Leanne Kelsall heads to St Ives in South West England to experience the luxury on offer and to discover the fun things to do and the must visit places
The seaside town of St Ives has it all; turquoise waters, white sands, dramatic cliffs. It’s a British paradise and the stunning scenery isn’t the only luxury on offer…
From alfresco oysters and champagne to a sunset cruise in a private yacht – as we’d soon discover, there’s plenty to indulge in on a trip to the Cornish coast.
We took a trip to the charming streets of St Ives to dip our toe in all that it had to offer. So, with a little help from the tourist board and insider tips from locals, here’s your guide on how to enjoy the luxurious side of St Ives.
Where to stay
A Beachspoke self-catered cottage…
For many Brits, Cornwall sparks fond childhood memories of camping or caravanning by the sea. These days, the streets of St Ives are lined with lavish holiday cottages – many built in the shell of old fishermen’s’ homes. After a little digging, there was one cottage in particular that had gotten the locals and tourists talking.
The secluded Black Moon Cottage, owned by Beachspoke, has magnificent views of the bay towards Godrevy Lighthouse through its floor-to-ceiling windows. When the tide’s in, you can hear the waves crashing upon the walls of the cottage while you’re watching the sunset from the secrecy of your bedroom.
Beachspoke own two other cottages in St Ives – Blue Moon and Moon Shadow – and their prime location and distinctive designs put them paces ahead of other accommodation when it comes to a luxurious staycation. Edgy interiors celebrate the cottages’ surroundings and pay homage to the creative neighbourhood of St Ives, where many artists reside. Inside, planks, driftwood and old boat chains have been crafted into unique pieces of art. Each cottage has its own design but all three bring the outside in, making use of materials like rock, granite and wood.
With all the home comforts you could wish for – giant candles, fluffy robes, The White Company products, a Nespresso Machine and a super, super king-size bed – you’ll feel right at home in whichever luxury cottage you choose to stay at. The state-of-the-art kitchens have everything you need to cook up a Cornish feast. And when you’re ready to leave your boutique hideaway for the day, you’re just seconds away from some of Europe’s best beaches.
Where to eat
For a home-cooked Cornish breakfast…
One of the best things about Cornwall is the array of delicious delicacies on offer – the home-cooked pasties and scones, the heavenly clotted cream, the abundance of fresh fish…there is so much to enjoy. The Cornish Deli, run by husband and wife team Mark and Anna Ellwood, prides itself in selling the finest, freshest locally-sourced produce, and their hearty Breakfast Hamper has everything you need to cook up an indulgent Cornish breakfast. The hamper includes farmyard sausages, bacon and eggs, white pudding, balsamic tomatoes, fresh baked bread and creamy Cornish butter and milk. You’ll find Mark, Anna and the rest of the unreservedly friendly team in the town centre, close to Royal Square. The Cornish Deli also sells ‘Gone To The Beach’ picnic hampers – great for lunch if you’re heading on a long coastal walk.
For lunch with a view…
Overlooking the best surf beach in town, Porthmeor Beach Café is a favourite with locals and visitors alike (our surf instructor said it was the best place to eat in St Ives) with its fine food and breathtaking beachside views. The café-come-restaurant serves everything from fresh squeezed vegetable juices and fruit smoothies, to exquisite fish dinners. Tapas here is a huge hit, available throughout the day from lunchtime till late. The Asian-inspired mini dishes are colourful and creative, combining freshly caught fish with innovative ingredients, like the fried monkfish served with chilli caramel, shaved pineapple and micro herbs. The wine list caters for all tastes, and there are Cornish ciders and beers, plus a range of prosecco cocktails. Enjoy a dish (or three) as you lose yourself in the sights and sounds of the sea.
For fizz and chips…
Another favoured lunch spot is The Terrace in the St Ives Harbour Hotel. Go here for alfresco dining with great waterfront views across Porthminster Beach, with direct access via its coastal path.
The ‘Fizz and Chips’ menu (available from midday till 9) includes the catch of the day (often oysters and mussels), sourced each morning from the harbour and served with a flute of fizz to boot.
For the finest local seafood…
Thirteen years ago, the harbourside Alba existed as a lifeboat house. Today, it’s a fine-dining fish restaurant recommended by the Michelin guide. For, while it no longer houses a boat crew, this is one ship everybody wants to climb aboard.
Owned by Head Chef Grant Nethercott, the Alba’s modern menu makes the most of line-caught fish, local produce and the best in-season fruit and veg.
The marine-chic dining area boasts panoramic views of St Ives Bay and the bustling harbour through its large glass front. Grant’s attention to detail is astonishing, no ingredient astray, and a European twist makes for a unique selection on the seasonal À la carte menu. With intricate ingredients like dill dust, cucumber jel, green tea caramel and micro herbs appearing throughout the menu, creativity is in full supply here.
Our favourite dishes included the Cornish Crab Salad, which was nothing short of a miniature masterpiece with its smoked haddock ceviche, avocado purée and wood sorrel dotted carefully on the plate. The Asian-inspired Brill, with squid ink gnocchi, bok choi and prawns became one within the most beautiful broth. The gooey sticky toffee pudding is another dish that’s not to be missed, accompanied with a wonderful Earl Grey ice cream. If you’re searching for a place to enjoy a cocktail or two after dinner, look no further than the A Bar on the ground floor, where you’ll find a selection of cocktails in what’s possibly the hippest bar in town.