It’s hard to resist the coastal charms of Cornwall, one of the prettiest corners of England. Especially when real life in a bustling city like London becomes a bit of a nuisance. The lure of the laid-back town of Newquay, featuring seven glorious miles of golden sand beaches, is irresistible. It’s also home to the famous Fistral beach, which attracts surfers from all over the world. So it’s rather ironic that this adventure hotspot turns out to be the most relaxing three days of our trip.
My husband and I stayed at The Headland Hotel & Spa, a luxury Grade II-listed Newquay hotel with private cottages set on an exclusive clifftop overlooking Fistral beach. With staggering sea views all round, it’s hard to match this setting and we felt at home instantly. The iconic building, having been rescued from a wreck, has been refurbed in style while keeping the architectural character of the original intact.
The ambience marries quintessential English decadence with gracious hospitality, and it’s surprisingly intimate for its size. As a family-run hotel that has been lovingly restored, the detailing and care is evident in all aspects of the £30 million renovation – a welcoming warmth sets the tone while offering all the mod-cons you need.
The owners John and Carolyn Armstrong are celebrating 40 years since they took over the hotel in 2019, and proud they should be. They inherited a dripping roof, dodgy piping and even boilers installed at the time of the First World War! The couple set about the task with the energy and enthusiasm only youth can bring.
Standing proudly in its uber-prime location, it’s hard not to wonder at the sheer scale of this project. At Ecophiles, we love a success story like this – especially when the transformation is a welcoming, luxurious experience for guests, not just an ordinary hotel stay.
Things to do in Newquay
There are incredible advantages to a seafront location, and you’re never short of things to do. The Headland Hotel’s friendly concierge helpfully chalked out a walking path along the cliffs for us, and the views proved to be as sublime as she promised.
The beach is at the doorstep, so we could just pop in and out as we pleased. It was so soothing to just forget about the phone and the rest of the world, and simply enjoy some quality time to ourselves.
Sitting in our fluffy bathrobes after a massage in our sumptuously decked out room on the top floor, we lazily watched surfers tackling the waves in the cold Atlantic sea. The swells at Fistral beach can reach 4-12ft from autumn to spring, and if you’re a beginner, you can learn with the Surf Sanctuary, one of the top surf schools in Newquay, at the Headland Hotel.
If taking on waves is not your thing, you can try stand-up paddle boarding, kitesurfing and even coasteering.
With a glass of bubbly in hand, we were quite content to play cheerleader for their enthusiasm!
Rooms with a view
Our room on the top floor is spacious and beautifully decorated with period charm. There are sweeping views of the beach and cliffs – and it’s probably the best view from any bathroom ever. Lots of storage space, a freestanding roll top bath and a four-poster bed to sink into – it takes a lot of willpower to leave!
We dined out at AA rosette-awarded Samphire restaurant, but not before photo-bombing a wedding on the way. Executive Chef Christopher Archambault’s Cornish-inspired dishes score as highly on presentation as on taste, as he changes the menu with the seasons and the ingredients are locally sourced. The wine and soft lighting lulls us into a sense of contentment. Even if you aren’t staying at the Headland, I would highly recommend a meal here.
If you love a spa experience as much as I do, you’ll love the fact that you can just walk out in your bathrobe into the lift and head straight for the spa. There’s a hydropool, Cornish salt steam room and Swedish sauna to start with.
We book our couples massage in advance (a good idea, as the spa services here are very popular), and are greeted warmly by the staff. We are ushered into the relaxation room – a serene space where we start to shed all that unnecessary mental baggage we seem to be lugging around.
The team is thorough about probing for existing health issues, so that they can tailor their experience accordingly. We are asked if we would like a soothing massage or an invigorating one, which helps the massage therapists decide which oils would suit you best.
And it works like a charm! We emerge in a state of bliss to a glass of chilled prosecco. What more can one want from life?
As a family-run business, it’s easier to commit to better environmental policies and see through your vision. The hotel has a Pod point for charging cars to reduce the impact of pollution caused by diesel and petrol vehicles.
The hybrid machines in the gym help create eneergy, and an app helps adjust heating. The hotel is committed to reducing food waste, sourcing locally, recycling with inhouse initiatives and has gone plastic-straw free.
The hotel also works with the Cornwall Community Foundation by encouraging guests to make a £1 voluntary donation to help support natural landscape initiatives.
Overall, we can’t recommend this Fistral beach hotel stay highly enough. As hotels in Cornwall go, it couldn’t get better in terms of location, wellness and adventure. We emerged relaxed and rejuvenated, and it was the perfect getaway for sun, sea, surf and the best hospitality.