Luxury Guide to Cornwall
Cornwall may be the ultimate outdoor destination but holidaymakers making a beeline for the county’s sand and surf are missing out on a more refined, cultural side to Cornwall. Here we discover some of the finer things to see and do in Cornwall, from stylish restaurants and indulgent spas to vineyards where you can sample Cornish sparkling wine amongst the vines.
A fine dining destination
Whilst we love a good pasty (and firmly believe that there is no better post-swim fodder), Cornwall’s foodie scene also has a far more sophisticated side. Ever since Rick Stein put Padstow on the culinary map 45 years ago with the ever-popular The Seafood Restaurant, a whole host of first-class chefs have put down roots in Cornwall, enticed by the county’s fresh seafood and natural larder. Nathan Outlaw has established not one but two Michelin-starred restaurants in Port Isaac (his Fish Kitchen is pictured below) — not bad for a village with a population of 700. A little further up the coast in Padstow, Paul Ainsworth’s No.6 is another Michelin-starred offering — a firm favourite on the foodie circuit. On the remote Lizard peninsula, the brilliant New Yard Restaurant on the Trelowarren Estate has won a Green Michelin Star for its dedication to sustainability and ethical practice.
Al fresco supper clubs have sprung up across Cornwall offering delicious food in atmospheric rural settings. During the summer months The Hidden Hut, tucked off the coastal path on the remote Roseland Peninsula, hosts open-air feast nights (seafood paellas, grilled mackerel, lobster, crab — whatever’s caught off the landing boat in the bay) and has gained a bit of a cult following — tickets sell out within minutes in the summer so subscribe on their site to receive notifications about upcoming events.
Salty sea air, coastal hikes and bracing Atlantic dips: a trip to the Cornish coast is therapy in itself, but if you’re looking to take a break from the elements and are seeking indulgence indoors then Cornwall has lots to offer. The Scarlet — one of north Cornwall’s best-loved hotels near Mawgan Porth — makes full use of its incredible coastal location with its eco spa tucked into the rugged clifftops, featuring a natural reed bed swimming pool, a clifftop cedar wood sauna, and a candlelit copper tub to soak in. Treatments end with some time spent in your own suspended cocoon pod. Bliss.
The newly-opened PIG hotel at Harlyn Bay near Padstow has its own spa which, in true PIG style, is housed in the old potting shed at the end of the hotel’s garden. Open to non-guests, it’s fairly bijou inside with only two treatment rooms, but it’s the perfect place to wind down with a massage or sugar scrub, a hydrating body wrap or a refreshing facial.
Vineyards and distilleries
Wine enthusiasts will be pleased to know that they don’t have to cross the channel for vineyard tours and wine tastings. Cornwall has several vineyards, most notably Camel Valley, near Bodmin (pictured below), famous for its sparkling wine. The tour is led by Bob, the vineyard owner, and in summer you can linger with a glass on the terrace which looks out over the vines. You can even make a day of it and cycle from Padstow (10 miles) along the Camel Trail.
If gin’s more your thing, then you can’t go wrong with a tour of Cornwall’s most famous gin distillery, Tarquin Gin, near Padstow. Their ‘Cornish Gin Experience’ includes a botanical masterclass, where you’re introduced to the unique ingredients behind their gin, a walking tour and (most importantly) a tutored tasting of their core four gins. You can even take home your very own waxed bottle for a little extra. The guys at Pocketful of Stones run tours of their distillery in Penzance, where you can learn all about their story, from their humble beginnings in the basement of a London pub, and enjoy tastings from their range, which includes a damson gin, and dandelion and burdock gin and various whiskies. Hic!
Jutting out into the Atlantic on one of Cornwall’s most southerly points is the Minack Theatre (pictured below), home to Britain’s most famous open-air stage and surely one of the most awe-inspiring cultural venues in the UK. It’s the creation of Rowena Cade, who devoted her life to developing this site. Shakespeare’s plays, opera and adaptions of modern classics draw in the crowds throughout the year.
Located in the artist’s old studio, the Hepworth Sculpture Gardens is a beautiful little place to wander around, a sanctuary hidden away in the centre of St Ives. The garden features the largest collection of Hepworth’s work in stone, wood and bronze and you can find out how the Cornish landscape influenced the artist’s work in the little museum. If you still haven’t had your fill of art then head across town to the Tate St Ives. Don’t miss the super-chic Gallery restaurant upstairs with amazing sea views.