I often get asked by dithering lovebirds where I would recommend going for a romantic weekend away in England. I have no better suggestion than Cornwall. Easily accessible by train with almost exotic beaches and wonderful rugged landscapes, it is a relaxing and calm escape from busy city life.
A few weeks ago I visited the Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall for the second time. When I first stayed in 2011, I was wowed by the luxurious eco design, natural yet indulgent environment and immaculate service, and was prepared to be less impressed second time round. Yet, stepping inside the serene Scarlet entrance I felt my heartbeat slow, my breathing regulate and my muscles relax, it was just as wonderful as before and I felt overwhelmed with happiness to be back.
After brief tour of the gorgeous facilities, we were dropped off at the spa, an ideal place for couples to truly unwind. We soaked for thirty minutes in the soothing cliff-edge hot tub with a glass of bubbly and admired the awe-inspiring views of the ocean. In the outdoor area there is also a natural pool for keen swimmers, though we favoured the warmer inside area and collapsed on the beanbags in the quiet relaxation room. Before my treatment I was asked to fill out an intriguing Ayurvedic form, illustrating my body and personality type; Vata, Pitta or Kapha. My therapist was gentle and friendly and asked me a few questions to establish where the stress and tension may be located, she then devised a completely bespoke combination of facial and massage to suits my needs. In line with the Ayurvedic approach, the Scarlet spa is very zen, with a muted colour scheme and cocoon-like pods for treatments. I felt sleepy immediately as I sunk into the warm bed surrounded in draped material and let my worries melt away.
The isolated location of the Scarlet means the spa is a popular part of the hotel. I had to fight for my space in the indoor pool, and the relaxation room was full of dressing-gowned guests! There are other pleasant rooms to rest and read, enjoy a cup of tea or play a game of pool. After a stint at the spa we retired to our room, trying out the giant bath, natural toiletries (Rosemary and Bergamot by St Kitts) and gazing out from the little balcony. We enjoyed one of the ‘generous rooms’ with an open plan bathroom with a luxuriously large bath, and separate wet room with a frosted glass door. The furniture is natural – warm wooden tables and soft grey chairs. The bed was wonderfully comfortable, the lighting subtle with numerous settings so you can ensure it is exactly as you wish.
The Scarlet is a hotel for foodies, the culinary offerings here are both health-conscious and indulgent. We were treated to dinner and breakfast in the sea-facing dining room. Chef Tom Hunter is thoughtful and inventive with an emphasis on seasonal Cornish produce, the dinner menu changes daily. Three courses cost £42.50 and there is a lovely variety to choose from. To preserve my appetite, I opted for a warm salad of chargrilled vegetables with westcomb ricotta cheese, heritage tomatoes and gremolata, a vibrant, colourful and healthy dish. My guest chose a more comforting bowl of Pappardelle pasta with roast crown prince squash and old Winchester, it was simple and brilliantly tasty.
Main courses were regal in their presentation. Loin of Dexter beef with braised ox cheek, bone marrow crust, dauphinoise potato and rainbow carrots was a delicious dish, the top meat drizzled with rich sauce and complemented by the lovely vegetables. For poultry fans, the Cornish chicken breast is a must, served with confit leg ravioli, honey glazed parsnips, chard and pearl barley, it is a fantastic combination of textures and flavours. Naturally the plate was scraped clean within minutes.
Our dessert choice was a no-brainer… we shared the White chocolate mousse with honeycomb, raspberries, pistachio cake and natural yoghurt sorbet. It was spectacular, the perfect spherical honeycomb ball filled with sweet silky white mousse and balanced with the red fruit and nutty cake cubes.
We woke, later than usual, with the blessing of no alarm, after deep restful sleep. Noticing the sun emerging from the clouds, we grabbed our jackets and headed for the long stretch of beach below the hotel. It was blissful inhaling the fresh salty sea air and absorbing our stunning surroundings. Tired out from our walk, we returned for homemade granola, fresh coffee and pancakes with roasted apples. What more could you wish for from a Cornish weekend away?
More information and book a stay at The Scarlet Hotel here.
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