The dreamiest hotels in Cornwall for the perfect UK staycation

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    Boris Johnson will no doubt be holding court at this grand Cornish landmark when the G7 crowd descends on Carbis Bay next week. Super-slick, the hotel’s HarBAR Kitchen, Bar & Terrace will hum with power players for the G7 summit, feasting on elevated seafood classics such as fish pie and home-made seafood burgers as they gaze out at those wild Atlantic views. For a more immersive cultural experience, this hotel has its finger on the pulse of St Ives, with access to a variety of unsurpassed arts and shopping opportunities, including private tours of the museums and studios of the local artists’ community – from big-hitters Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum to the lesser-known Leach Pottery, founded by Bernard Leach, who established St Ives as a centre for ceramics. The hotel can also arrange visits to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, one of the most mysterious estates in England. Engulfed by the brambles of time since the outbreak of the First World War, this sleeping beauty was reawakened in 1990 to become Europe’s largest garden restoration project, where you can admire majestic tree ferns, giant rhubarb and banana plants, alongside rare wildlife and ancient woodlands.


    No trip to the region is complete without a pilgrimage to the Driftwood dining room, where Olly Pierrepont has taken over from Chris Eden with a seven-course tasting menu highlights of which include Cornish skate wing and smoked eel terrine with cockle beignets, and hand-dived scallops. Aside from the food, the place is fabulous. Driftwood is set dramatically on a cliff edge with views across the Roseland peninsula, a location torn straight from the pages of Daphne du Maurier. The mood is candlelit in the evenings – but in the daytime, it’s a different story, with soft, bright decor in nautical hues and driftwood design accents giving the feel of a charming seaside inn.


    The languid peace of this southern region of Cornwall has seduced cerebral travellers for centuries. Fowey is known for its Wind in the Willows beauty (author Kenneth Grahame was a regular visitor to Fowey Hall when it was still a private house, and it is said to have inspired the majestic Toad Hall), and Daphne du Maurier’s home is just across the Fowey estuary. The hotel reopened to much fanfare last year and is deeply cool – the east London institution Primeur will host a summer outpost of the restaurant here. The rooms are big, light and white, and the breakfast is dreamy; there’s also a great spa and delicious hotel shop. As you can imagine, the crowd is very Babington-on-Sea.


    There’s no more atmospheric place to soak up the charm of Cornwall’s north coast, with Padstow a short drive away and the glorious beaches of Constantine and Harlyn Bay next door. Here everything is fabulously inviting, from the dimly lit Map Room draped, to the storybook shepherd huts and the fabulous Potting Shed spa (filled with candles and great array of VOYA beauty products). But the real highlight here is the golden-hour dining experience that starts over a long, languid lunch at the hotel’s Lobster Shed restaurant, where you can savour plates of lobster either simply grilled or roasted and dripping in gouda cheese, crab rarebit or potted crab with toast and old school ice cream sundaes. Of such simple pleasures are the best holidays made.


    This Cornish grande dame feels more like a Provençal villa than an English seaside hotel, with its glamorous beach club, mosaic floors, whitewashed walls and bright flashes of colour from the pots of pelargoniums dotted around. There’s even a 26-foot racing yacht, Pinuccia, to add to the illusion of a holiday on the Med. Tresanton is set to celebrate 25 years under Olga Polizzi’s headship next year, and it’s easy to see why her award-winning formula kick-started the vogue for stylish seaside hotels in Cornwall. The sun-drenched restaurant, a chic niche in the cliff where the Porthilly oysters and Cornish crab salad are a speciality, makes Le Club 55 seem decidedly vieux chapeau.


    With a prime location on the waterfront of St Mawes, this 19-room bolthole has the feeling of a family home thanks to personal photos and sweet touches, including your name chalked up on your bedroom door. Cornwall is celebrated throughout: the owners, David and Karen Richards, commissioned Cornish artists and artisans to design the menus and produce the house wine, alongside a personalised guidebook showcasing the region’s spectacular walking trails. The restaurant is another major draw, with head chef Dorian Janmaat (who sharpened his skills at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons) flash-frying local scallops, grilling seabass and whipping up a divine crab risotto to enjoy with views out across the water.

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