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First person: A chic stay at Bedruthan, with a young family in tow

Written by Eve Hunter-Mann

Written by Hels Martin, creator of independent magazine Lionheart…

With the sun on our faces we were whipped around by the coastal wind, tugging on the longboard, brightening our cheeks and drawing us to the ocean.

We passed the pink, yellow and white flowers on the roadside, the vision of the beach coming closer, a natural park, bold blue and yellow. Details of the multi-coloured flora and fauna on the hill and cliff sides soon came into view as we trundled downwards, our pace quickening to a run as toes touched sand. We were almost the only ones on the beach for a few hours. Beach brollies arriving in abundance after midday.

This was our one full day in Cornwall. The afternoon before we had arrived at Bedruthan Hotel, located just above Mawgan Porth beach. Its huge windows overlooking the bay, the building had welcomed us with an instantly slowed down vibe, a dial being turned down, the sound of the sea encompassing us. I love the style of the hotel; like 1960s Palm Springs, modernist, bold, minimal and sleek, both inside and out. It feels just right, no fussiness or clutter, a strong resolve in modernity and possibility. Fundamentals; people, health, environment, clear and purposeful. It feels both hopeful and comforting and I wonder if this is what we all need to feel a bit of.

Bedruthan Hotel first opened in 1959 and is distinctive in that cool style; wide, low, white painted brick and huge expanses of glass. Inside mid-century furniture mixes with modern interior design and art work, the history of the hotel is evident throughout.

Contemporary with a central glowing leisure hotel dream running through it. Modern life enthusiastically catered for and the classic essentials for a holiday – sun, sea, sand, relaxation – ticked off with gold stars. A tiny splash of Hollywood, Byron Bay and a true championing of the Cornish live well spirit. You can just imagine those chic 1960s Bedruthan holidaymakers sashaying in voluminous dresses and towelling swimmers, cocktail in hand, music playing. The kids happy, deck chairs out, a handful of guests in the pool – a few people painting. Love and respect for the natural environment in sepia tones.

We had a room with a sea view – the biggest contrast to the city – and immediately we slid open the French doors to the roaring sound of the ocean, breathing it in.

The beach swings in deeply at Mawgan Porth, nestling a few stoic houses in its cocoon, from our room we could see the generous sandy beach, cliff sides and emerald green hills, a field with grazing cows. Time stopped for a second as a curious and smart seagull stood beside our window, the day was bright and clear and the water glistened. Inside, the room was beautifully comfortable, with a large double bed loaded with pillows, two singles and a cot set up. All made with pressed white sheets. We had a blind to roll down between our own and the children’s sleeping quarters and a bathroom with Oula products, the hotel’s own 100% natural spa products. The room felt cosy and optimistic. 1960s inspired prints, deep purple walls, colourful printed fabrics and those gently zoned areas. The roof of the floor below us stretched out past our balconet and was covered in plants, one of many of the hotel’s living roofs.

The gardens – and actually every possible growing space at Bedruthan – are filled with abundant grasses, flowers and clusters of succulents, including bountiful bunches of aeoniums aboreum.

It felt very much a tranquil space as we wandered about, with little compartments all over the hotel for sleeping, drinking, dining, playing, swimming, crafting and simply reclining on huge wicker chairs.

A large hotel, Bedruthan manages to create a warm atmosphere and mix with its surroundings through that low level white exterior and masses of plants throughout. Guests of all ages are welcomed, children well catered for, as we discovered. From relaxed dining; think macaroni cheese, cucumber, orange slices and crispy cakes, to activities and entertainment, swimming areas, drop-in craft spaces, and an outside play park. Meanwhile grown ups are able to loll about by the bar if they wish, holding great chalices of gin and tonics, white wine in a cooler, chinking glasses and flowing fabrics in the breeze. I loved that it felt like everyone was going at their own pace at the hotel. Us, we varied it so much, shifts in movement and direction.

Beginning, that very first afternoon, with doughnut decorating in a sun dappled room. Then rapidly moving on to a dash to the outside pool. We went in the slightly heated smaller one, the sides sloping and not too deep. Followed by the park; trampolining, rope swings and balance beams, before ending with a much needed meal in the Wild Cafe.

