Cornwall might be one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in the UK, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great option during the off-peak winter season too. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed weekend by the sea or an activity-filled minibreak post-lockdown, here’s what to do and where to stay…
Just ten miles away from Land’s End, Penzance is one of the largest towns in south Cornwall. A future weekend away or short minibreak will be best spent exploring the interesting coastal architecture, walking along the beautiful beaches (which are practically deserted during the colder months), and eating your way around the restaurants. Penlee House Gallery & Museum and The Acorn Theatre in a converted chapel are all worth a visit, but for some of the best things to do in town, head to the historical Chapel Street. There you’ll find the Egyptian House and other beautiful Georgian buildings, as well as a range of boutique shops. Penzance’s stunning landscape is also worth a visit during a winter staycation – Tanglewood Wild Garden and Madron Holy Well (a natural spring from ancient times) are a must-see, while Minack Theatre, overlooking the rugged Porthcurno Bay, has breath-taking views of the coast. When in Penzance, seafood lovers should make a beeline for The Shore and Tolcarne Inn in Newlyn – two of the best restaurants in town.
Where To Stay:
Chapel House is a boutique townhouse hotel in the centre of Penzance. Set in a beautiful Georgian building, it has six stylish bedrooms and two new suites that only opened in the summer. All the bedrooms overlook the sea, with elegant touches throughout, such as handmade oak beds, minimalist furniture and modern en-suite bathrooms. For a special stay, book one of the new suites which offer views of Penzance harbour and Mount’s Bay. Chapel House also has a lovely dining area in which to enjoy delish Cornish fare from the on-site kitchen, including a seasonal weekend supper menu and a great Sunday brunch.
Known for its beautiful coastline and rich history, St Ives isn’t just a summer holiday destination. During the winter, holidaymakers can take advantage of the great surfing opportunities, head on a picturesque coastal walk, and visit the art galleries and museums in town. Winter is a fantastic time to explore the many beaches in St Ives –Porthminster, Porthgwidden or Porthmeor are three of the best, although if you want to ride the waves, head to Fistral beach in Newquay which is supervised by lifeguards year-round. The town has a number of cultural hotspots, including the Tate St Ives and the Waterside Gallery – a museum of fine art. Once you’ve seen the sights, sample local Cornish cuisine in the award-winning restaurants and cafes. Rum & Crab Shack on Wharf Road serves delicious Caribbean-inspired food with artisan rums – the perfect place to warm up after a chilly day exploring – while Porthminster Kitchen just down the road serves a selection of tasty seafood plates, including mackerel paté, smoked fish chowder and Goan fish scurry.
Where To Stay:
For a stunning bolthole by the sea, head to Alba Beach House. Located on Porthmeor beach, this pink cob cottage is the ultimate retreat for a group trip. Inside the cottage, which sleeps up to eight, each bedroom has distinctive nautical flair with characterful extras – think reading nooks, plush decorative accents and Jack-and-Jill bathrooms. During the winter, guests can cosy up by the indoor wood burner, watch the sunset over the harbour, and listen to the rolling waves at night. There are plenty of activities and places to eat nearby, most notably Porthmeor Beach Café, which is a lovely brunch spot.
If you’re looking for a quiet staycation, skip the larger towns of St Ives and Penzance and head to Bude. This small seaside town is a hidden gem on the north east Cornish coast and is the go-to place for water sports enthusiasts or those looking for a restorative weekend away. The colder months are some of the best to surf in Bude thanks to quiet waters and a mild sea temperature. Book lessons at the Freewave Surf Academy, or if you want to relax, book one of their yoga retreats that take place on several beaches in the area – Summerleaze being one of the top-rated. Outdoor pursuits, such as kayaking and rock climbing can also be enjoyed if you wrap up warm, but for a cosier affair, visit Crackington Orchard & Cidery on Tremayna Farm to try some mulled cider. Life’s a Beach is a lovely bistro diner which serves comforting seafood like grilled skate and salt and pepper squid, while Scrummies Café does a mean fish and chips.
Where To Stay:
For a luxury seaside retreat, book a room at the plush Beach Hotel. Overlooking Summerleaze Beach, it boasts 16 newly-renovated rooms, all with impressive sea views. After a day spent exploring the beautiful Cornish coast, relax at the bar for evening drinks before heading to the on-site restaurant run by ex-MasterChef contestant, Jamie Cole. For a romantic trip, ask for Room 11, where you can watch the sunset on a stylish terrace with a glass of English sparkling wine.
