The Scarlet review
Adult-only eco spa breaks in Cornwall
The Quick Read: The Scarlet is a refreshingly different, rather fun and totally unpretentious place to relax that offers dedicated 3 night, 4 day wellbeing escapes throughout the year as well as gorgeously indulgent spa stays. It was built by three sisters as an adults-only retreat where, as one of them told us, ‘we could take our husbands to remind each other why we married them’. Set above the romantic, wind-swept firm and lovely beach at Mawgan Porth, it has contemporary interiors, impeccable eco-credentials, upmarket comfort food and laid-back, friendly staff. At the spa enjoy soothing Ayurvedic rituals and treatments using locally sourced ingredients, a spacious relaxation area and indoor and outdoor chemical-free swimming pools. Talented health & fitness team 38 Degrees North run detox retreats and fitness breaks between November and March here too.
More on the eco spa: The best place to enjoy the sea views, champagne or smoothie in hand, is lounging in one of the two outdoor hot tubs, which are perched on a man-made cliff – you book private sessions (£20 for 30 minutes). Outside there’s also an outdoor, natural, reed-cleaned pool for refreshing dips, and loungers for sunnier days – read a word from the queen on her stay.
You can also enjoy the beach view through floor-to-ceiling windows from the indoor swimming pool, which is cleaned by carefully-monitored levels of bromine (less toxic than chlorine), and which has an adjoining eucalyptus-infused steam room for guests to use whenever they want.
There’s a hammam, rasul and gorgeous serene wet rooms with silver copper tubs in them for deeply relaxing private baths (we love the ila Awakening tub and scrub, or you can choose a seaweed bath which is great for helping to ease skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis), while most treatments take place in darkly-lit, cream tented treatment rooms.
For relaxation, there are blue-suede loungers in a refreshingly huge, wood-floored relaxation room, which also has a sunken pit area with giant, velvety cushions for quiet reading or chatting. After your treatment, you might want to retreat to canvas hanging pods with cushions in a dark-walled, dimly-lit ‘deep relaxation space’. There’s also a small meditation room where you can meditate alone or access DVDs and Cds for breathwork and relaxation – we can’t think of another spa hotel in the UK that offers anything like this.
More on the eco spa treatments: Choose from a wide range of organic, holistic treatments, including Voya and Tri Dosha facials and a delicious signature facial, Honest, using nutrient-rich organic hand-blended oils from homegrown Hampshire skincare company Natural Wisdom. There are short 45 minute treats such as a hot poultic massage in the hammam, one hour long ayurveda massages and a variety of four-hour long holistic ‘journeys’ chosen to suit your needs. Each of these includes an ayurveda-inspired consultation, a bathing ritual such as a hammam, mud treatment in the rasul or a seaweed bath, and a 1.5 hour ayurvedic treatment. Time is deliberately scheduled in between each stage so you can relax. Brilliantly designed organic pedicures and manicures by Pinks Boutique are also available, done in your room or in a leather chair inside the yoga studio.
More on the wellbeing activities: Whenever you stay, you’ll have access to some morning and evening group classes and activities including Pilates, different types of yoga (Mara, though a little talkative, is very friendly and mixes some useful somatic movement stretches into her practice), guided meditation and nordic walking (recommended with the easy going local Katie). Other things are available with carefully sourced local therapists and practitioners on a one to one basis and at an extra charge, and should be booked in advance – these include silent walking meditation, personal coaching, transformational dance, homeopathy, breath work, qigong and tai chi (from £60 for 60 minutes). There are gorgeous coastal walks from the door and surfing is just a step away.
More on the wellbeing escapes: As well as coming here year round for relaxing eco spa breaks in Cornwall, you can book four types of 3 night, 4 day escapes here inspired by Ayurveda to help you de-stress (Stress Soother), age gracefully (Inner Youth), sleep better (Sleep Easy) or get more energy (Vitality Boost). You’ll have a brief ayurvedic consultation and be matched with a therapist to suit you throughout your stay. As well as good food, ayurveda-inspired treatments and the nourishing environment and facilities of the hotel, the breaks include sessions with local therapists and teachers depending on your needs. You might be inspired by learning to sing will Ella Basile, for example, take a one-to-one pilates class to sort out wobbly tummy muscles with Amy Swanson, or have your sleep-starved, post-baby muscles and brain deeply eased by inventive yoga bodyworker Andrew Moon.
More on the property: Almost every space in The Scarlet overlooks the beach, an invigoratingly windy spot where waves are usually crashing perpetually on the shore except on the calmest of days. Rooms are stylish, unfussy, contemporary and colourful, with Tridosha products in the showers and arresting art installations on the walls. There are plenty of spaces to relax including a gorgeous pink games room-cum-library, a courtyard garden and a residents-only ‘retreat’ which consists of an arty, comfy lounge with plenty of books and an adjoining terrace.
More on the art: Calm spaces inside are uplifted with splashes of gorgeously vibrant colour and a mightily impressive art collection sourced from local artists. We especially love the white and red papier maché model of a man cradling a woman hanging in the spa reception crafted by the talented Steve Yeates, the giant acorn statues by Anna Gillespie, the dramatic floral paintings by Yvonne Coomber, the enriching paintings by Julian Paltenghi and the amusing ceramic Men & a plug hole by Pamela Lawton.
Food and drink: There’s just one restaurant, simply decorated and looking out to sea, with an easy-going, spacious bar with circular seating areas above it. Food is exceptionally good, with menus prepared by head chef Tom Hunter, whose food seems to get better each time we visit.
Breakfast can be healthy fruits and porridge with prunes, or indulgent egg and fish concoctions and plenty of light-as-a-feather croissants and pain au chocolates (the home made granola is fantastic).
Three course set lunches and a la carte suppers include dishes like crab sausage with braised leeks, whole grilled plaice with mussel, saffron, smoked bacon and potato chowder, breast of Cornish duck with shallot puree and Boccadon Farm veal escalopes. Deserts include indulgent fare such as an amazing white chocolate mousse. Vegetarian options are always available, simple healthy salads can be prepared on request, and there’s a good selection of organic wines and loose-leaf teas. There’s also an anytime, anywhere menu which is more casual (on our last visit, they could be way more generous with their portions of soup).
Fellow guests: The owners have deliberately set out to make everyone feel welcome, whatever they are wearing and however they are feeling, and everyone looks reassuringly relaxed here. There are couples, groups of friends, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, of all ages and from all walks of life. Come to indulge or get healthy – you choose.
What’s queenly: The clutch of hotel staff are genuinely relaxed and helpful, and upbeat spa manager Steph Crosby and her team do really seem to care about your wellbeing – something not always apparent at many hotel spas. It’s also genuinely eco-friendly (even the tissues in the bedrooms are made entirely from sugar cane).
What’s lowly: The tented treatment rooms are (clearly) not sound proof, and sometimes you can hear people chatting in the neighbouring one. Parents who can’t find childcare can’t come, though they can stay at the nearby sister hotel Bedruthan Steps – not half as classy, but very child-friendly and with an excellent spa too.
Costs: You can book 3 night, 4 day Wellbeing Escapes year round, or just come to chill. From £195 per room B&B based on two sharing; from £880 per person including all treatments, meals and accommodation.
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
© Queen of Retreats