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48 Hours In Newquay, Cornwall, UK

Newquay might be close to the tip of Cornwall, England’s most southwestern county, but serviced by its own airport and a mainline railway station, it makes for an idyllic weekend getaway.

From its candescent shores to an array of homespun crafters and glorious restaurants, Newquay is one of the most exciting coastal destinations in the UK. This celebrated slice of north Cornwall might be better known for its surf culture and velvety-soft coves, but Newquay is also home to inspiring artisan makers and restaurants to write home about. Once you’ve discovered the best golden shores, including Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay, explore Newquay’s invigorating coastal walks and wonderful shopping and dining scene.


Photography by Lewis Harrison Pinder

Photography by Lewis Harrison Pinder

Watergate Bay Hotel

Conveniently located on the beach, just a short drive from the county’s airport, Watergate Bay Hotel epitomises barefoot luxury. It’s the kind of hotel where you go to surf, spa and swim by day and enjoy sundowners and lazy suppers at dusk. Watergate Bay Hotel brings the outside in, maximising its seafront location with acres of glass-front spaces in the restaurants and bars. If you’re a dog owner, pack the leash because Watergate Bay Hotel is also pet friendly.

Stanley Tucci, who holidayed here during summer 2021, is a fan of the hotel’s sublime modern British restaurants. There are four to choose from — Zacry’s, The Beach Hut, The Living Space, and Restaurant Emily Scott — plus a summer-only food truck outside. Swim Club is the hotel’s indoor sea-view swimming pool and spa treatment area. There’s more; Extreme Academy surf and kite surfing school, an Ofsted-registered Kids Zone and a fun games room with arcade games and pool table. Stretch your budget to one of the seven new Beach Lofts, offering direct access to the seashore. Once you’ve dusted the sand off your soles, enjoy a glass of wine in one of the freestanding window baths, from the hanging chair or by the roaring fire.

The Headland

Occupying a dramatic position above Fistral Beach, the red-bricked Headland is Newquay’s Grand Dame hotel. If you’re looking for a timeless stay close to the thick of Newquay’s action, The Headland is the perfect place to rest your head. Starting out in 1898, The Headland is layered with history, including starring in the 1990 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, though the hotel was renamed ‘Hotel Excelsior’ for the movie.

Rooms and suites boast tall ceilings, sea views, and a calming colour palette. Book the new-for-2022 Cribbar Suite for its four-poster bed and connecting room for extra space. The Headland also offers a selection of stylish cottages, which work well if you enjoy the freedom of private accommodation with the perks of a five-star hotel. Dine over ale-battered fish and chips at the outdoor Terrace or on finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones at The Samphire. Hotel guests also get access to the adults-only spa pool and thermal facilities where you can enjoy some pampering after a breezy coastal walk. There’s also a lap pool, children’s splash pool, and outdoor heated pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.


The Plume of Feathers

Just a 15-minute drive from the centre of Newquay, The Plume of Feathers is a 16th-century former coaching inn. This cosy restaurant with rooms in the hamlet of Mitchell offers rooms with monsoon rain showers, freestanding baths, and Egyptian cotton sheets. While accommodation is warm and chic, the real reason you’ll want to base yourself at The Plume of Feather is for the food.

The restaurant is helmed by head chef Andrew Dudley whose menu is inspired by the brilliant bounty of Cornwall. Snack on Scotch eggs with bacon jam washed down with a delicious Cornish ale or pair a delicate cider poached plaice with an effervescent glass of Camel Valley, Cornwall’s treasured sparkling wine. At the weekend, don’t miss The Plume of Feathers’ cracking Sunday roast.


Pavilion Bakery 

You’ll spot Pavilion Bakery by the plump sourdough loaves stacked neatly in the window of a pristine, white-fronted former lifeboat shelter on Fore Street. With outposts in London’s Broadway Market and Columbia Road, Pavilion Bakery chose Newquay as its first venture outside of London. A mix of morning surfers, dog walkers, and weekenders adore Pavilion Bakery for its tangy bread, silky-smooth coffee, and sticky cinnamon buns. Fresh-out-of-the-oven baguettes and buttery pain au chocolates, along with a selection of groceries, such as St Mawes Cornish eggs, organic milk, and raw honey are also available.

Restaurant Emily Scott

Break bread at Emily Scott’s eponymous Watergate Bay restaurant, where the ethos is focused on sourcing ingredients from the best local suppliers — including plenty of fish from Cornwall’s wild waters — to create menus that draw on the seasons. Emily’s imaginative flair sees dishes presented with a feminine aesthetic, including tempura of salt cod, gochujang mayo, and pickled vegetables, and baked Cornish hake, monk’s beard, and pickled onion. The mildly sweet halibut roasted on the bone is heavenly if you don’t mind sharing (it’s for two). Request a table by the floor-to-ceiling windows that look directly onto Watergate Bay’s ochre-hued beach. Make your reservation to coincide with the golden hour to watch the sun dip into the horizon.


