On the North Coast of Cornwall, a mere five minutes from Newquay Airport is Bedruthan Hotel and Spa. Founded by the late Mary Whittington in 1959, the hotel and its younger sister, The Scarlet, are now run by Mary’s daughters, Debbie, Emma and Rebecca.
Originally built ‘to echo California’s modern desert houses’, it’s apparent (even on a cold January afternoon) that the hotel has ‘a touch of the Slim Aarons’ about it. The vibe is relaxed, friendly and boasts breathtaking views of Mawgan Porth Bay.
The Cornish holiday has become a popular choice in recent years and if the local newspaper is anything to go by, Mawgan Porth has seen more than its fair share of the action. In fact, the once sleepy village of St. Mawgan has been a hot topic around these parts lately, with locals dubbing it ‘ ‘Hollywood-on-sea’. Stanley Tucci, Chris Martin, Jason Momoa and Rosie Huntington-Whitely have all purchased property in the area. Cate Blanchett is the latest A-lister rumoured to have succumbed to the village’s charms and is said to be building a house on the bay’s picturesque clifftop.
We visit in mid-January on a ‘Taste of Scarlet’ Package which includes a two-night-stay in a sea view room with daily breakfast. A four course tasting menu in the onsite restaurant Ogo, a two course dinner at Wild Café and twenty percent off pre-booked spa treatments.
The building seems unassuming from the car park, but like an iceberg, eighty percent of it is hidden by the natural incline of the land. The ingenuity of it’s design becomes apparent as you descend the main staircase and catch a glimpse of the uninterrupted sea views, which stretch out towards the horizon.
The reception area and guest lounge have a seventies charm to them. There’s a tranquility room with high-sided chairs in soothing pastel tones. Cork walls, a roaring fire and G-plan furniture make it the perfect place to watch the winter tides ebb and flow.
The rooms are bright, airy and minimalist. Many have floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the bay. So much so, that our bed feels like a raft adrift at sea. A very comfortable raft I might add, with crisp cotton sheets and plenty of pillows. What more could you need? A super trendy hanging bedside light and a trio of usb ports? Well, you’re in luck, because they have those too.
The bathroom is recently refurbished and spotlessly clean. Should you wish to watch the surfers whilst you scrub, there’s a sea view too. If not, it can easily be concealed with a blackout blind. Guests are encouraged to reuse their towels – a message that speaks to the green ethos of both Bedruthan Hotel and Spa and The Scarlet, which bills itself as ‘An Eco Hotel’.
Out and About
The hotel offers unparalleled access to the beach below. A mere twenty metre wander will see your toes in actual sand. It’s the perfect setup for a beach holiday, particularly if travelling with small children.
The nearby fishing port of Padstow offers a wealth of fine eateries and relaxed harbour cafes serving locally sourced fish and chips or top-quality pasties. Newquay, a five-minute drive, boasts a burgeoning food scene that includes organic bakeries and small trendy restaurants.
Should you wish to stay put, there’s plenty nearby to keep you entertained. There’s a gallery space featuring pieces from the hotel’s artist in residence. There are workshops that cover everything from dry stone walling to felting. As our stay continues, it becomes apparent, that Bedruthan Hotel and Spa has an infrastructure to rival a small town; there’s a bakery, a cinema room and complimentary yoga classes.
The spa is home to a sauna, steam room, hammam and a jet-powered whirlpool with views of the deep blue. Log fires, herbal teas and comfy loungers make it the perfect place to while away a winter morning.
There is a sensory garden – sort of like an outdoor spa – that offers a ‘back-to-nature’ Nordic experience. There are wooden sauna cabins, steamy rustic hot tubs and cedar wood drench buckets to deliver an icy shot of endorphins to those who dare.
