ray of sunshine”, drawing the outside in, is felt within Winnow’s light-drenched open spaces, and views of the sloping headlands through the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors.
Winnow comfortably sleeps 10 and is perfect for reuniting family and friends, whether sunbathing on the balcony, gathering around the breakfast bar, feasting at the long table or lounging on the pillowy settees. But be sure to enjoy the sociable spirit of the bay below, too, where more lasting memory making is guaranteed.
The Beach Hut, right on the sand, is the spot for tasty seafood fare and surf spectating with sundowners. Casual yet chic, the beach hangout is part of a collection of dining spots from the renowned Watergate Bay Hotel, another being Zacry’s – a refined restaurant. Here, expect wall-to-wall coastline views with equally spectacular seasonal dishes. Look out for the ‘Swim and dine’ package, where a three-course meal in Zacry’s succeeds a slot in the hotel’s sea-view infinity pool and outdoor Canadian hot tub.
When it comes to other activities, besides wholesome beach fun and sensational elevated coastal walks towards neighbouring Newquay, you can book in for surf and stand-up paddleboard lessons as well as beach yoga and workouts via Wavehunters at The Extreme Academy. There’s something for all ages and abilities.
Winnow, Watergate Bay, Cornwall; book with beachretreats.co.uk
The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth
Along the same rugged north coast at Mawgan Porth lies renowned spa hotel The Scarlet – no doubt named after the bleeding sunsets you can relish from the boutique hotel. For adults only, the vibe is sustainable luxury with the essence of Ayurveda.
The Scarlet Spa is quite unlike anywhere else. An outdoor freshwater pool (chemical-free as it’s filtered by reeds), gives way to clifftop hot tubs and a barrel cedar sauna boasting knockout sea-to-sky views. Behind it you’ll find the indoor pool, with a panelled glass front and side so you can soak up the outside from within. For more pockets welcoming peaceful contemplation, try the spa’s hanging canvas pods and silent meditation room. The tented treatment zone is where wonderfully different therapies take place: under the flickering light of lanterns, you go on ‘journeys’ experiencing rituals inspired by centuries-old wellness practices to nourish the mind, body and soul.
In addition, there are wellness classes. These don’t just focus on the physical; there might be guided meditation, mantra-chanting workshops, or a ‘spa school’ session as well as daily yoga.
If you want a structured way to enjoy the restorative properties of the eco spa, The Scarlet runs various spa breaks featuring Ayurvedic-inspired programmes as well as other special packages like the ‘Babymoon celebration’, for example.
Of course, there’s a lot more to The Scarlet than the spa (the Sea View Restaurant with its new head chef, Jack Clayton, is one fine example) but it’s this unique asset that makes it so captivating for those seeking tranquillity.
The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall; book here
The Nare, Veryan-in-Roseland
Off the beaten track atop the idyllic Roseland Peninsula on Cornwall’s south coast lies The Nare, ‘the country house hotel by the sea’. Charming and characterful, the secluded five-star sanctuary offers classical luxury, warmly welcoming all generations and their four-legged friends.
There’s much unique to The Nare. Its setting, above sheltered Carne beach – which is perfect for swimming and rock pooling – provides panoramic sea views from the hotel and its surrounding National Trust land. (Note: coastal walks here are epic, with guides available on request.) This scenery, plus the property’s beautifully landscaped gardens, can be enjoyed from many of the bedrooms and suites as well as the two restaurants, the tennis courts, croquet lawn, heated outdoor pool and outdoor hot tub – the ultimate spot for peaceful contemplation.
When it comes to the rooms, plump for the spacious Whittington Suites, found in the newest wing of the hotel. Ideal for families and groups, they can be used as one, two, or three-bedroom combinations, while two suites may be combined for the takeover of a whole floor, and all four suites can form a completely private part of the hotel.
Be sure to indulge in The Nare’s daily afternoon tea in the drawing room, complete with homemade and local specialities, but save space for traditional five-course dining in The Dining Room. An AA Rosette-awarded restaurant, expect silver service accompanying the table d’hôte menu, which changes daily.
