Cornwall is a popular place to spend a sunny weekend during the Summer holidays, but in my opinion Autumn and Spring is the best time to go. During the Summer, beaches can be noisy and overcrowded, the towns heaving with tourists, whereas in the Autumn you can go for long crisp walks along the beach or spend a day surfing in the tall waves, then warm up with a hot chocolate by the fire. I know which weekend I would prefer!
And so we spent a long weekend in Cornwall in late September. We were visiting family in Dorset and so the drive to Newquay was quite manageable, and we even found a few nice garden and interiors shops along the way. We decided to book The Headland hotel, which we had heard (and read) great things about. The hotel is right on Fistral beach, one of the best beaches in Cornwall for surfing, it has a great restaurant and a spa to boot. To make it worth the trip we booked for two nights – definitely worth doing, as one night would have been too rushed!
Driving up the long drive to the hotel, perched on a cliff, The Headland Hotel looked very grand and impressive. The interiors felt grand too, in an old fashioned sort of way. Past the hotel lobby was a large L-shaped room full of comfy sofas and crackling fires, and a wind-proof terrace with a gorgeous view over the sea.
We checked in and went straight up to our room. The room was simple but pleasant, with a large ensuite with a rainshower, and best of all: breathtaking views across the beach and sea! We freshened up and decided to brace the windy day for a walk along the coast.
We walked from the hotel down the coast to Fistral beach, and took in the sea breeze and salty air. There’s something so calming and therapeutic about the sea, particularly on an Autumn’s day.
Having stretched our legs and feeling very refreshed, we headed back to the hotel to get changed in time for dinner in their Samphire restaurant.
We hadn’t booked a particular table but the sunset is pretty spectacular from the restaurant as it has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bay, so I recommend requesting a table by the window if possible!
We ordered a bottle of house red wine (their own label, produced in Australia) which was surprisingly good!
I ordered cured meats as a starter – for the price I expected something pretty simple, so was impressed when the dish came looking very ‘haute cuisine’ with rocket, radish, gherkins and puddles of sauce. Jonathan ordered the mackerel which also arrived looking beautiful, and tastes as good as it looked.
As we were on the coast and the hotel receive freshly caught fish every day, we both decided to go for a fish dish. Unsurprisingly, neither of them disappointed, but surprisingly they were far beyond the quality you would expect for the price you pay. We reckon it won’t be long until they have a Michelin star under their belt!
With wine in hand (and a cheeky lemon meringue pie for dessert), we lingered long beyond our welcome and were once again the last to leave!
On our way out we spotted this artwork – made entirely out of mussel shells. Maybe it was the wine talking but I found it to be quite hypnotic! Perhaps it could be a fun DIY project to try at home? Not that I have the foggiest clue where you would find that many mussel shells. And it could be quite a smelly process collecting them from dinners.
The next morning, after attacking the breakfast buffet (full English breakfast buffet with plenty of yoghurt, fruit, cereals, toast and pastries on offer too), we went straight down to the beach to book a surfing lesson for the afternoon (a MUST), then explored a pretty port nearby.
We watched fishermen as they brought in their fish, and watched as dogs played on the beach. It kind of felt like going back in time!
Eventually it was time for our surf lesson! It was only my second time (my first time was nearby at Mawgan Porth) and I was feeling a little apprehensive at first, but the waves were so much better this time of year, we got the hang of it from the very first wave!
The lesson took up most of the afternoon, and amazingly both Jonathan and I somehow managed to just get the knack quite quickly, so we swam further and further out to sea to catch the taller and bigger waves right back to the shore. It was invigorating (plus I’d never felt so cool in my life, haha!).
By the end of it my muscles ached, my body felt like it had been given a good workout, I’d swallowed about 10 litres of sea water (or at least it felt that way) and my skin felt windswept and stinging slightly from all the salt (which really cleaned the pores by the way).
We dragged ourselves back up to the hotel where I flopped onto the bed and felt paralyzed for hours! So we made hot chocolates and cosied up in front of a film in the hotel’s fluffy dressing gowns.
And with this view!
For a refreshing, active, but cosy weekend away, Cornwall really is a firm favourite, and you can’t get any closer to the beach, the views, or the surf (or views of the surfers) than the Headland Hotel!