We popped in to see the circus performer *gasps and giggles before bed*. Then at 8pm, with the children happily tucked up in bed, Charlie and I were able to then go for dinner, thanks to help arranging local childcare. In the sleep-sensitive darkness we dressed up. I wiped the mascara smudges away, then threw on a pair of impractical shoes, put some lipstick and a book in a small gold bag before going upstairs to the terrace. It was a clear night and as the sun began to set the pace slowed right down. We went to hotel’s Herring Restaurant and the hours passed filled with delicious dishes of fresh fish, aioli, tomatoes, pesto, soft bread, gooey chocolate, pistachio and peanut butter and rhubarb, accompanied by a sauvignon blanc. The service was an ideal mix of attentive but chilled. The grasses swayed in the sand outside. At one point a lady in a long red dress stood outside to soak in the sunset. As darkness fell candles were lit. We talked of our love for Cornwall and one million other things.

The morning after the tide was right out and we headed to the beach. We had slept so well with the doors open to the sound of the water. Breakfast had at least three tiers for all of us; cereals, homemade granola, sprinkles of dried fruits, dates, eggs, croissants, muffins and fresh fruit. The beach was blissful, the love for the ocean will never leave! However, we had to depart promptly because we had childcare booked in for us. (I know!) We had two hours for ourselves as a couple. Of course, two out of the three children covered in sand were asleep by the time we needed to drop them off and I wanted to check on them once we eventually did drop them off, so alas, we lost half an hour. But I tell you – that hour and a half; we began with a small argument, then we checked and stopped ourselves, before becoming truly honestly relaxed.

We read our books, ate an entire cookie each, discussed ideas and philosophies. Then it was all over. They’d had the best time, we’d been invigorated. Magic.

Onwards for some crafting, a shirobi dying class with Jo in the workshop. My eldest daughter and I attended this workshop and both loved it. We learnt new techniques to create beautiful patterns, including storm shirobi, which formed a print like storm driven rain, or schools of fish swimming in the ocean. We asked questions, discussed ideas and travel. Jo was such an attentive, calm and kind teacher and my daughter was engaged and excited as she learnt from her. The atmosphere was open and inspiring, the fabrics we came home with full of bold deep indigo patterns made by our twists, folds, scrunching and pegs. The rest of the family joined us afterwards for more swimming, followed by a giant waterslide in the garden and park time. We went with a wood fired pizza from the beachside for dinner and had a stack of stories before bed. Charlie and I both fell asleep reading our books – bliss.

Another great sleep with a waves soundtrack – thank you, ocean.

We devoured our breakfasts, played in the park and then I went for a stroll on the beach with a teething baby, while the bigger two went off to play. The weather was murky, stormy, perfect. The tide was out so I explored the beach with the baby in the sling, such life growing from the grey walls; tiny plants, algae and sweet flowers. The sand pristine, the rain lashed against my face and I wrapped my jacket around the now snoozing baby’s legs and put a knitted hat on her.

By the time we walked back up to the hotel, we were both warm and Charlie and I had some more childcare ready… we were off to the spa(!). This time we were prompt, ready and excited.

We sprinted off, got in our robes and waited for our spa host.

There followed an hour in the spa garden. Starting with a scrub, then a warm outside shower, 15 minute sauna, cold bucket, then a 20 minute hot bath/jacuzzi and finishing with an incredible essential oil body scrub and shower. It was idyllic. Before re-entering the world again, we had a warm foot bath waiting for us and a cup of hot berry tea by the fire. Afterwards we lay on a relaxation bed and cherished the moment before changing and having a quick coffee. The children reported that they had a great time once again and so we all felt good. So good! When we told them it was time to check out, they couldn’t believe it was time to go. Neither could we. It felt like we had been at Bedruthan for two weeks, I have absolutely no idea what they do to time at that hotel, but it was both elastic and over quick as a flash.

“We spread peanut butter on our bread with a mussel shell, then we ran away from the waves and had ice-cream!” Ah, back to our real lives. Our last couple of hours spent on the beach, as told by our five-year-old daughter. A water devotee, she made a bold figure in the wind, standing in the incoming ballooning, swooning waves, while the three-year-old squealed with excitement and the baby ran around like a puppy in the sand. We watched the tide and breathed in the space.

She says she wants to go to Bedruthan, “with my family when I’m grown”. I think that means it was pretty special. I’m sure that beating heart of it will still be there too, the multi-faceted dreamy ethos. Sun, sea, sand – relaxation. A chic treat, a true break.