For those of you not so familiar with the UK, Cornwall is a rather dramatic and unspoilt region at the tip of the peninsula to the SouthWest of the UK, often considered one of the most beautiful too. And there is a hotel there that is just perfect for a family stay full of oxygen, next to the big waves of the Atlantic: The Hotel & Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay.
Tried and tested by BozAround last year, I never got a chance to actually write a post about it. It’s one of those places a bit hard to describe because it’s more about the relaxed vibe than the chi chi details, if you see what I mean.
The Hotel at Watergate Bay is very kid-centric. They give you baby monitors if you have very little ones, and lots of other small details that make the difference. There is a good kids clubs during the holidays where the ‘nursery-type’ staff entertains the children creatively. At night, there’s always “movie-night” in the mini cinema room and they love it while the parents are having dinner in the Brasserie. The decor is simple but tasteful, and certainly not trying too hard to impress, which is a welcome change from all the so-called boutique hotels.
The rooms are generally spacious, especially if you choose a family suite. With the extra room and bunk beds, it could fit a family up to 6 people. I think it’s one of those places where it’s worth spending the extra pounds to get the ocean view as you are so close to it, and the windows are big. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Aside from the kids club with entertainment for 3 to 7 year olds (they even had the little Squashbox theater come and perform one evening when we were there), the Extreme Academy is the excellent Water-Sports school. Surf (must be over 8), Kitesurf, waveski and stand-up paddlesurf (over 18, and over 12 for all over sports)…if it’s adrenalin-filled, chances are they’ll offer it. There are kids sports camp during the school holidays but they fill in quickly. Reserve in advance.
The beach itself is deep and long, with typical Atlantic tides and pools everywhere. Don’t come here thinking you will lay down on the beach and do easy sandcastles. No, no. The wind is strong, and the weather is unpredictable. It’s part of the “extreme” package. So in Cornwall, do like the locals. Buy yourself a sort of square tent (without a roof) and hide behind to build your castles and eat your fish & chips.
You can also wear some good shoes and go up the trail behind the hotel, along the cliffs. The landscape is dramatic and magnificent, but it’s not for the vertigo-feared parents.
Yes, this turquoise water is England. No photoshop. Believe it or not.
And for a change from the beach, there’s always DairyLand Farmworld in Newquay, a 15min drive from the hotel. It’s well done: watch the milking of the cows, give a bottle to a baby sheep, go pony riding and Pat-a-Pet. Or the Blue Reef Aquarium, in Newquay too.
Aside from the Brasserie, there’s a good Beach Hut run by the hotel, just on the beach and it works just fine for a burger or a fish&chips. But the cherry on the cake is really Jamie Oliver‘s Fifteen Cornwall restaurant, which is right on the footstep of The Hotel. Totally Cornish! The menu is delicious, the price reasonable for such good quality of food, and the view is outstanding. You won’t even need a babysitter at night because the monitors (walkie talkie style) provided by the hotel work all the way in Jamie Oliver’s restaurant!
– If Watergate Bay The Hotel is full, try one of these family-friendly back-ups.
– It’s easy to fly to Newquay from London City airport. Buy your ticket well in advance with low-cost airline Airsouthwest. The Hotel is less than a 15min drive from the airport (the sound of the wave will cover any airplane noise), and you might not even need a car rental if you’re fanatic about watersports. However, if you do decide to drive from London (about 6 hours with no traffic), it could be nice to stopover in the lovely city of Bath.
– For a day trip, try to visit Padstow. It’s lovely. It really is. Take the scenic route from Watergate Bay along the coast, reserve a lunch at one of Rick Stein‘s cafes or restaurant for great seafood (he’s another big Celebrity Brit Chef) and then a long walk on the empty beach, watching the sailing boats go by.
And marvel at the weather in between two rain drops, eating a Cornish scone with some clotted cream and jam…