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By Katie Wilson

When you think of Cornwall, it’s usually surf-spot Newquay or picturesque St Ives that springs to mind, but if you want to escape the crowds head a bit further up the coast.

North Cornwall is not only easier to get to, it’s less full of tourists and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll see in the UK. Add to that a wave of stylish new places to stay and cool dining spots that have already won the approval of Gordon Ramsay, who owns a home in the area, and this underrated part of Cornwall isn’t going to stay secret for too long.

The Boutique Handbook visited the pretty Cornish coastal village of Trebetherick and checked in to Highcliffe Cornwall, a collection of family-run holiday homes that have recently been given a slick makeover.

Where to stay in North Cornwall

Exterior of Bollatack holiday home at Highcliffe North Cornwall
The stylish new holiday homes are designed to maximise the views. Credit: Highcliffe Cornwall

Highcliffe Cornwall has been a family-run business for over 30 years, when local Rob Mably began building holiday homes on his farmland a few minutes walk from both Daymer Bay and Polzeath beaches.

Now his daughter Becca, a former music manager for stars like Robbie Williams and Lily Allen, has swapped her rock star life to go back to her Cornish roots and reinvent what her dad started.

A collection of stylish new holiday homes have just been built, with more planned for the future. All are self-catering with a reverse living concept, so the kitchen and living rooms are upstairs and bedrooms below. This is so you can gaze out at those all-important sea views as you sip sundowners on your own private balcony.

Kitchen area at Tregoyd Highcliffe Cornwall holiday homes
All the interiors are contemporary. Credit: Highcliffe Cornwall

Designed with families or bigger groups in mind, the newest properties are all four bedrooms, four bathrooms and dog-friendly.

We stayed at Botallack, an impressive property with far reaching views across the Camel Estuary. All the new houses have been finished to the highest spec with features like polished concrete floors and kitchen worktops, Crittal doors, handmade oak staircases and Mid-Century inspired furnishings.

The terrace at Memories holiday home at Highcliffe Cornwall
Each holiday home has a pretty terrace area. Credit: Highcliffe Cornwall

The open plan layout upstairs is the perfect space for entertaining, from the contemporary kitchen with island and bar stools to the large dining table. The comfy sofas are made for sinking into after a long day exploring and there is even a snug room downstairs.

Outside you’ll find a private terraced garden with sun loungers downstairs and more seating to relax in on the first-floor balcony. The property also has underfloor heating, an electric car charging point and outdoor shower to wash off the surf.

Other new properties at Highcliffe Cornwall include Borlowen, Memories, Webster, Tregoyd and Eythin.

Stays start from £1,155 for a seven-night break

Book a stay at Highcliffe Cornwall here

On-site extras

Yoga studio at Highcliffe Cornwall
The stylish reception area. Credit: Highcliffe Cornwall

The vision for Highcliffe Cornwall going forward is for it to be more than just holiday homes. This is why Becca has added a stylish open-plan reception area with a wall full of Chapter Organics products (already loved by The Boutique Handbook team). These luxuries can be found in the bathrooms in the holiday homes.

There is also a breakfast area, where guests can have coffee and pastries, a communal outdoor seating area and wellness studio featuring a state-of-the-art gym and space for classes such as yoga, pilates, meditation and sound healing.

Wellness studio at Highcliffe Cornwall
The wellness studio. Credit: Highcliffe Cornwall

Non-residents are invited to use the facilities, with day passes starting from £10 to monthly memberships for £40. You can even book private personal training sessions here. Tennis courts are also on-site.

Guests can arrange massages and treatments via their Wellness Concierge service and in the future Becca hopes to add an on-site cafe and host wellness retreats at Highcliffe Cornwall.

Where to eat and drink in North Cornwall

Table overlooking the sea at Four Boys Cafe Rock in North Cornwall
This new cafe is Gordon Ramsay approved. Credit: Four Boys

Trebetherick is across the water from Padstow and in walking distance of Rock, one of the most affluent parts of Cornwall where celebrities like Gordon Ramsay own homes. And it’s no surprise a celebrity chef lives here, as the area has been dubbed the ‘culinary triangle’ due to all its award-winning restaurants.

In Padstow, you’ll find Paul Ainsworth’s No. 6 restaurant, which has a Michelin star, and be sure to pop into his pub The Mariners in Rock, voted one of the top 10 gastropubs in the UK.

Over in Port Isaac chef Nathan Outlaw has two one Michelin star restaurants, Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen and Outlaw’s New Road. While in Bodmin Andrew Tuck, chef at St Kew Inn, recently featured on the Great British Menu, which is pulling punters in with good reason, his food is excellent.

Oysters with a view at The Mariners pub
Oysters with a view at The Mariners. Credit:@lateef.photography

More casual dining can be found at the newly-opened Four Boys cafe which enjoys stunning harbour views and has already been declared Gordon Ramsay’s new favourite place. It’s great for breakfast, lunches or dinner and is now open seven days a week. Ramsay is also a fan of new Italian-inspired restaurant ONDA in Wadebridge from chef Ben Ambridge.

Also nearby is Bluntrock Brewery, a cool Nanobrewery in Wadebridge making delicious small batch beers. Pop into their taproom made from converted shipping containers on a coastal industrial estate. Family-run Camel Valley Vineyard sells wine to Rick Stein, Fortnum’s and Hakkasan in London. THE PIG-at Harlyn Bay is also in the area.

Things to do in North Cornwall

The South West Coast Path in North Cornwall
The South West Coast Path is on your doorstep. Credit: JFoxton

There isn’t a shortage of things to do when you stay at Highcliffe Cornwall and most of the best things to do in the area are free.

Take a dip in the sea on one of the beautiful sandy beaches within walking distance like Polzeath, Daymer Bay, Tregirls and Harlyn. We’d recommend booking a session in Saunas by the Sea afterwards, currently found in Polzeath or Harlyn Bay.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan rope bridge
These gardens are a must visit. Credit: The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Walk the South West Coast Path or further inland hike to Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall. Cycle or stroll along the Camel Trail, a recently opened stretch of Cornish countryside along a disused railway line.

Sailing, water skiing and more is available in Rock Harbour. Private surf lessons can be booked at George’s Surf School or go sea kayaking, paddleboarding or coasteering with Cornish Rock Tors. Other attractions include the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan or explore a Cornish rainforest at the Eden Project.

Getting there

If you want to explore other parts of Cornwall while you’re in the area, travelling by car is best. Alternatively get a train to Bodmin Parkway station and pick up a hire car.

However, it is possible to visit Cornwall completely car-free, as we did. Trains run regularly from London to Bodmin Parkway station and we pre-ordered a taxi, which took around 40 minutes to take us to Highcliffe Cornwall.

Book a train to Cornwall here

Overall verdict

Cornwall might be thought of as a summer destination, but it really is year-round destination. A stay in North Cornwall is a great spot that is relatively easy to get to compared to the rest of region and doesn’t take as long as you think. Whatever the season, it’s good for the soul.

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