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Hotel Highlights

  • Spectacular cliff-edge setting – you could hardly be closer to the sea, and there's a private beach
  • Fresh local seafood and fish from the Modern European menu, plus home-made bread
  • Owner-run, so service is personal and attentive, but never intrusive

Overview

Striking the perfect balance between accessible and remote, the main house of this boutique hotel has an incredible setting, high on a Cornish cliff with spectacular views over the bay and Driftwood Hotel's own private beach. From the outside it doesn’t look out of the ordinary, but the interior has been given a great deal of thought: the furnishings have a comfortable, homely feel, in blues and creams and natural woods – all very, very tasteful.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Driftwood Hotel with us:

A free bottle of house wine with dinner on one evening

Facilities

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Driftwood Hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

14 rooms, and a private cabin overlooking the beach.

Check–out

11am (but flexible); earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $347.22 (£221), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast, newspaper and, in low season, dinner.

Also

The kitchen will provide a picnic hamper on request.

Hotel closed

Driftwood is closed for eight weeks in winter, usually from early December to early February.

At the hotel

Private beach, terrace, seven acres of heritage coastline, TV room with DVD/video library, WiFi, parking. In rooms, DVD/video player, free broadband internet access, L’Occitane toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

In terms of both size and sea views, Room 10 wins hands-down: it’s the biggest room in the hotel, and boasts double aspect vistas and a snug little vantage spot. Room 11 (a Deck Room), has French windows opening onto a private deck overlooking the gardens and the sea beyond.

Packing tips

Frisbee, kite, binoculars.

Also

In-room beauty treatments can be booked if you need some TLC. A minimum two-night stay is required at weekends (three nights on bank holidays) for rooms. Stays of four nights or more are available at a discount – ring the Smith Travel Team to book.

Children

Welcome, but babies and small children are not allowed in the restaurant. There is a £15 charge for under-12s sharing their parents’ room (£20 for over-12s), including breakfast. The games room has, among other amusements, a PlayStation.

Read more

Food & Drink

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Driftwood Hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

Chef Chris Eden was formerly at the Square, and uses fresh, local and organic ingredients when available to produce his Michelin-starred Modern European menu; highlights include wonderful fish and seafood and home-made bread. The exceptional spread means the restaurant gets very busy; we strongly recommend booking a table in advance of your stay. 

Hotel Bar

There’s a wee little bar next to the restaurant, serving all the usual tipples till midnight, but you could also take a glass of chilled wine onto the deck or the lawn and soak in that gorgeous view from a comfortable steamer chair.

Last orders

Food: 9.30pm. Breakfast heartily from 8am until 9.30am (10am on Sundays).

Room service

Drinks and snacks only.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Chino chic: deck shoes, panama hats and cable knits.

Top table

A corner table in the new extension, or table 6 in the conservatory, overlooking the sea.

Local Guide

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Driftwood Hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

A stomp along the cliff paths for a pint in Portscatho. Make a boat trip to the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth (+44 (0)1326 313388; www.nmmc.co.uk) – the journey itself is worthwhile; the foot-passenger ferry from St Mawes’ fishing harbour leaves three times an hour, 9am–5pm, in summer, and once every hour in winter. Surfing is becoming the Cornish national pastime. The Extreme Academy, Newquay (+44 (0)1637 860840; www.watergatebay.co.uk) has the UK’s only ski resort on a beach and also organises waterskiing, windsurfing and more. Art-lovers will enjoy a nose around The Gallery Portscatho (+44 (0)1872 580719) or, a little further away, Tate St Ives (+44 (0)1736 796226; www.tate.org.uk/stives). The Eden Project is interesting enough to make a detour worthwhile (+44 (0)1726 811911; www.edenproject.com).

Local restaurants

In Portloe, the restaurant at the Lugger Hotel (+44 (0)1872 501322) serves seafood – fresh lobster and crab in particular – and has tables overlooking the picturesque harbour. Another seafood specialist, the wonderful restaurant and bar at Olga Polizzi-designed Hotel Tresanton (+44 (0)1326 270055) has romantic views from the terrace over the bay of St Mawes, and delicious organic food.

