Stay The Night: Natural Retreats, Fistral Beach
The town may be overrun by mankini-clad Borats, but this coast still offers scenic solitude and rolling surf, says Emily Dugan
Emily Dugan is Social Affairs Editor for The Independent, i and Independent on Sunday. She was previously a news reporter for The Independent on Sunday. Her investigations into human trafficking have twice been awarded Best Investigative Article at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards and her human rights journalism was shortlisted for the Gaby Rado Memorial prize at the 2012 Amnesty Media Awards. Emily is on sabbatical until March 2015
Sunday 19 February 2012
With its town centre increasingly dominated by rowdy clubs, pubs and rabbles of Borat-themed stag parties, it is hard to believe you are still in Newquay when you arrive at Natural Retreats.
These glossy apartments overlook a grassy headland on the Pentire Peninsula above Fistral Beach – home to the hollow, reliable waves that have made this Britain's surf capital. Here the wetsuit – not the mankini – is still the outfit of choice.
At this far-western side of the town you can escape the hubbub and enjoy the things that Newquay first lured visitors with: rugged beaches, beautiful views and great surf. Natural Retreats is one of a growing number of houses, holiday lets and hotels to spring up recently in this area, making the most of the town's surfing boom. But unlike many of the more budget-focused options, Natural Retreats sets its sights high.
The residences are so well kitted-out that you could arrive with just your clothes and you'd still be ready for action. Guests are assigned their own "beach hut" in the gated car park, stocked with body boards, buckets and spades, a cricket set and space for your own surf kit, so you don't have to lug it inside. The beach is just a two-minute walk away and keys can be stored in a coded pod next to your door to save leaving them on the sand.
Even if you only want to look at the surf, this is a great spot – all residences have their own balcony or garden space where you can sit, relax and watch the sun set over the sea.
Modern, and finished to a very high spec, the residences – which range from shiny new three- and four-bedroom houses, to one- and two-bed single-storey apartments – are resplendent in wood, glass and chrome. My only criticism is that you might want something a bit more rustic in this seaside location. Not that you're likely to complain. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of the incredible views and if rain is lashing down outside, the enormous flatscreen TV, Wi-Fi and iPod dock should keep you entertained.
The open-plan living space sports high ceilings and spot lighting that both add to the airy feel. A large L-shaped leather sofa in the bigger apartments gives enough room for everyone to sit comfortably, even if you have filled every room.
Most of the double rooms have en-suite bathrooms, with Temple Spa toiletries. Beds decked out in Egyptian cotton can be configured as twins or doubles, and some children's rooms have bunk beds. Each residence has a washer and dryer, as well as a walk-in airing cupboard – ideal for drying beach- (or rain-) sodden clothes.
The Food and Drink
There are probably professional chefs working in less-well-equipped kitchens than these (larger apartments boast two ovens, while dishwashers come as standard). Meanwhile, the excellent Bodhi's café (01637 850793; bodhisfistral.co.uk) is just below, on the steps to Fistral beach. Thick milkshakes and locally sourced ingredients are served here with blankets on standby for anyone who has the shivers after a day in the damp. The best of the town-centre restaurants is the New Harbour (01637 874062; finns2go.com), which specialises in fresh fish.
A concierge at the main desk is ready to sort out any activities, from surfing to golf and board games. Surf lessons are booked with the Escape Surf School, which promises to have you standing after one session. Single lessons start at £30 per person, with a package of three lessons for £65. If you fancy venturing further out to sea, Spirit of Cornwall comes highly recommended, with a fishing trip on its friendly boat, Baloo, from £12 per person.
Babysitting, travel cots, highchairs and sterilisers are available on request. Each residence comes with a private parking space, and a ramp leads from the car park to the back entrance and the lifts, making the complex accessible for guests with disabilities.
A seven-night stay in a one-bedroom residence starts at £340, rising to £560 for a four-bedroom residence. Three-night breaks start at £220.
Natural Retreats, Fistral Beach, Lighthouse, 4 Pentire Avenue, Newquay, Cornwall TR7 1FB (0161 242 2970; naturalretreats.com).
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