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Best family-friendly Cornwall hotels for a fun 2023 holiday

Watergate Bay Hotel has a prime position above one of Cornwall’s best surfing beaches  (Holly Donnelly)
Watergate Bay Hotel has a prime position above one of Cornwall’s best surfing beaches (Holly Donnelly)

With its ravishing coastlines, picturesque harbours and wholesome seaside appeal, Cornwall has long been a favourite holiday destination for families. It’s a bucket-and-spade kind of place – with more than 300 beautiful beaches – but the attraction doesn’t end there. This corner of South West England is raising its game in terms of gastronomy, design and – music to any parent’s ears – accommodation that genuinely welcomes children, rather than simply tolerating them.

Whether you’re looking for a boutique bolthole with a babysitting service and rock pools nearby or you’re after a seafront pad with a full-blown children’s club, there’s no shortage of family-friendly hotels in Cornwall. From surf schools to beach bushcraft and even kid-friendly facials, hotels have been quick to find ever more creative ways to keep their younger guests entertained.

Active broods can burn off energy by sampling everything from sea kayaking to gentle cycling along disused railway lines. Meanwhile, frazzled parents seeking a relaxing spa escape can opt for somewhere that looks after their little ones while they indulge, or they can plump for a hotel that allows children in its spa.

Here’s our pick of Cornwall hotels that make it a delight to stay for the whole family.

The best family-friendly Cornwall hotels 2023 are:

Best hotel for super sea views: Bedruthan Hotel & Spa

Location: Mawgan Porth

Under-threes go free at this sea-facing hotel (Bedruthan Hotel & Spa)
Under-threes go free at this sea-facing hotel (Bedruthan Hotel & Spa)

Overlooking Mawgan Porth beach with its endless surfing and rock-pooling opportunities, this hotel is a firm favourite with families of all ages. For parents with toddlers, the hotel lends buggies and bottle warmers, and there’s a huge indoor soft play, free crafting sessions and a cinema room to keep little ones entertained on rainy days. The bright, sea-facing restaurant has plenty of high chairs and a children’s menu. The hotel runs a young family break (where under-threes go free) and a toddler break where children receive a free gift. Babysitting can be arranged, so grown-ups can hide away in the sea view spa and sensory garden.

Best hotel for surfing: Watergate Bay hotel

Location: Watergate Bay

Spacious rooms and a children’s clubs for all ages make this a great choice (Lewis Harrison Pinder)
Spacious rooms and a children’s clubs for all ages make this a great choice (Lewis Harrison Pinder)

Water babies of all ages will be in their element at Watergate Bay Hotel, with its prime position on one of Cornwall’s best surfing beaches. Poised above two miles of golden sand, its children’s clubs, babysitting and accommodation options are attractive for families. Parents can watch Atlantic rollers from the outdoor sauna while their children (aged six months to 12 years old) are looked after in the Ofsted-registered Kids’ Zone. A beach school with bushcraft and firepit cooking sessions runs during school holidays (for 4- to 15-year-olds) and surf lessons and equipment hire are available from the next-door surf school. Afterwards, refuel with Cornish fish puttanesca in the bright and beachy Living Space, which has an extensive children’s menu.

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Best hotel for manor house relaxation: Fowey Hall

Location: Fowey

Complimentary childcare is offered for 90 minutes a day, so parents can relax (Fowey Hall, Cornwall)
Complimentary childcare is offered for 90 minutes a day, so parents can relax (Fowey Hall, Cornwall)

Children are warmly welcomed at this Victorian hotel overlooking the Fowey estuary and coastline. Youngsters are even allowed in the spa, with its indoor pool and panoramic views, which offers adult treatments and ‘Junior’ facials and massages for under-16s. One of the best perks is the 90-minute daily complimentary childcare for children up to eight, so parents can relax in the manicured grounds of the 19th-century manor, said to have inspired The Wind in the Willows. An in-house creche, outdoor play area, games room and buckets and spades to borrow all add to the ease and genuine pleasure of a family holiday here.

Best hotel for bike rides: Padstow Harbour hotel

Location: Padstow

Padstow Harbour Hotel’s 58 rooms look out over the Camel Estuary (Padstow Harbour Hotel)
Padstow Harbour Hotel’s 58 rooms look out over the Camel Estuary (Padstow Harbour Hotel)

Families that enjoy adventures on two wheels should head to Padstow, home to the Camel Trail. Stretching for 18 miles between Padstow and Wenfordbridge on a disused railway line, the route is mainly flat and traffic-free, ideal for little legs. A two-minute walk away from the town’s main bike rental shop, Padstow Harbour Hotel is a blissful base. The revamped Victorian hotel has sweeping views over the Camel Estuary with 58 tasteful rooms with high ceilings, royal blue armchairs and zig-zag fabrics. Adult bikes are available to borrow from the hotel, and staff can arrange family-friendly activities, including fishing trips, beach picnics, surfing lessons and sea safaris.

