Celebrating Cornish Summer Time at St Moritz, Trebetherick
By delicious. senior sub editor Rebecca Almond
Why it’s great
There’s something about Cornwall that makes you feel like you’re a world away from home – and never more so than in the summer months. The crystal-clear sea water laps and crashes against golden sands, while further out surfers dance with the waves. The myriad beaches are alive with activity, yet not crowded nor littered with anything more than a smattering of shingle and shells; the hideaway coves are as idyllic as the Mediterranean’s finest.
Seaside eateries, though unassuming from the outset, serve up the region’s top fare from the day’s catch to award-winning pasties – not forgetting the unbelievably dreamy Cornish clotted ice cream, a must on a warm day. Undulating green countryside maps out coastal paths, providing a spine-tingling backdrop to the blue waters below that adds to the enchantment of the place.
But the real draw of Cornwall at this time of year is the extended hours of daylight: milky-skied dusk only descending into night around 11pm, the sun rising again by 5am. This is Cornish Summer Time, arriving some six weeks before the official British Summer Time, and boy is it something to experience.
Where to stay
Head to north Cornwall and seek out tiny Trebetherick, a pretty little village about seven miles from Port Isaac (also worth a visit) – if you’re hungry, make a pit-stop at Port Gaverne Hotel on route, which overlooks a dramatic shingled bay, for a hearty lunch (the door-stop crab sandwich comes recommended).
A cafe-cum-village store and a clutch of houses are pretty much the sum total of Trebetherick, but for the stunning St Moritz Hotel – our base for the weekend. The building has luxury in its bricks and mortar: all white-washed and glorious, it’s surrounded by manicured gardens and craggy cliff face, with a tennis court and outdoor pool with bar, loungers and hammocks separating it from the coastal path and beach below. It’s hard to believe all this can be found here in Blighty.
Step inside and seaside elegance rolls out before you. The lobby is open plan and airy, comprising of an efficient and welcoming reception desk, a cosy bar, a cute shop called Roo’s Beach for chic beachwear and souvenirs, and in-house Cowshed spa.
The rooms, spread among outbuildings mere footsteps from the lobby, are an extension of the spa setting – serene with muted tones, Cowshed toiletries, complimentary flip flops and the obligatory fluffy robes. Comfortable with just the right amount of home touches stepped up a notch (LSA china mugs, fresh milk, Sky TV…), the prices are a tad inflated for what you get (peak season prices start from £145 per night B&B for a cosy double; £215 for a king; £320 for a garden suite). My advice: keep an eye out for offers.
The hotel restaurant offers a concise and well-planned a la carte menu that, as you’d expect, errs on the fishy side. Hardcore carnivores should opt for the West Country ribeye steak with potato rosti and wild mushrooms: sublime. Breakfast is equally pleasing, with a plentiful hot and cold buffet to serve yourself from.
Should you venture further afield (and I urge you to do so), there are many more delicious eats to be had. For great food in a funky setting, head to The Cracking Crab in nearby Polzeath, a half-mile walk from St Moritz along the coastal path. Overlooking the vast beach, popular with surfers and shoe-less hippy folk, you’ll be hard-pressed to get a table outside at the weekend.
But you won’t be disappointed by the interior – vibrant table flowers, surfboards suspended from the ceiling, driftwood furniture and cutlery delivered in sandcastle buckets. As for the daytime menu, size matters with huge salads and baguettes filled with the likes of lobster, crab or shrimps. Fancy something lighter? A half-bucket of prawns should do it.
You can’t come to this part of Cornwall without crossing the Camel Estuary to Padstow (the ferry runs from Rock – a 10 minute shuttle from St Moritz – for a mere £4 adult return during the day; an evening water taxi takes over from 7pm). With names including Paul Ainsworth, Nathan Outlaw and Rick Stein attached to many of the restaurants, it’s quite the foodie hotspot. But big names aside, this pretty-as-a-picture harbour town is best known for its beauty. Winding through the streets leading away from the fishing boats is like wandering through a film set.
We bagged a table at St Petroc’s Bistro, one of Stein’s five eateries in Padstow. The compact but light dining room was animated with laughter and happy chatter from 7pm till late – dining amid strangers has never felt more communal. And the food, naturally, was faultless: prawn saganaki, lemon sole with olive butter and yet more Cornish ice cream. The stuff of enduring memories.
Don’t leave without popping for a nightcap in the adjoining Ruby’s Bar, a candlelit cubbyhole of a bar just perfect for winding down with a cocktail.
Out and about
Come to Trebetherick for the weekend and you can easily fill your days without firing up the motor. Clamber down to quiet Greenaway beach, at the foot of St Moritz Hotel – the perfect spot for an early morning dip or sunset paddle.
For surf-seekers, Polzeath beckons, but don’t overlook beautiful Daymer Bay, a 20 minute walk west of the hotel, which comes in a close second. If your legs will let you, continue walking along the coastal route to Brea Beach in Rock (add roughly 2 miles) and happen upon a far-reaching stretch of unspoiled sand and gentle waters looking out to Padstow, where yet more reasons to explore await…
Want more? Here are 10 must-visit foodie hotspots in Cornwall by delicious. editor Karen Barnes.