There are two types of people in the world.
Those who love Cornwall. And those who have yet to visit.
Because a visit is all it takes to be swept off your feet by this gorgeous granite hunk, gloriously poking out into the wild Atlantic.
Cornwall’s got the weather, the food, the sea … it’s got Ross Poldark. Really, what’s not to love?
So, I can never quite believe my ears when I meet someone who says they’ve never visited.
That might be more pasties and cream teas for the rest of us Kernow-philes but, people, you really are missing out!
So, for those who prefer the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, may I offer an introduction by way of Watergate Bay.
It’s a spectacular stretch of sand, sea and clifftops on Cornwall’s coast north of Newquay where a hotel of the same name is the last word in relaxed, contemporary seaside comfort and fun.
What’s that? Cornwall’s too far to drive? True, the county is 80-miles long and 24-miles wide on average but Watergate Bay is at the long-weekend-away Devon end of peninsula.
It’s also not as remote as you might think. Newquay railway station is just down the road with direct trains from across the UK during the peak season. And for the deeper-pocketed, Newquay Airport is five-miles in the other direction.
The hotel at Watergate Bay pulls off the trick of being all things to all visitors without compromising on the experience for anyone.
Families with kids of all ages will love the unstuffy, relaxed, come-as-you-please atmosphere. Dreamy couples seduced by the crashing passion of the Cornwall coast will love the contemporary vibe and seaside sophistication.
Even your dog’s tail will be waggier than usual. There are no restrictions on the beach and Rover can join you in The Living Space, the cool eat, meet and greet lounge overlooking the sea, or The Beach Hut, a separate informal restaurant nearer the beach.
And don’t miss Zacry’s in the hotel itself where you’ll have breakfast but also dinner if you’re wise.
Maybe it was Cornwall casting its spell but Zacry’s was my best meal out this year. Chef Neil Haydock draws on international influences but still delivers recognisably British dishes with a Cornish twist. Non-residents are welcome: two courses £34 and three for £40.
There’s a big choice of rooms at Watergate Bay reflecting the breadth of its appeal. For the hopelessly romantic, choose a suite with a bath overlooking the bay. For families (with or without dogs), there are connecting rooms or family apartments a short distance up the hill from the main hotel.
But whichever you choose, the barefoot comfort and fresh, coastal colours will keep you bonded to Cornwall’s beauty.
There’s never any shortage of things to do and see. For the do-ers, there’s surfing, swim classes, yoga, coastal fitness weekends and the hotel spa and pool. For those who prefer to watch from The Living Space with a beer and nibbles, there are events throughout the year to enjoy from stand-up paddle-boarding to polo on the beach (on horseback not in the sea, of course!).
For days out, the rest of Cornwall is on your doorstep. Bedruthan Steps just up the road must be one of the National Trust’s most spectacular coastal property – and it’s certainly one of the most accessible.
Whether you’re a Cornwall virgin or you long since stopped counting the visits, Watergate Bay is an exceptional hotel in an exceptional location.
If Cornwall really is too far, you might want to consider Another Place, Watergate Bay’s rugged Lake District cousin.
Formerly the Rampsbeck Hotel on the west coast of Ullswater, it aims to channel the same relaxed vibe, outdoors-life vibe. Surfing is off the menu here so there’s lake swimming, sailing and fishing and much else to try, including stargazing for the less athletic.
A sympathetic extension to the original hotel is home to family apartments as well as a lovely spa complex.