Cornwall is a truly enchanting place, anyone who has been to the rugged southwestern tip of England will know what I mean. The combination of natural sites, dramatic coastline, fascinating history and amazing food produce makes it one of the loveliest counties in Britain. Follow this guide for a dreamy five day trip of Cornwall: from Newquay and Mawgan Porth to Penzance, via St Ives and Marazion.
A 5-day Guide to Beautiful Cornwall
Aside from the obvious – Cornwall’s stunning natural beauty and world-renowned beaches – it was the rise of new and stylish eateries and hotels which sparked my curiosity to revisit this county. Cool spaces like boutique hotels and art galleries, fine dining and speciality coffee shops can be found all around Cornwall. If these are your thing, then I recommend picking a copy of Weekend Journals, the best travel guide to Cornwall’s trendy spots you will ever find.
Connected to London by train and flight, Cornwall is the perfect destination for a four or five day getaway (though you could easily spend two weeks just to see the main sights). The train journey takes roughly 5 hours and 20 minutes from London, meaning Cornwall isn’t an ideal destination for just a weekend away. Upon arriving, the best way to get around is to hire a car. This will give you the freedom to visit small towns and hidden restaurants located away from the main city centres. That being said, my whole trip was done with taxis at an average price of £20 for 20-minute journeys.
I travelled to Cornwall on a press trip with Massey PR and three of my favourite bloggers: Milly, Anna and Emily. We flew from London Gatwick to Newquay with Flybe: an extremely short trip that took only 40 minutes! And by 11am we were checking in at the gorgeous Scarlet Hotel in Mawgan Porth.
Located on the Cornish coast between Padstow and Newquay, Mawgan Porth is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the stunning west-facing beach, walks, surfing, and scenery. Padstow and Newquay are also close enough to enjoy; two sunny seaside towns which boast an abundance of popular options for foodies.
The Scarlet is situated right on the coastal path so there’s some beautiful walks you can go on, right from the hotel. I walked up on the hill to the right (north side) until I found the perfect spot to wait for sunset!
The Scarlet Hotel is an eco retreat, perched comfortably on the cliff tops overlooking the beach. An adults-only option, the Scarlet has a calming atmosphere, featuring modern bedrooms with picturesque garden terraces.
The onsite restaurant specialises in seasonal dishes by chef Tom Hunter, we enjoyed a lunch of seasonal Cornish food, seafood and fresh produce.
After lunch, we relaxed at the Sensory Spa at Bedruthan Hotel, the sister hotel to the Scarlet, located just across the road. We tried out the Sensory Spa Garden experience (one hour long), which sure was an experience! Seeking to leave you feeling invigorated, this involves a thermal adventure of going from hot to cold and back again to stimulate the senses.
The Scarlet hotel itself has a beautiful spa and indoor swimming pool, treatment rooms with Ayurvedic treatment options and even outdoor hot tubs.
In the evening, we enjoyed some Tarquis gin cocktails at The Scarlet’s terrace bar, with stunning views of Mawgan Porth. From here, we took a taxi to Appleton’s at Trevibban Mill Vineyard for dinner. Hidden away down a lane en route to the picturesque town of Padstow, Appleton’s is the first restaurant by Andy Appleton, who previously worked as head chef in Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall for nine years. The daily changing menu takes inspiration from seasonal, local Cornish produce and from classic Italian ingredients (Andy has travelled extensively across Italy).
The food was sublime. My favourites included the Agnolotti stuffed with smoked potato, the Anolini in broth with rabbit and black pudding and the fried Padstow zucchini flowers.
I had an early start with a complimentary 8am Tai Chi lesson at The Scarlet. With spectacular views over the bay and morning light streaming through, this was the perfect start to the morning. Afterwards, I enjoyed a lavish full English breakfast on my private balcony with a cafetière of Origin Coffee (a local Cornish roaster) freshly ground “Finca Los Altos” beans.
It was time to leave The Scarlet – with a heavy heart as I truly fell in love with this beautiful place! Not that the next hotel was any less beautiful, in a very different way. We arrived in Penzance to spend one night at Chapel House PZ.
This gorgeous townhouse (formerly the house of the chaplain) is located on Chapel Street in front of St Mary’s Church. I was very impressed to say the least. If only my own home looked as pretty as this!
Chapel House is a historic boutique hotel with the feel of a luxury B&B. The owner will welcome you and cook breakfast for you every morning. The Georgian home is beautifully decorated with contemporary touches, each bedroom is unique and an absolute dream – plus, it’s all very fairly priced.
We had a lunch sitting in the hot sun at Jubilee Pool Café, part of the stunning Jubilee pools. The lido (open-air pool) is the perfect place for all ages to swim in fresh salt-water all through summer.
I couldn’t believe how warm the weather was at the end of September: the pool was full of people swimming and I would have been tempted to dip in if we didn’t already have plans to visit Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, a beautiful park with a lovely café.
This 22-acre sub-tropical garden surrounded by woods and streams is a major attraction in Cornwall. Internationally renowned artists such as James Turrell and David Nash have created site-specific artworks which harmonise perfectly with this unique garden setting.
If you are in Penzance, you should also find the time to visit to Minack Theatre, a famous outdoor theatre with fascinating beginnings in 1932.
