Annie Lewis hits the Cornish coast for some winter rejuvenation at the one of the county’s most sought-after stays
There’s just something about Cornwall in the winter. While in the summer tourists travel from afar for its sun-lit sandy beaches, endless blue horizons and mild weather, the winter months lend a unique, authentic experience of life by the coast.
The quaint towns of north Cornwall — a region known for its surf and swell — often border a dramatic Atlantic, dotted with ‘white horse’ waves that have been whisked up by a rambunctious Atlantic wind. It’s quite the scene to behold, I find, as I watch the sea fringe the sands of Mawgan Porth from the comfort of my bed at Bedruthan Hotel & Spa. I’ve just arrived at the four-star, Scandi-inspired retreat, looking for a large dose of fresh sea air and rejuvenation before the Christmas chaos begins. And it’s here, on a blustery Cornish clifftop, that I’ve been sent to find it.
One of the hotel’s main draws, the spa is situated at the bottom of the hotel with ample views of the Mawgan Porth sands below. Therapists hand out fresh, white towels as you enter and make your way through to the cleansing hydropool, before alternating between the cedar sauna, eucalyptus steam room and lavender caldarium and pebble-walled showers. As my muscles start to relax after months of crouching over desks and squeezing onto jam-packed rush-hour trains, I feel now is the perfect time for a swim in the heated indoor pool next door.
A new addition to Bedruthan is the Sensory Spa Garden. The one-hour outdoor experience takes you on a seven-stage journey inspired by Nordic thermal therapies, comprising a fierce combination of hot and cold treatments. I kick things off in the outdoor shower, coating my body in an oat scrub mixed with foraged herbs, like rosemary, thyme and lavender, from the hotel’s gardens, leaving my skin soft to the touch. I then follow the gravel path to the sea-view, wood-cabin sauna, where I drift away a little further while my pores open, before being jolted back to life with a full dousing under the ice bucket. The experience finishes with a dip into the cedar hot baths, before wrapping up by the firepit while my feet soak in the warm, lavender-oiled copper baths.
If you’re looking for a more traditional spa treatment during your stay, book in with the hotel’s team of therapists who are on hand to deliver massages, bathing experiences and touchless treatments. A personal favourite was the Earth and Water Attuned Massage, where heated ceramic pods are placed on the body to reach deeper, tired muscles in order to release muscle tightness and fatigue.
Dinner that night is served at The Herring, the hotel’s on-site restaurant, which looks out to one of Cornwall’s most famous sand dunes through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The food here is exceptional. Ed, the hotel’s chatty sommelier, is on hand to pair each course of my meal with an appropriate tipple, kicking the evening off with a glass of Fowey Valley sparkling vintage cider — a nice alternative to the usual Champagne.
Our feast begins with freshly caught crab tartlets and mini pork bao buns topped with kimchi, before moving onto a selection of tapas-inspired starters: mushroom parfait with fresh sourdough and hazelnuts, chicken and artichoke nugget in bacon jam, tempura monkfish and corn on the cob with burnt onion ketchup. For the main course, my joint of beef with celeriac fondant and heritage vegetables was essentially a high-end roast dinner. The dulce chocolate dessert on a bed of chopped, fresh apple and macadamia nuts was a divine ending to a delicious meal. It was paired with one of Ed’s favourite sweet wines, Royal Tokaji Late Harvest from Hungary, ending things on a wonderfully sweet note.
In the morning, after spending the night in a sea-view double bed, I sauntered down to the brightly coloured Wild Cafe for a buffet breakfast of pastries, spreads and cereals. Being a Cornish native, however, there was no way I could leave for London without the cafe’s signature full English, featuring ingredients sourced from local farmers.
Out and about
For those looking to explore the area in between spa treatments, there are quite a few things to see and do.
Support local creatives at the Christmas Fayre
An array of festive-themed workshops will be taking place across the hotel in the run up to the big day. As well as wreath-making, little ones can visit Santa’s Grotto to post Christmas wishes to the big man himself.
Blow off the cobwebs with a blustery beach walk
If you’re looking for an extra dose of fresh sea air, follow the path down to Mawgan Porth and stroll along Bedruthan Steps beach. However, for a change of scene, drive for 15 minutes towards Trevose Head to visit the sands of Constantine Bay and Harlyn — two of Cornwall’s most beautiful beaches known for their surf and within easy reach of Bedruthan.
Visit the fishing town of Padstow
After a refreshing walk along one of Bedruthan’s neighbouring bays, travel for 20 minutes to Padstow for a bite to eat and pint by a roaring fire. The Old Custom House and Harbour Inn are just two of the traditional pubs in the centre of town, both stocking an array of St Austell Brewery ales and serving simple seafood dishes.
However, you can’t go to Padstow without popping into one of Rick Stein’s places. Stein, who employs a large percentage of the town, owns several establishments in Padstow, including Stein’s Patisserie, the flagship Seafood Restaurant and the takeaway, where you can order piping-hot crispy chips and freshly fried cod, haddock or hake to enjoy on the harbour — just watch out for the pesky seagulls.
Sea-view doubles at Bedruthan Hotel & Spa start from £150 this winter, including breakfast and access to the on-site spa facilities. Dinner at The Herring restaurant starts from £50 per person for three courses, with an optional wine flight for an additional £30. The Sensory Spa Garden experience costs £45 per person.