AOL Travel reviews Watergate Bay Hotel, a seaside stay in Cornwall ideal for a summer or winter break
Written by: Antonia Thompson
Watergate Bay Hotel
Date published: 08/13/2012
You're spoilt for choice if you're planning a break to Cornwall's Atlantic coast as it is brimming with beautiful beaches and boutique hotels. We visited Watergate Bay Hotel - a place that shuns the star-rating system and booking search engines, happy to rely on return visits and wonderful word-of-mouth recommendations.
Ten minutes from Newquay airport by car or bus, your approach is down a steep hill that reveals a stretch of sand with wonderfully wild waves. To the right, nestled in the rocks, you'll see a traditional Victorian hotel. On closer inspection it's a vibrant, re-vamped hotel that is relaxed enough to welcome sandy-soaked dogs and wetsuit-clad kids.
What's to love?
You can check-in and throw away the car keys. With a backdrop to rival any beach vista in the world, there's more than enough to occupy and relax you in this small bay - despite there being no local shops. From the newly renovated spa with an almost-infinity pool, to surfing, and exploring the rock-pools.
Best room in the house
A "better family suite" with interconnecting rooms and in-room roll-top bath to contemplate the sea-view at leisure.
Where to eat
Choose from a snack in the Beach Hut with the surfing instructors and dog-walkers or dress-up for dinner at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen. If you can't bear to leave the hotel then eat in the Brasserie or the Living Space with panoramic views and delicious sharing plates and gastro-pub classics.
About the famous Fifteen restaurant...
The chefs are a credit to Jamie's training scheme as the food we sampled was sublime. The waiting staff are efficient, knowledgeable yet unintrusive and there is a lively yet relaxed buzz in the atsmosphere. I'm still attempting to decide on my favourite course from the tasting menu
– perhaps the risotto teased with prosecco or the awesome amuse-bouche of stuffed tempura zucchini. Whatever it is, I'm still tasting all the separate courses in my mind long after I visited.
This place is perfect for you...
If you're a city-dweller or busy family that yearns for some space and pampering yet doesn't really like sitting still. This is a short-break for all seasons - with the hotel and environs reminiscent of a ski-resort. When we visited the weather varied from stormy to sun-soaked and both experiences equally fitting. Imagine yourself sipping a hot chocolate in front of the wood-burning stove in the spa cafe after a surf lesson in winter wetsuit or sun-bathing on the terrace or beach with a good book.
Tucked around the back of the Living Space is a fully-equipt nursery and playground. It offers nursery care sessions for over-3s and cinema nights for the older kids. The hotel also has baby-monitors you can use so you can eat your dinner while the kids sleep or you could just take advantage of their baby-sitting service.
If you do one thing here, make sure it's...
Feel the real spirit of the bay and visit the Extreme Academy. You'll find some of the best surf and kite surf instructors anywhere in the country. Absolute beginners are more than welcome - of all ages - and there's plenty of support and encouragement for the hesitant. You'll be in good company, as we're reliably informed by Sports Manager Carl Coombes that the Academy has had some pretty important visitors - if you consider this sort of thing an endorsement - Prince William and his friends have had a lesson or two there.
Things to do, places to see
Realistically, there's more than enough to do in Watergate Bay if you're staying a couple of days but should you want to venture out you're in a prime position to explore the North Cornish coast - Polzeath, Newquay and Padstow or south to St Ives. Inland, the Eden Project is approximately 20 miles away. The stunning Tintagel Castle is around 30 miles away but be aware that Cornish roads can be a very slow drive should you get stuck behind a caravan or tractor!
Prices and offers:
We suggest you try the taste of the bay in Autumn
a three night stay costs from only £275 per person for 3 nights including breakfast and dinner at Fifteen, The Beach Hut and the hotel. For all other details and offers, go to Watergate Bay Hotel
, Extreme Academy
or Fifteen Cornwall
- Don a wetsuit and splash in the surf
Bring your own board or get a surf lesson at the Extreme Academy. Instruction is available all year round whatever the weather. But, if you just want the pressure of learning something new you can always just jump around in a wetsuit with a boogie board!</p>
- Relax, unwind, treat yourself
Whether you fancy a facial, a massage or a manicure there's a full menu of spa treatments available in stunning surroundings.</p>
- Enjoy a bracing walk
Admire the view of the bay and the hotel from the cliff tops. If you don't have a dog you can always borrow one from another guest!</p>
- Learn to kite surf
Embrace the elements with a kite surfing lesson. It's easier than you think!</p>
- Enjoy the view and a hot chocolate in one of the bars
No that's not a picture on the wall that's the view.</p>
- Polo on the beach
The Hotel also hosts many events throughout the year including polo on the sand in September.</p>
- Swim in the new pool
Pretend you're in the Caribbean whilst you're doing your morning lengths in the fabulous new "almost-infinity" pool. For the serious swimmers early mornings and evenings are kept child-free so you can concentrate on your swimming.</p>
- Have a bath with a view
This may just been on your bucket list... Enjoy a relaxing soak with a view in one of the rooms with a chic roll-top bath.</p>
- Sample the scenery from the Beach Hut
Grab a coffee a burger or a glass of wine in the Beach Hut.</p>
- Explore the rock pools in the evening sun
This is a sun-soaked view from the rock-pools of Fifteen restaurant, the Beach Hut and The Extreme Academy.</p>