I live in a city, I love the city, but I am not of the city, and I often crave the fresh air and distant horizons of the coast. So our second annual summer trip to Bedruthan Hotel and Spa with the in-laws was eagerly awaited. I first heard about the Bedruthan Hotel from Richard Hammond, then editor of the Green Hotelier, now founder and CEO of www.greentraveller.co.uk, when I worked at the International Tourism Partnership, and now, with two young children, I match the hotel’s demographic perfectly.
Bedruthan hotel is perched above Mawgan Porth, a spectacular horseshoe-shaped bay between Newquay and Padstow on Cornwall’s north coast, in the midst of a natural playground. Our ‘villa’ room, with a children’s bunk room and completely seperate adult king-sized room, had full length windows opening on to a small terrace and then looking out across the bay over the children’s outdoor play area (pictured right). We could recline on the sun lounger and watch our kids scrabble around the pirate ship, tackle the obstacle course, or the trampoline. The hotel rooms are in the midst of a refurbishment programme with bright, fresh decor that inevitably takes quite a bashing from younger guests. The soap and shampoo bars are handmade in Cornwall. The views are breath-taking, whatever time of day and whatever the weather.
We were blessed with sunshine, so we spent long days at the beach searching rock pools, building castles and wave-jumping. For £6 a day, we hired a foam surf-board down at the beach and the girls loved their first ‘surfing’ experience. Older kids were enjoying lessons with Nick, Bedruthan’s resident surf instructor. I enjoyed swimming out the back of the surf under the watchful gaze of the RNLI lifeguards that man the beach daily from 10am-6pm. If the swell was too choppy to swim, then a run along the coast path definitely got my heart rate up. The first part of my run was a steep climb, but once on the cliff top the bright yellow gorse, brilliant warm hues of the heather and other wildflowers certainly took my mind off the effort. I ran the couple of miles to Bedruthan Steps, huge rock stacks along Bedruthan beach below the Carnewas National Trust site. At one time, iron, copper and lead was mined from the cliffs, today you can fill up on tea and cake at the cafe. Or bring a thermos after dark and marvel at the night sky as the site was recently recognised as a Dark Skies Discovery Site.
There are a range of activities off-campus as well. Coasteering, swimming through gullies and caves, and kayaking are a couple for those who love the water. For land-lovers there is the option to cycle the Camel Trail between Padstow (home of Rick Stein’s food empire) and Wadebridge, pony-trekking or wild food walks led by chef Adam Clark (a guide to food foraging is available on Bedruthan’s website). On a rainy day the Eden Project is not far away, or sample one of the free indoor activities such as making Balinese shadow puppets, singing or a print workshop. There is entertainment every evening for kids. Billy Whizz and Chloe the Clown are firm favourites. Adults can also be entertained every evening from jazz to John Brolly, a brilliant, and original storyteller. On Sunday evening, a feature-length documentary about getting kids outdoors and reconnecting with nature, Project Wild Thing, is shown. The film is now a much wider movement, in collaboration with the National Trust and many other organisations, to get kids outdoors as it is better for their well-being. The free Wild Time app offers plenty of suggestions for outdoor fun whether you have ten minutes or a morning.
The comprehensive list of local suggestions reflects Bedruthan’s wider commitment to supporting local businesses and use of Cornish suppliers and artisans. Both the main restaurants, the informal Wild Cafe, and more grown up Herring are members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. In fact the Wild Cafe has 3 stars from the SRA, their highest accolade, a reflection of their passion for local and seasonal products (85% of suppliers are local, across the hotel they have a business goal to source 70% of consumables from local suppliers). The food is inspired by food heroes including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to Yotam Ottolenghi. The evening menu changes daily, as well as offering the stalwart burgers and pizzas. Kids dinner (4.30-6pm daily) is a choice of three hot dishes and, or a cold buffet. The ice creams are delicious, we were addicted to salted almond. Downstairs is the more formal restaurant, The Herring, serving delicious seasonal food with a focus on Cornish seafood. A window table, with a chilled glass of 2012 Camel Valley ‘Cornwall’ Pinot Noir sparkling rose was a real treat! For an even better view of the sunset, we snuck out one evening for dinner down at The Scarlet, the Bedruthan’s super-sexy sister, complete with natural swimming pool and hot tub with a view. I can not wait for a weekend away without the kids to indulge in all it has to offer!
The hotel exhibits a wide variety of work by local artists, such as Sarah Duncan. The furniture includes eye-catching mid-century pieces, similar to the piece pictured, that have been beautifully up-cycled by local designers such as Lucy Turner (if you like mid-century furniture, Bedruthan are running a Mid-Century Fair in October. Other pieces are from RE:SOURCE, a Cornish social enterprise that is part of the national drug and alcohol charity Addaction, offers training and work placements to socially excluded people. Tables and lighting from Unto this Last suit the fresh, contemporary vibe that has defined the hotel since it was built.
The commitment to sustainability is more than aesthetic, it was part of the hotel’s conception. The parents of the current owners bought a small coastal hotel in 1959 with a vision. Bedruthan has been innovative from the outset with bold, modern architecture creating less stuffy, open spaces. Green roofs to improve the view from hotel bedrooms, and insulate, their own bakery and a focus on design (they already had a Scandinavian inspired shop) were ahead of their time. Behind the scenes, there is a strong focus on energy, waste and water conservation. The building has its limitations in terms of energy, but the hotel purchases from 100% guaranteed renewable tariff. Other measures have been taken, like using waste energy from fridges to heat hot water in the kitchens saving energy equivalent to boiling 3,250 full kettles each day. As well as the ubiquitous towel and linen policy, water is conserved in the spa (a newer building) by using rainwater to flush the toilets (not that you would notice). Elsewhere, toilets have dual flush options and small cisterns, and our taps and showers are fitted with aerators. The hotel has worked with suppliers to reduce packaging or develop re-usable packaging. There are recycling bins around the hotel and composting bins for coffee grounds and seaweed from all those spa body-wraps!
New landscaping reflects Bedruthan’s location on the North Cornwall coast, and I noticed many more areas of the grounds and roofs growing wild to encourage wildlife. The hotel staff organise quarterly beach cleans (last count 25kg of rubbish, plus lots of rope and fishing nets that could not get on the scales). They are also Business Members of the Cornish Wildlife Trust. Even the choice of product for treatments in the spa reflects the hotels environmental sensibilities with organic, natural brands of REN, Voya and most recently ila on offer.
The hotel is award-winning, and it is easy to see why. At the start of peak season there is the occasional hiccup, but it is always remedied with grace. The hotel is relaxing, friendly and authentic. The hotel’s policy speaks of its ‘Cherish the World’ ethos, with the aim “to create memorable holidays, experiences and escapes which don’t cost the Earth”. The hotel celebrates and is sympathetic to its location of outstanding, natural beauty. Our holiday was a real breath of fresh air.
For full details of the hotel’s facilities please visit their website.
Image credits: Bedruthan Hotel, Joe Cornish, Lucy Turner.