Sushea, pronounced ‘su-shay’, is a casual takeout spot just a stone’s throw from Pavilion Bakery, delivering the freshest Asian flavours in Newquay. A few timber-topped tables are available inside, with a large open counter displaying rows of colourful maki rolls stuffed with divine combinations such as beef brisket with avocado and smoked sriracha mayo. Sushea is strictly walk-in only. If no seats are available, order a lip-smacking picnic of fragrant poke bowls, stuffed bao buns, and Takoyaki, crispy octopus balls drizzled with Takoyaki sauce, to savour on the seafront.

Tom Thumb Cocktail Bar

Over 120 bottles of hand-selected spirits line the wall behind the bar of this central Newquay drinking den. The menu’s line-up includes elegant classics like the Margarita made with El Jimador Reposado Tequila and the French Martini featuring Portobello Road vodka. Classic cocktails are complemented with a host of ‘Originals’ that see the bartenders let loose to create hiccup-inducing concoctions that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Imbibe on the marvellously sweet Candy Man, consisting of Bombay Bramble gin, Italicus, acid adjusted Italian orange water, ‘chocolate hints’, local honey, and Pastis. ‘Giggle Water’ is the bar’s humorous name for sparkling wine-based cocktails, while ‘Driving Juices’ offers something for those off the sauce.


Learn to surf

One of the best places to surf is the swathe of golden sand at Watergate Bay. West Country Surf School, a family run team of experienced surfers and teachers, offer lessons from two-hour stints to an intensive five-day course. Book a group class, which caters for up to six — perfect for a girlfriends’ getaway activity — or opt for a private one-on-one lesson.

West Country Surf School also offers rejuvenating surf and yoga sessions that will see you take part in a relaxing yoga class in a yurt following a surf lesson. Wetsuits and boards are provided, though you’re welcome to bring your own if you own them.

Shop for artisan gifts

Newquay’s lively centre is overflowing with artisan stores and eco-friendly fashion boutiques. For sustainable swim and activewear made from recycled plastic bottles, browse the garms at Tide + Seek on Killacourt. In Wesley Yard, stop by Sand & Palm, another eco-conscious brand that offers blousy surf and swimwear, handmade silver jewellery, including beautiful stacked rings, and organic skincare by California brand Salt & Stone.

Slow living is at the heart of lifestyle store The Good Lyfe on Fore Street, where you can browse a curated collection of home, fashion, and grocery items. Visit Teylu — an award-winning interiors boutique celebrating Cornish makers — in the cutesy Nansledan neighbourhood. Pick out gorgeous wheel-thrown and slab-built pottery by Rob and Julie Small. The duo’s brand, Ceramic Anarchy, uses Rob’s pottery skills and Julie’s artistic talents to create exquisite ceramics and tableware. Teylu’s collection also includes illustrated prints, one-off children’s garments, blankets, cushions, skin, and body care.

Enjoy a coastal walk

Walk a slither of the South West Coastal Path, which traces every craggy inlet, beach, and cliff from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, with Cornwall smack bang in the middle.

Pack a warming flask of tea and follow the route along North Cornwall’s wind-beaten coastline towards Mawgan Porth. Newquay’s Whipsiderry Beach, a popular stretch for its sea caves, rock pools, and soft sand, is a good starting point. The distance is three miles, which takes around 60-90 minutes depending on your pace.

Stop at The Beach Hut in Watergate Bay for a hearty soup in cold weather or a refreshing juice and salad on a warm day. Gulp down more fresh sea air and stop to soak up the soul-soothing views of Beacon Cove and Zacry’s Islands before reaching Mawgan Porth.

Wander an Elizabethan manor house and garden

The National Trust-owned Trerice is an Elizabethan manor house in bucolic St Newlyn East, three miles from the centre of Newquay. Trerice is filled with antiquities, including period pieces collected over the centuries. Admire Trerice’s charming rooms, lingering in the Great Hall, featuring 576 panes of glass – some of them original. Once you’ve explored the house, discover the Elizabethan knot garden and the thriving wild meadow. From vibrant red quince blossom to violet Michaelmas daisies and candy floss-coloured hollyhocks, the Elizabethan gardens at Trerice are teeming with beautiful Cornish flora.

*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book anything. Visit for more information.

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