For a dinner you’ll never forget…
Set in the quaint streets of Marazion (near Penzance) and overlooking the picturesque St Michael’s Mount is Ben’s Cornish Kitchen. And this one’s well worth the short drive. Ben, who is the man in the kitchen, sets a seasonally changing menu that takes a creative spin on local ingredients. Ben’s brother Toby cooks by his side and mum Jayne is the restaurant manager; this truly is a family-run restaurant.
When Ben’s Cornish Kitchen first opened its doors, Ben spent 3 years working 7 days a week to get things off the ground – that’s 2,000 hours of hard work and dedication. Or no holiday to you and I. Now in its 7th year, the restaurant is fully-booked most nights in the high season and Ben still hasn’t taken a holiday (although he assures us he’s taking one soon). Each dish has been carefully crafted by Ben himself, with his own unique spin, like his Chicken Caesar Salad. Light and fluffy breaded chicken balls rest on a whole charred gem lettuce, topped with fresh anchovies; all the ingredients you expect are there, just in a different form. A delicious form, in fact. Then there’s the Sweet Curry Plate, a selection of sweet Indian-inspired treats, including a spicy cardamom rice pudding, sugared poppadom and a scattering of micro coriander. Ben is a chef who sets his own culinary rules – and they work. A restaurant like this is the kind of place that would have people queuing at the door in London. It’s a real hidden gem.
For a five-star supper…
If you do happen to have a car in St Ives, The Gurnard’s Head is just a short drive away and definitely worth a visit. Although we didn’t manage to get there ourselves, this Cornish gastropub was highly recommended by the tourist board and is a regular to the Michelin Guide. It lies directly between St Ives and St Just.
Winner of its fair share of awards, The Gurnard’s Head showcases a small and seasonally-changing lunch and supper menu which focuses on quality, while supporting the local community. And we mean local – the fruit and veg are grown in small farms in the area, the fish comes straight from the fisherman’s boat each morning and the meat is sourced from nearby farms. The newly appointed Head Chef Max Wilson brings years of expertise to the kitchen, having previously worked at The Felin Fach Griffin – 5x winner of ‘Pub of the Year’ in Wales.
Things to see and do
Book a private surfing lesson…
It’s no secret that Cornwall is home to some of the best surfing spots in Europe. So hit the water in style with some private surfing tuition. St Ives Surf School has been teaching people of all ages and abilities to ride the waves since 1997. They’re open 7 days a week and based on the blue flagged Porthmeor Beach – a great beach for beginners. The friendly instructors are themselves champion surfers and know the Cornish coast better than any having spent their childhoods here. That means, not only will they give you second-to-none surf coaching that’ll have you ‘popping tall’ in no time, they’ll happily let you in on the best place to buy a pasty too. And don’t worry, you need only bring yourself and a bundle of energy, as you’ll be provided with all the equipment you need.
If surfing doesn’t take your fancy, the surf school will happily take you out on a private kayak tour or stand up paddle boarding (SUP) if you’re more advanced on the water.
Indulge in an ocean-view spa…
Travelling to and from St Ives can be tiresome, especially if you’re coming from the north or overseas. So we recommend an afternoon spent in the magnificent Carbis Bay Spa. Housed within the award-winning Carbis Bay Hotel and Estate, this luxury spa overlooks the pristine waters and golden sands of Carbis Bay. The spa has all the facilities you need to totally unwind; sit back in the heated ocean-view pool or head to the contemporary relaxation lounge for a light bite to eat.
There’s also a Ruinart Champagne Bar if you’re feeling indulgent. Don’t miss out on a treatment at Carbis Bay Spa, where I enjoyed one of the best facials I’d ever experienced. The 60-minute Aromatherapy Associates facial focuses not only on completely restoring your skin, but also includes a calming scalp, neck, arm and hand massage. Several massages, deep breathing exercises, face masks and exfoliation later and your skin will look and feel completely revitalized. If facials aren’t your thing, there are also relaxing massages, lava shell treatments, seaweed wraps, salt baths, couples treatments and a cosy beauty corner for manicures and make-up.
Enjoy a champagne evening cruise…
Take to the water and explore St Ives by yacht, where you’ll see hidden caves, stunning cliffs and abandoned lighthouses. Think of it as your St Ives Access All Areas pass. The Sunseeker Manhattan, belonging to The Carbis Bay Hotel and Estate, can be booked for a romantic Champagne Evening Cruise starting at Falmouth Harbour and during the two-hour cruise you’ll sail around the beautiful bay with panoramic views of your surroundings. The state-of-the-art luxury yacht comes with a full crew at your beck and call, with the option to add catering and transfers too. All aboard.