idle rocks cornwall

The best luxury hotels in Cornwall

23 Feb 2024 | |By Zoe Gunn

The UK's most-searched-for staycation spot offers sea, sand, surf and so much more. Here's where to book your own slice of luxury in the South West

Cornwall has long reigned as the British destination of choice for luxury travellers looking for good weather, great beaches and even better food – without the hassle of airports. In fact, so popular has the South West county become that, in 2020, Newquay was the most searched for holiday destination in the UK.

As such, it’s also become the locale of some of the country’s finest luxury hotels, with everything from traditional guesthouses to adults-only eco-retreats popping up over the past few decades, catering to staycationers looking for something a little more refined than a seaside B&B. Here are the best luxury hotels in Cornwall to book now.

Padstow Townhouse, Padstow

padstow townhouse

Part of Michelin-starred chef Paul Ainsworth’s mini Cornish empire, Padstow Townhouse lies in the heart of the pretty harbour town and is housed in a converted 18th-century home. Filled with antique furniture and artworks by Magnus Gjoen that will have you taking notes for your own interior design upgrades, Padstow Townhouse offers just six lavish suites across three floors, meaning it often feels more like staying with an exceptionally generous friend than in a hotel.

While there’s no restaurant on-site, all-day room service and picnic hampers are available from Ainsworth’s nearby restaurant, No. 6, while the Townhouse offers a Kitchen Pantry, stocked with snacks, cakes and a collection of gins, whiskies and wines, that operates on a 24-hour honesty box system. For those intent on exploring whatever the weather, there are Hunter wellies and four Duchess bicycles available to guests (as well as an electric BMW for those not inclined to brave the elements), while in-room spa treatments are available for those just looking to relax.

From £391 per night, visit

Fowey Hall, Fowey

fowey hall

Having reopened its doors last year after a multi-million-pound refurbishment, Fowey Hall will be the home away from home for those exploring Cornwall’s east coast. This Victorian mansion, which overlooks the Fowey estuary, houses 20 contemporary bedrooms as well as four new Bay Suites which sit atop the renovated spa, offering desirable sea views from private balconies.

Elsewhere at Fowey Hall, you’ll find the family-friendly spa where young and old alike can take a swim and relax on the terrace. For a bite to eat, head to the in-house restaurant and sample fresh seafood caught by local fishermen and aged rib-eye steaks sourced from nearby farms, as well as fine Cornish tipples including Camel Valley wines, Fowey Brewery ales and Tarquin’s Gin. To keep the youngsters happy, the restaurant is kitted out with plenty of games, such as Dobble, and Bugaboo Giraffe highchairs plus a children’s menu that’ll please even the fussiest of eaters.

From £185 per night, visit

Chapel House, Penzance

Dating back to 1790, the soaring ceilings and Georgian proportions of Chapel House are the perfect foil to its new guise as a mid-century modern townhouse designed by architect Keith Bell and owner Susan Stuart. Simple, clean lines, bold colours set against stark white walls and warming natural materials make Chapel House a smart and inviting place to stay (and Instagram intensively).

The hotel’s ‘open house’ concept means guests at its six bedrooms and two suites are invited to treat the facilities at Chapel House as if those of a friend’s home. A resident therapist is on hand to administer in-room treatments, a boot room is stocked with spare jackets, gloves, hats, wellies and flippers and unlimited tea and cake are available to guests content to loll away a warm afternoon on the garden terrace overlooking Penzance Harbour. Supper clubs in the open-plan kitchen also take place every Friday and Saturday using ingredients sourced from local farms.

From £200 per night, visit

Watergate Bay Hotel, Newquay

watergate bay hotel newquay
Image: Lewis Harrison-Pinder

Looking for the traditional Cornish experience of sea, sun and surf? The Watergate Bay Hotel is your ideal luxury stay in Cornwall. Rooms range from classic doubles to family apartments and most are dog-friendly, while the Watergate Bay is also offering a ‘work from anywhere’ initiative for those after a Zoom with a view. The food is equally crowd-pleasing, with the hotel’s three restaurants serving up everything from seasonal modern fine dining to casual Mediterranean, and British classics to a seafood.

