Undisputedly the most popular holiday destination in the UK outside London, this spear-like tip of south-west England is the closest that you can get to the tropics while still remaining in the British Isles.
Cornwall’s coastline, with its sweeping sandy beaches, secretive coves and plunging, jagged cliffs is rightly famed. Its once-remote fishing villages – St Ives, Mousehole, Newquay, Rock, Padstow, etc – are pilchard-packed with bars, restaurants and boutique hotels that cater for the influx of visitors who head here once mercury starts to creep up the thermometer.
The county’s unique micro-climate, warmed by the Gulf Stream, means it is a place in which you see palm trees next to fish-and-chip shops, and basking sharks or dolphins seen from centuries-old stone jetties.
Cornwall is so child-friendly it could have been designed and implemented by a committee of nine-year-olds, and it would be impossible to highlight everything that appeals to kids and teenagers here.
Those over the age of 12 will love the surf culture in Newquay, where Atlantic breakers pound the beaches and disgorge lithe, wetsuited types and their boards onto the sand. But they, like their younger brothers and sisters, will also adore the desert-like sand dunes around Hayle or the cultural Mecca that is St Ives – home of the Tate St Ives, which is situated in a striking, white Art Deco building above Porthmeor Beach.
And then there’s the clifftop open-air Minack Theatre at Porthcurno, the futuristic biospheres of the Eden Project near St Austell, and Bodmin Moor – stalking ground of the legendary Beast of Bodmin. Phew.
Cornwall is too big – and lacking in major roads – to get around quickly and easily, so choose your area and stick to it. We recommend the clifftop Bedruthan Hotel & Spa (01637 860860) if you’re staying on the north coast around Padstow and Newquay, where family rooms from £150 per night, including breakfast.
Or the picturesque Lugger Hotel (01872 501322) in Portloe if you want to base yourself in the south: a double room plus one folding bed; from £205 per night, including breakfast. Two rooms are available for parents and two older children, from £130 per room per night including breakfast. Both hotels cater well for families.
Cottages4you also offers a variety of Cottages in Cornwall including Shark Fin. Shark Fin is located right on the coast and overlooks two of England’s best beaches at Sennen and towards Cape Cornwall, and in the evening having sunsets from the terrace overlooking the Land’s End Lighthouse and the Scilly Isles. This cottage has three bedrooms and sleeps seven. The price for seven nights ranges from £1211 to £2493.
Where to eat
Cornwall is a serious foodie destination, too. And while Rick Stein’s personal fiefdom of Padstow may be the obvious place to head for lunch, there’s great food to be had all over the county. Families will particularly enjoy Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall in Watergate Bay (where you can start at the Watergate Bay Hotel), the Porthmeor Beach Café in St Ives and Fowey Hall in Fowey. You may just prefer to pick up a traditional Cornish pasty from the local bakery though.