The best hotels for discovering Cornwall


The best hotels for discovering Cornwall

Boutique boltholes and luxury retreats for couples, families – and pets too – along the Cornish coast.

Kate Weir

BY Kate Weir10 November 2019

Whether you’re a first-timer or yearning for halcyon childhood haunts, we’ve picked five of the best hotels in Cornwall for discovering – and re-discovering – twinkling coves, soaring granite headlands, parks running wild with heather and gorse and seaside towns with immense charms. These hideaways are all set for romantic weekend trips, spa breaks, and luxury family holidays – and some will let your dog stay, too. From Fowey in the north to the tip of Penzance, here are some of Cornwall’s top spots to stay in.


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Perhaps one of Cornwall’s coolest hotels, the Artist Residence‘s laidback lodgings are set in piratical Penzance, just an hour’s walk (or 15-minute drive) along a sandy shore to Harry Potter-esque island village Saint Michael’s Mount and equidistant in the opposite direction from Mousehole village, which is every bit as quaint as its name suggests. Nearby is Jubilee Pool, Britain’s largest open-air lido, and Morrab and Trengwainton Gardens, where subtropical plants thrive. Just down the road you’ll see the quirky facade of Egyptian House and there’s skullduggery to be found in pirate-themed shops, attractions and nautical-themed bars along the coast. Back at your base you’ll find modern art that makes you look, vintage treasures and even full-scale murals in some rooms. We love the liberal use of colour throughout and the seductive brass bath tubs some rooms have. It’s pet-friendly and one of the best places to stay for families: cottages have bunk-beds and parents can let kids loose to play table tennis or nab a swing chair in the garden.


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Stylish boutique hotel the Sandy Duck takes a design cue from Scandinavia, with pastel hues, sleekly silhouetted furnishings and seductive flashes of graphic pattern, making it one of the more romantic places to stay in Cornwall. Locally you can go for a hand-in-hand stroll along Castle Beach, to admire still-standing-tall, 16th-century Pendennis Castle, peeking into rockpools as you go. Or wander down the road to Swanpool Nature Reserve to spot more than 100 species of birds and shy woodland critters. Lively Falmouth is close by for a spin through the National Maritime Museum and vintage and antique shops. You’re not short of heaving pasties here, nor pints of local ale – the Hand Bar is best for tap-hopping – and the hotel only serves a hearty locally sourced breakfast, so stop for seafood at off-the-beaten-path restaurant the Wheelhouse, where the owners’ fish are dropped off, quite literally, on the back doorstep.


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With countess of hotel style Olga Polizzi on design duty, Hotel Tresanton is one of the best-looking places to stay in Cornwall, and while it’s fantastic for families, its chi-chi location (it’s hard not to notice the Bentleys parked along the seafront) and Italianate elegance make it ideal for romantic breaks too. Surrounding St Mawes is one of Cornwall’s prettiest enclaves, with wildflower-edged paths, clear waters (ideal for crabbing) and chameleonic skies – staying here, you’ll hear the waves wash in and out as you drift off to sleep. And, sleep may well be needed after you’ve hiked the Roseland Peninsula or along the Fal River – walks that will take you past medieval St Mawes Castle, oyster fisheries, and St Anthony Lighthouse, plus a few pubs for refuelling. The ferry to Falmouth departs right across the bay, so you can easily stop into town for afternoon tea, rummages in indie boutiques and to check out the local dining scene. But, Tresanton is a spa hotel too, with talented masseurs on staff and its own petite cinema, so you can easily cosy up indoors too.


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Decked out in marine hues of blue, white and emerald green, and set facing the bay, Trevose Harbour House is one of the best hotels in St Ives for feeling beside the seaside in grown-up style. There are no less than four beaches within reach, with Porthminster practically lapping the doorstep, so you can sunbathe, get to grips with a surfboard or try your hand at mackerel fishing. But it’s not all Mr Whippys and sandcastle building (and destroying) here – the Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden add a spot of chin-stroking to a coastal break. Hop on a boat at the harbour and you can sail out to Seal Island, where its namesake creatures play in the water. And for more unmoored nature, follow the South West Coast Path, pausing by the Virginia Woolf-inspiring Godrevy Lighthouse.


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Revamped Victorian hideaway Fowey Harbour Hotel overlooks Fowey’s glittering estuary, and is a fine shout for family stays, pet-friendly breaks or gourmet getaways. Rooms are styled with sea hues (with decanters of free gin and sherry), sandy Readymoney Cove is just along the esplanade, and genteel afternoon teas can be taken on the view-blessed terrace. Staff can hire you a motorboat if you’d like to rev upriver, or point you in the direction of a rewarding ramble along coastal paths and into picturesque woodland (with a motivating picnic, of course). And, if you’re purely in it for the grub, take the hotel’s tasting tour of Cornwall’s fine cheeses, wines, beers, gins, chutneys, pies and more. Yoga and painting (of restful harbour scenes) can also be arranged, and here you’re just a 20-minute drive from the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan – both magical for all ages.