Local bars

Tucked away in the hamlet of Ruan Lanihorne, The Kings Head (+44 (0)1872 501263) is a proper, good old-fashioned country pub: get there before 2pm for the perfect ploughman’s or a hearty lunch of locally caught fish or pheasant (mind the shot!). In the fishing village of Portscatho on the Roseland peninsula, 17th-century pub The Plume of Feathers (+44 (0)1872 580321) is ideal for fish ’n’ chips and a pint after a walk along the cliffs, or a cosy evening drink. The Roseland Inn in Philleigh (+44 (0)1872 580254) does fantastic Sunday lunches, worth booking ahead for.

+ Enlarge
Bracing Cornish clifftop

Driftwood Hotel

Rosevine, near Portscatho, Rosevine, Cornwall TR2 5EW, United Kingdom

Planes

Exeter aiport is two hours from the hotel. From London Gatwick, daily flights head west to Newquay in only an hour.

Trains

Train stations close to the hotel include St Austell and Truro (both under 30 minutes away).

Automobiles

From the M5, you can use the A30 to get further west right up until the B3275, when you’ll need to follow signs to Ladock. After that, use the A3078 towards Tregony/St Mawes.

Reviews

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Driftwood Hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Benji Wilson , Square-eyed scribbler

This review of Driftwood Hotel in Cornwall is taken from our latest guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith: Hotel Collection – UK/Ireland Volume 2. I’m fairly certain that a man is not supposed to have feelings for a smoked mackerel, especially when that very chap is sharing a weekend with his significant other at a picturesque and remote boutique hotel in Cornwall. But I strongly believe that…
Read more

Driftwood Hotel

Anonymous review by Benji Wilson, Square-eyed scribbler

This review of Driftwood Hotel in Cornwall is taken from our latest guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith: Hotel Collection – UK/Ireland Volume 2.

I’m fairly certain that a man is not supposed to have feelings for a smoked mackerel, especially when that very chap is sharing a weekend with his significant other at a picturesque and remote boutique hotel in Cornwall. But I strongly believe that we shouldn’t deny our feelings, so, with apologies to Mrs Smith, I hereby confess that a smoked mackerel fillet with celeriac and apple remoulade, beetroot and banyuls vinegar has stolen my heart. Such a shame that I had to eat it.

In case you think that these are simply the ramblings of a wistful glutton, there is a link here. The beauty of that dish was its just-caught freshness: exactly the quality that makes Driftwood, and its setting on the south Cornwall coast, so special. For those who know Cornwall’s Atlantic shore – who have surfed at Newquay, or visited Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay – the south is its more modest sibling. Facing the Channel rather than the Atlantic, there are few big breakers here; the whole experience is quietly understated. The hamlet of Rosevine is almost defiantly difficult to get to (driving from the A30 takes the best part of an hour), but when you finally do arrive, you’re confronted with a craggy, stark beauty.

If sub-tropical, sand-hemmed south Cornwall is to your taste, then there are few better ways to enjoy it than at the simple-but-stylish Driftwood Hotel. You could hardly be closer to the sea: from the decking outside our room, the beach below was a five-minute walk, cutting steeply down through terraced gardens with pairs of chairs and hidden bothies for reading and thinking. It’s only once you’re down on the beach, maybe a hundred feet below, that you can look back up and see Driftwood as a whole. Like the landscape, it’s pleasingly unostentatious: the main, extended building is a grey-blue beach house draped languidly along the hilltop that could have been shipped straight from Cape Cod. In addition, halfway down the path to the beach is ‘The Cabin’, a weather-boarded, family-size hidey-hole tucked into the hillside for that faux-castaway sense of seclusion.

