Head to the Headland for sun, sea, sand and spa!
The Headland Hotel & Spa is a grand 4-star Victorian hotel which has overlooked the surfing shores of Fistral Bay since it opened its doors to the public in 1900. Since then it has become the most iconic hotel in town with perfect positioning for calming sea views.
Think it looks familiar? Well, it's been used as a filming location by the BBC on more than one occasion but most famously The Witches, the big screen adaption of the Roald Dahl book, starring Angelica Houston and Rowan Atkinson, was filmed here in 1987.
Inside it's welcoming, ornate and spacious. A total of 95 rooms and suites are in the main building with 39 (award-winning) self-catering cottages just outside overlooking the bay. If you decide to book a cottage you can still make use of all the hotel's amenities, and you don't need to book a full week for the privilege.
And if you're a Lego fan there's a replica of the Headland on the 1st floor of the hotel!
The Headland hotel caters to many groups including families, young and older couples, honeymooners and surfers. So with such a range of patrons, there are the facilities to match. The spa and swimming pool is the main draw for many, for us the 2 AA rosette restaurant was the main appeal, for surfers you could not be closer to Fistral Bay.
We stayed in the main hotel in one of the corner rooms with bay windows looking out in three directions and letting in lots of natural light.
It was a really spacious room with a couch, chairs, desk and mirror.
Tea and coffee facilities, a TV, free WiFi and a selection of magazines were also included.
But best of all was the super comfy four-poster bed with bedside cabinets, lamps, sockets, radio and a telephone.
So, back to that view...there's the beach, surfers, cliffs and wide-open sea...
We are fans of freestanding baths, especially when there's also a great shower and this one was unusually operated via an LCD screen displaying the exact temperature - you can increase or decrease this with a touch of a button so no unnecessary fiddling is required! The shower also has a raindrop effect shower head, there's under-floor heating and his & hers sinks! Toiletries were from Elemis (ooh!) so the Mrs was very happy.
Evening Meal at Samphire restaurant
The hotel's restaurant, Samphire, has been awarded 2 rosettes by the AA and had a few interesting dishes on the menu. Like our bedroom, the restaurant looked out onto the sea.
We shared a bottle of the house red, a Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Australia with a pleasant vanilla and blackcurrant aroma and light berry taste (£26).
And nibbled on bread rolls with a choice of butter before our food arrived.
Wild garlic soup, truffled brie beignet - I love wild garlic, well I love garlic full stop but wild garlic has the aroma of real garlic but a less intense flavour meaning that you can enjoy it in soup form and this vibrantly coloured soup was deliciously summery with a cheesy bread pastry.
Citrus cured sea trout, sprouting broccoli, pine nuts, sultanas - light, colourful and summery. The Corish Coast excels when it comes to seafood so it was good to have a fish dish that wasn't plain and ordinary. Broccoli, pine nuts and sultanas is a new combo to us but one which worked wonderfully.
Confit rabbit leg, pancetta crisp, quinoa, heritage carrots - confit is another of my favourites, usually duck, so this is possibly the first time I've had confit rabbit leg. The rabbit meat flaked away as it should but wasn't quite as tasty as confit duck. There was a saltiness and moreish Maillard flavour from the crisp pancetta while softer textures were provided by the quinoa and carrots.
Pea and sorrel flan, saffron charred cauliflower tempura - the Mrs opted for this unusual main, it was the cauliflower tempura which swung it (she loves cauliflower pakora). This was entirely vegan, and earthy but not heavy so another summery dish. While Mrs Foodie enjoyed it she would've loved more cauliflower.
Truffled Cornish Brie cheesecake, grapes and sultanas - sometimes you just can't decide between a sweet pudding or cheese so this possibly gives the best of both worlds?! I'd had a blue cheesecake before so the concept of a savoury cheesecake wasn't alien to me and grapes, sultanas and walnuts always compliment a good bit of cheese. I ate it all but I would have preferred either a sweet pudding or cheese (or both!), so the Mrs came out on top this time.
Rose macaron, Turkish delight, lychee - A large pink macaron with a mix of textures - soft but chewy macaron and meringue, fruity gels, cream and compote. Lots of eastern flavours condensed into this delicate dessert. I was jealous!
Get down early to Samphire to grab a seat by the window for breakfast. Tea or coffee is offered but there's nothing stopping you from ordering prosecco or Champagne!
They have a selection of fruit juices, pastries and cold buffet items such as prunes, pineapple, fruit salad, grapefruit, watermelon and mixed melon, yoghurts (inc. natural and Greek), compote, pickles, cheeses, cured meats, smoked salmon and mackerel. Phew!
While the warm buffet features mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, hash browns, scrambled and fried egg, hog's pudding (a local delicacy, Cornwall's answer to white pudding), black pudding, sausage and bacon.
You can also order a vegetarian breakfast, eggs in various ways, porridge, a pancake stack or kippers, or you can simply request a buffet item freshly cooked. Vegan and gluten-free items can also be provided.
After breakfast, we took a leisurely walk around the hotel. There are paths leading to the rocky coast and sandy beach.
Not a bad place for a seat, we could get used to this!
If the sound of the sea relaxes you then you'll love the Headland. We slept soundly with the windows open and the sound of the waves against the shore. Our room was impressively large with a view in three directions and the bathroom was one of the best - we take bathrooms very seriously! We loved the bath and the LCD-operated shower. It's always a bonus to have quality toiletries provided as well.
Food-wise, Samphire restaurant was great and well worthy of 2 rosettes, there was an ample selection at breakfast and if you're not keen on the warm buffet then items can be made to order, the bar was well-stocked with a few beers and ciders we hadn't seen in Scotland.
Staff were friendly and helpful throughout. There's plenty of parking outside and it was easy to drive in and out. The centre of Newquay is also only a short walk away. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit the pool or spa but this is somewhere we would happily return to again!
Note that they are currently constructing a new outdoor pool so there is some construction work taking place at one side of the hotel.
+ Relaxing stay
+ Calming views
+ Large, well-equipped room
+ Large bath, great shower and toiletries
+ Filming location for The Witches!
+ Impressive restaurant with views to match
- Some ongoing construction work
Location / contact
Booking / current offers
The ‘Best of Cornish’ offer is £320 for two people for two nights in a beachside room. You will receive a Cornish Cream Tea for two, Cornish fudge and shortbread in your room, a glass of fizz, access to the spa facilities and a full Cornish Breakfast each morning. A complimentary bottle of wine will also be available if you book dinner in the AA rosette awarded Samphire Restaurant.
For more information and to book this offer, please call 01637 872211.
Disclaimer: we received a complimentary one-night DBB stay. Alas, we didn't have time to use the spa but Fred says our review is pawsome.