Great British Boltholes: St Moritz Hotel, Cornwall

Surf’s up for Jess Lacey on the action-packed north Cornish coast

Surf’s up for Jess Lacey on the action-packed north Cornish coast

Why go? For a classic English beach holiday that offers lots to do and is close to foodie Padstow.

Best for: An active break with your partner, friends or family. Fresh air and fun are the main themes, plus the chance to enjoy some stylish accommodation miles from anything remotely urban. The St Moritz Hotel is the perfect place to switch off without having to jet off.

White out: kick back at the St Moritz Hotel Photo: © Paul Kirkby

The look: Now in its fifth year, the art deco-inspired St Moritz Hotel is as slick as ever. The style is simple, modern and oh-so-white, with a myriad of accommodation options in the shape of 45 hotel rooms and suites, 13 functional self-catering apartments and two decadent penthouses sleeping up to 18 guests, complete with private chef. It’s worth upgrading to a suite (the higher the better for the views), just to sit out on the spacious terrace with the option to eat with friends at the large dining table. For the optimistic, the outdoor pool is open throughout the summer and accompanied by a string of merry beach huts, complimentary to guests. The main building houses a gym, indoor pool, sauna and steam room, and – most importantly – a sumptuous Cowshed Spa with the usual high standard treatment menu. The full body massage is wonderfully restorative after a day being beaten by the surf (£65 for 60 minutes).

I’m hungry…You will be from all that physical exertion, so for lunch head to the hotel’s Sea Side restaurant, which is actually poolside but the views across the Atlantic and jagged cliffs are inspiring. Go for the freshly caught fish served in a fuss–free style, while the hot ginger toddy (£7.95) is the ultimate warmer when the wind’s up. The main St Moritz restaurant has an open kitchen and the goings-on make quite a meal-time show. A glass of wine starts at £4.20 and all cocktails are £8.95, while the menu is more impressive than the décor suggests. The seared scallops with parsnip puree and pancetta (£12.50) make a good choice – but leave room for the local cheeses course (£7).

Cornish class: a suite at the St Moritz Hotel

While you’re there… Judge the tides correctly and you can walk the entire stretch of beach to Rock, perhaps stopping for a light bite at The Blue Tomato Café on the way. Then for £1.50 you can get the brief passenger ferry to Padstow and do the tourist thing. It’s nicknamed ‘Pad-Stein’ after celebrity chef Rick Stein who seems to own every other eatery. His best is The Seafood Restaurant (rickstein.com) which is open daily, but expect a four-month wait-list for a table. A clever trick is to walk in and eat at the bar, where you can enjoy the same menu without the need for swanky attire – try a bottle of 2009 St Romain Sous Le Château (£46) with your order. Another must-eat in Padstow is No.6 (number6inpadstow.co.uk) specialising in local produce – head chef Paul Ainsworth trained under Gordon Ramsay.

When in Cornwall, surfing is a must and you can learn fast with Magic (not his real name, we suspect) at Wavehunters on Polzeath Beach (wavehunters.co.uk). A two-hour lesson costs £28 for adults and should have you standing, or at least kneeling, on a board by the end. Alternatively, extreme adrenalin junkies can get their kicks coasteering with Harlyn Surf School (harlynsurfschool.co.uk). For something more tranquil, have a horticultural moment at the Eden Project, 20 miles away (edenproject.com) or visit Boscastle, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty preserved by the National Trust (nationaltrust.org.uk/boscastle).

Still waters: clear your head on Polzeath Beach

Dress code: Casual and comfortable with striped Breton tops a popular choice for young and old. Amp it up a little in the evening, but an open-neck shirt for the boys is more than adequate. Heels aren’t needed, instead pack comfortable shoes for those stony coastal paths.

Book now: St Moritz Hotel, Trebetherick, Wadebridge, Cornwall PL27 6SD (01208 862242; stmoritzhotel.co.uk). In June double rooms start at £150 with breakfast, and check out the special offers section on the website. The drive from London takes around four-and-a-half hours, or take a train from London Paddington direct to Bodmin Parkway – taxi transfers take 45 minutes and cost £35.
 
Info: Pick up the St Moritz’s information sheet at check-in, which has a wealth of local insights including a run-down of the best beaches, restaurants, attractions, walks, taxis and even babysitters. Devon & Cornwall (£12.99; Rough Guides) is a comprehensive guide, and see visitcornwall.com.

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