If you’re browsing the best hotels in Cornwall, it can be hard work figuring out where to stay. There are beaches, museums, clifftop walks and historical remnants at what feels like every rugged, coastlined corner. Basing yourself in Looe, Newquay, Penzance or even St Ives gives you the chance to discover all that this exciting region has to offer, with many spots offering their own sights and attractions or being in perfect locations to reach other key hotspots.
Popular seaside resort since 1800. The main draw here are the beaches: East Looe Beach is most easily accessible but that also means it’s generally the busiest; at the other end of the beach is Sanders Beach (also known as Second Beach), which leads onto other secluded, sandier spots; one of the best being Millendreath that backs onto green hills. West Looe’s Hannafore Beach serves up some brilliant views over towards Looe Island. In terms of accommodation, choose from family-run guesthouses, clifftop campsites or cosy B&Bs.
History buffs will love Truro, where Georgian houses line medieval lanes, with a mighty neo-Gothic Cathedral worth paying a visit to. Also here is the Royal Cornwall Museum, which is a great way to learn more about the region. You won’t need to spend a great deal of time here, but it’s a convenient stop-off for at least a night or two, and boasts a few decent tearooms, seafood restaurants and boat excursions. The history theme continues in its old-fashioned B&Bs, renovated Georgian buildings and more.
Falmouth is undoubtedly one of the best areas to stay in Cornwall, with a burgeoning arts scene, annual Oyster Festival and plethora of sights. Make the most of the sandy bays at the likes of Swanpool Beach and Maenporth Beach, wander around the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and superlative Falmouth Art Gallery, or check out the historic buildings of King Charles the Martyr (a parish church built in 1665) and English Heritage-listed Pendennis Castle.
Newquay has long been a surfer’s paradise, and it’s also one of the livelier spots Cornwall has to offer with a raging nightlife scene. Once you’ve settled on your accommodation, book onto a surfboarding class or classes; Towan, Great Western and Tolcarne beaches are great for beginners thanks to its sheltered bays, while Watergate Bay and Fistral Bay are for those who are looking to show off. Even better, you can rent all the surfing equipment you need, meaning that you won’t need to drip-dry your wetsuit from your independent hostel, campsite or well-located hotels.
St Austell is a great place to base yourself for a few nights or so, particularly if you’re looking to explore nearby attractions such as the Eden Project. But it’s not just a place to get in and out of, as this Cornish town is home to one of the country’s most popular beers: St Austell. Whether you’re a fan of the stuff or not, it’s well worth booking onto a guided tour of St Austell Brewery, where you’ll find out more about the Hicks family who established the brewery in the late 19th century and still run it today.
Enjoying a sheltered position in Mounts Bay sits Penzance, a lively, salt-of-the-earth kind of place with some stunning Regency and Victorian architecture still standing. Base yourself in one of the attractive hotels or B&Bs here and spring off to the surrounding sights such as St Michael’s Mount, Chysasuster and the fishing hub of Newlyn.
It’s easy to spend up to a week in St Ives, located down in West Cornwall. Not only is it a surf haven but it also has a prestigious art scene: there’s no missing Tate St Ives, with its local-based artworks and Barbara Hepworth sculptures. Once you’re done there, move onto the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, before heading onto St Ives Society of Artists Gallery and Leach Pottery. But, if art isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of beaches to relax on, or wind your way around St Ives Museum.