Cornish escape to Watergate Bay
Last weekend, I escaped to Cornwall for a long weekend with my friend Lavinia. Cornwall: the peninsula that sticks out of England’s southwestern tip, where names are Celtic-influenced, where surfing is pretty much part of one’s lifeblood, and where cream teas and Cornish pasties abound.
We were kindly invited to stay at Watergate Bay Hotel, which is nestled right by the seaside in the famous Watergate Bay in Newquay, featuring impressive cliffs and a wide beach that stretches for miles. I’ve been to several parts of Cornwall across my lifetime, but never to Newquay before.
To do: Whilst Newquay boasts Cornwall’s biggest (and best-connected airport), we decided to take the scenic route, and drive. It took us 8 hours to get to Watergate Bay by car (Google maps estimated 5.5 hours, but failed to factor in 2 hours of snail-like traffic through central London, and also multiple loo stops along the way), so when we arrived on Friday evening, we headed straight to dinner, and then bed.
The following morning, we were up bright and early for a beginner’s surf lesson at the hotel’s Extreme Academy, which offers all types of lessons in various water sports. Neither of us had ever surfed before, and were a little nervous that we’d be terrible at it, but we were put in a group of six beginner surfers with head surf teacher Karl, who instantly made us feel at ease. Donning our wetsuits, we headed into the sea, and spent 2.5 hours conquering the waves, and fully achieving surfer girl status…both of us agreed that this was probably our favourite part of the trip, and I’d definitely recommend heading into the sea with the Extreme Academy if you visit.
The hotel also boasts a slick and extensive spa labelled the ‘Swim Club’. Besides the indoor pool, there are private treatment rooms, a peaceful sitting room area where you can order drinks and admire the view through ceiling-to-floor glass windows, an outdoor jacuzzi with sun loungers, and even cute mani-pedi booths. The spa was probably my favourite nook of the hotel, thanks to its sense of calm, and the sweeping views over the magnificent coast. On Saturday afternoon, I was treated to an hour-long relaxing massage, which was the perfect remedy to my aching joints following our surf lesson that morning.
If you want to escape the hotel, nearby Bedruthan Steps is also only a short ten-minute drive away, and is a spectacular natural beauty owned by the National Trust, providing a beautiful coastal walk.
Food and Drink: The hotel boasts three restaurants, each with a different atmosphere and menu. Zacry’s is where we ate dinner on our first night, which offers a more formal British menu, with lots of seafood options. A buffet breakfast is also served here every morning, with cooked options, a continental spread, and even make-your-own-waffle machines.
If you prefer a more casual atmosphere, The Living Space is an expansive bar, lounge, and restaurant area with sweeping views over the bay, including an outdoor terrace. Head here for casual drinks, and light bar menu: you’re also welcome to grab breakfast from the buffet at Zacry’s and eat in The Living Space if you prefer a more relaxed start to the morning.
Meanwhile The Beach Hut is separated from the main hotel and located just by the beachside. With views right onto the sea, and a casual lunch and dinner menu of burgers, sandwiches, and fish and chips, it’s the perfect spot to eat lunch after making some waves (quite literally) on the sea. There’s also a breakfast menu here with cooked options such as avocado toast, and Origin coffee available. If you’re looking for a quick bite to take away and munch on the beach, The Venus Takeaway is a tiny hatch that offers Cornish pasties and snacks.
For drinks, head to the hotel’s latest opening, Watchful Mary. This beachside bar is a modern outpost with an outdoor terrace, and slick furnishings: with its beach hut-inspired interiors and live DJ sets on the weekend, we found it buzzing on Saturday night; offering cocktails and bar snacks, (including tasty cheese boards and crudites), it’s very much the happening place in Newquay.
Lastly, whilst not part of the hotel, Fifteen Cornwall by Jamie Oliver is the property’s sister restaurant, and situated right next door to the hotel. You’ll find a classic and hearty Italian menu with an incredible vista over the bay (we watched the sunset whilst dining here on Saturday evening): think creamy burrata and peaches, panzanella with Puglian olives, and fresh pastas.
Comfort: The hotel describes itself as a ‘ski chalet by the sea’, and it feels like just that. Rooms are minimal and modern, decorated in nautical tones, so that you feel like you’re sleeping in a beach hut. We had a Sea View double, which granted us incredible views over the bay.
Hotel staff were all super friendly and willing to please throughout our stay, from the reception staff to the chatty waitresses in Zacry’s restaurant. There’s really everything you need at your fingertips: multiple restaurants to dine in, water sports for the adventurous, a spa for those who prefer a more relaxing time, and of course, the beach right on your doorstep. Guests at the hotel were of all ages, from elderly couples to families with multiple children, as the hotel is very family-friendly, and even has a Kid’s Zone.
I wouldn’t describe the hotel as particularly luxurious, but I would definitely say that it’s comfortable, inviting, and an exciting property to stay at. Our visit had the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation, (with multiple meals thrown in for good measure), and we left feeling nourished by spending quality time by the sea and refreshed for the week ahead.
My stay at Watergate Bay Hotel was gifted, but all opinions are my own. I do not accept and write about gifted stays unless I truly enjoy them.