Escape to enjoy the simpler things in life while staying in the lap of luxury, overlooking an idyllic Cornish bay. Plus, have we found the best hot tub in the world?
The Scarlet hotel, Mawgan Porth
1 - The location
Cornwall may seem very far from the madding crowds, or indeed very far from anywhere; but once you have crossed the Devon/Cornwall border, it really isn’t really very much further to any Cornish destination. And the journey, whether made by train, plane or automobile, is well worth it. We would compare the coastal scenery to anywhere on the Côte d'Azur on a sunny day. And even on a wet and windy one, there is something wildly romantic and ‘Cathy and Heathcliff’, about the place – which, in my opinion, can only be a good thing.
The Scarlet hotel, Cornwall, is located on the top of Mawgan Porth bay, a short drive from Newquay airport. On arrival at the bay, you will notice a couple of seafood ‘restaurants’ (one cute café, one a fish and chips shop), a very ‘local’ pub, a mini mart (selling amazing fresh pasties), a couple of seaside accessory shops and a Pitch ‘n’ Putt/ Crazy golf course. That's it, folks. So, you really do feel like you are ‘getting away from it all, here - in a fantastic way. There is Wi-Fi at the hotel, but mobile phone signal everywhere in the bay is pretty much non-existent – hurrah.
The Scarlet hotel, lobby
2 - The style
The Scarlet excels at laid-back luxury, with a desk-less reception (they will know you have arrived and will come to greet you), multi-level, wooden-floored rooms filled with local modern art, giant window pane panels to make the most of the incredible views and cosy, comfy seating dotted all over the hotel, decorated in cool fabrics. The staff are friendly, (but not interferingly so) and will chat to you about anything from locally made gin to recommending clifftop walks and local restaurants, and, of course, the weather.
There is always an elegant place to put your feet up with a cup of tea and admire your surroundings, at The Scarlet. Which reminds me – one of the best things about the service here is the endless cups of fresh tea and coffee you can order wherever you are in the hotel. Instead of a tea and coffee maker in the room, you can order it fresh, whenever, and wherever you like. And if you are lucky, it will arrive with a piece or two of homemade shortbread…
The Scarlet hotel, bedroom
3 - The rooms
All of the bedrooms are styled with pale wooden furnishings, rich soft furnishings, an open plan bathroom to bedroom layout, and a separate rain shower. Most room have a floor-to-ceiling glass door to access outdoor space, all cleverly designed to offer privacy. Every room has a balcony, or additional outdoor ‘pod’, to allow the hotel to say that every room has a sea view.We stayed in a room that had a lovely balcony overlooking a grass-topped roof, with views to the sea beyond. However, if we visited again, I would definitely look to book into one of the rooms with a patio and uninterrupted views down to the beach.
The Scarlet hotel, restaurant
4 - The food
Being our first trip to Cornwall as adults, we saw it as our duty to try all the fresh produce Cornwall had to offer. So, once we had worked our way through the fish and chips and pasties (twice) from the local eateries, we wondered if the food at The Scarlet could match up…
Obviously, it excelled our expectations, with a seasonally changeable lunch and dinner menu full of local produce offering classic British and Italian dishes with a modern twist. The pork belly, served with a cut of pork loin, broccoli and crackling was ‘melt in the mouth’, and caused plenty of food envy. We are, however, pretty good at sharing food, so I was also able to nab some tender monkfish from his plate, in exchange. In between courses, we were served a tasty and palate cleansing apple sorbet, and finished with a honeycomb bombe desert filled with crème pâtissière, with a side of pistachio cake and raspberries.
The wine list includes wines by local artisan growers, which you really should try as they will not disappoint and make a great accompaniment to the food. You can finish dinner with a cocktail in the bar area, which is above the restaurant, then let your dinner go down before bed with an evening game of pool. Breakfast is equally exciting, with everything from the healthy (haddock and poached egg) to the naughty but nice (local cheese toastie with bacon).
The restaurant is especially beautiful during the day, as the huge window offers uninterrupted views down to the bay. And at night, it becomes cosy, decorated with splashes of crimson and lots of wood. I would recommend booking one of the booths for two, and not sitting at the window at night – otherwise you will find yourself staring back at your reflections.
The spa, swimming pool
5 - The spa
Sometimes a spa can feel like an ‘add on’ to a weekend break or holiday, but at The Scarlet, the focus is on holistic wellbeing and Ayurvedic treatments, with a menu of ‘journeys’ (lasting up to four hours) on offer. The tented treatment rooms and suspended, darkened pods are perfect for deep relaxation. A therapist will discuss your needs and any particular issues before escorting you to one of the rooms. You don't need to book a treatment to enjoy the lovely pool or steam room and sauna. It is especially nice to swim in the pool at sunset, thanks to the big windows and views over the bay.
The new ‘pregnancy journey’ treatment, can last between three and four hours, and after a consultation with a therapist, you are scrubbed, massaged and pampered with a range of beautiful Pai products. The journey includes a scrub to revitalise, then a shower, and a guided meditation to calm your mind. You then choose as many elements as you’d like, from: an ache and pain relieveing massage, a bump nourishing body wrap, a warm scalp oil massage and facial therapy to tone and plump. A pregnancy pillow can be used throughout, to help you feel most comfortable, and the therapists are well-trained and offer helpful advice. Just listening to their calming tones made me feel instantly more relaxed! After your scrub and shower, you are given half an hour to relax in the spa light relaxation room, or by the natural pool, and are served a fruit plate. It may take a little time to relax into the beauty of having nothing to do but hang out in a robe, but once you do, it is pure bliss.
There is a selection of excellent yoga classes to sign up for, including group yoga on the beach and a group or one-to-one pregnancy yoga class - which is all about breathing control, nourishing your baby and taking time to relax and prepare for giving birth. The teacher, Anna, is such a kind and gentle person - the perfect person to learn calming techniques from.
The Scarlet offers a range of holiday packages, including tailored spa breaks, yoga breaks, babymoon packages and lots more.
6 - Hot tubs
The spa at The Scarlet extends to the outside area, where there is a natural pool (warning: this is colder than the sea), and a couple of hot tubs, which can be booked for half an hour slots, for an extra charge. The hot tubs are perched between huge boulders and each has a side table, perfect for resting your glass of Prosecco. Sitting beside your love in a hot tub while gazing out over a beautiful Cornish bay must be one of life’s best experiences. Sadly, it is all too short, but an assistant will bring you comforting towels and robes when your time is up.
Tip: Taking a dip in the natural pool is a must, but make sure you have the hot tubs lined up for afterwards, to warm yourselves up!
7 - Taking the dog for a walk
If you wish to bring your pet, dogs can stay at the hotel for £15 per night, and there are two dog-friendly rooms available for booking. If you don’t have a dog, but like the idea of walking one along the beach or over cliff tops, you can book in a slot with the hotel’s dog, jasper – although book ahead, as he has a busy schedule… Walking, with or without a dog, is without a doubt the best way to see Cornwall’s spectacular coastline. The views from The Scarlet hotel, whether at sunrise, in brilliant sunshine, through a storm or at sunset, are unforgettable.
- - The Scarlet, Tredragon Road, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall TR8 4DQ
- - Newquay airport is two miles away; fly here from other parts of Europe and the UK, including London Gatwick, Manchester and Inverness with Flybe (www.flybe.com).
- - Bodmin Parkway Station is a 30-minute drive from the hotel, visit www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk
- - Free valet parking onsite is provided for guests.
- - Visit The Scarlet website to check latest prices and packages on offer.
You can buy Pai skincare products online - we love the exfoliator, in particular