Cornwall has always felt like a second, more-sandy home to me. Living on the south coast in Falmouth for three years of university, I’d heard tales of the towering cliffs and rugged Atlantic coastline of the North Cornish coast but never had a chance to explore so it was time for a pre Christmas 2020 staycation.
Carved and sculpted by the sea, this northern stretch of the county stretches for over 40 miles from the seaside towns of Bude to Perranporth, serving up a wildly beautiful landscape along the way, made all the more exciting by the dramatic coastlines that hug spectacular stop-in-your-path beaches. It was finally time to pack the walking boots, raincoat, and some serious gusto to finally embrace the beauty of the North Cornish Coast.
Getting To the North Cornish Coast
Accelerating along the snaking paths of the North Cornish Coast in the McLaren GT towards The Scarlet Hotel feels like a breath of clean, country air. As you catch glimpses of the ocean, sky and autumnal sunset on the horizon, the anticipation builds as you continue to chase down The Scarlet Hotel – a discreet bolt hole, known as one of the UK’s most eco-friendly hotels, queen of enveloping you in restorative luxury.
The Scarlet Hotel
Created just for adults, the North Cornish coastal gem sits on the edge of a cliff-top overlooking Mawgan Porth’s honey-toned beach and some of the most spectacularly embracing sea views I’ve ever encountered. Stepping into the light, airy reception lounge, you feel like you’ve just got the golden ticket to a secret members club, welcomed by floor-to-ceiling views of the rolling Atlantic waves below. Our lovely welcome host Andrea appears out of nowhere, explaining the concept of luxury meeting the lush outdoors, with private areas that allow you to soak up peace and solitude.
The Scarlet Spa
With sustainability at the forefront of everything it does, The Scarlet is a spa-lovers dream, complete with two dreamy cliffside hot tubs, outdoor freshwater pool and a barrel cedar sauna boasting knockout sea-to-sky views.
With only Mother Nature and a glass of bubbles for company, the hot tub was the ideal activity to ease into the staycation – with a thirty-minute meditative session listening to the backdrop of light drizzle and waves crashing on the beach acting as the perfect soul tonic. Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in London anymore!
Another area to check out is their stunning Relaxation Room which has cocoon-like pods hanging from the ceiling where you can drift away following your treatment.
The Indulgent Room
The seamless experience continued into the Indulgent room which lived up to its namesake. One of 37 upscale rooms, if you’ve had a tough 2020, be sure to book here. Highlights include a free-standing bathtub, large monsoon shower and king size bed – cleverly placed to peer out onto the large balcony and natural beauty of the bay, with the mesmerising soundscape of seagulls, waves and wind making for the perfect lullaby and wake-up call.
Every detail of the design was thought through to echo the merging of the inside and outdoors – even the sustainably minded slippers which were made from recycled materials and designed for reuse after the stay. Definitely ones to pack with you.
On the menu
Ably adapting to Covid restrictions, we had pre-booked a dinner slot for later in the evening to have a little more spa time. Led by fearless Head Chef Mike Francis, the menu promotes the best the county has to offer, with the dishes shifting with the seasons to hero Cornwall’s innovative, organic and sustainable growers, farmers and fishermen.
Leading with the three-course wine flight, the sommelier Nick, the oracle of all wine knowledge, showcased some of the finest European vines I’d tasted in a long time. The beautiful and flavour rich starter of pan seared scallops with buttered leeks and hazelnuts were paired with a fresh medium bodied Alain Jaume Côtes du Rhône 2015 with notes of fresh elderflowers, honeysuckle and peaches.
Meandering through to mains, the monkfish with sweetcorn, bacon fricassee and truffled onion puree was accompanied with the pièce de résistance – a glass of Spanish Marqués de Murrieta – one of Rioja’s greatest Bodegas – with the bold vanilla notes making my taste buds buzz and I was quickly googling where to purchase this online when I returned to my normal, less luxury life.
Cleverly concluding the experience in a Covid world, the desserts were delivered directly to the room, enjoying a sticky toffee pudding with a glass of East Indian Solera Lustau sherry, in the comfort of bath robes and eco-minded slippers. Heaven.
