For anyone looking for the best Cornish experiences, the region has some truly international class places to eat, stay and enjoy quality time. But if we only had one short break to take in the cream of Cornwall, where would we head?
If that seemed like a tough question, one of the best places to look for answers might be the Cornwall Tourism Awards. Impartially judged each year by a team of experts, these accolades celebrate some truly excellent attractions and unique places to stay in Cornwall. This month, Talland Bay Hotel is thrilled to be among the award winners for 2016. We won Silver for Small Hotel of the Year, while our food credentials were also recognized on the shortlist for Best Restaurant/ Bistro of the Year.
Besides the individual awards however, it's fair to say that the bar has been lofted higher than ever throughout Cornwall, because as well as the beautiful scenery the region has always been famous for we now have some of the best attractions and activities in the UK. Hence this month we thought we would ask the million dollar question: If we only had two or three days to explore Cornwall, where would we choose to eat, explore and enjoy? Here is our award-winning itinerary for a two or three day stay in Cornwall:
Day One: East Cornwall
AM: Just over the border and a stone's throw from the Tamar Bridge, South East Cornwall is a natural starting point for any Cornish mini break. You could go on any number of tours or cruises here, but a wholly more adventurous answer is to take a guided walk or paddle, such as that offered by 2016 award nominee Encounter Cornwall. Whether you delve into quiet salt creeks in search of wildlife, or some of Cornwall’s more iconic coastal locations, the tours are active, eco-friendly and fascinating. Don't be too surprised if you meet an otter, a leaping salmon or local seals!
Adventure kayak sessions are a fantastic way to get closer to wild Cornwall (Image: Encounter Cornwall Facebook Page)
Should that sound like too much hard work though, you could always opt for a leisurely stroll at Gold Award winners National Trust Lanhydrock, who have beautiful statley spaces and great heritage. Or for a more high-tech way to get around, 2016 nominees Adventure Segway offer ideal starter sessions and some fabulously scenic places to explore on two wheels.
LUNCH: Why not stop off in Looe for a bite? It’s a great Cornish food destination, with many past and present award winners. Our recent eating out in Looe blog has stacks of great ideas and several previous award winners. To cut a long story short, the town is awash with great gastro pubs, restaurants and cafes, many of which get their produce daily and direct from local fishermen and farmers.
PM: Whether you fancy a stroll in the garden or some animal antics, there are some highly recommended outdoor attractions to discover for an afternoon excursion. For some glorious greenery with twists, turns and some genuine surprises, The Lost Gardens of Heligan (nominated for Large Attraction of the Year) are a treat at any time of year! A favourite among locals and visitors alike, this is one of those must see places to visit in Cornwall that truly breaks the mold.
Open space and surprises galore at Heligan (Picture: Official Facebook Page)
For a spot of pure monkey business, on the other hand, Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary (Silver winners in the Sustainable Tourism category, Bronze in Wildlife Friendly Tourism) is another good shout. The park is always an enjoyable day out, firmly putting rescue, rehabilitation and the animals themselves first. Forget dull concrete enclosures; sensitive, stimulating layouts would be certain winners if the monkeys were judging this year’s awards!
EVENING: For excellent cuisine and epic views across our sculpture garden and the Cornish coast beyond, why not stop with us at The Talland Bay Hotel & Restaurant for the evening? We guarantee there will be nothing average about your stay here. With our restaurant in the awards again, every dish on the menu is a statement and no two rooms are quite the same, with eccentric twists and art treasures galore. But while it is always great to be recognized with awards, we would love you to come and judge for yourselves.
Fresh, inventive dining at Talland Bay Hotel (image: Official Facebook page/ Florina Staicu)
Day Two: West Cornwall
After an excellent breakfast at the hotel, it’s time to venture deeper into Cornwall for further outstanding experiences. Heading west, Falmouth (below) and the surrounding area is always a great option, with a revealingly high number of winners and shortlisted candidates in the 2016 awards.
AM: For the adventurous and young at heart, Active and Sporting Experience Award nominees Kernow Adventure Park offer fresh air and, for the brave, a dose of adrenaline, with activities such as wake boarding and assault courses. If that sounds a little too high octane though, there is also plenty to enjoy on a potter around the town, including the wonderful National Maritime Museum.
LUNCH: Stuff the soggy fish and chips for lunch, because West Cornwall has various headline places to eat that are anything but bog standard. The Waymarker, also near Falmouth, is another Cornish award winner in 2016, scooping a Gold Award for Café and Tearoom of the Year. Bistro style dishes such as their terrific Seafood Platter and Waymarker Signature Salad are bound to please the palate, while desserts such as homemade Pavlova are to die for.
Clever Trebah: the gardens are both beautiful and well thought out for the visitor (Image: Trebah Garden Facebook page)
PM:Trebah Garden is another of those must-see attractions in Cornwall, scooping not one but two award nominations this year and grabbing first place for International Visitor Experience. This is not just a perfect place to walk off lunch, but so much more than a typical stately garden. The collection of plants alone is stunning, but then so are the private beach, shops and Amphitheatre, while the tours are also exceptional. Now you mention it, you could always stay for an evening drama on the stage and a bite to eat?
Day Three: North Cornwall
Renowned for superb surfing beaches and lively festivals, the wild appeal of Cornwall’s idyllic Atlantic Coast is now also matched with some wonderfully original attractions and favourite foodie haunts. The only tricky part of venturing north might be picking between a heck of a lot of award winners.
AM: You could choose either natural or manmade beauty to start your day out, depending on your mood. Award-shortlisted Lappa Valley Steam Railway and Leisure Park is one of the best family days out in the area, with lots to do, including nostalgic train rides and a top notch crazy golf course. Or, if you fancy an experience to take you under the waves, why not “nip” down to the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow, Silver Award winners in the Small Attraction of the Year category. If marine wildlife is your thing, the "behind the scenes" tours come especially recommended. The only drawback is that you might not fancy lobster for tea later that day- it is certianly a place to educate as well as entertain.
Why not nip down to Padstow and see some marine life? (Image: National Lobster Hatchery Facebook Page)
Lunch: Padstow’s Rest A While Tea Garden is another award nominee this year that has the lunch and afternoon brew experience, well, down to a tee for want of a better expression. Or if you fancy some fine dining and excellent seafood, Rick Stein’s restaurants and bistros are another obvious choice. Talking of which, Rick Stein’s Cookery School claims top spot in this year’s Artistic, Cultural and Learning Experience category, with some fantastic short courses and workshops for anyone looking to come away with new skills besides great memories of Cornwall.
Tintagel has a mystery and craggy magic all of its own.
PM: Where to go next in North Cornwall might depend on whether you want further activity or a complete breather. Should you be feeling adventurous, award-nominated Tintagel Castle is an epic site to enjoy, with inspiring views and a heady cocktail of history and folklore. Should your feet be starting to ache at any point though, you could always take a trip to one of Cornwall’s top pampering experiences. The Headland Spa in Newquay is no stranger to awards and scoops yet another prize this year with Silver in the Spa and Wellbeing category. With some fantastic and innovative treatments to revive spirits and delight the senses, it comes as little surprise. The hotel itself is also an iconic, inspiring place to stay, claiming Silver in the Hotel of the Year category.
Enjoy the Best in Cornish Luxury Breaks
Looking to enjoy Cornwall at its unique best? With a stunning seaview location, delightfully quirky grounds and the very finest in Cornish food and hospitality, Talland Bay Hotel is the perfect location to escape and unwind all year round. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and special offers section, besides this blog, for the latest news, events, hotel deals and more to inspire your next escape to Cornwall.