Hotel review: A spectacularly lazy weekend at the Scarlet
The forecast for our weekend in Cornwall was for gales, more gales and horizontal rain. Which was absolutely perfect, as we had zero intention of leaving the cosseting confines of The Scarlet, Cornwall’s luxury eco hotel that’s just for grown-ups.
And so it proved. The furthest we strayed during the two days was the 50 yards to the hotel’s cliff-top hot tub, where we simmered gently for half an hour, glasses of prosecco in hand, as the sun set over a stormy sea.
The view is your constant companion at The Scarlet. Every bedroom is pointed at it – none of that nonsense where you only get to see the sea when you pay up – and it’s the backdrop for the restaurant, bar, pools (indoor and outdoor) and yoga room.
We’d booked one of the ‘Just right’ rooms, which sounded like it might be a euphemism for ‘Just-about-as-small-as-we-can-get-away-with’. Not a bit of it. Our bedroom had an open plan bathroom behind the bed, a couple of funky swivel chairs in front of the wall-to-wall glazing and our private terrace with nothing but sea and sky beyond.
From the moment you arrive and are given the tour, the atmosphere’s super-relaxed, with casually dressed staff never too far away and guests lolling about in the hotel’s brown fleece bathrobes like so many walruses on the beach.
It’s clear that The Scarlet has put a lot of thought into the fine art of being lazy. There’s the full spa menu of massages, meditations and ‘bathing rituals’, of course, but the place as a whole seems to be an exercise in slowing down, unplugging (there’s no mobile phone signal) and forgetting that the rest of the world exists.
There are sunken seating areas filled with giant bean bags, space age recliners that magically cradle every inch of you and hanging hammock pods filled with cushions that can swallow an indolent human for hours at a time. Around every corner there’s another peaceful spot where you feel compelled to flop down and zonk out.
By the time our evening reservation rolled around, we’d spectacularly failed to work up an appetite. But dinner wasn’t going to eat itself, so we headed to restaurant and sank stoically into our booth. The double height dining room is about as grand as The Scarlet gets, but the smiley staff keep things as relaxed as ever. For £45 a head, you get three courses of fabulous fine dining fare. And in keeping with The Scarlet’s uncynical approach, there are no supplements when you order the scallops or the beef.
So what of the eco credentials that the Scarlet hangs its hat on? If you ask, they’ll show you the list of 101 ways that the hotel’s sustainable – from locally sourced food to corridor lighting that only comes on when you walk past – but there’s nothing worthy about it and it mostly goes on beneath the surface. So like everything else, being green for a couple of days required no effort to be expended on our part.
Although to be fair, we did do our bit for the environment in a couple of ways. We helped to reduce cliff-top erosion by not setting foot on the coast path and we cut down on emissions by not venturing out in the car. Well done us.
Things to do nearby:
It’s mainly about the food and, more specifically, Rick Stein in this corner of Cornwall. Just to the north of The Scarlet is Padstow, home to Rick Stein’s super posh Seafood Restaurant, or there’s his fish & chip shop by the harbour if you’re in a rush/on a budget.
Head south to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen at Watergate Bay – an award-winning restaurant and social enterprise perched above one of Cornwall’s best surfing beaches.
A couple of miles further on and you’re in Newquay where Rick Stein’s just opened yet another outpost. Rick Stein Fistral is a beachside joint offering a mash-up menu where fish & chips meets Asian takeaway. Yikes.
Top tip for The Scarlet:
Make sure you book the cliff-top hot tub ahead of your stay – it’s a must do – and try to get the sunset slot.