Famous for its starring role in many films, Newquay’s Headland Hotel sits above Fistral Beach commanding incredible views of the Atlantic, Ewen MacDonald checks in



Perched omnipotently up on a promontory above the famous Fistral Beach, (proclaimed home of British surfing), the stiff and matronly, Victorian gothic, edifice of the Headland Hotel surveys all of its magnificent domain.

For those, who like me, are fans of Agatha Christie type whodunit murder mysteries this is the ideal place to while away a stormy September evening with a wild Atlantic squall pounding at the walls. Incidentally a version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches’ was filmed here in 1990.

The first thing that greets the visitor is an old school, wood, glass and brass, revolving door, my own personal measure of a high class establishment. The reception area, expanding on to a large lounge area and formal dining rooms gives an added sense of grandeur.

The swimming pool, hot tub, steam room and sauna are like a giant iceberg basement burrowed down into a wedding cake, Holland Park mansion. You entirely forget where you are until you walk out into the terrace restaurant area next to the spa and gym and behold, outside is the Atlantic ocean, which you can wander outside in dressing gown and slippers and gawp at. It was blowing a fairly ferocious gale while we were, there so we opted for a coffee instead.



Post exercise I lay down on the bed in our expansive bedroom, to check out the final score results and wondered if I’d ever get up again (how terribly disappointing the bedroom was at home after this encounter.)

The hotel’s magnificent sweeping staircase is worthy of such a grand institution, you can choose his and her sides on the way down to dinner, romantically joining together in the middle of each landing, which are a cause for celebration in their own right. On one floor is a three paneled trompe-l’oeil of books with a giant Lego model of the Headland Hotel itself enclosed under a glass case.

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Dinner was a classy, silver service affair, with a stunning view out over the Atlantic, towards New York, or Nova Scotia, or perhaps just Ireland and had all the wonder and grace of a bygone age. I could feel that murder most fowl was only a delirious film shoot away. In the event we settled down to a pleasant evening and a fantastically palatable three course meal instead, with a grey and brooding ocean and fully Autumnal sky bearing in dramatically upon us.

The very next morning we sat down at the exact same table for a lustrous and hearty breakfast, the sky and sea now celestial blue, a true California style vista to invigorate the spirits for the day ahead. Although down on the beach it was rather bracingly British.

To stay at the Headland Hotel is to be trapped between two glorious ages, the early twentieth century and the twenty first century, (think Downton Abbey with Wi-Fi), the hotel being both modern and timeless, which when you stay there doesn’t feel at all incongruous, but a perfectly natural, symbiotic co-existence.

The staff weren’t just a friendly bunch they were wonderfully polite, helpful and efficient: a true asset for any hotel.

As for my idea of a great place to stay, you can keep your unfeasibly cool, boutique, hipster hotels, I’ll take the Headland’s eternally elegant, old world charm anytime. 

Ewen was hosted by The Headland Hotel, a member of – a collection of 49 privately-owned independent British hotels. The grand Victorian redbrick mansion is set on a clifftop overlooking Fistral Bay in Newquay, Cornwall and offers 96 beautiful bedrooms, 39 private cottages, a Surf Sanctuary and state-of-the-art spa. An overnight stay costs from £160 per room (two sharing), including full English breakfast and use of the spa.

Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929.