As we drove up to the gates of The Headland Hotel and Spa in Newquay the sun was setting, blazing orange against a lilac sky, dipping into the sea surrounding the imposing building. “It’s so grand!” exclaimed Freya, who was flapping with excitement at the thought of two whole nights in a “posh hotel”. We arrived just after 6.30pm on Friday night, the day of Effie’s birthday. She couldn’t have had a warmer welcome.
If you recognise the building it might be because this is where they filmed one of my favourite childhood films, The Witches, back in 1987. Fast-forward to today and the hotel’s undergone some major changes, including a new spa and current work to create an incredible swimming pool complex.
Our room was decked out in a balloon each for the girls, along with their own Princess Pack of activities, a special dressing gown each and a little collection of luxurious toiletries. Both girls were in heaven and the finishing touch – Effie’s own personal birthday card – was the cherry on the cake.
See the video I made of the weekend to get a glimpse of the room when we arrived:
That evening we ate in The Samphire restaurant, named after the edible seawood that clings to this section of the Cornish coastline. The food was delicious and the service impeccable – coming from someone who often dreads eating out with young children, this was a big win. As soon as we walked into the restaurant the waiters made us feel at ease. Offering a highchair and then, when that was scoffed at by Effie, a “princess” cushion, they all wished her happy birthday and made a big fuss of her. She was in her absolute element. As a parent, it’s touches like this that make you feel at home somewhere new. It didn’t go unnoticed.
Our room overlooked the back of the hotel, with a clear view of the sea and the bright lights of Newquay. The Headland Hotel sits on the headland (obviously!) overlooking the famous Fistral Beach, surfer’s paradise and home to the Boardmaster’s pro surfing competition. There are self-catering cottages as well as the hotel itself, meaning it literally has something for everyone. Even dogs are welcome!
We woke up on Saturday morning to the sound of rain lashing the windows, so after a two-course breakfast (fruit and yoghurt for Si and I, pastries for the girls, followed by a Full English for everyone) we headed to the swimming pool and spa. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.
Although I didn’t try out any of the beauty treatments I did manage a full five minutes’ in the steam room while Si splashed about with the kids in the pool. Day. Made. The girls were obsessed with the bubble feature in the shallow end and had to be dragged out of the pool after about an hour, their skin shrivelled like dried prunes.
The thing about luxury hotels is that, often with kids, it isn’t a luxury – you know? No matter how many incredible beauty treatments are on offer or delicacies the top chef can whip up it doesn’t matter if you don’t get a moment to actually enjoy them. This is why we often opt for self-catering accommodation like an apartment or house when we go away. However – and it’s a big however – our experience at The Headland proved that you CAN enjoy a luxurious stay in a hotel with kids in tow.
This is partly because of the sheer size of the hotel. There are plenty of places to escape to and nooks to get cosy in, even when the rain is pelting down outside. It’s also partly due to the staff who are all so friendly and welcoming. On the Saturday evening we decided to let the girls stay up late while we hung out in the bar area after our meal in Newquay’s Pizza Express (although if we’d have known The Stable – a pizzeria and pie place – was literally next door to the hotel we’d have gone there). Usually I’d feel self-conscious about this, worried that people would think I was a bad mum for letting my kids stay up past 9pm, stressing that they might be in the way. But they were so well behaved and the staff were so friendly, offering drinks and snacks and always coming to our table despite there being a busy wedding to cater for, that we all felt relaxed and really enjoyed the evening.
Despite it’s size, the hotel feels cosy and is the perfect place to snuggle up in on a rainy autumn day. After a trip to Newquay Zoo on Saturday we spent a couple of hours just chilling out at the hotel, reading books, colouring, people-watching. As well as The Samphire, there’s also the Terrace – a laid back cafe and bar space to enjoy an afternoon tea, cocktail or brunch (they also offer breakfast and lunch too). The Terrace has an outdoor seating area too, so I can imagine this is the perfect place to watch the sun go down on a non-rainy day!
There’s so much to do in and around Newquay and The Headland Hotel is the ideal place to explore the area from, because it’s within walking distance of many places but not right in the centre of town. Newquay Zoo gave us a few hours’ entertainment, despite the rain, but we could have gone to the Blue Reef Aquarium, Lappa Valley Steam Railway, Healey’s Cyder Farm or one of multiple other day trips nearby. And that’s before we’ve even mentioned the beaches – one of which is literally on The Headland Hotel’s doorstep.
Fistral Beach is a huge sandy beach a two minute walk from the hotel, down a path onto the sand. As well as the beach, there’s a complex on the sand including a snack hut where you can get ice-creams, pasties and sandwiches, a couple of clothes shops selling brands like Fat Face and Joules, surf hire, plus a couple of restaurants including a Rick Stein fish and chip offering. But, obviously, if you’re staying at the hotel it’s just as easy to wander back up the path to the comfort of Terrace cafe or room service in your dressing gown, after a morning surfing or jumping in the waves.
We spent a whole morning at Fistral on the Sunday morning, after a last swim in the hotel pool. And, yet again, it reminded me how lucky we are to have such amazing beaches right here in the UK. You don’t need to travel abroad for incredible surf and sand – and even on a chilly autumn day the beach is a lovely place to be (if you can put up with an errant toddler throwing sand, that is).
I could go on forever about our wonderful weekend, the memorable third birthday Effie had or why we’re already researching another trip back to The Headland Hotel, but I won’t because I’ve already written way too many words. Instead I’ll leave you with a few more photos (yes, I went camera crazy). You can really get a feel for the hotel in the video at the top of this post, and see some of the outtake moments that come as standard on my YouTube channel!
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Thanks to The Headland Hotel for inviting us to stay for the weekend. All content and opinions remain my own. To find out how I work with brands check out my Work With Me page.