There are some activities that are simply obligatory when you visit Cornwall. Lounging around on the beach. Rock pooling. Dipping at least one toe into the Atlantic. Eating a pasty. Driving around for the car parking space in St Ives. Getting lost on a back lane Because you're ignoring all the warnings about not relying on the sat-nav, and then finding yourself having a mile when you meet an oncoming tractor, who knocks off your wing-mirror as he trundles past by way of thanks. Ah, Cornwall.
But there's a way to wind down from the holiday stress. There are some absolute beauties to choose from, with treatments ranging from hot stone massages to full-body mud masques. Cornish countryside, but others are looking at the deepest cornish countryside.
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Neighborhood: Mawgan Porth, near Newquay
If it's no-holds-barred pampering you, it's hard to top that north coast wonder, located on an unparalleled cliff top above the beach at Mawgan Porth. Everything about the place feels like a shamelessly decadent spoil – from the lantern-lit, tented treatment rooms, to the infinity pool that seems to reach right out into the blue Atlantic. The design is studious minimalism: sharp lines, soft lighting and plate glass, with cocoon-shaped relaxation pods and swoopy steam-bent chairs to chill in. There's a hammam for steam baths and a rhassoul for mud treatments, and outside, cedar-clad hot tubs where you can soothe your bones with a glass of fizz overlooking the sea, as well as a bracingly cold 'wild pool' for sado-masochists. Factor in sleek bedrooms and an excellent sea-view restaurant, and overall, the Scarlet is really a bit of a stunner.
Day spa from £ 175 per person, two-night spa breaks from £ 417.50 per person
Neighborhood: Bedruthan Steps, near Newquay
The hotel is on the beach, the Bedruthan's focus is on families, so while you check in for treatment at the spa, you can relax in the knowledge that the kids are off for afternoon surf lessons, coasteering, screen printing workshops and other engaging activities. The vibe is more easy-going here: staff are chatty and relaxed, treatment rooms are painted in playful mauves and purples, and there's an outdoor sensory garden with wooden walkways lined with succulents and sea grasses leading to outdoor showers, cedar hot tubs, a Scandi-style sauna and a fire pit. Bedrooms are fun too, splashed with kitsch dots and swirls Seventies prints. Eating-wise, there's a smart restaurant and a chilled cafe to choose from – plus the rock stacks known as the Bedruthan Steps are but a stone's throw away.
Day spa from £ 140 per person (£ 55 Monday to Thursday), one night spa breaks from £ 156
Neighborhood: Fistral Beach, near Newquay
Overlooking Cornwall's premier surfing beach, this boutique-on-a-budget hotel tilts towards a younger clientele. The spa can not boast the bells-and-whistles of fancier places such as the Scarlet or the St. Moritz, and the design is definitely a ritzy, but it's still a pleasant place to unwind. The Vitality Suite includes a steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and a serviceable (if unstarry) indoor pool. The main attraction, however, is the price: half-day packages start at just £ 65, while full-days start at £ 95, including a two-course lunch. Bedrooms are plain, with cream-and-taupe color palettes and simple wooden furniture. Surf lessons are easily sourced at nearby Fistral or any of the other Newquay beaches.
Day spa from £ 95 per person, standard rooms from £ 120
Neighborhood: Trebetherick, near Wadebridge
The location of this strikingly white, Art Deco-inspired hotel, between Rock and Polzeath, has made it a favorite hangout for celebs; this stretch of north Cornwall's coast has been dubbed Cornwall's Saint-Tropez thanks to Harry, Gordon Ramsay and David Cameron. With its white curves and rendered facade, the building is located in a soho house hotel , The pamper factor's cranked up to 11 here: botanical-inspired products inspired by English gardens, his-and-hers massage tables and a range of six bespoke scents specifically for your treatment, although the barrel-vaulted pool is the highlight. The style is 'rustic-luxe', which basically means a blend of bleached wood, stone, ceramic, concrete and chrome, plus bits of modern furniture. If you're staying, there are four room categories (from Cozy to Suite) plus swish self-catering apartments and villas in the grounds.
Full day spa from £ 290, rooms from £ 160
Best for traditionalists: The Nare
Neighborhood: Carne Beach, The Roseland
The Nare is stubbornly old-fashioned, and proud of it. It's the classic Cornish country house hotel: gilded paintings on the walls, rugs and tartan carpets on the floors, leather armchairs in the lounge and afternoon tea served on the lawn. It feels like the hotel has not changed much in the past 50 years, and there's no indication that it's intends to do so in the next 50 either. The spa for time-honored treatments rather than the latest fads: no-nonsense massages, pedicures, manicures and facials, administered in treatment rooms best described as homely rather than trendy. There's also a choice of outdoor and indoor pools. Unsurprisingly, Laura Ashley-style sofas and bath goodies from Crabtree & Evelyn. Of course, there's a silver-service restaurant, porters to carry your baggage and a brave of heritage yachts for sea jaunts. Jolly old holidays, what?
Day spa from £ 125, rooms from £ 389
This longstanding Falmouth hotel seems to have taken on new wings, a rejigged restaurant or newly refurbished rooms. The new St Michaels Spa is one of the newest hydrothermal pools in the southwest. The space is well designed, combining distressed wood, copper and sea-blue tiles into a soothing, vaguely nautical whole. There's a smorgasbord of massages, scrubs, wraps and rhassoul mud treatments, as well as an outdoor barrel sauna and hot tub, and a well-equipped sports gym (there seemed to be more locals than tourists making use of the facilities here the last time I visited). Gyllyngvase is right across the road.
Day spa from £ 89 per person, rooms from £ 128
Best for a grown-up getaway: Merchant's Manor
This Falmouth landmark bills itself as a "grown-up getaway," and it's certainly a stylish, adult affair. Between the hotel in 2012, the owners have been renovating the entire building, checking the rooms and modernizing the decor to create an ambience somewhere between gentleman's residence, country house and trendy hotel-by-the-sea. With its elegant palette of smoke-blues, creams and grays and thoughtful design details – old-school taps, vintage tiles, reimagined linen cupboards – the Linen Rooms Spa is a seductive space, offering an impressive and bewildering array of treatments. Here are a few examples of imagination and wit: a cheeky print or a retro chair there. They've recently added timber-clad 'suite retreats' for maximum privacy.
Two-hour spa session from £ 130, spa breaks from £ 160 per person
Neighborhood: Near Mullion, The Lizard
Edwardian-era fustiness, but the owners have made a concerted effort to modernize things, clearing the clutter, brightening up the rooms and generally making things fit for the 21st century , It's still short on frills, but it's on a fine stretch of the Lizard coastline. The basic spa doubles as a local health club: facilities include a 30m indoor pool, hot tub, gym and tennis court, and with taster massage starting at just £ 29 and spa days from £ 55, it's very reasonably priced.
Spa days from £ 55 per person, rooms from £ 11