Could there be any place better in the world to be than sitting in a lipstick red hot tub at The Scarlet hotel in Cornwall sipping champagne? As soon as I heard about the hot tubs I jumped at an invitation to stay a night at The Scarlet. It’s the little things at the hotel that make it really special. The fresh leaf tea and filter coffee that is available for no additional fee from room service instead of dinky bar fridges and kettles in your room. The crisp, high quality bed linen. The copy of the Rough Guide to Happiness in every room’s desk drawer instead of the standard hotel bible.
My favourite place – the outdoor hot tubs
It’s the big things as well though. The expansive views from every room in the hotel over the stunning Magwan Porth Beach. The eco credentials of the hotel evident in the roofs carpeted with Cornish grass so the hotel blends into the natural environment. Did I mention the luxury specially created toiletries?
The view from the balcony of our room. What looks like grass is actually the roof of the hotel rooms below.
Equal thought has gone into the food at The Scarlet with a restaurant headed by Ben Tunnicliffe who gained a Michelin star during his tenure at The Abbey. The menu is seasonal, changing daily and Tunnicliffe makes as much use of the renowned Cornish local produce as possible. The setting for dinner is as spectacular as the food. The dining room pays tribute to the hotel’s name with an ultra modern design interjected with splashes of scarlet in every shade. White linen tables stand out against red wine and chocolate coloured banquettes and dangling felt lampshades. A sense of drama and occasion is created by the soaring ceilings and floor to ceiling windows framing the beach views.
The whole hotel is incredibly stylish with beautiful local art displayed in the common areas
Pan fried ray wing was served perched on a bed of rocket and tiny cubes of chorizo. The fish was slathered in a saffron aioli that is a ready match for the punchy flavours of the crispy chorizo. Rings of bread crumbed squid were deep fried to a state of crispiness and teamed with smears of guacamole and chilli jam. The flavour combination worked well but the squid itself was a little disappointing tasting more like fish n’ chip shop fare.
A round fillet of beef was expertly aged, flavourful and exquisitely prepared. Perfectly medium rare, the beef was teamed with pan fried smoked gnocchi and twirly, curly wild mushrooms. Fillet of line caught sea bass was crispy skinned and tender. it was paired with a lobster raviolo and a scattering of soft tomato salsa.
Beef fillet with smoked gnocchi
It didn’t fall down at dessert either. Vanilla creme brulee, predictably ordered
by MTV boyfriend was smooth with a good crack of caramelised sugar on top. The bright pink autumnal fruit sorbet that accompanied it sharply cut through the creamy brulee. The well kept cheese board featured a creamy Tunworth almost like a brie, birch Bath blue and a sharp 12 month aged Montgomery cheddar. The cheeses were accompanied by excellent home made biscuits scattered with poppy seeds and a sweet apple chutney.
The generously sized cheese board for one
In keeping with the ecological bent of The Scarlet, the wine list was entirely European to save on air miles. There was an emphasis on small producers and organic, bio-dynamic wines. We drank a bottle of red from the Duoro region of Portugal, a full bodied wine which was tanning heavy but with fruity undertones.
The next morning, we ate one of the best hotel breakfasts I have ever had. Breakfast at The Scarlet is all about the toast. Thick slabs of home baked bread were slathered in rich, red lumpy strawberry jam or sticky marmalade. Resisting filling up on the bread was essential as breakfast was a multi course affair with home made granola yoghurt and berries and then a choice of breakfast “mains” which changed daily. The full English was a staple and featured “hog sausage” alongside the usual suspects, a black pudding style accompaniment made out of spicy sausage. Eggs Arlington was a version of Eggs Benedict but featuring smoked salmon instead of ham. The hollondaise sauce was super creamy and clearly made to order.
Granola with berries
- We drove to Cornwall from London which takes between four to six hours. Another, more ecological option is to catch the train to Bodmin Parkway station or for those feeling flush you could fly to Newquay.
- If you can tear yourself away from The Scarlet, you can hang out on the beautiful Magwan Porth beach or there is a great walk to Bedruthan steps from the hotel where you can take in the stunning views and eat afternoon tea for £4.95 at the National Trust tearooms.
- There is lots to do in Cornwall even in Winter like visits to the galleries in St Ives (including the Tate) and a tour of the open air Minack theatre.
Bedruthan steps – a half hour walk from the hotel along the cliffs
Details: The Scarlet Hotel
, Tredragon road, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, England (Ph 01637 861 800)
Damage: Pricey. Bed, breakfast and dinner packages are from between £160 to £240 a night at this time of year. You don’t need to stay at the hotel to eat dinner there and a three course meal is £35.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of The Scarlet
Cream tea at the National Trust tea rooms at Bedruthan Steps