As welcomes go, what greeted us at Fistral Beach Hotel & Spa, we will surely remember forever. Having just got married, they had filled our room with balloons, covered the bed and bathtub with rose petals and plied us with gifts.
Waiting for us on the bed, we each had a personalised robe and bottle of gin with our names on it (which you can buy from the hotel shop, should you want a little memento of your stay). Their motto is rock star rider – and boy did they deliver. This really set the tone for our stay. Nothing is too much trouble for the team at Fistral Beach, staff have a very friendly, can-do attitude, seemingly willing to deliver on any request with gusto. This is a hotel that throws extras at you. Fancy checking out the bar? Everyone gets a voucher for a round of free cocktails and they even offer a cocktail making masterclass. Want the spa all to yourself? That can be arranged. We weren’t given special press treatment – this is how they are with all guests.
Fistral Beach Hotel’s crowning glory is undoubtedly the magnificent views of the beach below. The room we were staying in had the most spectacular full-length glass doors which open up the whole length of the room, revealing a cute balcony which would be perfect to take your morning coffee in the summer months. The standalone tub gets all the views, whether the glass doors are pulled back or not and all rooms are packed with ESPA toiletries which are replenished each day.
Leaving our bags behind, we braved the rain and headed into Newquay for our first night. First up, Tom Thumb for cocktails! Expertly made classic serves updated for winter – we can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy evening than with a pack of cards and a round of Old Fashioned’s. Bliss. Next up we headed over to…
Set slap bang on the beach, this cavernous space, set over two floors have only just started opening during the winter months, after a change of management. We can see why – we had the whole place to ourselves. However, despite this, the space was so inviting – warmly light, with the cosiest corners. We started with some OTT tiki-style cocktails which arrived on fire – sure – and perused the vast menu. It features all the classics such as fish and chips, burgers and steak, as well as a dedicated pizza section but for us, it was the Californian, coastal-esque dishes really that spiked our interest. To start, Cornish mussels, served either in a fragrant Thai sauce which we went for or marinière style. Tasty smoked haddock & crab rarebit croquettas were gloriously rich and decadent and would be a great bar bite if just popping in for a drink. The vegan Beach Road Bowl with hummus, avocado, roasted cauliflower, Moroccan potatoes, roast chickpeas and toasted flatbread was beautifully presented but it was the generously filled popcorn shrimp tacos which stole the show for us.
We woke early the next day to yet more biblical rain and wind (the joys of visiting a UK coastal town in November). However, the less than desirable weather meant that after a reviving plate of avocado, bacon and poached eggs on toast, we could legit relax guilt-free in the spa. Set over three floors, all stays include full access to the wet spa, relaxation room and 10% off treatments.
After a manic month of last-minute wedding prep, I was ready to relax with a capital R. I’m normally a full-body massage kinda girl but the Gaia Crystal Therapy caught my eye.
Dubbed a ‘ritual’ as opposed to your bog-standard treatment, the experience was unlike any other spa encounter I’d had before. Although I’d describe myself as open-minded when it comes to the mystical use of crystals, I didn’t have any prior experience with them. My therapist began by sitting me down and explaining what would take place, whilst cleansing my feet.
The goal of crystal healing is to bring the whole body back to a state of pure unconditional love. This treatment is personalised using crystals to discover which chakras are blocked and includes meditation, full body massage, facial using rose quartz crystals and a nurturing scalp massage. At one point I felt as though I was floating and I could feel a strong vibration rippling through my entire body throughout. My therapist had told me to make a note of any smells, colours or thoughts I had during the treatment and we discussed what that could refer to and also what she’d got from me too. From this, I was prescribed with two of my own crystals – Rose Quartz, the stone of love, and Green Aventurine which is said to carry a strong connection to the Earth. Could anything sound more perfect for someone that had been married just a few days before and was still on cloud nine? My therapist could not have been better – confident and thorough without being remotely ‘new age’. Priced at £130 for 120 minutes (although I think I was in there closer to two hours) I genuinely couldn’t recommend my treatment more and Andy – who had the Essential Fistral treatment (a 60 minute back, neck and shoulder massage with a focus on the eye area) was equally enthusiastic about his.
