Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend time at The Scarlet hotel near Newquay in Cornwall with my best friend from home. Both Liz & I were familiar with the area, having spent some time in the summer at the nearby Watergate Bay and had also heard some great things about the hotel. We were therefore more than excited at the thought of a weekend of relaxation and catching up.
The Scarlet opened mid 2009 and is situated overlooking the gorgeous bay of Mawgan Porth. It is a couple’s retreat and a child free zone, making it the perfect place to escape from city life.
I had read about the hotel having Eco-friendly credentials and was slightly dubious at how this would translate into a luxurious stay and surroundings; however I was very pleasantly surprised.
From the moment you walk into the entrance you detect the homely atmosphere that is the hotel’s ethos. One of the indicators of this is the lack of formal reception desk – instead the staff cleverly detect your arrival and warmly greet you in a very relaxed welcoming fashion, showing you around to instantly make you feel at home.
The Scarlet’s decor is traditional seaside resort with a modern twist. Luxurious wooden floors and furniture are combined with rich turquoise, pink and purple fabrics. Quirky details such as unusual shaped light fittings and eclectic artwork fill the rooms and give a contemporary edge.
Our room was deemed by the hotel as ‘Just right’, and as the most basic grade in the hotel it far exceeded what I would expect of a room with such a title.
An inviting wooden framed bed with plump white pillows, which looked out over the gardens, was the focal point of the generously sized open plan room.
A sizeable bathroom area sits exposed at the back of the room, and for me this was the only negative experience of my entire trip. I later found this to also be a controversial topic amongst other guests. Reading the literature I discovered that the open plan bathroom was intended to reflect the immersion in nature of the resort, which I understand for the free standing baths with a sea view, but the toilet? Being a couple’s resort I can see the thinking behind the uninhibited bathing, however, I’m not sure that hearing your partner use the toilet is particularly romantic or appealing to everyone!
As you pull back the heavy turquoise curtains you can see one of the main attractions of the hotel….the view! The hotel has really maximised this asset with floor to ceiling windows in the restaurant, lounges and indoor pool, plus all rooms having either patios or balconies. There are also two spectacularly placed cliff top hot tubs (more of which to come later), all allowing a stunning view of the ocean scenery.
One of the luxury features of the room is the lighting controls, which allow you to change the mood of your room from ‘relax’ to ‘night’ and ‘ambient’ at the press of a button. This atmospheric lighting is carried through to the rest of the hotel changing the feel of the various rooms throughout the day and according to the weather.
Reading through the in-room literature, I loved the idea of the Anytime, Anywhere menu that included favourites such as homemade soup and welsh rarebit that you could have served anywhere of your choice within the hotel; from the comfort of your room, to the snug setting of one of the many lounges or perhaps the terrace on a slightly warmer day. This really added to the homely atmosphere of the hotel, and made it a home-from-home.
The hotel has two pools, an indoor heated and a spectacular outdoor ‘natural’ pool which organically filters the water with its live plant life and is heated solely by the sun. Hence my reluctance to enter the sparkling three degree water on this chilly December day. On a sunnier, slightly warmer day or for those braver than me, this would be a great experience as the view is stunning. Deciding to ‘wimp out’ and not risk the chill of the natural pool (it still had ice on the surface from the recent snowfall); we decided to make the most of the warmer activities inside.
Wandering round in the fluffy gowns provided, we spent our afternoon swimming, unwinding in the steam room, snoozing on bean bags and lazing around in the relaxation pods which are suspended from the ceiling; it was utter bliss!
The food was one of the main things I was looking forward to on my trip to the Scarlet, as I had read some great reviews, so even after the afternoon of relaxation and snail like pace there was no way I was going to miss our reservation! The restaurant is headed up by Michelin star winning Ben Tunnicliffe and provides an unpretentious yet refined dining experience which reflects the hotel’s ethos as a whole.
The dining room itself is atmospherically lit in the evening with its dark wood and pristine white table cloths giving a sophisticated aesthetic to the informal dining room.