Best hotel for seaside serenity: Carbis Bay hotel and estate

Location: Near St Ives

Cooking is one of the activities offered in the kids’ club (Carbis Bay Hotel)
Cooking is one of the activities offered in the kids’ club (Carbis Bay Hotel)

Poised above its own Blue Flag beach, just outside St Ives, this 125-acre estate is as appealing for children as it is for grown-ups. While parents watch waves roll in from the hot tub, children aged five and over can sample beach games, paddleboarding and arts and crafts in the Kid’s Club. For younger children, babysitting is available (from £30 per hour), while movie and games nights will keep teens engaged as their parents sample Cornish caviar and seaweed potato chips at the superb Ugly Butterfly restaurant. Self-catering cottages offer flexibility for families, while the contemporary Beach Lodges are located right on the beach and feature remote-controlled fires and private hot tubs.

Best boutique family-friendly hotel: St Mawes hotel

Location: St Mawes

Families of four will be comfortable in this nautical-themed hotel (St Mawes Hotel)
Families of four will be comfortable in this nautical-themed hotel (St Mawes Hotel)

With just seven rooms, this bijou hotel (sister to the fancier Idle Rocks around the corner) offers seafront dining, a local buzz and family-friendly touches. The style nods to the nautical – think blue and white colour palettes, striped fabrics and coastal artwork. Local sailors and fishermen sip the hotel’s own-brand ale in the Lower Deck bar, while the cosy Upper Deck lounge is the spot for gazing at yachts in the harbour. The split-floor family room can accommodate a family of four, babysitting can be arranged and a children’s menu is available. Toddlers will love the rock pools nearby while older children can have a go at everything from kayaking to learning to fish for their supper.

Best hotel for clifftop isolation: Polurrian on the Lizard

Location: Lizard Peninsula

There are tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools and a play area to enjoy during your stay (Polurrian at the Lizard)
There are tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools and a play area to enjoy during your stay (Polurrian at the Lizard)

Standing in superb solitude on the edge of the Lizard coastline, this whitewashed Victorian hotel has been brought right up to date with contemporary furniture, cheery fabrics and modern artwork. Expect clifftop vistas, lawned gardens and a secluded beach below. The 40 rooms include options for families – or try a luxury self-catering villa for more flexibility. There are tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools and a play area plus a film room for rainy days. Explore rock pools, armed with blankets, buckets and crab lines provided by the hotel. Parents can relax in the spa or try activities such as pilates and sea kayaking.

Best hotel for activities: Budock Vean

Location: Falmouth

Enjoy dolphin-spotting tours, kayaking, cycling and tennis in country house luxury (Budock Vean)
Enjoy dolphin-spotting tours, kayaking, cycling and tennis in country house luxury (Budock Vean)

Set on a 65-acre estate on the Helford River, near Falmouth, this country house hotel offers plenty of family-friendly activities, including kayaking, cycling and tennis. Guided paddleboard and riverboat trips pass Frenchman’s Creek (made famous by Daphne du Maurier) and offer the chance to spot dolphins in Falmouth Bay. There are walks from the front door through this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to coves, creeks and secret beaches, and the subtropical paradise of Trebah Garden is less than a mile away. Tired parents can relax in the sauna or outdoor hot tub, swim in the indoor pool or enjoy a heavenly treatment.

Best hotel for the local buzz: The Beach at Bude

Location: Bude

Tasty food and views of Summerleaze Beach make for a blissful seaside break (The Beach at Bude)
Tasty food and views of Summerleaze Beach make for a blissful seaside break (The Beach at Bude)

A lively bar is at the heart of this hotel, which has a stellar position above Summerleaze Beach. It’s ideal for sea-lovers and coastal exploration – locals come to watch the sunset from the terrace, surfers and bodyboarders are drawn to the nearby waves and walkers can reach the coast path in a matter of minutes. Pull up a chair – and highchairs, if needed – and tuck into the roasted catch of the day while little ones enjoy pint-sized pizza. The 17 bedrooms have a New England seaside style – off-white walls, pale wood furniture and coral-striped curtains. A pair of two-bedroom suites with kitchens offer more flexibility for families, with cots available.

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