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Best affordable hotels in Cornwall 2023: Where to stay for a budget beach break

From boutique boltholes to cosy B&Bs, these Cornwall hotels offer great value for money

Oliver Berry
Friday 23 June 2023 12:16 BST
<p>Enjoy beautiful views on a budget in Mousehole</p>

Enjoy beautiful views on a budget in Mousehole

Let’s not beat around the gorse bush, Cornwall, like the rest of England, really isn’t cheap any more, especially if you’re dead set on visiting during the peak months from June to August. In fact, you’ll be very hard pushed to find a hotel room for less than £150 a night during high season, and even B&Bs (and many camping and glamping sites) have a nasty habit of hiking their rates up substantially to take advantage of the summer traffic.

The real key to cutting costs is to visit at quieter times of year. There are often good deals to be had in the shoulder months, especially around April, September and October, when weather in Cornwall can still be surprisingly pleasant – and you’re more likely to avoid the crowds.

Another option is to forgo that sea view: nearly all hotels charge a hefty premium for the privilege of being able to see the sea from your bed, and doing without the view is an excellent way of keeping down costs.

Best for value: Venton Vean

Location: Penzance

This smart Victorian villa offers one of the best breakfasts in Cornwall

This has to be one of the best-value B&Bs anywhere in Cornwall, no matter what time of year you visit. Even during peak season, rooms at this smart Victorian villa cost less than £130 a night, and usually they’re a good deal less than that. Rest assured you’re certainly not skimping on style: all five rooms have been handsomely decorated in slate blues and steel greys, with minimal clutter and carefully chosen bits of mid-century furniture that make it feel more like a boutique hotel than a B&B. Breakfast is a treat, too, with homemade jams, breads and granola, and unusual options such as a masala omelette or Turkish cilbir eggs. You’re right in the middle of characterful Penzance, with local sights such as the Penlee House Gallery, The Exchange, Tremenheere Sculpture Garden and the town’s fantastic outdoor lido, the Jubilee Pool, all within easy reach. If only all B&Bs could be this brilliant.

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Best for quirkiness: Lower Barns

Location: St Austell

Eccentric style and colourful fabrics make for a fun atmosphere at Lower Barns

What fun this quirky little spot is: eclectic and decidedly eccentric, with a colourful mish-mash of rooms furnished with four-poster beds, cowskin rugs, madcap fabrics, handmade furniture and all manner of jumble shop finds – from an antique chandelier to reclaimed saloon doors. The Nook and Cranny Suites have their own private patios and bubbly hot tubs, while the Hideaway has a freestanding tub. Owners Janie and Mike are welcoming hosts with loads of tips on local things to see and do – and they also serve up nightly suppers in The Shack, a cosy garden space bedecked with fairy lights and candles. There’s a two-night minimum stay requirement in summer.

Best for river views: Havener’s

Location: Fowey

Havener’s is a bistro with quaint rooms in the cente of Fowey

Finding anywhere to stay in Fowey on a budget is a challenge at the best of times, but this little bistro-with-rooms in the middle of town is about as close to a bargain as you’ll get. It has a lovely location on Town Quay, from where boats depart along the river throughout the summer, and several of the rooms overlook the Fowey River – although you’ll pay a premium for those, so opting for a town view is the better budget option. Food and drink here is good too: Havener’s belongs to St Austell Brewery, which now own loads of pubs and inns all over Cornwall. They also brew Cornwall’s most popular ale: Tribute.

Best hotel for a clifftop aspect: Polurrian on the Lizard

Location: The Lizard

Polurrian on the Lizard enjoys a clifftop location

This hotel on the edge of Mullion offers that most rare of Cornish qualities: a sea-view that won’t cost you a second mortgage. Even in July, you could still bag an inland view room for £189, or a sea view for £219 – not bargain basement by any means, but decidedly good value, compared with many Cornish hotels, and it’s cheaper still if you decide to come in spring or autumn. Apart from the sensible prices, the hotel has plenty to recommend it: a great indoor heated pool, a pleasant restaurant, plenty of activities and room configurations for families and, of course, a super location on the western edge of the Lizard peninsula, with easy access to nearby beaches and beauty spots, including Kynance Cove and Lizard Point.

Best hotel for a treat: Merchants Manor

Location: Falmouth

Merchants Manor offers luxury on a budget with a spa and hot tubs

This smart town hotel sits halfway between Falmouth’s lively centre and the popular local beaches of Gyllyngvase and Swanpool. It’s had a comprehensive refit and now looks a lot more contemporary – lighter and brighter throughout, with playful artwork, plush fabrics and leather banquettes creating a much more modern experience. Rooms are split between the original manor and a 20th-century wing, but the most fun rooms are the new timber-clad, self-catering lodges in the grounds, complete with hot tubs and private decks. Throw in lovely gardens, a great spa and a refined three-rosette restaurant, and you have a cracker of a Cornish hotel that’s often available at less than £150 a night, if you choose a basic room and stay midweek. Look out for the Sunday Sleepover deals, which include dinner, bed and breakfast, available year-round.

