Best for family breaks: Cornwall

From high-level trekking in Morocco's Atlas Mountains to rubbing shoulders with A-listers on Hollywood Boulevard, and from rural retreats off Tuscany's beaten track to jet-set hang outs for Moscow's super-rich, our writers have been to the ends of the earth to find a world of inspiration

"You know how much that went for last year?" I've just walked up from Polzeath beach after building sandcastles with my two-year-old daughter Lily as the temperature plunged to -6C, and an amateur property consultant is pointing to a Masters of the Universe villa overlooking the bay. "I don't," I reply, shuffling to keep warm. "£1.8m." I exhale appreciatively. "Lot of money round here." There's not much of it on show today but, with its near neighbour Rock, this rugged corner of north Cornwall is the Chelsea crowd's favourite summer-season hangout. And that's exactly why on a crystal clear January day, in England, it's the best place in the world to be. Yes, it was so cold that I had to break through the frozen crust of the sand with a plastic spade as the wind whipped off the Atlantic, but there were no braying hordes spoiling the views up the Camel estuary or jamming the single-track roads with their 4x4s. We had the place to ourselves, and you can't buy that.

Thanks to its exposed coastline, the swell on this stretch of coastline is the best in the country for surfing. And a few miles south in Watergate Bay the wet-suited loons weren't going to let something as trivial as the weather spoil their fun. We had the best seat in the house to watch the tiny black figures being sucked beneath the briny and occasionally even standing up on their boards: cosied up in the corner window seat of the glass box that runs the length of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant, we were overlooking the bay (and the 10ft-high "Lily" we'd written in the sand below). The locally sourced Italian-themed food was a triumph: flavour-packed lentil and bacon soup, the sweetest crab rarebit, peppery olive oil. Though if you're a two-year-old, the ice-cream course and the balloon-shaped lights are the only things you really care about.

We were staying at Retallack Resort, about six miles inland from Padstow, incongruously next to the American theme park Spirit of the West ("Don't miss it, pardner"). The 52-acre site is owned by the husband-and-wife team of Amy Tucker Brown and Jason Keyter, she a property developer and he an ex-rugby union professional. Their passion for the place really shows through: the lodges are meticulously kitted out, so sparkly clean it feels as if you're the first visitor. There are vast sofas that you can lounge around on (or spend hours jumping on), king-size beds, even a hot tub. And their green credentials are good: an industrial estate 400 yards away fabricates the timber frames of the lodges, and they're superbly insulated, making the prospect of returning to a draughty Victorian terrace all the more uninviting. Glamour and self-catering don't usually feature in the same sentence but when the accommodation is this good it's the perfect family getaway.

There's an indoor swimming pool with a separate children's paddling pool (a big favourite), a sauna and steam room and all the usual spa treatments (the hot stone massage was otherworldly). In season there's a Kids Club. And, despite the economic gloom, they're expanding, and even have plans to build an indoor artificial surfing centre.

Retallack is just short drive away from the Eden Project, which Lily loved – although trying to explain how you can be inside and outside at the same time proved a bridge too far. And, we kidded ourselves, it offers a brief taste of that tropical holiday. With a fraction of the carbon footprint.

All of which left a little time for a stroll around Padstow and more gastrotourism with a diner lunch at Custard – deliciously light black pudding with poached eggs, and lovely child-friendly staff. And it's difficult to come to this fishing town and not part with money at one (or two) of Rick Stein's many emporia: I made a trip one evening for a takeaway from his Fish and Chip shop: battered sea bream and chips, scallops, tiger prawns and mushy peas, which we ate back at the lodge. Not a bad end to the day.

Retallack Resort, St Columb Major, Cornwall TR9 6DE (01637 882400, retallackresort.com)

Kids' stuff

* Feather Down Farms are a child's, and parent's, dream. Superb locations, animals to pal up with and tents that give camping a good name. New for this year: Higher Lank, a working Somerset farm spread over three valleys. 01420 80804; featherdown farm.co.uk

* Set in around 7,000 acres of prime Perthshire, Kinnard Estate offers nature walks for children along with mushroom picking and fishing followed by a catch of the day cook-up with the chef. Book through Original Travel Kids. 020-7978 7333; originaltravel.co.uk/kids

* The original luxury family hotel Woolley Grange near Bath offers everything you need to keep the kids happy – trampoline, games rooms, heated outdoor pool, a dog (Peanut) for walking plus a great creche and child-friendly restaurant. 01225 864705; woolleygrangehotel.co.uk

* With four locations, each offering a long list of hearty activities amid hundreds of acres of cycle-friendly woodland, CenterParcs is great for children of all ages. Best of all are the flumes, slides and whirlpools of the Subtropical Swimming Paradise. Centerparcs.co.uk

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'