Contrary to popular belief, the best parts of Padstow can be appreciated during the winter when the roads are clear, the beaches are empty, and the restaurants have an abundance of fish. During a winter staycation, visitors should head to Padstow Harbour (a cosmopolitan hotspot) to look around the boutique shops and sample delicious local produce at the many pubs and restaurants in town, before catching a boat to the nearby town of Rock. Families should head to Camel Creek Adventure Park, which has a huge indoor play area, and walk around the beautiful gardens at Prideaux Place. The Camel Trail, a 17-mile route which starts in Padstow and ends in Bodmin, is a stunning coastal walk where you can spot local wildlife and take in some of the best views in Cornwall – walk or hire bikes for the day and stop off at the few villages along the way for refreshments. Back in Padstow, some of the best fish can be found at Prawn on the Lawn – a bar that serves small plates and sharing platters including hake with truffle oil, crispy chilli monkfish and deep fried oysters, while the Cornish Arms owned by chef Rick Stein does a great Sunday roast. The newly-opened Tarquin’s Gin Distillery, where you can book a hands-on distilling masterclass, is also worth a visit.
Where To Stay:
When in Padstow, going to The Pig at Harlyn Bay is a must. Set in one of Cornwall’s oldest houses which dates back to the 15th century, this boutique hotel is just a ten-minute drive from Padstow Bay and a short walk from Harlyn beach. Inside, there are 30 characterful rooms with views of the garden and the bay, plus seven Garden Wagons outside – ideal for a romantic getaway. Book a beauty treatment, such as a bespoke massage or a spiced mud wrap, in one of the Potting Shed Treatment Rooms, before dining at one of the on-site restaurants – The Lobster Shed is your go-to for seafood treats including lobster thermidor, baked scallops and roast mackerel.
Located in central Cornwall, Bodmin is a small town steeped in history. The beautiful local architecture, historical buildings and stunning countryside views make it an ideal destination for a winter staycation – there’s no shortage of things to do. Lovers of the outdoors should head to Bodmin Moor, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, for a brisk winter walk across the vast moorlands. Stop at the pretty villages of Blisland and Altarnun on the way and climb to the top of moors for the highest point in Cornwall. Make your way down through Tamar Valley before heading back to Bodmin. There, visit the many historical buildings including Bodmin Beacon, Bodmin Jail, Lanhydrock House and Gardens (a National Trust estate), and Pencarrow House – a beautiful Georgian mansion with lavish interiors and stunning gardens. A relaxing afternoon is best spent visiting the multi-award-winning Camel Valley Vineyard to try their excellent English sparkling wines – Annie’s Anniversary Brut is an SL favourite.
Where To Stay:
Nestled away in the quaint village of St Neot near Bodmin Moor, Damselfly is a luxury wooden cabin overlooking the River Warleggan. A romantic staycation for two can be spent cosying up by the wood burner in the lounge, bird watching at the outdoor deck and exploring the natural beauty of the area. Inside, there’s a stylish master bedroom, bathroom with a luxurious free-standing bathtub, and a well-equipped kitchen. Request a fire-pit on the grounds for a cosy evening outdoors and enjoy the welcome hamper featuring delicious Cornish produce. Damselfly is an ideal hideaway for couples, so bookmark it for your next romantic trip.
Falmouth attracts thousands of visitors each summer thanks to its stunning coastline, quaint shopping streets and excellent seafood restaurants, but it’s a great place to visit during the colder months. Set on the south coast of Cornwall, the town has several good walking trails to explore – Penrose Walk and the Helford Passage pass stunning views of the coastline and woodland areas in Falmouth, while Kenneth Vale, a huge forest just north of the town, is a great day out. For the cultural hotspots, head to the town centre to visit the National Maritime Museum, Pendennis Castle (built by Henry VIII) and Falmouth Art Gallery. There are also two lovely beaches within walking distance of the town centre – Gyllngvase beach the more popular of the two has a great coastal walk and a stylish cafe, while Swanpool beach is ideal for long dog walks. At the top of the old high street, The Star & Garter is a gourmet gastro pub where you can spend a cosy afternoon in front the fire, and Wheelhouse is a popular shellfish bar that has an extensive selection of delicious freshly caught fish, but you’ll need to book early to secure a reservation.
Where To Stay:
Merchants Manor is a boutique five-star hotel and spa just a short walk from the two main beaches in Falmouth. The ‘seaside country house’ has maritime influences throughout and a selection of stylishly decorated bedrooms. The on-site restaurant Rastella serves a range of delicious seafood treats, while the well-stocked bar is a lovely spot to unwind in the evenings. For a special stay, book the Big Comfy Balcony – a generous sized room with a super king bed, lounge area, and a private balcony with views of Pendennis Castle and the sea.
If you wish any further information or to make a booking, please contact our lifestyle managers.