How long are you willing to spend travelling to your weekend mini-break location? I’d make an educated guess that trundling down the motorway for five hours (at least) on a Friday night only to return 48 hours later would make anyone think twice about a two-day trip to Newquay. However, this does not mean the pretty surfer’s paradise is therefore forever off the cards - because you can fly!
Flybe run daily flights to the tiny Newquay Airport from Gatwick, meaning you can finish work on a Friday and touch down in Cornwall in time for a nightcap.
Better still, the first flight to London on a Monday sees you land at 8.30am (in theory), so you could even make it in to work straight off the plane (again... in theory).
For those looking for a laid-back hotel with a touch of luxury, The Fistral Beach Hotel is on the money. This wonderful hotel and spa with senstaional views is a fantastic place to spend a speedy seaside staycation. We have already booked to go back.
Where is it?
Set on a clifftop, the adults-only hotel overlooks Fistral Beach - Newquay’s most famous stretch of sand - with many of the rooms offering sea views. It’s in Pentire, a sleepy area on the outskirts of down town Newquay. You can get to the main strip of restaurants and bars in about 20 minutes on foot or a £5 taxi. Make sure you make friends with Pete of Pete’s Taxis when you’re there who’ll take you around town.
Modern and beachy with simple interiors to suit the laid-back environment. Expect comfy sofas in various hues of blue set around wooden tables in the informal Bay Bar, where you can sip a house cocktail with gentle Ibiza House music playing in the background. The Dune bar, where breakfast and dinner is served, is more grown-up, with dark wood flooring, white draping and modern chandelier light fixtures.
Food & drink
The Dune Restaurant breakfast consists of a lavish array of continental favourites like fruit, yoghurt and muesli to cold meats and pastries. Hot dishes such as pancakes (bacon, maple syrup and blueberries are delicious), Eggs Royale and Benedict, or a Full Breakfast can be ordered for an additional cost. On weekends, there are bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys until 11.30am - which is dangerous. Continental is £10.95 per person, full £15.95.
In Bay Bar you are treated to lovely selection of all-day simple dishes, with afternoon tea served between midday and 5pm if you wish to indulge. In the evenings, Dune Restaurant serves lovely flavour-packed dishes all made from Cornish-sourced produce. You will not go hungry.
The sprawling spa is well worth a visit. On the first floor is a large pool with sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi - perfect for a morning splash and relax before wandering to breakfast, or to while away a few hours before heading out on the town.
Up top is a huge relaxation area and nine treatments rooms. ESPA products are used across the range of treatments, which start at about £50.
I was booked in for the Fistral Spa Signature Treatment (£120, 1hr 50mins) which combined a wonderful full body massage with a facial which was sensational. I left feeling more relaxed than I’d been in months.
If spa time isn’t your thing (!), the hotel work with a number of outdoor adventure providers should you wish to learn to surf or go rock pool diving.
We were in Newquay on a particularly wet and windy March weekend - so stuck mainly to indoor activities. We had the most special Saturday dinner at Fish House, the tiny restaurant by Ex-Rick Stein chef Paul Harwood. This laid back place really is fantastic, with delicious local food served up by wonderful friendly staff.
We feasted on the seafood sharing platters (£15.95) out of the deck at sundown before settling in for a cosy dinner of Sri Lankan Prawn curry (£18.95) and Monkfish with white bean casserole (£19.95). It was my fiance’s birthday, so it brought me a great deal of joy - and him mortification - that staff managed to persuade diners to serenade him as he was served sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice-cream (£5.95).
It was honestly one of the most fabulous dinners I have had in a long time. Book well in advance as it is often full, especially at the weekends. Even Hairy Biker Dave Myers was asked - politely - to have a drink next door and come back.
Pay extra and go for one with a sea view. Nothing beats waking up to that stretch of sand and the sound of crashing waves. We were booked in a room that came under their “best” category which had a free-standing bath overlooking Fistral beach. A dip in there was pure bliss.
The hotel has 71 rooms plus one suite. Rates from £65
When to go?
The summer season, so locals told me, kicks off around May when the weather is a bit better. Newquay is more chaotic in the summer holiday season, especially at the weekend when every surfer in the country descends. Either side of the summer holidays are probably your best bet. Although we loved our wet and windy spring-time break as it meant we didn’t have to make excuses for lazy mornings in the spa.
Flybe operates up to three flights daily to Newquay from Gatwick with fares starting from £35.99 one way including taxes and charges. Taking large sports equipment like surf boards costs £30 each way. Book now at www.flybe.com To book direct and for more information about Spa and Hotel packages, go to www.fistralbeachhotel.co.uk