With deep azure seas, wildflower-strewn cliffs and golden, surf-battered beaches, it’s easy to see why the public’s love affair with Cornwall has already spanned decades. It seems that there’s a castle on every windswept mount, and a tea shop on every corner. Not to mention some of the most luxurious accommodation in the whole of the British Isles.
The best luxury hotels in Cornwall are scattered across the landscape like precious gems. Whether you want to uncover a luxury spa hotel in Cornwall or a boutique style bolthole away from the crowds, this guide takes you through the (clotted) cream of the crop. Just remember that the jam goes on the scone first in this county, or you may be banished to neighbouring Devonshire for evermore.
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Luxury hotels in Cornwall
1. The Scarlet
Best for: Eco-friendly spa style living
Location: Mawgan Porth near Newquay
Surely the ruby in the county’s crown, The Scarlet is a luxury hotel and spa in Cornwall with magnificent sea views and sumptuous amenities, offering great food and opulent accommodation.
Despite the level of luxury, The Scarlet is an eco-friendly retreat. There’s no chance of having your romantic break or pampering ritual spoiled by someone else’s screaming offspring either, as it’s strictly adults only. 37 deluxe rooms offer rainfall showers or freestanding baths and each has a unique outlook.
Nearby are coastal, clifftop paths, and the vast expanse of Watergate Bay and Padstow is just 25 minutes’ drive. Inside the contemporary, glass-walled property are world-class Ayurvedic inspired spa facilities with lantern-lit treatment rooms, a cedar wood sauna, a pool, and eucalyptus steam room. The outdoor pool is reed-filtered and there are two wood-fired hot tubs, all with spectacular sea views.
2. Padstow Townhouse
Best for: Foodies with a sweet tooth
Padstow is of course a favourite among foodies from all over. As well as a glut of gorgeous restaurants, this pretty harbour town is also home to Padstow Townhouse, a smart and central retreat with just six decadent guest suites.
Think Ivy League inside and out, as this pick of the best luxury boutique hotels in Cornwall is clad with greenery and crammed with elegant, rich detail within. What I love is how it maintains an exclusive feel, yet is comfortable and welcoming too.
Owner Paul Ainsworth is a renowned chef, and runs No.6, a stylish restaurant and cocktail bar just down the street. Dinner here is a real treat for the senses, not least the signature ‘Fairground Tale’ dessert comprising three courses. Breakfast is at nearby Caffè Rojano, where the menu features wildflower honey, smoked salmon, and of course a full English.
3. Watergate Bay Hotel
Best for: A sporting and spa style family stay
Location: Watergate Bay near Newquay
Of all hotels in Cornwall with a sea view, the Watergate Bay Hotel’s setting is spectacular. Whether you think of surfing as a spectator sport or would like to learn the art, this is the place to be by the sea.
The vast swathes of sand means there’s buckets of room for everyone. While accommodation ranges from warmly welcoming rooms to seven beach lofts complete with concierge. Food-wise, diners are spoilt for choice. Be delighted by refined fare at Zacry’s or Emily Scott’s Food, munch on burgers at The Living Space, or plump for Asian, Italian or Mexican at the laid-back Beach Hut.
The hotel’s own Extreme Academy and kids club will keep younger guests entertained. While the grown-ups might prefer the outdoor hot tub, infinity pool, fitness centre, and sauna.
4. The Headland Hotel
Best for: Five star Victorian splendour
Location: Fistral Beach, Newquay
Overlooking what is arguably Britain’s most famous surf beach, The Headland is also the last word among luxury hotels in Cornwall by the sea. This five star property is close to town centre amenities like the Blue Reef Aquarium, as well as the splendid clutch of beaches found in and around Newquay.
Housed in a Victorian Grade II listed building, the hotel still shows off the era’s finest in the form of sweeping staircases and a grand ballroom. There are 95 deluxe rooms, some with sea views. Each is unique, featuring Nespresso machines, Elemis toiletries, and custom furniture or freestanding baths.
Diners can choose between the relaxed Terrace restaurant or the sophisticated Samphire. While the spa boasts a Cornish sea salt steam room as well as sauna and hydro pool. The hotel’s own Surf Sanctuary offers kitesurfing and stand-up paddle boarding tuition.
5. Chapel House, Penzance
Best for: Spacious Georgian townhouse style
Chapel House is close to the historic heart of Penzance. Discover stunning views over St Michael’s Mount and the harbour from the light-filled drawing room and outdoor terrace. With just eight rooms – all with pleasing proportions – this Georgian property has an intimate and refined feel.