Our room though, was up top. French windows opened onto our own terrace with sea views beyond the gardens. Like people, some hotel rooms demand to be looked at and others are more modest. Spending too much time with a show-off can be grating, so you won’t find hot tubs, plasma screens or robotic toilets at Driftwood. Instead, the bedrooms are cosy, stylish and uncluttered: a battleship-sized bed takes precedence, and the ensuite is bathroom, not ballroom, sized. Lamps and mirrors are adorned with – unsurprisingly – driftwood, but that was as close as things got to frippery. Presumably, the owners reasoned that anyone wanting to cocoon themselves in a room with a DVD-library selection, when Gerrans Bay, the coastal path and the Eden Project (25 minutes away) are all close to hand, is in the wrong place anyway.

Bags unpacked, bed bounced on and free toiletries assessed (L’Occitane, since you ask), we chose the coastal path for our first excursion. From the beach, you can meander east, or west. We headed west for St Mawes, on what we thought would be a quick morning pipe-clearer. We got nowhere near, but did make it to Portscatho, a fishing village that’s home to a couple of pubs, some craft shops and Ralph’s Local Stores’ cluster-bomb pasties. Back at the hotel, we sat out on the decking and gorged on our meat-packed fishermen’s fare.

Our mistake was not to have looked at the dinner menu before we did so, because Driftwood’s restaurant is as dramatic as its setting, and head chef Chris Eden’s menu is a set three courses (or seven diet-destroying broadsides if you go for the euphemistically titled ‘tasting’ option). The dining room overlooks the garden and has views out to sea – but we barely noticed. Our eyes were focused solely on the delights laid before us: monkfish, pollack, john dory and roasted Terras Farm duck, offset with thimblefuls of frothy amuse-bouches and a cheese board that practically insisted we order a couple more glasses of wine to do it justice. It was impeccable, high-end cuisine, served by knowledgeable, unpretentious staff. The food and service all reflected Driftwood’s appeal – high-quality local fare delivered with minimum fuss. The fact that residents are advised to book tables suggests that Driftwood is a fine-dining destination in its own right, but be warned: we’d booked a massage for the next day, but when it came to tempering the effects of Driftwood’s temptations, we’d have been better off with liposuction.

Breakfast revealed our fellow guests to be a pair of families (kids are catered for with ease), some couples, and Buffy, the owners’ Lakeland Terrier – who was soon shooed out. And then, a drive to a fine pub (the Kings Head in Ruan Lanihorne) for lunch, before returning for a cat-nap and a read. Some people turn to chakra-balancing, hot-stone rub-downs or reiki for their relaxation. We discovered that slumping in steamer chairs looking out over the sea, with the sun slipping away behind the promontory, does it for us. If only my sweet, succulent mackerel could have been there to enjoy it with me.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Driftwood Hotel's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The setting, high on cliffs overlooking the sea was fabulous. The decor in public spaces and the bedrooms was excellent. The food was really really impressive, great choice, very high standard. Service also excellent.

Don’t expect

The bathroom (Room 8) was beautiful and huge, but really let down by the non-thermostatic, cheap-as-chips shower – it felt like such a small thing to spoil an otherwise excellent experience.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

We loved the location in an unspoilt part of Cornwall and the amazing views. The small private beach, beautiful gardens, the service (it's owner run which makes it more personal) and fabulous food.

Don’t expect

Struggling to think of anything but remember to book a table for dinner if you think you will need one as gets booked up quite quickly with outside dinners.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the family-run boutique hotel, with beautiful relaxed decor and gourmet food.

Don’t expect

Food needs to meet the Michelin standard at all times; it's very expensive.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

We had a superior room – very comfortable and spacious. We had dinner one night in the restaurant which was superb! There was good wine too. This hotel is in a beautiful position overlooking a glorious bay and a lovely beach.

Don’t expect

This hotel had no soul! We didn't care for the attitude of the staff – they tried too hard to please and at times made us feel tense. We won't be returning and doubt we will recommend it, either. Sorry; this hotel is not for us.

Rating: 5/10 stars