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Photograph: Kiss PhotographySalt House hotel, Cornwall

The 13 best hotels in Cornwall

Holidays are for relaxation, and what’s more relaxing than a good night’s sleep? These are the best hotels in Cornwall

John Bills
Edited by
John Bills
Written by
Time Out editors

After a long day of sightseeing, adventuring and sunbathing (not to mention more fish and chips than your body might be prepared for), finding an idyllic spot to lay your head is vital. Cornwall’s lack of consistency on the hotel front might surprise some, but that shouldn’t be confused with a lack of quality. Far from it: this stunning slice of coastal confidence has some of Britain’s finest hotels waiting to welcome visitors. Sure, the prices can be steep, but you’re paying for what you get. In this case, you’re getting a serene night’s sleep in a setting worth those early morning calls.

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Best hotels in Cornwall

Two grassy fields of this Soil Association certified organic farm, surrounded by open moorland, have been set aside for camping. The solar-powered shower block is both eco- and user-friendly, with enormous, thoughtfully appointed shower cubicles, while the equally smart loos feature gleaming white circular sinks and pine-clad walls. Campfires are allowed and children can play table football in the lounge or real football out on the playing field. Visitors hankering for a few extra home comforts can hire one of the four yurts in the bottom field, equipped with wood burners, futons, lamps and gas stoves, and with a table and chairs outside. Book ahead.


Upton House, in the heart of Fowey (read: enchanting narrow streets and estuary views, but, alas, no parking), is a fine antidote to the muted oceanic colours and seascapes of Cornish bed and breakfast cliché. Indeed, the revamped corner townhouse is no longer a B&B: you have to rent the whole thing for at least a week. It isn’t cheap, but you will get to appreciate the whole building and all four of its bedrooms, which are playfully different in style and colour, each the work of tirelessly imaginative Austrian interior designer Angelique Thompson, who also runs the Upton House design boutique next door, where you can buy the contents of your room. Heart-shaped vanilla porridge with pink-hued sugar and caramelised banana for breakfast? Well, frankly, why not. Life’s too short for boring rentals.


Salt House
Photograph: Kiss Photography

3. Salt House

When it comes to modern high design, Salt House is unrivalled in these parts. Owned by graphic designers Alan and Sharon Spencer, this large rental occupies a modernist wood-clad cube of a house in Carbis Bay, with two pristine white rooms of very generous proportions and serious design credentials. Bathrooms are five-star hotel standard, with waterfall showers, vast, tablet-shaped sinks, and engulfing, egg-shaped mosaic baths. There’s beauty in the detail: Alessi bottle openers, Orla Kiely mugs, coconut flecked homemade cookies, fresh coffee, complimentary mini-bar and Molten Brown smellies. Flatscreen tellies, DVD library, free Wi-Fi and Sky Plus are also present and correct, but they could have got away with much less given the fantasy views. Bedrooms have not so much windows as a wall of glass, affording vast views over the golden sands of StIvesBay. Technically, Salt House isn’t in St Ives – it is in the quiet residential village of Carbis Bay, but St Ives is just a 15-minute walk along the (unlit) coastal footpath from the bottom of the garden.


The location might be profoundly rural (though if you have a car, it is very convenient for the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project), but there’s nothing rustic about the styling at this boutique B&B. The four big guest rooms are decorated in bold, vibrant colours, and guests are lavished with soft white dressing gowns, high-end linens, Sanctuary toiletries, chocolates on the pillow and a flatscreen TV with a selection of DVDs – there’s even a hot tub bubbling away in the garden. Inevitably, Lower Barn isn’t the cheapest B&B on the market, but you’d struggle to find a hotel offering these sorts of extras in this price range. Dinner (pre-book and BYO) is served in the Shack, a fairy light-lit hideout in the garden. The Hideaway and the Garden Suite are the most private of the rooms; the former is particularly popular with honeymooners, tucked away down the garden with a super-king-size bed and a freestanding bath.



There is a uniquely unspoilt feel to Botelet – a 300-acre farm sequestered down a long, muddy lane a few miles from Lostwithiel. Arriving at the farmhouse is like stepping into another century: reclaimed granite standing stones mark the driveway, and everything from the traditional Cornish hedging to the slate roofs, ancient trees and wooden gates is wonderfully time-weathered. Self-caterers can choose between the Grade II-listed Manor House, dating back to the 17th century and with masses of intriguing original features (including a private walled garden composed of remains that appeared in the Domesday Book), or the 19th-century CowslipCottage, a whitewashed hideaway with a big farmhouse kitchen table and open fireplaces. In summer, you can rent an antique-strewn yurt in the meadow. 


This crossover concept falls between a swanky boutique hotel and a cute holiday cottage. You get all the perks of a high-end hotel – roll-top bath, kingsize bed, goose-down duvet, freshly cut flowers, soft white towels, mini toiletries, Wi-Fi – all the while owning your own key, and, therefore, total privacy. So no small talk with the receptionist and no need to surface in time for the dregs of the breakfast buffet. Choose between 13 romantic boltholes in the pretty village of Mousehole, available for short breaks and week-long sojourns.


