As unlockdown continues and the ‘new normal’ resumes, head to the seaside, grab a cream tea, watch the waves… and breathe
Beach Lodges at Carbis Bay Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall
Best for… A-list vibes
These spacious, modern beach lodges are the best of both worlds. Right on the Carbis Bay beach (just as stunning as St Ives but far less busy), they feel utterly private and self-contained, with jawdropping beach views from every floor – yet they are steps from the grand dame Carbis Bay Hotel with all of its facilities – breakfast is taken in the expansive dining hall and the conservatory overlooking the coast is the ideal spot for a Cornish cream tea. The lodges themselves feel like well equipped home-from-homes. Inside ours, the open-plan dining room and living room was of epic proportions, with a cosy fireplace for curling up beside on cooler evenings. Bedrooms were similarly large with squishy beds and balconies –one had a rolltop bathtub right by the window with views of the sea. Thoughtful touches included the freshly baked bread and lemon drizzle cake from the hotel kitchen awaiting our arrival, plus a well-stocked welcome hamper with Cornish fudge, jams and local Camel Valley wine. On arrival, pour a glass of it, then settle in the hot tub in your private garden, overlooking the Carbis Bay sands and Godrevy Lighthouse, until sunset. There’s a whopping (and sociable) kitchen, with an island, for preparing meals, or the hotel can arrange a private chef who can cook up a barbecue on your balcony.
Stella loves: The view, the view, the view… through floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the expanse of sand of Carbis Bay beach.
Out and about: Pack your buckets, spades and bodyboards – the beach, about 10 steps from the lodge, is all you need for entertainment. Walkers should make the gentle (but steep) coastal path stroll to St Ives – the path can be picked up just to the side of the hotel. There are plenty of dining options at the hotel, including the formal Sands Restaurant and more laid-back Beach Club Restaurant (try the steamed local mussels), or head further afield to St Ives for Cornish pasties on the beach – try Pengenna Pasties for the tastiest (and biggest) traditional Cornish pasty in town. Just beware of the seagulls.
Lodge from £1,200 a night, b&b (sleeps up to six); carbisbayhotel.co.uk/stay/beach-lodges
Read the full expert review: Beach Lodges at Carbis Bay Hotel
Padstow Townhouse, Padstow
Best for… Cornish cuisine
This 18th-century townhouse hotel, owned by chef Paul Ainsworth, is hidden on a narrow street in Padstow’s old town, among a jumble of pretty fisherman’s cottages. Inside, the décor in the six suites is quirky, with bedside tables made from vintage suitcases and minibars stocked with craft spirits. The bathrooms are particularly cosy, with heated floors and double showers. The highlight, though, is the hotel’s culinary offering – book a table at Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at No6 (a four-minute walk away). Don’t miss the scallops, followed by monkfish, all locally caught.
Stella loves: The hotel pantry, open 24 hours a day for guests, with a huge selection of gins, spirits and freshly made cakes.
Out and about: There’s plenty to explore in Padstow, known for its historic harbour – our highlight was pottering around The Drang Gallery (with originals by Sir Peter Blake and Damien Hirst), which has now reopened since lockdown. You can also head across the bay to Rock and follow the South West Coast Path along the beaches to Daymer Bay, where poet laureate Sir John Betjeman lived towards the end of his life, then walk up to St Enodoc Church, where his grave overlooks the bay.
Rooms from £220 a night, b&b, based on two sharing; paul-ainsworth.co.uk/padstow-townhouse
Read the full expert review: Padstow Townhouse
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Black Moon, St Ives
Best for… a sexy seaside bolthole à deux
This romantic one-bedroom cottage has the most glorious view of St Ives – double doors and a Juliet balcony in the living room look out on to an impeccably Instagrammable panorama of the bay and Gwithian lighthouse. Inside, the décor is sexy and a touch cave-like (think chic Game of Thrones vibes) with exposed stonework, fur throws, cosy cushions and lots of mirrors. It’s incredibly well equipped, with a Nespresso machine, a well-stocked kitchen and delicious-smelling Bamford soaps. Head to the secret basement beneath the living room, accessible through a trapdoor and down a ladder, perfect for snuggling on summer evenings with a glass of bubbly while you watch the waves lap outside.
Stella loves: The welcome pack waiting for you on arrival, with a bottle of local Camel Valley wine and scones with jam and clotted cream.
Out and about: The cottage is a 12-minute walk from the Porthminster Beach Café, a laid-back fine-dining restaurant with gorgeous sea views (it overlooks Godrevy lighthouse), which has now reopened for bookings. It serves the best posh fish and chips in all of Cornwall, and other excellent seafood options too. Prebook a table online. Art lovers will enjoy the modern-art tour at Tate St Ives, when it reopens – until then, it’s worth viewing from the outside for its impressive architecture and across the road is Porthmeor Beach that’s the best spot in St Ives for bodyboarding. For the prettiest postcards in town, visit the Whistlefish gallery on Fore Street, which recently reopened too – there are also prints for sale so you can take a bit of St Ives home.
Cottage from £240 per night, self-catering (one bedroom, sleeps two); for more information call 020 8740 3097 or visit sandandstoneescapes.com
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St Michaels Resort, Falmouth
Best for… ocean views
All sun-bleached decking and whitewashed timber, St Michaels Resort positively glows from all that Cornish sea air. The new Beach House extension has 32 rooms with superb sea views, giant cosy beds and monsoon showers stuffed with Elemis goodies. A major draw is the resort’s three-floor state-of-the-art health club, which has reopened since lockdown, though with strict timeslots to ensure it’s never too full (the changing rooms will stay closed). The excellent restaurant has also reopened, but there’s no extra charge for room service breakfasts and dinners if you want to cosy up for dinner in your room after a hard day of sunbathing on the nearby Gyllyngvase Beach.
Stella loves: The stupendous views of Falmouth Bay from the breakfast room.
Out and about: Head down to the beach, through Queen Mary Gardens – a mini sub-tropical haven that’s home to confectionery-coloured park benches and enormous aloes that keep their wow factor year round – before taking on the dramatic cliff-edge trail.
Rooms from £150 a night, b&b; call 01336 369 726 or visit stmichaelsresort.com
Read the full expert review: St Michaels Resort
Edited by: Laura Powell. Reviews by: Laura Powell, William Martin, Paul Clements