There are some activities that are simply obligatory when you visit Cornwall. Lounging around on the beach. Rockpooling. Dipping at least one toe into the Atlantic. Eating a pasty. Driving around for hours trying to find the last car-parking space in St Ives. Getting lost on a back lane because you ignored all the warnings about not relying on the satnav, and then finding you have to reverse for a mile when you meet an oncoming tractor, which then knocks off your wing-mirror as it trundles past by way of thanks. Ah, Cornwall.
But there’s one way of winding down from the holiday stress, and that’s to book a hotel with a decent spa. There are some absolute beauties to choose from, with treatments ranging from hot stone massages to full-body mud masques. Some benefit from sweeping beach views, while others are hidden away in the deepest Cornish countryside, but all offer an experience you’ll want to return to again and again.
The best hotels in Cornwall are:
Neighbourhood: Mawgan Porth, near Newquay
If it’s no-holds-barred pampering you’re looking for, it’s hard to top this north-coast wonder, located on an unparalleled cliff top above the beach at Mawgan Porth. Everything about the place feels like a shamelessly decadent spoil – from the lantern-lit, tented treatment rooms, to the infinity pool that seems to reach right out into the blue Atlantic. The design is studious minimalism: sharp lines, soft lighting and plate glass, with cocoon-shaped relaxation pods and swoopy steam-bent chairs to chill in. There’s a hammam for steam baths and rhassoul for mud treatments, and outside, cedar-clad hot tubs where you can soothe your bones with a glass of fizz overlooking the sea, as well as a bracingly cold “wild pool” for masochists. Factor in sleek bedrooms and an excellent sea-view restaurant, and overall, the Scarlet really is a bit of a stunner.
Price: Doubles from £255
Neighbourhood: Bedruthan Steps, near Newquay
Sister hotel to the Scarlet, the Bedruthan’s focus is on families, so while you check in for treatment at the spa, you can relax in the knowledge that the kids are off for an afternoon of surf lessons, coasteering, screen-printing…