St Edmund's House
Adam Gibbard

7. St Edmund's House

There are some stylish rooms above the Seafood Restaurant and at St Petroc’s, but the best accommodation in the Stein stable is at St Edmund’s House. Think a Hamptons-style beach house with six minimalist yet luxurious rooms overlooking private gardens and the CamelEstuary. Each room bears the name of a local bay, etched into its driftwood door sign, plus four-poster beds, en-suite marble bathrooms, oak flooring and an air of seaside luxury; ground-floor rooms also have a private deck. Once you’ve sunk into the bath with the twinkling estuary in view or reclined by the bay windows, you won’t want to leave the comfort of your self-contained retreat – but you’re forced out for breakfast, served in the Seafood Restaurant.


In an unbeatable position on the edge of the Atlantic, Hell Bay Hotel was a pioneer of contemporary – if not quite cutting-edge – style on the Scillies. Its relaxed, spacious suites sport a jaunty colour scheme of light greens and blues and have portholes in the doors; most of the rooms open onto private balconies or patios, and all but two have sea views. Details are carefully attended to (fresh milk in the fridge, a personal cafetière), and there’s some striking modern art in the expansive bar area and sculptures dotted throughout – thanks to its art collecting owners, the Dorrien-Smiths (who also own Tresco). Food can be served on the patio; expect the likes of seared Cornish scallops with cauliflower purée and pancetta, pan-roasted fillet of West Country beef, or burgers and superior sarnies from the bar menu. Facilities include a heated outdoor pool, a seven-hole golf course, and a mini gym and spa.



This star-shaped granite Elizabethan castle above Hugh Town is an atmospheric place to stay. Despite steady refurbishment, the prevailing style remains traditional; stay in one of the four rooms on the first floor to be in a point of the star or on the second floor for even better views through mullioned windows. Most of the accommodation is in the modern, more spacious ‘garden’ rooms out back, which are simply furnished, light and airy. The rooms on the western side look over the cliff path to the ocean; those to the east onto a lawn and green fields. There’s a fantastically eccentric bar in the dungeon, and two restaurants, whose menus feature produce from the kitchen garden. One is a formal affair, set in the castle’s original, stone-walled officers’ mess-room; the other (summer only) occupies a bright conservatory, serving seafood under the vines. There is an indoor pool, and the grounds are lovely.


Watergate Bay makes Time Out’s top hotels in Cornwall list for two reasons. First, its location. It has a wide-angle view of Newquay’s booming shoreline: miles of sea, ripped with shiny black-suited surfers, like a James Bond convention. Second: it is genuinely outstanding for families, offering inclusive babysitting, bespoke meal and pool times and always a friendly face.  Head for the plush new-build set of beach lofts where you enjoy more privacy and a little kitchen stocked with waffles and negronis.

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Renowned interior designer Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton has become synonymous with waterside chic, having played host to a stellar cast of celebrities since it opened in 1999. Nevertheless, it still has an intimate and homely atmosphere that will make mere mortals feel welcome. Originally created in the 1940s as a yachtsmen’s club, the hotel became a well-known haunt for yachties and tourists in the 1950s and’60s. Polizzi bought the place in 1997 and spent two years and a cool £2 million renovating and restoring it.


One minute, Mawgan Porth was muddling along in a distinctly untrendy way – a few holiday lets, a low-key pub, and a shop–the next, one of the country’s hottest new hotels landed on the edge of the cliff, drawing the attention of travel editors nationwide – not to mention legions of eco worriers, architects and foodies. Although it has been some years since ecology and style were mutually exclusive, it is still rare to come across such hefty eco-credentials (the realm of biomass heaters, not just botanical toiletries) so close to the cutting edge, particularly in the seemingly paradoxical field of eco-luxury. Each of the 37 rooms has ocean views; splash out on one of the upper categories, and you might get your own private garden and a spiral staircase leading up to a little roof terrace. The styling is low-key luxe: think rich, tactile fabrics, statement light fittings and gorgeously sleek bathrooms.



The young, charming owners of this boutique guesthouse, overlooking the steep combe of Boscastle, have injected some much-needed style into the mainly weary-looking hotel options in this corner of Cornwall. Boutique accents abound – outsized floral wallpaper, statement colour accents, rich fabrics – and each room sports a different colour scheme, ranging from fresh greens and creamy tones to Beaujolais-red. Rooms are unusually spacious, with features that command a more substantial price tag: roll-top baths, wrought-iron beds, walk-in showers, chandeliers and a beauty treatment menu. There is no restaurant, so, technically, this isn’t a hotel – but nor is it a suffocatingly intimate B&B since the rooms feel appealingly independent. Other bonuses include complimentary tea and cakes on arrival, a croquet lawn at the front and a stylish guest lounge.


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