Sea, sand and (fingers crossed) sun await at Cornwall’s St Ives Harbour Hotel. This Porthminster Beach bolthole basks in the famously lovely light of this artist-retreat town on the north-Cornish coast. Those artists may have come to paint the sea and sky, but you can just admire it – right from your colourful room if you’re lucky (though only a handful of rooms face inland). There’s a HarSpa and a HarBar to keep you entertained, decanters of local gin and sherry to help yourself to in your room, and a terrace on which to eat sublime seafood and marvel at the hazy pinky glow bestowed every evening on this seaside sanctuary.
Double rooms from £184.50, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates usually include a buffet breakfast with hot and cold options; a Full English breakfast is available for an extra charge.
You might be able to see it from your room, but if you want to get up close and personal, Porthminster Beach is a five-minute walk away.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, valet parking, beach, gym. In rooms: free gin and sherry, free bottled water, free White Company bath products and flatscreen TV.
Our favourite rooms
Most rooms overlook the water, so your slumber is likely to be wave-lapped – book with care if continuous beach gazing is a must, as some do face the slightly less glamorous road. Family rooms with bunk beds are available, as are rooms with different colour schemes, so if you really want a pink/blue/green theme, add it to the rider.
There’s an indoor pool at the spa – otherwise, the Atlantic awaits on your doorstep. Little Smiths can swim from 9.30am to 10.30am and 3.30pm to 5pm each day.
The HarSpa is free for all guests and includes four treatment rooms, an indoor pool, sauna and steam room (there’s also a sun terrace to pass out on, post-treatment). Massages are mostly by Espa, but HarSpa has its own range of coast-inspired products, too. Book your spa sessions in advance if you have your heart set on holiday pampering.
This is England, so you’ll need to pack a brolly with your sunglasses and a cagoule with your kaftan.
This hotel’s not wheelchair accessible.
All ages are welcome, but under-threes stay free and under-12s are half-price (in the same room as the adults). Extra beds and cots can be added, depending on availability; breakfast is an extra £10 per child. Children are welcome in the restaurant.
Right by the windows to bask in St Ives’ famous artist-adored light – or better still, out on the terrace.
Nautical but nice.
The light and airy HarBar (natch) is the cleverly named star of this seafront show, a restaurant revelling in the very best Cornish land and sea has to offer, including monkfish scampi, seared mackerel and Newlyn crab – along with various cuts and weights of steak. At breakfast, there’s a spread of cereals and fresh fruit, with cooked-to-order accompaniments. Big windows ensure it’s always bright, but the terrace is the ticket if it’s sunny. Assorted artworks do their best to compete with the crashing Atlantic.
The bar area is as bright and breezy as everywhere else, with colourful chairs and wide windows framing the beach. Staff will mix up any classic, but the signature cocktails are also worth a try – as are the local spirits and ales. Bar snacks (truffle arancini, salt ‘n’ pepper squid, Cornish-crab sandwich) are served all day.
Lunch is served between noon and 4pm, when dinner service takes over until 9.30pm.
A snapshot of the main HarBar menu can be served in-room.
The hotel is on Porthminster Beach in St Ives, on the north-Cornish coast.
Newquay has an airport for international arrivals, or those who just don’t like trains or roads. It’s about a 40-minute drive away.
The town’s train station is a mile down the road; expect the drive to take five minutes. Great Western has services linking London with the deep South West, including an overnight sleeper option (www.gwr.com).
Driving into the centre of St Ives will take around 10 minutes. There’s free valet parking when you arrive (drop-off bays are located directly opposite the hotel).
Worth getting out of bed for
Once you’ve sipped your fill of the free sherry and gin in your room and been satisfactorily scrubbed and soothed at HarSpa, it’s time to explore. The hotel has direct access to Porthminster Beach, handily, and both the Barbara Hepworth Museum and the Tate St Ives are a cobbled-street stroll away. Surfers rule around here and if you can’t beat them, you may as well don a wetsuit and join them – learn the ropes at the St Ives Surf School. And who doesn’t love a seal? Take a boat over to the landmass you’ve spotted on the horizon to meet and greet the barking dogs of the sea on Seal Island.
Have brunch at Scoff Troff Cafe on Market Place in St Ives, which offers all the melted-cheese favourites from Welsh rarebit to croque monsieurs. Award-winning seafood specialist Porthminster Café, right on Porthminster Beach, serves fresh fish looking out across the bay to the Godrevy Lighthouse. For cocktails, coffee, craft beer and most things in between, pay a visit to Hub on the wharf in St Ives. Nearby and with a helpfully labelled offering, The Rum and Crab Shack on Wharf Road serves, unsurprisingly, local crab and Caribbean rums. For something smarter and yet more soul-stirring sea views, try the Loft, which has a shore-facing terrace and seafood-heavy menu.
Gin lovers will find solace at the dedicated bar in Fore Street’s Firehouse, which matches house-dried fruits and varying tonics with everyone’s favourite juniper juice.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this seaside hotel in St Ives and unpacked their buckets and spades, a full account of their British break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside St Ives Harbour Hotel in Cornwall…
The St Ives Harbour Hotel makes an art form of the British seaside experience. Fish and chips, Mr Whippy and cream teas all make an appearance during most trips to Cornwall, and a visit to this beach-facing bolthole is likely to feature all three. The hotel’s HarBar restaurant serves the daily catch straight from the fabled fishing harbour on the hotel’s doorstep, with all the classics present and correct, along with some more elaborate offerings, such as truffle arancini, langoustine, black pudding and white bean crumble, and wild-nettle risotto. The rooms let the view take centre stage (though be warned: not all have sea views), with the golden sands of Porthminster Beach on show and the artist-favoured haunt of St Ives a short spin away. The British weather may not always play ball, but we do like to be beside the seaside.