Right, let’s deal with the obvious point as soon as possible. Cornwall – it’s a long way away.
The jetsetters among you may already be mocking this assertion and, granted, we’re not exactly talking long-haul distances here.
But travelling by car from Yorkshire all the way down to this particular destination still takes the best part of six or seven hours.
And, with a fractious 40-year-old husband in the passenger seat, believe me, that journey can seem an awful lot longer.
The good news is, of course, that Cornwall is well worth the wait.
Stunning beaches, beautiful countryside and wonderful hotels abound.
And among the very clotted cream of the crop is St Moritz, which nestles on its own private stretch of Cornwall’s beautiful and rugged coast.
This Art Deco-styled bolthole can be found twixt beautiful Polzeath – a surfers’ paradise – and transfixing Daymer Bay, which is just a short stroll from the hotel’s ‘backyard’. By backyard, I mean its stunning outdoor swimming pool area which comes complete with fashionable beach huts and top-class restaurant.
Despite the ‘are we nearly there yet’ utterances from the aforementioned passenger, we made good time to our destination and were parked up right on Polzeath’s beach just as the sun made a welcome appearance. A quick paddle and an obligatory pasty and we were already in holiday mode.
From Polzeath it’s a short hop to the hotel proper and our ground floor apartment. The hotel is made up of a mixture of traditional – yet state-of-the-art – hotel rooms, coupled with apartments and privately-owned villa-style properties which the St Moritz manages and lets out on the owners’ behalf. So whether you are a couple or a family of 10, there is stylish, relaxing accommodation to suit your every need.
Our apartment had a double aspect, with floor to ceiling windows across both the lounge and the bedroom. This was to be our home for the next five days but with every amenity we could possibly need, we could have stayed a month – or indeed, forever.
The rooms and apartments are set away from the main hotel building which is the hub of the development with its first-rate restaurant and its indoor leisure facilities, topped off with its Cowshed luxury spa, which, by itself, brings visitors from miles around.
It has an upmarket, but not stuffy feel and the clientele is mixed – ranging from couples on romantic getaways to young families with children (the tiny Wellingon boots and fishing nets to be found in the foyer are testament to the warm welcome families are given) and a fair share of older couples.
Our first night was low-key – a beautiful meal in the first floor restaurant, under the helm of head chef Jamie Porter, and a few glasses of wine and we were ready for our very comfortable bed. Waking up in the morning to the scent of sea air, we were ready to explore more of what North Cornwall has to offer.
Just a short drive away – and unless you are prepared to wait for the leisurely local bus service, you will need a car – is the breathtaking village of Port Isaac. Fans of TV’s Doc Marten will recognise this picturesque spot as the setting for most of the scenes in the programme. Parking at the top of the village, a short amble takes us down into the heart of the community, with its higgledy-piggledy shops, pubs and seafood restaurants. With one every few steps, visitors here really are spoiled for choice. With the tide out, we took a stroll on the sand, exploring the temporarily-beached fishing boats and poking about in rock-pools. There’s a small fish market to browse and sample that day’s catch – and, if you like, take something home for tea. The local sardines are, of course, as fresh as they come.
Within easy driving distance, you’ll also find the tourist haunt of Newquay, which while it lacks the charm of its more upmarket neighbours, certainly has a character of its own. It’s here where students, surfers – and Australians – flock. And it’s easy to see why; Fistral Beach is nothing short of spectacular, deep and broad as it is with its yellow sand and crashing waves.
Just up from Newquay is Watergate Bay, where Jamie Oliver has one of his famous 15 restaurants, with a position, directly on this most gorgeous stretch of the coast, that is something to behold.
No visit to North Cornwall would, of course, be complete without dropping into Padstow – or Padstein as it is known around these parts for its myriad links to the TV chef Rick Stein. Stein owns so many of the properties in this most scenic of seaside towns that it is hard to take more than a few steps without patronising one of his businesses; from the deli and the ‘fish and chip shop’ at the harbour to his highly-rated Seafood restaurant and hotel. His ‘takeover’ has certainly had its critics locally, but there’s no doubt he has revitalised the town and brought a whole new swathe of visitors that the whole area has benefited from. From Padstow, you can also catch the local ferry service back to the celebrity enclave of Rock, and when the tide is right, on to Daymer Bay – it drops its passengers conveniently right on the sands behind the St Moritz.
It’s hard to think of a better spot to return to after a day spent exploring the delights of Cornwall. This place definitely merits the drive – as even my husband seemed to agree...
St Moritz Hotel can be found at Trebetherick, Wadebridge, Cornwall, PL27 6SD.
For bookings go to www.stmoritzhotel.co.uk or call 01208 862242.
During February, the hotel is running a Month of Love offer with romantic breaks for couples starting from £199 including champagne and chocolates.
To find out more go to the www.stmoritzhotel.co.uk/valentines-break-in-cornwall web page.