Watergate Bay makes Time Out’s top hotels in Cornwall list for two reasons. First, location. It has a wonderful wide-angle view of Newquay’s booming board-ripped shoreline: miles of sea studded with shiny black wetsuits from dawn till dusk, like a James Bond convention. It’s at the posh end of the beach, a rare option for surfers who can afford to steer clear of the ‘get yer bet on’ boozelads who roam Newquay in packs on a weekend. Second: it is genuinely outstanding for families. Unlike many hotels it doesn’t chisel parents for adding a little truckle bed in their room or an hour of babysitting (the first four hours every day are free, with any more costing £15 in the fully staffed, excellent Ofsted-inspected kids zone here). There is a dedicated kids meal time with a decent menu. There are dedicated adults-only and family swim times in the small but perfectly formed infinity pool (with adjacent drinks deck and hot tub). And it couldn’t be closer to that wide, yellow, sandy beach.
When booking, head for the plush new-build set of beach lofts where you enjoy more privacy and a kitchenette stocked with waffles and negronis. The decor is natural, subtle and local. The lofts provide Cornish surfers with the same level of laid-back luxury that they get when they head to the Alps for their winter ski break. Kick back among blond wood floors, driftwood-hued wicker baskets and linen shades, wide white beds, plump cushions and surprising treats like a ginormous square Japanese bath you can practically swim in.
Design inside reflects what’s outside, with the soothing colours and textures of the shore transposed into interior comfort and convenience. Clever zoning makes the generous one-room space feel like three, with areas for sleeping, eating, working and chilling on the sofa in front of that endless view.
Green credentials could get better; there wasn’t much sign of next level recycling or energy conservation when we visited in 2022, but they’re very good on localised food and products. Shampoo and soap comes in 1000% recyclable bottles from land&water, small batch local producers.
For food, you’d better dine in-house. The hotel dominates the bay and Newquay isn’t a dining hotspot, although there are oodles of fine eats within driving distance - this is Cornwall after all. Zacry’s, the hotel’s moderate to upscale restaurant does a good line in locally sourced surf and turf with some Asian twists; your bill will mount up but service is outstanding, helpful and friendly and the light-filled, honey-toned room with shiny banquettes and curvaceous chairs feels spacious and special.
The Beach Hut is a better value option especially for families (kids burger and fries £8, lots of veggie choices). It’s as close to the surf as you can get and shares those laid-back vibes. The crowd is diverse (when we visited, we had a blast with two jolly middle-aged priests on our left and 20-something gal pals on our right), and it’s warm and noisy, in a good way. And of course you’ll find those spectacular, sunset-ready views from most tables.