The trad seaside town of Bude may not carry the kudos of other Cornish resorts but, for its beautiful beaches and up-and-coming places to eat, drink and shop, we’re calling it as Cornwall’s one to watch
Where to stay in Bude
Bude was once home to Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, the 19th century inventor who created limelight, the stage lighting used in Victorian theatres and from which the expression ‘in the limelight’ is derived. Although Gurney passed away in 1875, his legacy lives on in his quirky castle in the dunes of Summerleaze Beach, which now houses the town’s heritage centre.
There’s lots about Bude that, like the castle, feels wonderfully eccentric – from its tidal lido that attracts perennial sea bathers, to Bude Canal where you can pootle about on a pedalo. However, there’s more to the town than just its charming Victorian vibe and, thanks to a handful of decent beach breaks and stretches of sandy coastline, it now attracts a year-round crowd looking to swerve the hype of coastal hotspots such as Newquay and Padstow.
If it’s a beachside stay you’re after, The Beach at Bude is about as close to Summerleaze Beach as you’ll get. The boutique hotel is housed in a beautiful Victorian building which has been decorated in an attractively minimalist New England style. It’s also got its own restaurant, Elements, which majors on crowd-pleasing contemporary dishes and quality cocktails which can be sipped on its sunny seaside terrace. Another good find is sister venue Bol-y- Maer, a new development of exquisitely styled apartments with an impressive central entrance space, communal indoor pool and views across Crooklets Beach.
More Victorian grandeur can be found at the Falcon Hotel, a charmingly imposing building overlooking the canal. Established in 1798, it’s the oldest coaching house in north Cornwall and also has a good restaurant, Breakwater Brasserie, which specialises in local food. The hotel is pooch-friendly too.
For a very casual surfy vibe, head down the coast to Beach House at Widemouth Bay. The quirky B&B is also home to The Break beach bar. It’s practically on the shore, so you can sneak in a dawn surf or sea swim before tucking into breakfast served with a sandy backdrop.
Where to eat in Bude
Until recently, Bude wasn’t lionised for its culinary opportunities, with Cornish pasties and fish and chips being the staple for hungry beachgoers. Happily, a crop of restaurants and cafes have stepped into the breach and are making the most of the area’s fresh produce. Temple on Gower Terrace is the go-to spot for seasonal small plates such as salt pollack fritters with white asparagus, brown butter and marjoram, and ham hock with celeriac, ginger and sesame. There’s also a very competitively priced set menu of three small-plate starters and a main for £32.
Also in the town centre is Potters, run by husband and wife team Oly and Nikki Clarke (read our review of Potters here). The contemporary evening-only venue centres on quality fine dining without pretension. Menus are super seasonal and feature dishes such as Dartmoor lamb with lyonnaise potato, asparagus and morels. Retain room for pud, they’re top drawer.
For casual eats, La Bocca Pizza Kitchen delivers on its promise of excellent pizza (with gluten-free options available). Its signature La Bocca Nera is made with black dough and topped with mozzarella, tomato, rocket, prosciutto, ricotta and garlic oil.
Hungry vegans should head to Roots Lounge, a cosy little plant-based cafe on Princes Street. Toasties made with squishy bread are filled with the likes of satay sauce and marinated tofu, spinach and mozzarella, and faux pastrami, cheddar, mustard mayo and gherkins.
Other eateries worth checking out include The Beach at Bude and The Break – the latter deals in the likes of platters comprised of scallop and crab thermidor, moules and crevette marinière, and crab claws with nuoc cham, served with garlic bread, aioli and green salad.
Where to drink in Bude
Thanks to its status as a haven for holidaymakers, Bude is flooded with places to grab a coffee and a quick bite. Standing out from the crowd is House of Chaplin on Morwenna Terrace, which is run by Cornish-based artist and speciality coffee aficionado Chaplin. With comfortable leather sofas, dark wooden floors and Chaplin’s art adorning the walls, it offers a cosy retreat from the bustling town centre.
Another top spot for a caffeine fix is The Split Bean on The Wharf. Pick up a flat white from the kiosk and enjoy it quayside while watching the rowing boats and pedalos on the canal.
For something stronger, head to North Coast Wine Lounge. This gorgeous little emporium is abrim with wines and spirits – available in-house by the glass or by the bottle to take home. The shelves are loaded with recommendations and there’s a section dedicated to Cornish tipples, which include Bude Gin and Morvenna Spiced Rum made by the Cornish Distilling Co. Visitors can see the distilling process in action on a tour and tasting session at the distillery at Norton Barton Artisan Food Village, just outside Bude.
Where to shop in Bude
No visit to Bude is complete without a pitstop at Electric Bakery at The Depot, an industrial unit on Kings Hill. Sourdough, gourmet sausage rolls, doughnuts and cinnamon buns are made each morning and can be ordered online or bought in-store. Get there early to bag a table outside and scoff a miso mushroom roll or pastel de nata with a cup of flavour-popping batch brew.
To pick up local produce, check out Bellini’s Deli Kitchen. It’s teeming with quality Cornish and South West produce including organic breads, charcuterie, smoked fish, meats, artisan gin, rum, wines, teas and coffee.
Once appetites are fully satiated, browse the homeware and gift shops of Bude’s town centre. Budeful sells kitsch Art Deco-style prints, bags, mugs and gifts inspired by the town’s surf scene, while Jaunty Seagull on the high street stocks a selection of stunning ceramics and other works by Cornwall and Devon artists.
Take a bouquet of Bude beauty home with you via a visit to Bleujen Florist on Belle Vue. The florist shop is run by four-time RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal winner Erica Tippett and is a find for floral artistry, cool homewares and houseplants.