A daily changing, locally sourced menu is on offer at a reasonably priced £39.50 for three courses and comprises a varied selection of options that would suit most tastes, along with the accompanying wine selection.
I selected the seared scallops with cauliflower arancini and a chorizo and caper dressing as my starter, which was completely delicious and a real contrast of textures and flavours, with the very tangy dressing livening up the dish skilfully.
As a main course I choose fillet of beef served with braised carrots, caramelised baby onions and rosti potato, which again contained an array of textures with a rich flavour overall.
Liz selected rainbow trout with a mi-cuit and fishcake served with beetroot and horseradish, which had great flavour and the beetroot was particularly plump and juicy, although she commented that she would have preferred the rainbow trout slightly more cooked.
Continuing the fish trend, Liz opted for bacon wrapped monkfish, goats cheese polenta and purple sprouting broccoli which was cooked to perfection. The monkfish was meaty and light with the bacon providing a real strength within the dish. The polenta was dense without being stodgy and the flavour of the goat’s cheese complimented the bacon wonderfully.
Intriguingly each dessert seemed to be a trio of elements, and as a fan of the biscuit variety, I choose the Jaffa cake pudding with orange flower mousse and honeycomb which was fabulous. The cake itself contained a light mousse, a tangy orange curd and was topped with a bitter dark chocolate topping.
Liz selected the iced praline parfait, almond brittle and lemon drizzle cake, which was a dessert and a half and probably could’ve been a smaller portion size, although the combination of flavours and textures was fantastic.
Stuffed full of a delicious dinner we returned to our room to relax before bed. Our waitress very kindly offered to bring our remaining wine to our room, which was a lovely touch and finished a great day and meal perfectly.
Following a night of uninterrupted sleep and a much needed lie in, (the heavy curtains ensure a total blackout), we headed down to breakfast at the restaurant. The tables were arranged with everyone looking out to sea through the huge windows, creating a calm atmosphere and a beautiful way to start the day.
Like dinner, breakfast is in keeping with the hotel’s feel and ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. The menu is vast and changes daily with various ‘courses’ including pastries, cereals, fruit and hot options of smoked salmon, kippers, sausages, bacon and eggs any possible way you can think of, all with an accompanying fresh Cornish apple juice. I opted for the full English, which was hearty and grease free and Liz went for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, both of which set us up for the beach walks and outdoor hot tubbing we had planned for the day.
One of the most eye catching features of the hotel is the vibrant scarlet hot tubs that sit on the cliffs edge and are clearly visible from the beach; as soon as we saw them on the our first day we knew we had to try one out.
We had booked our hot tub session for after breakfast on Sunday morning and after changing into our swimming attire and robes we headed to the spa area, where we were met by our friendly ‘hot tub host’ who explained the procedure.
The hot tub is heated by its own log fire and is filled with salt water and a net of seaweed to create a warm seaweed bath. The seaweed and salt help to boost your metabolism by stimulating your circulation and regulating your thyroid, so there are some great health benefits as well as being an invigorating experience.
The view at this time of day and the crisp air creating clouds of steam made for a spectacular sight. If you were here for a romantic break or special occasion I would recommend an early evening hot tub with champagne (you can have any drink delivered to your hot tub) as this would make a highly memorable addition to your stay.
Unfortunately our seaweed bath experience signalled the end of our weekend at the Scarlet and it was time to begin the long drive home.
I would highly recommend a visit to the Scarlet, as our stay was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. From the welcoming staff who could not do more for you, to the delicious food and homely atmosphere, I would not hesitate for a second to return for a night of serious ‘R & R’. I would particularly recommend the hotel for couples as generally everything is aimed at guests with partners and I guarantee you would find some romance, no matter how unromantic you or your partner may be!
One of the things I like about the Scarlet is its eco conscience in its build and daily running, yet this feature is not rubbed in your face or does not impede your stay in any way. The Scarlet is a definite must stay for both the environmentally mindful and the extravagant connoisseur.
Rooms start at £180 in low season including breakfast. Further details can be found on the Scarlet’s website.