This weekend, Flea and I were invited to Cornwall, to spend a few days at the Bedruthan Steps hotel, situated high on the cliffs between Newquay and Padstow.
After a vintage Whittle family journey that took two hours longer than anticipated by Google Maps, I comforted myself with the fact the journey had at least been educational (if you count the fact that, as I was muttering to myself and executing yet another three point turn on a steep incline, Flea shouted, “Oh, Mummy, I just realised, when you just said, 'This will be fun', you were being SARCASTIC, weren’t you?”)
Anyway, the hotel itself is a fabulously retro 60s building, long and flat, complete with suspended swinging chairs in the lobbies, and swirly carpets. The bedrooms are much more modern with comfy beds and a cute roll-down blind that divides the adults’ and childrens’ sleeping quarters – if you can, ask for a room on the second floor – ours had the most amazing sea views and floor to ceiling windows that could be opened (which is lucky as there’s no air-con and it can be a bit like being in a greenhouse).
Bedruthan prides itself on promoting ethical and sustainable tourism – 70% of the food menu is locally sourced, with a focus on independent suppliers. There’s no bible in the bedroom – instead you’ll find a copy of Leo Hickman’s ethical living bible in the bedside cabinet. There’s also no orange juice because apparently it’s environmentally more sound to drink apple juice – OJ can be provided in return for a £1.50 supplement, which is donated to a carbon offsetting scheme. Who knew?
On our way down to Bedruthan, we stopped off to explore Padstow (totally intentional detour, of course). It’s a gorgeous little seaside town, full of interesting shops and alleys to explore. We then headed to the hotel for dinner, and were seated during the ‘family dining hour’ – my food was amazing, but I have to say that at £31 a head for adults (not including wine) I wouldn’t be eating in the hotel every evening!
On Sunday we headed off to the Eden Project, which I’ve been planning to visit for several years. I’ve heard the site can get very busy, but we got lucky and picked a day when it was relatively empty with no queues to park or buy our tickets (£31 for both of us, which gives free entry for a full year).
Eden Project is a brilliant place to take children – Flea had great fun running around the open spaces and discovering all the uses that plants are put to – the gardens are arranged so kids can explore plants used in foods, drinks and medicines.
The highlight of the day was exploring the rainforest biome which was unbelievably hot (35 degrees and 70% humidity played havoc with my camera!) but climbing up the wobbly metal staircase to view the rainforest from above was absolutely unforgettable. There was also a wonderful brass band, which apparently visits every Sunday – Flea loved it, and has inherited my talent for modern interpretive dance, as you can see below.
Of course, we couldn’t visit Cornwall without spending some time on the beaches, so Monday was spent in the great outdoors – Mawgan Porth beach below the hotel has stunning scenery and is a sheltered bay perfect for surfing lessons, which can be arranged with the lovely Johnny and Nick through the hotel. When the tide’s out, it’s perfect for exploring rock pools. A little further afield is Holywell Bay (at the top of the post), a gorgeous long sand beach with dunes and rocks for climbing.
Before heading home on Monday evening, we popped back to the hotel for Flea to try out the kids’ club while I had some relaxing spa treatments. Unfortunately, Flea wasn’t keen on the kids’ club (which looked lovely, to be fair) and so I had the unique experience of having a relaxing massage while listening to oriental music and being watched intently by a five-year-old sitting motionless in the corner, who had been threatened with unmentionable pain if she so much as made a squeak while Mummy was relaxing. I am such a positive parenting role-model, I know.
Still, it meant I was nice and relaxed for the drive home – and I didn't get lost once. All in all, a very successful weekend and thanks to the Bedruthan for hosting us so beautifully.
Disclosure: A Sea View King family room at Bedruthan Steps costs from £260 per night in mid-season. Surfing lessons for two people cost from £75 for two hours, and spa treatments start at £24 for a VOYA seaweed back massage.