Cornwall? THAT blue sea is Cornwall?
Yes my friend, it IS! Which is why there’s just something about Cornwall.
And why it regularly winsBest UK Destination at the UK Travel Awards.
We’re no strangers to Cornwall. I launched the odd BP lifeboat down there back in the day and we filmed down there with Good Morning Britain when the kids we smaller. That was our first taste of Cornwall as a family and a love affair began!
I couldn’t believe how blue the water was or how stunning the beaches were. We were SO looking forward to our re-visit this summer and boy, did the weather smile on us!
First stop, the south coast and The Cornwall Hotel near St Austell – a historic 4 star manor house hotel. The hotel boasts acres of stunning parkland, a spa and impressive self catering cottages in addition to the gorgeous rooms in the main hotel. We had a standard luxury room in the main hotel which was spacious enough for the four of us, with the kids on a sofa bed.Unusually though, the sofa bed didn’t make the rest of the room feel cramped.
There was also a spa and indoor pool which looked divine and was open to families at certain times of the day. The coffee bar in the spa was also a massive hit with the best coffee!
Breakfasts and evening meals were held in the Elephant Restaurant a beautifully styled, light and airy room which set up every day perfectly.The food was faultless and loved by the whole family. The hotel had lovely little touches for a family staying – like Movie Nights in the bar and a Treasure Hunt to follow around the estate.There was also an outdoor play area, pretty close to the open french doors of the restaurant, which meant the kids could amuse themselves after dinner.
Things to explore in the area included The Eden Project, Lost Gardens of Heligan, the Charlestown of Poldark fame and Pentewan Sands beach and Mevagissey – both of which we explored extensively!
Pentewan sands beach is at the bottom of the hill – perfect for the kids to run around and we spent a very happy day on the sand.
Mevagissey is stunning with its narrow streets for exploring and twin harbour for watching fishermen with their daily catches, crabbing on the harbour wall or visiting the gorgeous lighthouse.
Next stop was a 45 minute drive to the North Coast and The Esplanade, a 3 star hotel on Fistral Beach, Newquay. Given that property in Newquay area is clearly in demand, the hotel has a phenomenal beach and sea vista but a very small carpark so you have to drop your stuff in reception, then go and park on the street. This does make for a somewhat stressful family arrival experience but once you’re in, it’s great!
The Esplanade boasts its own surf school which is great for families. It also had a pool and play area and the staff were wonderful, nothing was ever too much trouble. Even though the hotel was at capacity, the dining staff kept things moving but made you feel like you were the only people there.
We had a balcony on our room – something SO useful when holidaying in Cornwall for drying wetsuits and swimwear! There’s also a borrow box of beach toys in reception. Being able to cross the road and pretty much arrive on Fistral Beach was wonderful. The beach is SO much fun with the biggest expanse of sand ever and, since the north coast boasts way more surf than the south, popular with surfers and families alike. We were there across a Bank Holiday but there was still enough space on the beach to not feel crowded.
Lovely to be able to wander to all the restaurants and shops at the town end of the beach, perfect for an ice cream. Top tip from us though – everyone gravitates to this busier (that) end of the beach, with the amazing havaianas flip flop shower and shops. At the opposite end though, the Esplanade end, there’s the Sea Spray Cafe – EVERYTHING you would want from a beach cafe / restaurant! Wow! Set up by Kelly, Stephen and Chris, the place deserves to thrive.
We happened upon it by total accident, at the end of a full beach day of SUP, surfing and sand.
Trey and I felt we needed to research the cocktail situation (!) which, we can report, was outstanding! And THE NACHOS. Wow. If you go, you HAVE to order the Nachos – the best I’ve ever had anywhere on the planet and that’s saying a lot since we lived in the US for 3 years! Sitting on the wooden terrace, watching the surfers come out in force for their post-work surf was one of the highlights of our trip.
As was our next home from home, around the coast to Carbis Bay and the luxury of Carbis Bay Hotel. It felt like time stood still. WHAT. A. PLACE! We first spotted the aqua water as we turned the corner into the bay and couldn’t quite believe the colour of it, against the stunning creamy white sand.
Carbis Bay Hotel is in a class of its own. With a privately owned blue flag beach and the most spectacular azure blue water, it’s truly a hidden gem and you honestly feel as if you’ve suddenly ended up overseas. With the hotel, spa and incredible beachside restaurant, bar, panini / pizza and snack, shop and beach all owned by the hotel, it’s like a micro bubble of perfection!
Our room had the most stunning bay window and view of the beach and sea and two deep mattresses were put on the floor for the kids. It was pure luxury – proving that luxury AND family CAN mix. Not only that though – Carbis Bay has the holy grail of luxury for me – RELAXED luxury. So whilst it’s beautiful in every way, you don’t feel embarrased traipsing your Vontrap-set-up through reception after a day at the beach!
Breakfasts were generally taken in the gorgeous “I want this to be my home” Conservatory, with sea views and a relaxed vibe. Daytimes were spent lounging on the beach or paddle boarding, eating the most incredible pizza from the beachside Lower Deck.
The staff at Carbis bay are exceptional and the place is set up to cater for every taste – it even has its own Sunseeker yacht you can charter for a day!
We had a magical day wandering along the coastal path to St Ives, (took about 20 mins) and pottering around the lanes there. What a place! There’s a sweet railway which runs between Carbis Bay and St Ives which we rode back to the hotel – all 4 minutes of the journey spent excitedly looking out of the window and taking in the sights.
One evening we headed to the magical Rogue Theatre’s Wild Woodland Ball in a nearby woods. From the minute we arrived it was an incredible assault on the senses – in the best possible way.
Rogue Theatre put on shows all over Cornwall throughout the year – totally worth checking out if, like me, you love exposing your kids to anything and everything that will expand their minds and transport them to a magical place. Not much to say except – GO!
It’s pretty impossible to describe the experience and do it justice, let alone capture it on camera, but here are just some of the pics from a magical evening…
One of my mates in marketing has a saying: “It’s a feeling, not a format” meaning sometimes you can’t quite put your finger on something or someWHERE, in the case of Cornwall, being a success. It’s not always as easy as Step 1, 2 and 3 – it’s something you can’t quantify – it’s the vibe and feeling that something gives you. THAT’S how I feel about Cornwall.
It’s a special place. It’s a spectacularly unique chilled-out vibe that leaves your soul feeling refreshed and your family re-connected!
THE FINE PRINT:
We were guests at all three hotels for the purposes of writing this blog.
All views are my own.