By Rose Shepherd
High summer is full-on family time, when child-oriented hotels really come into their own, especially when rain stops beach play and the kids need other diversions. But, as the early rush for coast and countryside subsides, and we look beyond school holidays, we begin to think of more adult escapes. Here are a few Guide favourites that cater particularly to a grown-up clientele.
The Scarlet in Mawgan Porth, on Cornwall’s rugged north coast, is just such a hotel. While its neighbour and sister venture, Bedruthan Hotel, is entirely family oriented, this clifftop eco sanctuary is a fantastic place to relax and recharge. The natural environment is very present here, with outdoor hot tubs, outdoor natural reed pool and cedar-wood sauna, all within sight and sound of the Atlantic. There is an all-day grazing menu, sophisticated dining, wine tastings, and even the smallest bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with a balcony or grassy terrace.
Some thirty-five miles down the coast is the tourist honeypot of St Ives, once a quiet fishing village, now host to 540,000 day trippers and more than 220,000 staying guests every year. Its charms are obvious, but it’s undeniably crowded, so it’s good to be able to dip in and dip out, retreating to 1930s Boskerris Hotel, to enjoy a cream tea on the terrace with the views over Carbis Bay. Mediterranean-inspired interiors have a fresh, coastal feel. Treatments are available to help you to unwind, and there’s a short, sophisticated dinner menu of local produce. The ambience is relaxed, but proper leisure dress is expected, and they cannot accommodate under-16s.
The over-16s-only rule similarly applies at The Gallivant in Camber, Sussex, across the road from the impressive dunes, with yoga studio, beach yoga sessions and coastal garden. Conceived as ‘a hideaway for grown-ups’, with Hamptons-inspired bedrooms, it is almost next door to Rye Golf Club. There is an imaginative all-day menu, cocktails and beach blankets for ‘drinks in the dunes’; 5.30-6.30 is oyster happy hour, and breakfast is served until 11am if you want a lie in.
Children over 12 are welcome at Gert Bach’s 18th-century thatched country house, Hillside, in Ventnor, but its pristine Scandi-chic interiors and walls hung with abstract art are not a natural habitat for antsy adolescents. The hotel sits above the town, under wooded St Boniface Down, with panoramic sea views. Evening canapés are served with a glass of wine to new arrivals at 6.30 and on other nights, if booked, before light meal options for those guests who choose not to eat out.
An Edwardian country house, Leathes Head Hotel in glorious Borrowdale, with views of fells and grazing Herdwick sheep, accepts no under-15s, though non-residents are welcome in the fine-dining restaurant with its nightly set menu. Dishes are works of culinary art, and vegan, vegetarian and other diets can be catered for. The three-acre gardens are a constant pleasure and a wildlife haven, with sightings of red squirrels and abundant bird varieties. Bustling Keswick, with everything for outdoor activities and adventures, is just four miles away, but walks start from the front door.
In the village of Eglwyswrw, perfect hosts Robert Smith and Arwell Hughes have ingeniously transformed a single-storey wartime hostel into their quite exceptional B&B, Ael y Bryn, for guests aged at least 16. Very popular with our readers, it stands in carefully tended gardens with a wildlife pond and views to the Preseli hills. There are four thoughtfully equipped bedrooms, a guest lounge/music room, library and conservatory. By mutual arrangement, dinner can be served in the beamed dining room, perfect after a day walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. They’re not licensed, but generously charge no corkage if you want to bring wine.
An over-18s policy applies at Plas-Tan-Yr-Allt, Tremadog, Howard Mattingley and Mark White’s intensely characterful B&B, occupying a Georgian villa built by William Madocks, founder of the planned settlement of Tremadog. The landscaped gardens attract an astonishing array of wildlife, and there are stunning views from the veranda to the Rhinog mountains, over the Glaslyn estuary. Among its several claims to fame, the Plas was, for a year, home to Percy Bysshe Shelley, who, aged 20, completed ‘Queen Mab’ here. A four-poster bedroom is named in his honour. An Edwardian cream tea is served in the drawing room, while, at night, it is a ten-minute walk to acclaimed Y Sgwar restaurant in the village.
If you’re seeking profound peace and quiet, Galson Farm Guest House in South Galson on the north-west coast of the Isle of Lewis, offers a perfect escape. Children must be at least 14 to stay here, and would need a feeling for the natural environment, the views of rugged coast and golden beaches. There’s a television room (but no in-room TVs or high-tech wizardry), a quiet room for reading, spectacular sunsets, dark and star-filled skies. At night supper platters can be booked in advance – especially welcome on a Sunday, when local eateries tend to close for the Sabbath.
For more grown-up getaways, see our favourite adult hotels.