Hotel review: The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall
Wow. It might be an obvious word, but there's really no other to describe the stunning reception, which boasts an infinity-edged water feature with the beautiful Mawgan Porth beach and cliffs stretching away behind it into the distance. This might be an eco hotel, but it certainly isn't lacking in style.
What's to love?
Apart from the obvious (a heavenly spa; panoramic views; tasty food), we fell head over heels for the colourful and full-of-heart decor, which serves as a stylish gallery for local artists and sculptors. There's even a booklet detailing the individual works (we've already got our eye on Yvonne Coomber and Basma Ashworth's websites).
Best rooms in the house?
All 37 bedrooms have magnificent sea views and balconies or sun terraces, and are graded in five different 'luxury' levels: Just Right (the most 'basic', this makes up the majority of rooms); Generous, of which there are seven; Unique, four rooms that have their own private garden and rooftop lounge; Spacious, big with free-standing baths; and Indulgent, as you'd expect, the most luxurious of all, boasting their own rooftop courtyards. But, believe us, 'basic' is brilliant here.
Where to eat
Head to the Bistro for al fresco dining on the roomy terrace: this is chew-with-a-view territory. It was too windy for us to enjoy the outside space, but the floor-to-ceiling glass windows ensure you don't miss out inside. And the food? Just as delicious as the view. The kitchen is headed up by Michelin award-winning Ben Tunnicliffe, whose menu is simple yet flavoursome, with locally-sourced seasonal food. We particularly loved the 'three-course' breakfast, which might have taken rather a long time to arrive (cue a bit of watch-checking around the room), but is was worth the wait.
This place is perfect if you're...
A couple looking for a seriously romantic retreat; parents looking for a relaxing adults-only spa escape; pals looking for a luxurious just-for-the-heck-of-it pamper break.
If you do one thing here, make sure it's...
Catch some waves! OK, we didn't quite 'catch waves' per se, but we gave it a good go... The Surf Shack is located right behind the hotel, and the super-friendly instructors teach you in the sea just below. The beach is breathtakingly beautiful, and this is a brilliant way to make the most of it. We'd never tried surfing before and were, admittedly, hesitant, but pro-surfer Johnny immediately put us at ease, and we had great fun trying a new activity. Freshening up in the natural shower flowing over the cliffs on to the beach was a magical end to a really fun two hours.
As soon as you finish your surf lesson, climb up the cliffs and jump straight into the log-fired hot tubs - it's pure bliss. While you're there, soak up the awe-inspiring views over the ocean, and sip on bubbles at the same time. (Don't forget to book your hot tub in advance - they come in half-hour slots...).
Things to do, places to see...
Activity-lovers won't be disappointed. As well as surfing, you can go kayaking, coasteering, climbing, hiking, horse riding on the beach, and deep-sea fishing. Cornwall is also emerging as a gastronomic force to be reckoned with and, just a £20 taxi ride away is Padstow, which boasts four mouthwatering Rick Stein establishments, and No 6, celebrated chef Paul Ainsworth's new venture. Jamie Oliver's Fifteen is also just minutes away from the hotel by car. What's more, the hotel offers complimentary yoga, dance and mediation classes, and games of pool in the library - if you can tear yourself away from that hot tub...
And don't, of course, miss the spa...
Which is an Ayurvedic-inspired haven. We enjoyed side-by-side foot massages in a treatment room overlooking the sea, as well as a hot poultice massage, which everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. Everywhere you turn here that great vista follows you, and it's there again at the swimming pool, and the adjacent relaxation room (which leads out to the outdoor pool, and those hot tubs). Feel free to roam around in your robe, even upstairs to the bar. We happily wolfed down a Cornish cream tea in ours, before heading back down to swim it off.
Rooms on a bed and breakfast basis start from £180 in low season. Surfing lessons from £75 for one-to-one, and £25 for groups, visit thesurfclubcornwall.co.uk or call 07889 972236. Hot tubs cost £15 for half an hour.
The Scarlet Hotel, Tredragon Rd, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, TR8 4DQ. Visit scarlethotel.co.uk or call 01637 861800.
We flew from Gatwick to Newquay airport, which is a five-minute drive to the hotel. We found great deals through leading flight comparison site Skyscanner.net, which searches over 600 airlines to find the best flight prices for a particular date, across a whole month or even the entire year.