White‑sand beaches and a world‑class art gallery along with boutique hotels, restaurants and wine bars create a landscape for a culture‑rich staycation. Selena Young discovers some hospitality masterpieces worth checking out
Where to stay in St Ives
Those who pick a hotel based on the number of exciting facilities it provides will love Carbis Bay Estate. The G7‑hosting hotel features the full complement of bells and whistles, including a private 25‑acre beach, luxury spa, smorgasbord of quality dining options, and accommodation that ranges from suites to beach houses and coastal cottages.
Another resort delivering plenty of things to do is Una St Ives, set in countryside on the edge of town. Book one of its contemporary villas or lodges to unwind in Scandi‑styled rooms, dine alfresco on the terrace and bubble away your stresses in your private hot tub. Additional perks include poolside drinks and laps in the heated outdoor pool followed by slices of wood‑fired pizza at Una Kitchen.
If swimming pools don’t appeal but interior‑mag‑worthy aesthetics do, Harbour View House will tick the box. Sweeping vistas of St Ives’ glittering harbour provide splashes of azure beyond the interiors’ muted palette of white and tan. Don’t miss the chance to visit its cafe, which morphs from brunch spot to bar depending on the time of day. Morning visits deliver brunch burritos and Origin coffee, while evenings are all about the tacos, charcuterie and cocktails (its bartenders make a mean Mezcalita).
Fans of the luxe home‑from‑home vibe should check out Host St Ives. The converted Victorian bank features two open‑plan suites with exposed‑stone walls, roll‑top tubs and log burners. Local artwork decorates the walls, while views over Tregenna Hill contribute further visual thrills as you curl up in a king‑size bed. Downstairs, wood‑fired pizza and cocktails await.
If you’re visiting with the family in tow, consider an escape to Tregenna Castle, situated just out of the hubbub on Trelyon Avenue. An abundance of amenities, space and attractive accommodation makes it an ideal base for a multi‑generational getaway.
Just round the corner on beautiful Porthminster Beach is Harbour Hotel. The St Ives outpost of this smart hotel group is a stylish choice for those who want to eat, drink, sleep and spa in an incredible setting.
Where to eat in St Ives
St Ives may be small but it carries clout on the UK culinary map, so booking tables in advance of your trip is essential. Ugly Butterfly Restaurant and Bar is one of the must‑dos. Sustainability and zero waste form the crux of the Great British Menu champion of champions Adam Handling’s seasonal menus. Choose between the five‑ and seven‑course versions for attractive and creative compilations such as scallops, squash and chilli, and guinea fowl, wild garlic and lemon thyme.
Also at Carbis Bay, but on beach level, is Walter’s On The Beach. Pay a visit to experience glamour and theatre via moody lighting, intricate dishes and cool cocktails.
Closer to town is a collection of beachside eateries delivering quality coastal dining throughout the day. Porthmeor Beach Cafe is a casual spot where you can rock up in sandy linen and tuck into tapas. If you want to dine alfresco but there’s a breeze, request one of its heated outdoor pods – it’s easier to appreciate a plate of saffron arancini, crushed peas and whipped feta when you’re not chasing a flying napkin.
Head towards the west end of Porthmeor Beach for laid‑back‑yet‑elevated seafood scoffing at The Fish Shed. Sustainably caught seafood takes a starring role in fuss‑free dishes from chef‑owner Fraser Bruce and team.
On the opposite side of the headland, contemporary bistro Porthminster Kitchen delivers knockout seafood dishes against a live‑action view of the town’s bustling harbour. Visit for beautifully executed classics such as freshly grilled fish, and seafood linguine with crab, mussels, prawns, lemon and chilli.
For a next‑level brunch bag a table at Source Kitchen, which lures late‑risers for mid‑morning Mimosas and handmade flatbreads piled with labneh, chilli jam and coriander. The main draw, however, is the menu of small plates which is frequently switched up to reflect what’s fresh from the local larder. Tussle with your dining companions for the last bite of the likes of grilled radicchio, kale, blood orange and hazelnut, and roasted Cornish potatoes with mojo verde.
If you’re planning just one special dinner out, let public opinion sway you and head to intimate harbourside restaurant One Fish Street, recently voted Best Restaurant in the Food Reader Awards 2023. Its eight‑course tasting menu is designed around the local catch and features dishes such as monkfish with masala sauce and smoked yogurt. Curated wine pairings provide the opportunity to sample organic and biodynamic drops from small vineyards.
Where to drink in St Ives
Good days begin with good coffee, and a belter of a brew is guaranteed at Yallah. Look for the blue harbourside kiosk for a ‘spro to go, or head inside the cafe to explore the range of own‑roasted single‑origin coffees in more depth.
Another indie cafe deserving of attention is The Yellow Canary Cafe on Fore Street. Visit for Origin‑roasted coffee and stick around for fresh cinnamon buns and pastries.
Neighbourhood bar and bottle shop Little Palais is the place to be when the sun dips below the horizon, as that’s when corks are pulled on natural wine bottles and the vinyl set spinning. The bijou bar operates a walk‑in‑only set‑up for those looking to explore its new‑wave wine list and off‑piste cocktails. The Fifth – a spin on a Dirty Martini and comprising house‑made gin, fermented mango, honey, chilli and salt – is a great call.
Further fun awaits at St Eia. The backstreet wine bar, bistro and store features a daily changing list of wines by the glass plus an extensive selection of unusual finds. The line‑up of ingredient‑led small plates provides great grazing material to offset the alcohol.
Silco Bar + Kitchen is just the spot for kicking back with a local beer or craft G&T after a day of shopping or coastal adventuring. Perch on one of the outdoor benches or settle indoors and let experienced staff guide you through the crowd‑pleasing food and drink menu.
Where to shop in St Ives
St Ives has long been a stimulating place to immerse oneself in the joys of creativity. Discover modern art at Tate St Ives, potter around the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden and admire local artwork at contemporary gallery Livingstone St. Ives.
If you’re feeling inspired by St Ives’ bustling art scene, you can even put paint to paper yourself at St Ives School of Painting. The school has welcomed novices and experienced artists since 1938.
Make time for a little shopping spree at the indie boutiques and lifestyle stores that dot the town. Fawn over cool homeware, kidswear and accessories at Malu Moon, source vintage clothing you don’t need but desperately want (hello vintage tapestry jacket) in Rose Lane, and lust over goodies and gifts at The St. Ives Co. Nearby, The Painted Bird is a good shout for handcrafted homeware and luxurious loungewear.
For a picnic on the beach, swing by St Ives Bakery. Take a backpack as you’ll be unable to leave without your bodyweight’s worth of skyscraper meringues, plump Cornish pasties and loaves of springy focaccia.
And can it be considered a seaside holiday without scoffing an ice cream on the beach? Hunt out the Moomaid of Zennor parlour for its freshly churned ice cream in flavours such as Espresso Martini or salted almond and hazelnut praline.
Keen to stay up-to-date on what’s new and get the heads-up on the best places to eat, shop and stay in the South West? Want to support independent publishing and creativity in the region? You can do both at once when you take out a subscription to the printed edition of Food Magazine. Six gorgeous issues a year, delivered to your door for just £25. Subscribe here.