Bedruthan Hotel & Spa
Another integral cog in The Scarlet family was Lee, the fresh-faced valet who led us to the next stop on our North Cornish coastal adventure: The Bedruthan Hotel and Spa. Little sister hotel to The Scarlet, they share a common aim of providing guests with a restorative stay overlooking the bay. Both nestled along the same hillside in north Cornwall, for the first time only the Wanderlust Escape allows a two-night stay at Bedruthan, accompanied by time to play at the Scarlet.
Cerulean chairs, retro settings and patchwork-coloured curtains framed the double sea-view room, which had a simple yet comfy set-up with equally bracing yet beautiful views spanning across Mawgan Porth beach. The highlights here were the powerful shower and made-in-Cornwall toiletries, which were mapped out to also let you peer out onto the horizon whilst washing the day away.
Providing an ideal base for those who plan on spending their days exploring, the general vibe of The Bedruthan, where the focus is on families, is much easier going – with the relaxed, friendly team, very quick to offer help but do expect to be patient, especially during these busy staycation times. Booking outside of school holidays may be the preferred option for those seeking extra calm.
On the menu
Dining at Wild Café – with even further sea views and pops of psychedelic colours – does what it says on the tin. The breakfast buffet offers up simple yet satisfying dishes including avocado with poached eggs and Cornish charcuterie and cheeses from the specials board, ideal for setting yourself up before a coastal walk.
Would recommend the five hours to Rick Stein’s in Padstow if you’re feeling extra adventurous. If you’re looking to escape it all come dusk, head to the adults-only The Herring for an intimate experience coupled with well-presented, locally sourced grub. Seafood takes the spotlight here, with Cornwall’s finest catches such as juicy scallops on offer whilst watching the sun set over the Atlantic.
Explore the North Cornish Coast like a superhero in a supercar, The McLaren GT
The Scarlet and Bedruthan are conveniently placed in an hour or so driving distance from some of Cornwall’s most striking spots including the little fishing villages of Falmouth and Polperro as well as the famous eco-park, The Eden project.
If you want to explore Cornwall swiftly and in style, the McLaren GT is your go-to. Sleek and muscular, our black model, which was revealed in May 2019, looks like a real-life luxury Batmobile.
Riding close to the ground, but with the comfort of a plush cinema seat, the monster 1200W Bowers & Wilkins stereo will add to the adrenaline rush as you slip and slide in almost slow motion whilst you accelerate along the winding country roads along the North Cornish coast. The seats even memorise your perfect position and re-adjust when you sit back in the car, adding to the seamless experience. The luggage capacity is great for a weekend away with a stowage capacity of 570 litres allowing two weekend bags to snuggly fit in the respective front and rear compartments.
Even optimised for use in tight parking spaces, the doors open upwards, giving you a serious entrance wherever you go. Not all superheroes wear capes! The GT does it all, adding comfort to the straight and sweeping five-hour journey as well as adding some serious fun as you fast-track towards your final destination.
Be warned though: this superlight, dynamic supercar is guaranteed to steal the limelight and will always turn heads, even in the most secluded of Cornish locations.
Five things to do on the North Cornish Coast
- Do the bracingly beautiful five-hour coastal path walk from Magwan Porth Beach to the foodie capital of Cornwall, Padstow.
- Then, reward yourself by pre-booking a table at the elegantly designed Rick Stein’s in Padstow – order the freshest oysters, scallops and lobster in the land for a total treat.
- Star gaze with hot chocolate and blankets at the famous Bedruthan Steps, one of only two places in Cornwall that are free of light pollution and only a ten-minute stroll from Bedruthan Hotel & Spa.
- Whatever the season or weather, be bold and book surf lessons at Fistral Beach, known as ‘the home of British Surfing’.
- Check out the turquoise waters and famous film set of Doc Martin in the small vibrant fishing town of Port Isaac, set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
In a Nutshell
A visit to the Cornish coast is therapy in itself: clifftop walks, sea air and sandy beaches provide the perfect medicine for burnt-out Londoners, a wanderlust escape allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds, staying at Bedruthan whilst playing at Scarlet.
The Wanderlust Escape starts from £485 for a two-night break, based on two people sharing a non-sea view double at the Bedruthan hotel, including a dinner in the Herring restaurant, a Sensory Spa Garden Experience and time in the thermal spa, plus a clifftop experience, use of the spa, yoga and a three-course dinner at the Scarlet restaurant.
To discover more about The Scarlet, visit: scarlethotel.co.uk
To discover more about Bedruthan, visit: bedruthan.com
All imagery courtesy of the hotels featured and McLaren.