The cream of Cornwall
At this relaxing Cornish retreat a love of the environment comes with an equal love of great design, as Simon Hertson discovers
Built by three sisters with a family heritage in hotels (they also own the child-friendly Bedruthen Steps up the road), the Scarlet pulls off a great trick of being as conscious of the environment as it is of good design. But it has something even more special and that’s the ability to make guests feel relaxed instantly on arrival.
There’s always a process of decompression after the inevitably fraught Friday evening rush to get away. This just seems to happen more quickly and easily at the Scarlet. The staff seemed tuned in to our needs, were lovely to the dog and we are all soon settled into the calm, relaxed, unflappable swing of things. The quality of drinks served on the huge terrace within no time helped.
From the reception area’s floor-to-ceiling picture window, which seems to bring the sea right up into the room, to quirky but cleverly thought out bedrooms; from fabulous outdoor spaces (again with breathtaking sea views) to the wonderfully relaxing Ayurvedic spa, the Scarlet is all about taking guests on a series of journeys. And the super-helpful, well-informed staff seem quietly determined to make each one memorable and enjoyable. They do the basics brilliantly and get the important stuff right.
After a simple-but-delicious dinner of freshly sourced local ingredients (yes fresh fish and seafood feature prominently on the menu), it was back to the terrace for a cheeky night-cap before collapsing into a ridiculously huge and delightfully comfortable bed. We were full of food, wine and the thoughts of all the excitements Saturday would bring.
Time evidently moves in mysterious ways down in Cornwall and it is hard to quite compute how we managed to fit so much into a standard-length weekend, but by the time we floated out of the hotel late on Sunday morning, we had walked a large chunk of the coastal path, played on countless beaches, swum in the sea (and in the Scarlet’s amazingly refreshing natural pool), eaten in some great restaurants, played a mini pool tournament (although we resisted trying to recapture Arthur Sarnoff’s famous painting The Hustler, with the dog playing pool) enjoyed one of the best overall spa experiences ever (another journey the Scarlet likes you to enjoy) and even enjoyed a cliff-top hot tub. It’s the sort of weekend that allows you to forget all about the stresses of everyday life. And that’s definitely a journey worth taking.
When to go: Late spring or early autumn. Summer is lovely, but it brings huge crowds into all parts of Cornwall and the beach gets tricky to negotiate with a dog. Get in before or after the school holidays, but go when it’s still warm enough to enjoy evenings in the Scarlet’s outdoor spaces (not to mention those cheeky hot tubs).