Taste of the Bay in North Cornwall
A spectacular seaside getaway – fresh air and indulgence meet at the Watergate Bay Hotel
Review by Lara Lockwood
I had never before explored this stretch of the northern Cornish coastline, and as we approached the Watergate Bay Hotel my heart leapt at the breathtaking view of the bay that opened up before us. We couldn’t wait to get out of the car, shake off the journey and start exploring.
The Watergate Bay Hotel is nestled into the cliffs above this stupendous expanse of cliffs, sand and seashore. The Living Space – the hotel lounge and bar area, with an extensive terrace – has spectacular views of the beach, as indeed do the swimming pool and deck, but more of that anon.
We headed straight for a cappuccino on the terrace before moseying down the short path from the hotel’s front door to that vast beach. The shore is active and there were groups of surfers, body boarders and kite surfers either showing off their well-honed skills or taking lessons from the Extreme Academy.
This is hands down the best beach I have ever visited either in the UK or abroad. The sweep of it, the dark layered cliff rocks with the occasional cave, the sandpools, mussel-studded beach rocks and countless marooned jellyfish underfoot. We meandered along it as far as the fairly low tide would allow us, drinking in the fresh air and the smell of the sea, beneath the canopy of a bright blue, cloud-swirled sky.
You can hire all the necessary accoutrements for surfing, kayaking paddle-boarding and the like, and arrange lessons as required. The hotel has stairs straight from the beach up to the surf in/surf out room where you can shower, rinse out your wetsuit, hang it up for later and store your board.
Our family suite was spacious and had a beach-house feel. A king-size bed awaited us in the main bedroom while bunks and a single bed in the next room offer ample accommodation for a sizeable brood. Bleached wooden boards cover the walls with touches of pale blue paintwork. Heavy grey hessian curtains and a rustic mustard yellow throw combine in a relaxed but not uninteresting colour scheme.
The en suite bathroom is compact but immaculately fitted and finished. The bedrooms are well loaded with entertainment gizmos: flat screen TV, DVD player and choice of iPod docking station or Bluetooth speaker, Wi-Fi is free and works, and room service is available 24/7.
The hotel is built into the hillside; so most floors are at ground level as you exit the building. Swim Club is on the lower level of the complex and we headed down for a swim in one of the finest indoor pools I have ever come across. The pool itself is well designed, the space is pleasant and the changing facilities excellent. The piece de resistance, however, is the enormous picture window at one end of the pool, offering a panoramic view of the bay and the sea. After half-heartedly grinding out a few health-giving lengths I ended up just lolling against the end of the pool and staring dreamily out across the seascape.
Interludes of glorious sunshine played tag with looming clouds and periodic drizzle, but any sea view worth its salt will benefit from ever-changing skies, and we had a grandstand early evening view from our window table at The Beach Hut, which is right above the beach on the path down from the hotel. It is a proper buzzing beachside hangout, with sand on the floor and a great vibe to both the staff and clientele. We watched the surf and the surfers whilst tucking into some wonderful food from a simple and hearty but interesting menu, highlights being the garlic prawns and beef chilli with all the trimmings.
I left my husband holding the baby as I escaped to Swim Club after breakfast the following morning to indulge in an hour-long back massage. The facilities are gorgeous, with slick treatment rooms and a funky relaxation area overlooking the bay. There is a cardio room, yoga and pilates classes and if you opt for a pedicure or manicure then once again you’ll even get a view out over the bay from the treatment chair. The massage was first rate – in equal measure relaxing and invigorating – and an especially welcome break from baby duties, delightful though they (mostly) are.
The hotel is three minutes’ drive from Newquay airport and provides an ideal bayside getaway for the London set. We were able to complete the much longer drive from home in stages, overnighting in Somerset, but were I less reliant on our Greentom buggy, Sleepyhead Deluxe and other such godsends with which we had loaded up the car then I’d probably choose to fly.
The Watergate Bay hotel runs Taste of the Bay, which is a three-day package allowing you to take in the very best of Watergate Bay. You get breakfast included and supper at three of Cornwall’s top restaurants: Zacry’s, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall and The Beach Hut. Taste of the Bay will next be available in September and October 2017 and is well worth a look.
Enquiries: The Watergate Bay Hotel, Watergate Bay, Cornwall TR8 4AA / 01637 860543 / www.watergatebay.co.uk/