Taking our elaborately decorated cocktails with us from the fun Bay Bar (try the charred pineapple caipirinha!!), we moved into the slightly more formal Dune Restaurant for dinner.
The elegant dining room, swathed in white linens, offers excellent views alongside their hyper-local menu. We started with homemade dumplings, stuffed with Newyln lobster, swimming in a rich seafood broth we’d have quite happily drunk by the glass and a thick slab of 12 hour primrose herd pork belly, served alongside caramelised squash, plum and the obligatory cracking.
Being so close to the sea neither of us could resist the fishy options. Mine in the form of a perfectly plump piece of hake, served with foraged sea herbs, salty capers and hazelnut beurre noisette sauce. His the market fish of the day, panfried to a golden crisp served in swirls of creamy garlic and mussels sauce.
After dinner, instead of retiring back to our room, we had a private session in the spa. Yep, for one blissful hour, Andy and I had the entire spa – complete with pool, sauna, steam room and hot tub, to ourselves, with a glass of prosecco in hand. Dreamy.
The next day the sun came out and we had the opportunity to discover the beautiful seaside town of Newquay. Although synonymous with school leavers and surfer dudes, we felt it had a similar vibe to Margate. It’s an ‘up and coming’ town with a thriving coffee scene, the loveliest crowd and some great independent shops. We were told over and over that it was packed in the summer, however, we reckon the cooler months are an ideal time to visit. It’s obviously a lot quieter but in turn, this allowed us to really get under the skin of the place and do as the locals do.
We’d recommend starting your day with a coastal walk, directly from Fistral Beach hotel, stopping at Box & Barber for one of their legendary cinnamon buns. They welcome dogs so it’s a great spot to sit a while, soaking up the atmosphere and getting chatting to locals.
One place we couldn’t stop nattering away was the gorgeous Fore Street Café Bar. The owner, although originally from Newquay, has only just moved back after spending most of his adult life in London. Set over two floors, we were told the venue used to put on open mic nights and was where one of George Ezra’s first gigs took place – good claim to fame! The homely space has now been decked out with modern art and features top-notch ingredients on the simple menu. We warmed up with pots of tea and refuelled with a thick smoothie bursting with red berries. We tucked into the cheesiest of cheese toasties, served with a side of juicy pickles (made using local mature cheddar, naturally) and a pleasingly wild trio of mushrooms on toast, served in an umami, herby miso sauce, with a perfectly poached egg on top for good measure. A fab little spot for breakfast through to lunch and with a wood burner going in the corner, quite a tough one to leave.
Best of the Rest…
Fistral Beach has its own fantastic restaurant, however, there are plenty of other spots to try out during the day.
Pavilion – for super good value doorstop wedge focaccias and unreal veggie curries. It’s from the same team behind Pavilion in Victoria Park, Colombia Road and Broadway Market – and a lot of the staff are ex-London. You can take the girl out of Hackney…!
Jam Jar Café – before heading home, be sure to pop this postage-stamp-sized café where Jam Jar Jess will load you up with gluten-free homemade cakes, tray bakes and other goodies for the car journey home.
Newquay is home to some fab shops, you could easily spend a few hours pottering about the following.
The Good Lyfe – zero waste, plastic-free – basically stocks all the eco homeware and packaging-free dry goods you’d ever need to live your best life.
Watershed – a unisex store where we picked up matching woolly hats in on-trend shades of terracotta. They’ve recently relocated and the new space is a real looker, complete with surfboard accessories, independent books and friendly staff.
MMW Store – Next door to Box & Barber (above) this eclectic treasure trove of a shop, stocks everything from Ester & Erik tapered candles (the same ones we had at our wedding!), mermaid Christmas decorations and Kate Sheridan dungarees.
We can’t wait to return for another long weekend at Fistral Beach soon – who knows, maybe for our first year anniversary…!