As part of the ‘Taste of Scarlet’ package, in a calmly decorated treatment room, I experience a two hour Ayurvedic massage tailored specifically to my needs. Following the completion of a short questionnaire, Natasha and I have a chat about sleep patterns, diet and health strengths and weaknesses. This gives her an idea of my ‘doshas’; the three Ayurvedic tendencies of mind, body and spirit. With my results in mind, Natasha explains that she will perform a salt scrub, followed by a Swedish style massage with Ayurvedic oils. Natasha’s gentle touch coupled with her own natural instinct, makes it one of the best massages I’ve ever had. As I emerge from a half-slumber, she welcomes me back into the room with some breath work and a soothing gong bath.
Breakfast is a relaxed affair with a generous and diverse self-service buffet. There is watermelon, berries, muesli, granola and cereal. There are milks to cater for every inclination and toast toppings for body builders and sugar addicts alike. There is a waffle iron with ready to warm waffles and oodles of maple syrup. There are chia pots with coconut milk that look like frogspawn but taste fantastic (I enjoyed them so much I’ve started recreating them at home).
Alongside the buffet, there is a comprehensive menu of hot options. In the spirit of January, we eschew the Full English and opt instead for the delightful Shakshuka.
On the first night, we dine at the hotel’s, Wild Cafe. My husband starts with a Tarquin Sea Dog Negroni – it’s a fun take on the Italian classic.
We start with a generous portion of the House Hummus that comes sprinkled with crispy chickpeas and Zataar. For the main course, I have the Pan-fried Hake that comes with an unctuous creamy reduction atop a bed of thinly sliced cabbage. My husband is delighted with his steaming bowl of smokey Clam Chowder with saffron potatoes.
We stagger towards the desert menu feeling as though we might have been defeated, but you’ll be pleased to hear that we rally and order a sticky toffee pudding with two spoons. I’m glad we do, it’s excellent. I expected the food at the family-friendly Wild Cafe to be run-of-the-mill, but its fresh, tasty and reasonably priced.
On the second evening, we dined at Ogo – the hotel’s fine dining restaurant on the lower floor. Style wise, it’s a departure from the light and breezy Wild Cafe. There a dark velvet curtains paired with Cornish slate tables and moody lighting. We enjoyed the four course ‘Taste of Scarlet Menu’ that came as part of our package and included a sommelier-curated wine flight.
The meal kicked off with house made bread served with a perfect quenelle of cep butter. Marinated Beetroot, smokey burnt cream, pickled walnut and sliced radicchio comes next. The forest floor flavours are lightened by a fruity skin contact Rioja.
For the fish course, A Sliced Orkney Scallop served with buttermilk, dill, caviar, apple and herbs. Scallop and buttermilk (a thoughtfully used byproduct from the homemade butter) are a novel combination. The course is served with a volcanic Tokai, that’s dryer than I’ve had previously and not at all cloying.
The main course is Chicken with Pan-fried Chanterelles, a shaving of winter truffle and a cabbage parcel filled with confit leg meat. It’s a delicate, but robust dish that works well with the oaky Pinot Noir.
For dessert, a perfectly formed Honey Parfait with crisp honeycomb tuille, lime sorbet, diced pear and a sprinkling of fresh thyme. The parfait is paired with a Muscat de Noel (a wintery desert wine) which compliments the honey-tones without overpowering them.
The tasting menu was thoughtfully put together and not too heavy. Ogo is a place where simple, local ingredients are prepared with care by skilled chefs. It’s easily one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in Cornwall.
In a Nutshell
Bedruthan Hotel and Spa oozes integrity and generous hospitality. The staff are warm, jovial and everything feels thoughtfully put together. There are no hidden charges and no overpriced minibar – you don’t for one moment feel like you’re being ripped off (an unusual sensation for this Londoner who just paid six quid for a flat white.)
I’m enchanted by this hotel and it’s authentic sense of simplicity. The green credentials feel legitimate and it’s impossible not to be impressed by the fact that seventy years on, the hotel is still run by the family who founded it. Whilst it appears that Mawgan Porth will soon be the subject of a major glow up, you get the sense that with steadfast businesses like Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at it’s heart, it is likely to retain the charm which made it attractive in the first place.
A stay at Bedruthan Hotel and Spa starts from £145.00 per night.
Bedruthan Hotel and Spa Cornwall Trenance, Mawgan Porth TR8 4BU