A POSTCARD FROM - The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall, UK
I used to think that once I'd 'made it' then I'd finally take a trip to the Scarlet Hotel - a beautiful eco-hotel in Cornwall. But instead, I went when I needed it most.
Last year was brilliant for me in terms of work. I had repeat illustration commissions from existing clients but worked with lots of new brands too. I was able to pay off my debts from the year before, save my tax and put a savings plan together with the help of a financial advisor. But by the middle of December, I could feel that something wasn't quite right.
I'm a naturally calm person. I'm organised, I don't over commit, I look after myself. Hell I've even got a calm voice. But I'd started to dream constantly about work, I couldn't switch off and my mind was racing. I was travelling all over the country for live illustration events, my body was aching and I still had lots of artwork to do before Christmas. So, I staged my own intervention.
I had about 4 days that I could spare, and so looked at various places in Devon and Cornwall with a pool and a view, that I could get to using public transport. After a couple of weeks of researching, I bit the bullet and booked two nights B&B at the adult only Scarlet Hotel.
I travelled by train from Bristol to Newquay. It was an eye-peeling 5.24am departure but I was determined that if I were to pay big bucks for a hotel then I should spend as much time there as possible. What I didn't bank on was being treated to an incredible sunrise as the train hugged the coastline. I arrived at Newquay at 10.09am after changing at Par, and then a taxi to the hotel was a 10 minute drive along the coast.
As I entered the hotel I was greeted with a view of the huge expanse of sea, sky, and headland; I felt my shoulders drop a little. My check-in wasn't done at a reception desk but instead from the comfort of an armchair and I was brought some fresh tea. My room was ready early so I went straight up after a quick tour of the lounge, bar, restaurant, and spa. The building is amazing, with views from every room. I turned my phone to airplane mode, didn't ever seek out the wifi code and welcomed 3 days and 2 nights of not very much.
I'd booked the entry level room but had been upgraded. This meant more space which meant more windows which meant more view, it was epic. The bed was incredibly comfortable and I could laze on there reading whilst looking up occasionally to stare at the sea. I loved that there was a bath and shower. The bathroom was open-plan which suited me fine, and the separate toilet and rainforest shower room backed on to a rear balcony. This didn't have a view but did mean that the room was always flooded with natural light. I'd struggled to find any information before my stay about what toiletries would be there, and was pleased to find shampoo, conditioner and a body wash and lotion. There was also a soap that I took home with me and use every day, it smells incredible.
In the spirit of honesty, the interior design of the hotel isn't exactly my style and apart from the bed and lighting I found this of my room too. I felt it could have been made cosier in the winter with the addition of a rug in the room and some extra blankets in the lounges. But you'll be pleased to know that my dislike of all of the sofas, chairs and cut out wooden trees had no impact on my stay ; )
I booked a treatment before arriving, and had a 60 minute ayurvedic-inspired 'journey'. The treatment area was dimly lit, with a warm glow, and was incredibly comfortable. I had a consultation with my therapist Sebastian first, and he suggested a head massage and then a neck and back massage. I have chronic problems with these areas and so whilst it was painful and in no way relaxing, it was incredible at getting things moving and I felt wayyyy less tense. I then spent 15 minutes or so in a hanging pod in a pitch black room. I can't imagine that there is any experience available anywhere (short of taking acid), that can make you feel like you're back in the womb like these pods do.
The spa area was my favourite and I spent HOURS there. I never had to share the pool, I always had the mosaiced steam room to myself, there was always somewhere comfortable to sit and read and a member of staff on hand to offer me tea or to grab me an extra towel. The sauna was outside in a little wooden caravan and had hypnotic views out to the ocean. I was also invited by the hotel to experience a 30 minute hot tub on my last day and this was the highlight of my stay. Cloud gazing whilst sipping a cold glass of champagne was such a treat. I'll share a little video in my Instagram highlights reel as it really was magic. I also did the complimentary yoga class one morning and a meditation class, all of these things combined meant I really was able to unwind.
Food wise the hotel seemed good, but I felt it was perhaps a little limited for a vegetarian diet. Breakfast was a three-course affair, which was great.....although if I’m being fussy I would have also liked a buffet with fruit / yoghurt etc on offer too. The serving of it as courses somehow made it feel less leisurely to me, but it's a personal thing. I then ate a late lunch in my room around 4pm and then I didn't eat an evening meal. On two occasions I had the light plate of vegetable pakoras, salads, dips, crudites and a fresh juice and it was really good. On the final day I had the truffled cauliflower cheese, which was tasty but the portion was quite small. However, I've never seen anyone criticise the food at the Scarlet. I was trying to not spend much money once there so I really didn't embrace the foodie culture. Next time.
The service in general was great. The staff were relaxed and that in turn helped me to feel relaxed. Nothing was any trouble and whilst there was never anyone hovering around me, as soon as I needed help someone appeared. I'd have preferred a bit more info readily available rather than the 'if you need anything than ask us', as I basically didn't really want to talk to anyone at all for 3 days (I went full introvert), but that again was a personal thing. I had a few valid frustrations with room service, but I spoke to the manager on my return having filled out a feedback form and I really think it was just bad luck. They were minor anyway and nothing that would stop me from visiting again.
I couldn't work out what clothes I'd need to take away with me, but it turns out most people shuffle around in their robes. I didn't really feel comfortable being outside of the spa in my robe because it wasn't exactly roomy, but I'd packed comfy jersey trousers and tops and a floaty M&S dress (that looks rather like a nightie) so I wafted around in those. If you're desperate to dress up and wear heels for dinner then I'm sure anything goes, but it certainly isn't necessary.
On my second day I borrowed some wellies from reception and wandered down the track from the house towards the sea. The lower grounds of the Scarlet are so pretty and there are little pods there for warmer days, but I carried on down to the beach. I wandered aimlessly, marvelling at the colours of the rocks, watching the birds and wandering into the caves (hoping that I wouldn't come face to face with any couples being 'extra-romantic'). It was surprising when looking back to the Scarlet from the beach that it's in a residential area, with houses around it. It's not something you're aware of at all when there, you feel like you're in your own little world and that the beach is yours.
When I mentioned on Instagram that I'd blog about my experience the question I was asked most was, "is it worth the money"? I would say absolutely yes. If you can afford it and you are seeking utter tranqulity then really do consider it. I came away feeling rested and managed to hit all of my pre-Christmas deadlines with a clear head. Since then I've been sleeping again and tomorrow I'm off to do a yoga workshop. It turned out that a trip to the Scarlet was just what I needed.
Next time I’d like to go when the outside pool is open and when you can eat breakfast on the terrace. The view is so spectacular that I think it deserves not to disappear at 5pm. So I’m already working on my diary and hoping that come May I’ll be able to head to Mawgan Porth again, to see the Scarlet in the sun.
This stay was not a gift and this post is not sponsored or an ad. I paid for the trip with my own money, but the hotel did invite me to use the hot tub as a gift (cost £25).
The room inc breakfast cost £210 per night and I went Monday to Wednesday in early December 2018. My travel was around £100 and my bill for the spa and food was another £150 or so. So in total the 3 day break cost me £700.