The interior aesthetic is crisp and contemporary, complemented beautifully by the building’s huge windows. Colour palettes subtly reflect the coastal location, livened up here and there by deeper or brighter accents.
Dinner at Chapel House is a convivial, informal affair, with one large shared table and seasonal Cornish ingredients. Think hand-dived scallops, organic steaks, wild mushroom risotto, crab cakes, and clotted cream chocolate pots. Typical breakfast offerings, meanwhile, range from freshly whipped up smoothies to avocado and bacon on sourdough, or a cooked breakfast served just as you like it.
6. Merchants Manor
Best for: Country house coastal living
Home to a university, Falmouth makes a welcome sea change from the cluster of resorts on the western side of Cornwall. This country house style property is within easy reach of both town and beaches.
It’s a stylish bolthole by the sea, and a typical room is awash with white walls, subtle stripes, and pops of royal blue. New House rooms have balconies, or book into a Master Room to soak up elevated vistas over the Cornish coastline.
The well appointed, cutting-edge spa is a pleasant surprise given the size and age of the property. It boasts a technogym, hydrotherapy tub, sauna, indoor pool, and steam room. Food, meanwhile, has a firm focus on both foraging and fish, and grill-smoked dishes are something of a house speciality.
7. Carbis Bay Estate
Best for: Living it up like a political leader
Location: Carbis Bay near St Ives
Carbis Bay is hogging the limelight somewhat these days, having played host to the G7 summit during summer 2021. Perhaps unusually for England, the weather even showed off the estate to full advantage.
Even as 5 star luxury hotels in Cornwall go, no others can boast quite the same pedigree. Nor do others have their very own Blue Flag beach, or the Coast Path passing right through their grounds. Guests also have two eateries to choose from: the Beach Club with veranda and the more formal Sands, complete with tinkling piano and twinkling chandeliers.
Room decor is chic and contemporary yet timeless. While hotel amenities include a spa with sauna and pool, a beach hut with hot tub, and even a Sunseeker yacht. The pick of the bunch are the Beach Houses, offering direct access to the soft sweep of golden sand.
8. Highcliffe Bed & Breakfast
Best for: Superb value in a stylish setting
Just a ten-minute walk from Blue Flag Gylly beach is Highcliffe, a Victorian property that has undergone a complete overhaul in recent times. The interior features lots of fresh white walls, accented by pops of teal, blue, mustard or green.
From homemade granola at breakfast time to freshly baked cakes each afternoon, a stay at Highcliffe is packed with culinary delights. While there is no restaurant on site, harbourside eatery INDIdog is 10 minutes away on foot, and features a seasonal produce and seafood packed menu.
9. The Nare
Best for: A relaxed retreat from real life
Location: Carne Bay
Positioned on the appealingly named Roseland Peninsula, The Nare is possibly a lesser known treat among luxury beach hotels in Cornwall. Not for long though, as the best kept secrets in this county rarely stay that way.
This is not a place for city slickers – unless they’ve come to escape that very vibe, of course. It’s luxurious, yet in a completely laid-back and real life kind of way. The eclectic decor at this Cornish country house features tartan carpets, antique furniture, and thick Persian rugs. Complete with wallpaper rich in flora or fauna, plus local watercolours or cartoons.
With superb staff, a hot tub with sea views, and a pair of impressive eateries, The Nare is the ideal retreat, where lazy days involve soaking in the sea view hot tub, admiring glorious gardens or taking a trip on the hotel’s very own vessel.
10. The Lugger
Best for: A taste of traditional Cornwall
If your idea of Cornwall involves a cosy inn that was packed to the rafters with smugglers in the past, then book into The Lugger in Portloe. Dating back to the 1600s, the inn is positioned in a fishing village and offers direct access to the South West Coast Path.
You can admire the rocky coastline from the outdoor dining tables, while breathing in lungfuls of fresh, salt, and seaweed tinged air. Fresh fish is undoubtedly the star of the menu, with dishes featuring whatever seafood is today’s catch. It could be smoked haddock, crab, scallops, monkfish or red mullet, served steamed, roasted, grilled, seared or poached.
In a much-touristed county, Portloe seems to be one of the last bastions of Cornwall gone by. Some of the 22 rooms have sea views. All come with bright white linens, and are decorated in a bright and breezy style.
Have you been lucky enough to visit any of these gorgeous hotels in Cornwall? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on social media!
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