Easy Escapes: Watergate Bay, a hotel by the sea

Image of inside a bedroom at Watergate Bay. The bed to the left is made and the natural light shines through the door windows to the blue sky
(Image credit: Courtesy of Watergate Bay)

Forget soggy fish and chips or ‘break a tooth’ stick o’ rock, this Cornish beach resort is attracting an altogether more discerning, cosmopolitan crowd. Time to pack up your preconceptions of a UK beach holiday and book yourself into Watergate Bay. 

The Vibe

When CEO Will Ashworth took over from his parents in 2004 he had grand ambitions for this old school beach hotel, hoping to emulate the Apres Ski feeling he was so fond of, and share that with a wider homegrown crowd. If you’re up for it, days are for working up an appetite in the surf, taking long hikes and getting a healthy dose of that fresh sea air, but as the sun lowers it’s time for Apres Surf …. Dive into the pool, grab a cocktail on the sun deck or massage those aching muscles away at the beach club spa. 

Sounds like an altogether adult affair right? It is, but somehow Watergate manages to combine a refined upmarket ambiance with a kids, dogs, and sandy flip flop welcome mentality. No airs and graces here, just a great time guaranteed for all. 

Image of the sea, sand and cliff top near watergate bay hotel

(Image credit: Courtesy of Watergate Bay)


The hotel is expansive and offers something for everyone, in-house doubles, family suites, village apartments or the impressive new beach lofts. They’ve really thought of everything here with accessible rooms, interconnecting family rooms, dog friendly options and baby monitoring and babysitting services. It's a place that everyone can enjoy. 

image of a bedroom at Watergate Bay, chairs and tables lead to glass doors that open to a view of the blue sea

(Image credit: Courtesy of Watergate Bay)

We checked in to one of the 7 swanky new “surf in - surf out” beach lofts with panoramic views across Cornwall’s rugged Watergate Bay.  Designed by Cornwall-based Dynargh Design, each loft offers something slightly different - ours came with a wood burner and freestanding bath overlooking the beach, cosy seating area, huge bed and a generous bathroom. The power shower is pure heaven after a day on the beach and leaves no grain of sand behind. Luxury Land & Water bath products make the experience even more enjoyable and being British made, vegan and using 100% recycled packaging, they’re just one of the many things the hotel are doing to create a more sustainable footprint. Carpets made from recycled bottles, 100% renewable electricity supplies, electric charging points and reclaimed and upcycled furniture are just some of the ways this beach retreat sits in harmony with its surroundings, and helps preserve rather than impact its star attraction. 

Feeling peckish? All beach lofts have access to a communal pantry which serves breakfast alongside round the clock, help yourself, tea and cake. For something a little more celebratory, pop your note in the honesty box and toast your day’s activities with a cocktail or bottle of champagne. 


Hit up the Swim Club and take a dip in the 25m heated indoor pool with impressive views out across the bay, hop in the sauna or plunge into the outdoor hot tub. Kids can frolic all day but 6-9 morning and evening are reserved for adults only - take a book, order a drink and just sit back and soak up your surroundings. 

The spa amenities are small but perfectly formed and the range of treatments doesn't disappoint. A massage was just what the doctor ordered and nothing is too much for the experienced staff who go above and beyond to tailor the treatment to suit your needs. 

Partnering with the local Wavehunter academy guests can book private or group surf and stand-up paddleboard lessons as well as outdoor fitness or beach yoga sessions. We tried our hand at surfing as part of a mixed group catering to all ages and abilities - not sure we’ll be entering any competitions just yet but the knowledgeable, fun and attentive instructors ensured everyone had a great time and most took to their feet. 

Image of the sea and sand outside watergate bay

(Image credit: Courtesy of Watergate Bay)

Wining & Dining

There are four restaurants at the hotel, each bringing a unique take on locally sourced, quality ingredients. The Beach Hut, set as you’d imagine, just off the beach offers a contemporary and relaxed setting. Watch the sunset over the waves with international cuisine, fish and chips or a burger. 

For something more formal, pop the baby to sleep with the baby sitting service and pull up a chair at Zacry’s. We opted for the charred octopus with smoked paprika and crispy potatoes as well as the cauliflower pakora with lime yoghurt and pomegranate - both were a huge success. Charcoaled meats and fish are the stars of the show but vegans and vegetarians will be impressed with the additional fully plant based menu. 

Image of octopus on a plate at Watergate Bay

(Image credit: Courtesy of Watergate Bay)

The Living Space invites you to lounge at your leisure. On a good day head out to the sun deck and enjoy the view with a bowl of olives, a couple of croquettes or a sharing platter. Kids will be happy here with space to run around and a menu of fish fingers, cheeseburgers and pasta. 

New this season Emily Scott sets up permanent residence following a hugely successful pop-up in 2020. “Expect a stripped back and simple seafood and plant-based menu,built from meticulously-sourced local ingredients”. Gourmet hot dogs, pizzas, cracking coffee and local ice creams are also all available from the local vendors set up in the beachside car park.  

Normally I’m one to over indulge on holiday, but with all the activities on your doorstep a week at Watergate Bay hits the perfect balance of action meets excess - good for the mind, body and soul.

image of the indoor pool area at watergate bay, bright blue water and walls with glass doors viewing the sea

(Image credit: Courtesy of Watergate Bay)

What are you waiting for?

Price start from £190 for a standard double including breakfast, to book head to https://www.watergatebay.co.uk/

Sarah Hayman

Sarah Hayman is a contributing food and travel writer at Marie Claire UK, covering everything from UK breaks to far flung destinations, the best greasy spoon to Michelin star dining.

Growing up on the Kent coast Sarah spent virtually every day of her summer holidays frolicking on the beach so it’s no wonder that a life living and working in London leaves her yearning for sand between her toes and cool wines on summer eves.

To ensure she’s ordering the right thing in a restaurant and knowing her lefts from her rights, Sarah has since dabbled in languages being conversational in Spanish and currently studying Arabic at SOAS.