More must-dos when visiting include investing in a massage with the wonderful resident therapist, taking a private charter aboard The Nare’s classic wooden boat to enjoy hidden gems and a seafood lunch while anchored in a quiet cove, and exploring the nearby Lost Gardens of Heligan on an enchanting day trip. One of Cornwall’s cherished ‘secret gardens’, restored from obscurity, it takes you back in time to the 19th century but with modern conveniences helping fuel outdoor adventure.
The Nare, Veryan-in-Roseland, Cornwall; book here
Hotel Meudon, Maenporth
If awe-inspiring gardens are a draw for you, look no further than Hotel Meudon, near Falmouth on Cornwall’s south coast. Set within a ‘hidden’ valley, its subtropical garden – leading to a secluded cove – is something else. Thanks to a specific microclimate, it features exotic flora and fauna grown to mature sizes not seen elsewhere in the country. While lush and verdant year-round, it’s thought to be most alluring in spring, with camellias, rare rhododendrons, and 10-metre-tall magnolias all in bloom.
Pathways snaking through the garden lead to Bream Cove below, a sheltered beach perfect for bathing, wild swimming, kayaking, and boarding. Nearby Maenporth, with its crescent-shaped beach, makes for a lovely visit and base for embarking on scenic walks, the Maenporth to Swanpool path – linking two beaches – being an ideal one for starters.
Back at Hotel Meudon, holiday moods are enhanced by decadent afternoon teas taken in the vibrant Freddie’s bar, the drawing room looking out to Falmouth Bay, or on ‘the bridge’ commanding views of the gardens, as well as imaginative nouvelle cuisine in the award-winning Restaurant Meudon. Local fish, meats and game complement fresh ingredients foraged from the gardens. Alternatively, a bar menu offers lighter bites alongside fine wines, artisan spirits, and classic cocktails. All options come highly endorsed.
To balance things out, fitness, yoga and stand-up paddleboarding sessions are available, as well as relaxing body rituals, offered in the hotel’s therapy suite.
While at this laidback coastal haven, also be sure to also explore nearby harbour town Falmouth (more on this below), to soak up the quintessential Cornish spirit.
Hotel Meudon, Maenporth, Cornwall; book here
St Michaels, Falmouth
With its hillside vantage overlooking Falmouth Bay and world-class spa, St Michaels (relaunched in 2019 following a lavish eight-million-pound refurb) is no average resort.
When it comes to wellness, it ticks every box. A huge health club houses a 17-metre pool and all-singing, all-dancing gym with various studios for the likes of spinning, boxing and barre. Of the abundant instructor-led classes a week, some take place in nature, such as beach bootcamps, yoga, garden-running routines, and tennis coaching on the property’s private courts.
Meanwhile, the stunning spa boasts the south-west’s largest hydrotherapy pool with its 21 massage stations, plus a Moroccan rhassoul, herbal Finnish sauna and various experience showers and steam rooms – including the world’s only Cornish sea salt steam room. Ample treatment rooms host all kinds of face and body therapies from the advanced to the holistic, and there’s a separate studio for pampering hands and feet.
Outside in the zen subtropical spa garden rests a red cedar hot tub and barrel sauna, plus loungers on the sun terrace – making light work of becoming so laidback.
For lunch, the Garden Kitchen has a delicious healthy-meets-treat-y menu, where impressive smoothies and cold-pressed juices accompany imaginative salads, stone-baked pizzas and plant-based cakes.
Staying in the resort’s newer Beach House, adjacent to the hotel, amplifies the holiday ambience. Light and bright with contemporary Cornish design, the chic, spacious rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto a terrace or balcony with side-on sea views of the bay.
Falmouth itself is certainly one of Cornwall’s most spirited towns. The maritime museum, harbour, gallery, and gardens are all worthy of visits, but you might simply enjoy time immersed in the quirky coffee shop culture or rewarding your fitness efforts with an authentic Cornish pasty.
St Michaels, Falmouth, Cornwall; book here