The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West

Moroccan interiors, Mediterranean ingredients and Californian surf culture add international appeal to this iconic Cornish hotel, writes Kathryn Lewis

What’s the draw?

Waking up to the best ocean views in Cornwall – possibly even the country. Many of the rooms at Watergate Bay Hotel overlook the popular surf spot after which it’s named, yet the seascapes from its beach lofts are nothing short of incredible.

The seven spacious suites, located near the main hotel building and mere feet from the sand, make the most of their unrivalled location with vast windows that open so guests can feel the sea spray on their skin.

Each is individual in style yet harmoniously in tune with the general Moroccan‑surf‑shack‑chic vibe. Alongside gorgeous fabrics and statement furnishings, each suite is kitted out with contemporary mod cons such as a huge Apple TV – although unlikely to be watched while surfers in the swell provide rolling entertainment.

A shared pantry stocked with complimentary filter coffee, speciality teas, fresh fruit, cakes and olives, as well as chilled wine, beer and spirits (paid for via an honesty box), mean loft guests don’t have to venture far for drinks and snacks with which to toast the glorious sunsets.

Who’s cooking?

Executive chef Neil Haydock has overseen the hotel’s three restaurants – Zacry’s, The Living Space and The Beach Hut – for over a decade. Prior to his appointment, he worked at Michelin‑rated restaurants in London and South Africa, and was executive chef of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall when it launched in 2005.

What to order?

The most formal of the three dining experiences, Zacry’s still bears the breezy beachside ambience that flows through the hotel, but wears it with a spritz more glamour.

Though rooted in Cornwall, its menu takes inspiration from coastal cuisines around the world. There’s a strong showing of flavours from the Mediterranean and India, with a peppering of non‑native ingredients like papaya, shimeji mushrooms and sea agretti.

We started with octopus, its coiling tentacle lightly charred and presented on a deliciously rich and sweet morcilla‑laced tomato sauce. Tiny crisp squares of potato contributed crunch to contrast the meat’s springy texture, while a drizzle of chlorophyll‑green persillade dressing added vibrancy.

A section of the menu is reserved for plant‑based dishes, from which we sampled the naturally sweet roasted parsnips with blue‑cheese crumb, tart apple matchsticks and tangy zhoug dressing.

For mains, a generous pork T‑bone steak was crowned with a giant shard of crackling and fresh herb‑forward fennel salsa, its side of ‘nduja maccheroni a triple threat of creamy, cheesy and spicy.

Monkfish in a light Indian‑spiced batter was equally comforting. A tomato‑forward bhuna sauce and fresh papaya slaw provided beautifully light pairings for the meaty fish.

Food’s tip

From the end of April, a new Emily Scott Getaway at Watergate Bay Hotel will give gourmets the opportunity to stay at the iconic hotel and dine at chef Emily Scott’s restaurant overlooking the beach. The two‑night break starts from £278 per person (based on two sharing) and includes a six‑course seafood feast.

Churchill Recreate
Indy Cafe Cookbook Volume 2
South West 660
More reviews

Most read

Churchill Recreate
Churchill Recreate

Don't miss a thing

Get the lowdown on our latest finds – from boutique hotels and special places to stay to events, restaurant openings and more – delivered direct to your inbox via the Food Lifestyle email newsletter.