St Moritz review | Spa hotel Cornwall UK
Friendly, unfussy hang out with a spa and ocean views
The Quick Read: This friendly, stylish place is set high above the charming little beach of Greenaway in Cornwall with views out to the Atlantic Ocean. A great place to kick back for a weekend or longer, it has a well-run Cowshed spa, an indoor pool with a sauna and steam, a terrace restaurant and a large outdoor pool next to a relaxed fish-focused eatery. Choose to stay in a hotel room, a self-catering apartment or a villa. Excellent surf lessons are available with Wavehunters in nearby Polzeath, and it’s a particularly good spa retreat for families during the school holidays. The place is named after the uber-lux resort in Switzerland, for the original owner loved the service and food out there so much he wanted to replicate it in the UK and sent all his chefs there to train.
Who it’s best for: Friends or families any time of the year looking for a relaxing break with access to pampering treatments and outdoor activities. Couples seeking total quiet might want to come during term time when there are fewer children, though there are adult-only swim times and the spa treatment rooms always make a tranquil escape.
What you can do: The spa offers a simple, easy-to-choose-from menu of treatments devised by Cowshed and using their non-toxic products. There are treatments for face, body, hands and feet, and massages include a head, back, full body and hot stone. There’s a whole separate menu of maternity treatments, and a Sun and Sea Signature Treatment (£115 for 120 mins) which comprises a body brush, sea salt scrub and wrap, an express facial and a relaxing full body massage. Book a couples treatment room, or there are five other simple single rooms, each of which has one wall of wood panelling and is filled with the aroma of various Cowshed candles.
Swim in the indoor pool – adults will for sure want to use the adults-only times (go early morning, or there’s a 7-9pm slot), and if they’re feeling brave will find a longer length in the outdoor pool, which is solar-heated. There’s a perfunctory jacuzzi, and large, slightly uninspiring though decently hot steam room and sauna too. A whole new spa area is planned for late 2016.
There are group Circuit and Pilates sessions which you can join, for £5 a session, and tennis courts to use. Be sure to book a Surf session with Wavehunters, and to go walking along the gorgeous coast. You can go fishing locally too. St Moritz has a Land Rover available which can drop guests off at certain locations such as the Padstow Ferry Port) or pick them up from certain beaches – do book this in advance.
During school holidays, there are (payable) kids activities arranged with Wavehunters on the beach, and (free) one-hour afternoon activity sessions with hotel staff.
Where you stay: You can choose a contemporary hotel room, self-catering apartments or villas. Our family suite (109A) had white wood-panelling on the walls, simple wooden floors, a large balcony overlooking the sea and lots of light and space. We relished the Cowshed toiletries, and comfy large beds with divinely soft linen ensured we all slept well each night. The most affordable hotel rooms don’t have a sea view, but they do have access to their own cute beach huts arranged around a flat lawn and looking out to sea.
How was it for us: I’ve been to St Moritz in Cornwall a couple of times now, and have always relished the no-fuss feel of the place. On the latest trip my husband and five year old daughter hung out for a weekend. My daughter swum her first length without a float in the indoor pool, and adored exploring the flower-filled grounds, her parents either side of her. One evening we wandered down to Greenaway beach for a spot of shell seeking, and sat on the flat smooth rocks for ages breathing in the sea air and chatting.
I had some simple waxing efficiently done at the spa with Mel, and an indulgent back-to-back hot stone facial and Salt Scrub massage with Rachel, the incoming spa manager. Both were beautifully executed, the massage in particular a slow-moving, deeply relaxing hour and a half of aromatic relaxation. I do love the non-toxic Cowshed products, most especially for their names – I surprised myself by choosing the Horny Cow Seductive Oil by smell for my massage – apparently, loads of people do, because it includes Rose Absolute (but of course). A few days on and my face was still glowing, my body still feeling ironed out.
This was an easy-going place to reconnect, but the highlight was our two hour private family surf session with Alex, one of the young instructors from Wavehunters surf school where St Moritz sends their guests. Crowded Polzeath beach might well have been, but Alex’s charm and easy going nature made us feel supremely engaged and we soon blocked out everyone else. This was my daughter’s first go on a surf board, and she got up (with Alex and my husband Tom either side of her, of course). I then had a go, my third time surfing, got up each time, and felt jubilant. My surfer husband then had Alex to himself while my daughter and I played tag on the beach. A brilliant start to our stay, and the fresh air made us feel all the more able to order lovely cocktails at the bar on our first night.
Food watch: This is a place to indulge in some upmarket comfort food, and to order Mojitos rather than mango juices. The menus are relaxed and easy, if slightly dull when it comes to healthy eating. We ate from the bar menu one early evening and at the seafood restaurant – for me, there were a few too many dishes with chips, and not enough green-leaf-based dishes, but what we did eat was very well done and served with a smile, they always served spinach or extra veg if I asked for it, and the local meat and fish we had during a sunday BBQ was particularly tasty and tender. Look out for the local fish especially – including Padstow Lobster.
People watch: Throughout our stay the front of house staff were especially friendly and helpful, and the Polish waitresses in the restaurant were particularly cheerful in the mornings.
What we took home: Lots of colourful pebbles and a few intricate shells from Greenaway beach, and a reconnected feeling with my family.
Would we go back: I would certainly go back, and take a stack of friends with me too.
What’s queenly: The sea, everywhere. It gets into your blood and makes you happy.
What’s lowly: The jacuzzi doesn’t have powerful jets and the whole indoor pool area is in need of a spruce up – plans are afoot for a totally new indoor pool area for late 2016.
Insider tip: The hotel is close to popular Padstow and Rock for shopping and eating treats, so book ahead and bring your spare cash. Polzeath gets supremely busy in high season – a private surf session will help you block out the crowds.
Price with a companion: Prices range from £120 per room per night for the most affordable room in low season (November, December and January except for Christmas and New Year) rising to £370 a night for the best room in high season based on two people sharing including breakfast and use of the facilities.
Price going solo: From £90 per night solo occupancy for the most affordable room in low season to £255 per night solo occupancy in the best room in high season.
Value for money: Not bad at all – breakfast and use of all the facilities including spa, pools and tennis courts is included. You have the use of wellies and fishing nets, and the Land Rover service too.
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
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