Watergate Bay Hotel review
Surf & spa in Cornwall
The Quick Read: This unpretentious but cool family-friendly hotel set right on the beach at Watergate Bay has lovely rooms decked out with oak floors and coastal colours and a natty ‘Swim Club’, otherwise known as a spa. There’s a fabulous outdoor hot tub, an indoor lap pool, no-fuss, decent treatments, pilates and spinning classes and a funky Ocean Room for smoothies, healthy bites and inspirational views of the sea. It’s an inspiring, relaxing place to while away the weekend or get a decent deal midweek with a friend, your lover or family – learn to surf or brush up on your skills, go coastal walking, horse ride in nearby countryside, play on the beach or just lounge inside staring at the views.
More on Swim Club: Do morning laps in the 25 metre infinity pool with glorious views out to the Atlantic, or take the children into the shallow area at set times during the day. There’s also an outdoor hot tub on gorgeously smooth decking, a well-equipped gym, a room for manicures and pedicures, also overlooking the bay, and a studio for spinning, cardio and pilates classes. Cardio classes are great fun and run by Carl of the Extreme Academy (see below) – you can also ask for one to one yoga sessions as part of a DIY retreat. Pilates is taught by Jane Crinnion, who charges £48 for a 1-1 hour-long session. Barefoot running clinics and swim technique clinics are planned.
The Ocean Room is a contemporary, arty, sunshine yellow and blue café for juices, light bites and decent coffees – come here for inspiring, gigantic views out to sea and whiling away the time – read a word from the king on his stay. There’s also a little shop – pick up a Merino wool throw to take home with you or some of their lovely Another Place skin and hair products made by a private apothecary.
This is a place to feel totally at home, and there’s a lively atmosphere here – for quiet time, book a treatment in one of the three serene, sage-green and cream rooms and use the little snug room before or after. There are various decent massages on offer, simply presented as Deep or Relaxing (we like) – The Works includes a body brush, a full body exfoliation, a wrap, a facial and a massage, while you can also go for a Freestyle treatment and just book time so your therapist can tailor everything to your needs. There are also wraps, scrubs, facials, hand and foot treatments, or get your pre-beach waxing done. Facials start from £35; a full body massage costs £60 for 60 minutes while The Works costs £100 for 120 minutes.
More on the bedrooms: They’re all rather lovely, with solid oak floors, splashes of vibrant colours in light shades, duvet covers and cushions and original art by local artist Edward Oliver. Choose from Standard, Better, Best, a Suite or a Family Suite – stretch your budget to a larger room with a sea view if possible, and ask for one with a stand-alone baths in the window especially if you’re visiting in chillier months.
More on the outside: Watergate Bay beach is glorious, romantic, large, with table-cloth-flat sand and rock pools that children will love. Follow the timber boardwalk from Swim Club down to the Extreme Academy, where even non-extreme types will be able to get all the gear they need to enjoy the great outdoors as a natural spa.
Loll on the waves, have a surf lesson with talented head honcho Carl or one of his lovely staff, try your hand at Stand Up Paddling or be brave and go for something more adventurous like kitesurfing, waveskilling or hand planing. The team here can also organise horse riding, and guide you on decent coastal trails for biking, walking or running. Surfing, fitness, polo and music events happen throughout the year.
Food & drink: Have plates of comfort food like hand-rolled fishcakes, pastramii deli rolls or sharing boards (meat or veggie) in the spacious Living Space, or dine off decent dishes like Ham hock, pea and balsamic risotto and crispy herbs or Roast Grampound duck breast, braised lentils, spinach and apple puree at Zacry’s. When we visited we liked the mixed endive salad and venison, the friendly service, and sipping prosecco looking out to sea. There are kids tea served each evening, while the Beach Hut is a good place to get an energy-giving range of tasty bites at any time, from falafel burgers to full blown steaks. Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen is a hop, skip and a jump away.
Costs: Prices start from £125 per room per night in low season (family suites from £200) to £235 per room per night in high season (ocean view suites £385). Full body massage £60 for 60 minutes; Introduction to Surfing £30 for half a day.
What’s queenly: The young and helpful staff. Watching a pink sunrise (or indeed sun set) from the outdoor hot tub (there’s deliberately no noisy jets – the owners wanted you to listen to the sea instead). Being invigorated by surf – whether you’re in it, on it or just watching it.
What’s lowly: On our visit the relentlessly ‘cool and cheerful’ Jack Johnson-type music in Swim Club grated after a while.
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
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