Best hotel for the beach: Bedruthan Hotel

Location: Newquay

Enjoy Atlantic views from your bed at the Bedruthan hotel

What a corker of a spot this hotel has, overlooking the golden sweep of Mawgan Porth, perhaps the grandest of all the beaches around Newquay. From the outside, it looks underwhelming – a breeze-block affair built in the late 1950s – but, inside, it’s been imaginatively renovated, with a fun, colourful, pop-art-influenced interior that makes creative use of the original open-plan layout, and really maximises the Atlantic views, with yards and yards of glass. It’s set out over multiple levels, with clifftop terraced gardens to explore, and has excellent facilities for families, including craft workshops, activity sessions, a great pool and a spa. Obviously, the cheapest rooms here don’t face the sea – but you can have all the views you want downstairs in the bar, lounge or the newly revamped Ogo restaurant. If you’re flexible on dates, you can often bag a great deal.

Best for style: Highcliffe

Location: Falmouth

Shabby chic and upcycled furniture create homely vibes

Another beauty of a B&B, Highcliffe sits right in the Falmouth hotspot – equidistant from town and beaches. It’s been elegantly decorated with an eye for shabby chic – upcycled furniture, statement wallpapers, vintage angle-poise lamps, fluffy sheepskin rugs and potted plants fill each of the eight rooms, several of which offer views towards Pendennis Castle and the sea. The Penthouse Suite has skylights. The only sticking point here is rates don’t include breakfast: instead there’s a 20 per cent discount at the owners’ harbourside restaurant, IndiDog, so you’ll need to factor that in to your budget considerations.

Best for the moor: St Tudy Inn

Location: Bodmin Moor

Four fresh, light and airy rooms reside in a converted barn next to the main inn

One option to reign in costs is to skip the pricey coast altogether and head inland to Cornwall’s own backyard wilderness: the wild, windswept expanse of Bodmin Moor. This renowned dining pub is located in the lovely moorland village of St Tudy, not far from its charming medieval church. The inn was previously run by top local chef Emily Scott, but is now under new ownership. The 17th-century building has plenty of historic appeal – all beams and slate flagstones – and the four rooms are cosy and comfortable, in a separate converted barn next to the main inn. Needless to say, dinner is a highlight here.

Best for nightlife: The Beach House B&B

Location: Bude

Find cheery colours and repurposed furniture at this comfortable B&B

This beachside bar-and-bistro sits on the edge of Widemouth Bay, one of the biggest beaches within reach of Bude. It also offers a selection of light, attractive, not-too-pricey rooms, several of which share access to a brick balcony looking out onto the garden and the bay beyond. The style is definitely shabby-chic rather than coastal luxe, but the cheery colours and repurposed furniture lend it a bit more charm than you might initially expect on first view. It’s a popular spot for sundowners and food, though, so noise might be an issue on busy nights.

Best for a classic Cornish inn: The Ship Inn

Location: Mousehole

The Ship Inn offers affordable rooms in one of Cornwall’s most popular villages

Another St Austell Brewery-owned pub, this time situated beside the granite quayside of Mousehole, quite possibly Cornwall’s prettiest (and certainly one of its most popular) seaside villages. The Ship is an institution in the village: it’s the spiritual home of stargazy pie, the traditional pilchard pie that’s eaten on 23 December. For the rest of the year, it’s just a sublime seaside pub: full of maritime charm, with attractive, renovated rooms that won’t break the bank, if you don’t mind forsaking the sea view. The big drawback here is the lack of parking: don’t even think of trying to drive into Mousehole in summer unless you’re a masochist. Just leave your car on the edge of the village and walk. Trust us, you’ll be thankful you did.

Best hotel for a night in the city: Mannings

Location: Truro

The Grade II-listed Mannings Hotel is located in the centre of Truro

In the centre of Truro, at the bottom of the grand Georgian thoroughfare of Lemon St, this Grade II-listed, city-centre hotel is a favourite with business travellers but it also makes a very practical place to stay, with a good choice of standard rooms that rarely creep above £150, and nine self-catering apartments for just over £200. True, the décor is a little basic, but you’re well placed for exploring Cornwall’s little city, including its early 20th-century cathedral and the recently revamped Hall for Cornwall, a few steps away on Lemon Quay. There’s also a popular restaurant on the ground floor.

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