For those with little ones to entertain, however, it is the hotel’s huge range of activities that are the big draw here. Enroll aspiring surfers big and small in Extreme Academy, the Watergate Bay’s Surfing England and British Kitesurfing Association-approved surf school, where tutelage in stand-up paddleboarding, waveski and hand plane is offered alongside traditional surfboarding. The hotel also offers swim breaks, Pilates and yoga retreats and fitness camps – plus a full-service spa to soothe the inevitable aches and pains.

From £180 per night, visit

Carbis Bay Estate, St Ives

carbis bay cornwall

Occupying a prime position on the shores of what is undoubtedly one of Cornwall’s most beautiful beaches, the Carbis Bay Estate climbs uphill away from the ocean in a series of landscaped gardens, beach lodges and suites, arranged around a grand main house designed by Cornish architect Silvanus Trevail in 1894. Accommodation is accordingly varied, with the main house offering beautifully-furnished traditional bedroom suites, and the grounds given over to beach lodges sleeping up to eight with private gardens and hot tubs, and contemporary beach suites offering direct access to the ocean.

Once you’re settled in, there’s very little reason to leave Carbis Bay. The hotel boasts four restaurants: The Ugly Butterfly for Cornish fine dining, summery Mediterranean fare at the Beach Club, a sophisticated cocktail bar at Walters on the Beach and all-day casual dining at the Orangery. The serene C Bay spa, meanwhile, features a heated outdoor pool, ocean pool, relaxation lounge and hair salon as well as an array of spa therapies in partnership with Bamford, including the ever-popular B Strong Ritual, B Silent Treatment and B Vibrant Treatment.

From £250, visit

The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth

An adults-only hotel nestled in the hillside overlooking the white sands of Mawgan Porth, The Scarlet is all about sophisticated luxury, wellness and reconnecting with nature. Built into the rock face, and with expansive use of glass, the hotel offers spectacular views from every room while natural materials abound throughout its 37 rooms and five floors. Guest areas, too, prioritise light and space, with an abundance of terraces, relaxation rooms and lounges available for those in need of somewhere peaceful to unwind.

The hotel's on-site restaurant serves all-day casual dining, with afternoon tea and Sunday lunch a particular highlight, but the real draw at The Scarlet is its world-class spa. Focusing on holistic wellbeing, treatments are administered in lantern-lit tents and include a range of Ayurvedic massage and bathing rituals, including a rhassoul using Cornish mud. Hotel guests also have access to an indoor pool, natural reed-bed outdoor pool and steam room, as well as a host of yoga, tai chi and wellness classes.

From £255 per night, visit

The Idle Rocks, St Mawes

idle rocks cornwall

Relais & Châteaux membership is a good sign that a great stay is to be had at the independently-run The Idle Rocks, a classic white-washed hotel perched on the waterfront at St Mawes. Bought by current owners David and Karen Richards in 2010, the original 1913 building has been extensively restored, combining period features with contemporary beach-chic elements to create 19 elegant and inviting rooms. Now celebrating its 10th year, the property is currently undergoing an extensive refresh and will open in time for the summer season at the end of March promising a new exciting look.

Its enviable waterside position means The Idle Rocks is also home to one of St Mawes’ most popular restaurants. Helmed by head chef Matt Haggath, food is modern European and capitalises on the restaurant’s proximity to some of the country’s freshest seafood, while private dining and an outdoor terrace for drinks are also available. Don't miss the Sparkling Cream Tea, where you can dine on freshly-baked scones with homemade strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream alongside a glass of St Austell sparkling wine Knightor Classic Cuvée, for the ultimate seaside experience.

From £270 per night, visit

Read more: The best luxury hotel stays in London