In the evening, we enjoyed cocktails at The Cornish Barn, the bar of the new Artist Residence hotel. Dinner was at a charming pub with rooms called The Gurnard’s Head. Located on the north coast of Cornwall, it’s a typically British gastropub serving fantastic food and we all really enjoyed our meal.
Day three started with a run along the harbour and a wonderful breakfast cooked to order in the kitchen at Chapel House. Guests gather around tables and chat to the host while savouring bacon sandwiches, Cornish cod roe, full English breakfast, fresh pastries and homemade granola. This lovely atmosphere makes visitors feel like they are welcome guests in a home.
We had a wander around Penzance, mainly heading up on Chapel Street which is filled with pretty shops such as No.56 Penzance.
My friend Milly is the author of Weekend Journals so of course she knows all the best places where to shop and eat. We stopped at The Tube coffee van to buy a delicious flat white and at the Cornish Hen Deli for tea and scones with clotted cream and jam. Milly also recommended Baker Tom’s for bread, pastries and cakes.
Sadly at this point my friends had to return to London while I continued the trip on my own for two more days. I returned to Artist Residence for lunch before moving onto my next accommodation was The Gannet Inn over in Carbis Bay.
I took a taxi, but if you have the time, catch the train from Penzance to St Ives. It is touted one of the most beautiful train journeys in the UK!
The Gannet Inn is a small hotel offering bedrooms in a homely and rustic setting. My bedroom was a bit on the small size, but very comfortable and I particularly loved the aromatherapy toiletries. Guests of The Gannet Inn can access the award winning spa and pool at nearby Carbis Bay Hotel, which is a nice added benefit.
Dinner options around The Gannet Inn would involve catching a taxi to St Ives, which has a wide restaurant offerings (such as Alba and Porthmeor Beach Café and many more).
If you prefer a relaxing evening at the hotel, the restaurant of The Gannet Inn features classic British recipes with a modern twist. The sticky toffee pudding was one to remember! This restaurant is also were breakfast is served in the mornings, with a good buffet and à la carte dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients from the finest Cornish producers.
I spent the day exploring St Ives which I reached on foot from The Gannet Inn (about 40 minutes walk downhill). The picturesque town is built over a small hill overlooking the a vibrant harbour and beautiful beaches.
My explorations of the city started at the Barbara Hepworth Museum and garden. After all, St Ives is well known for its art scene and has a history of influential artists living there. The museum is in Hepworth’s former studio and feels as though untouched from when she last used the space in 1975.
Next was Tate St Ives, an art gallery that exhibits the work of modern British artists (generally with links to the St Ives area). It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon. From there, I went down to the coastal path for a walk in the warm September sun.
The colour of the water was incredible, so blue and crystal clear!
Back to the harbour to find a place to eat fish & chips for lunch.
I couldn’t leave the town without stopping by St Ives Bakery. Located on the busy corner of the quaintly cobbled Fore Street, this charming bakery offers options like decadent meringues, and perfectly crumbly short crust pastry. I also kept myself caffeinated with a visit to Mount Zion Coffee, a small but great café, and Yallah Coffee, a hole in the wall kiosk.
From St Ives, I took a taxi back towards Penzance to check into my last accommodation: Mounthaven Hotel. Update: this hotel will be closed for all of 2020.
I loved the 19-room hotel, located just outside the ancient market town of Marazion. The highlight of my stay at Mount Haven was the stunning view over the bay and St Michael’s Mount from my bedroom balcony.
After a long day packed full of activities, a nice hot bath and dinner at Mounthaven’s restaurant was all that I needed. Head Chef Ross Sloan create fantastic food in the kitchen, using the freshest ingredients available in West Cornwall. It’s a popular restaurant in the area, not just a favourite of hotel guests.
No trip to Cornwall would be complete without a visit to the iconic island fortress of St Michael’s Mount.
The small tidal island is linked to Marazion by a man-made causeway, though during high tide the only way to reach St Michael’s Mount is by boat. On the island you will find a castle and chapel that have been the home of the St Aubyn family since the 17th century. Full of mementoes from monk’s dwelling there to visits from the queen, the castle itself has a marvellous history. It’s a fascinating visit!
In the time it took me to visit the castle, the tide slowly receded, revealing the stone causeway that (in about an hour) would allow visitors to walk across. I walked back into town, marvelling all the while at how incredible nature is.
Back in the town of Marazion, I had a great coffee at The Copper Spoon. Filled with awareness that the trip was coming to an end, I purchased two Cornish pasties (local shortcrust pastry typically meat and vegetables) from Philips Bakery. These made the perfect takeaway lunch for my long train journey back to London.
Cornwall is a fantastic place and I completely fell in love with it, all over again! Every day of this trip was different and exciting with beautiful hotels and places to visit, and amazing food! Five days in West Cornwall left me feeling far more relaxed than I had felt in a long time (and than I felt ever since). A wonderful opportunity to escape the stress and noise of London – I highly, highly recommend a visit!
How To Get There
British Airways operates a summer service from London Heathrow (LHR) to Newquay (NQY) four times a week, with fares available from £24.00 each way including taxes and charges.
Where To Stay
Double Rooms and breakfast at Scarlet Hotel start from £260. Double Rooms with breakfast at Chapel House in Penzance start from £150. Double Rooms and breakfast at The Gannet Inn start from £190.
Disclaimer: I travelled to Cornwall as part of a gifted press trip. All opinions are my own.