Whether you are a beach lover, a hardy hiker, an adrenaline junky or just after some fine living, get your bearings in one of England’s premier destinations with our guide to the best places to stay in Cornwall.
With its wild rugged coastline, sweeping arcs of golden sand and warm summer days, Cornwall is one of England’s premier holiday destinations.
There are hundreds of great things to do all across the county but getting to them can be a challenge. Spread over 1,300 square miles, it takes around 2 hours to drive from east to west or from north to south.
With each area offering a different experience, it’s important to know where to stay in Cornwall. Some areas are best for surfers and adventurers, others for hardy hikers. There are great spots for foodies and bohemians and out of the way places with plenty of hidden gems.
We’ve been exploring this beautiful corner of England for years now. So whether you are looking for an extended stay or a weekend away in the UK, here are the best places to stay in Cornwall.
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MAP / WHERE TO STAY IN CORNWALL
All the properties we’ve listed in this guide are on the map below so you can get a feel for each of the different areas. Before you decide where to stay, read our guide on the best things to do in Cornwall. This will help you understand what type of activities you might be interested in, so you’ll have a good idea about where to base yourself.
1 – ST IVES, PENZANCE & THE PENWITH PENINSULA
Best places to stay in Cornwall for a mix of urban cool and great beaches.
The Penwith Peninsula is perched on the far western end of Cornwall. A rugged landscape of dramatic coastlines and fabulous beaches, craggy summits are covered with rocky tors and the remnants of a now mostly defunct mining industry. Flanked by two very different towns, the Penwith Peninsula is a great place to stay in Cornwall.
On the north side, St Ives is the best of Cornish bohemian cool. Art galleries, artisanal coffee and wine bars spill onto quaint cobbled streets. Porthminster Beach is calm and sheltered while Porthmeor has consistently good surf. To the south, Penzance is an old fishing town making a comeback. Much less touristy, the high street is beginning to attract new investment and modern restaurants.
Some of the finest beaches in Britain – Porthcurno, Sennen Cove and Pedn Vounder – are within a 30-minute drive of St Ives or Penzance. The coastal path around Penwith is glorious and St. Michaels Mount shimmers across the sea. It’s the perfect place to stay in Cornwall for mixing urban facilities with great scenery and brilliant beaches.
Just a short drive west of St. Ives this wonderful B&B would be right at home in Miami. Excellently located with uninterrupted sea views, it’s the perfect base for visiting the beach. Friendly service and fine breakfast top it all off.
In the heart of bustling St Ives, Trevose Harbour House is a boutique guest house perfectly located between the harbour and Porthminster beach. Beautifully decorated, the caring and considerate hosts provide top-notch breakfasts.
These 17th-century rooms in a Penzance townhouse are uniquely designed, comfortable yet stylish. There are several options from doubles to luxurious suites or even a three-bedroom cottage. It’s a 5-minute walk to Penzance seafront or high street.
2 – PORTHLEVEN & THE LIZARD PENINSULA
Best places to stay in Cornwall for foodies who like to avoid the crowds.
Ever since Rick Stein set up base in Padstow foodies and foodie wannabes have flocked to its once charming streets. But the town is now so crammed it’s more like a theme park than anything resembling a good dining experience. It’s time for epicureans to make their way to the Cornish hidden gem of Porthleven.
For high-end dining, Jude Keremea works his magic on local produce with an Asian twist. While at the other end of the spectrum, locals, fishermen and foodies with the imagination to hunt out the best can be found leaning against the harbour wall munching on the daily specials from Mussel Shoal or sitting on the milk crates tucking into the freshest no-frills lobster from Dan’s Van.
Stretching east of Porthleven is the rugged and remote Lizard Peninsula, where some of the finest sandy coves in Britain are hidden along fantastic coastal paths. It all ends at Falmouth, where more fine restaurants combine with a large student population to create a fun night out.
At the end of a single-lane track, perched above a pebble beach, this 19th-century newly refurbished inn is great for exploring the coastal path. Standing on the midpoint of the Southwest Coast Path, exit the hotel and turn left for over 300 miles of walking paths. There are another 300 miles to the right.
There are not many places to stay in Porthleven, but the Harbour Inn is our pick. Bright and airy rooms overlook the harbour, but most importantly it’s only a short stagger back from all the great pubs, cafes and general eateries dotting the town.
The grand old dame of Marazion, the Godolphin Hotel stares across the bay towards St Michaels Mount. St Ives, Porthleven and Penwith are all within a 30-minute drive making the Godolphin not only a wonderful place to stay but also a great base to explore from.
3 – NEWQUAY, WATERGATE BAY & PADSTOW
Best places to stay in Cornwall for surfers, adventurers, and rugged coastline.
The northern coast of Cornwall is home to some of the finest surfing beaches in the UK, the best of which is Watergate Bay. On a warm day with good swell, the waves are dotted with pro surfers riding the blue room and beginners tentatively taking a lesson. Windsurfers, kite surfers and coasteerers join them from the shore.
To the south, Newquay has a laid-back vibe with surfing beaches, music concerts and outdoor cinemas; to the north the food scene of Padstow attracts over half a million tourists a year.
Connecting the popular resorts is some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in the county. St Agnes Head is rugged and wild with the ruins of mines poking through heather-covered flanks, while the Bedruthan Rocks are a photographer’s dream.
With plenty of towns connected by main roads offering plenty of facilities, the area around Newquay and Padstow can be a very busy part of Cornwall. But if you can brave the crowds, it’s one of the best places to visit in the UK.
Tucked into the back roads and a little off the beaten track, this 16th Century Coaching Inn has large comfortable rooms and a good onsite pub. The beaches of Watergate Bay and Perranporth are only 15 minutes away.
This boutique hotel set above the Pentire Headland is sleek and bright with fantastic views. It’s only a 10-minute walk to Newquay’s Fistral Beach, yet somehow it manages to feel a million miles away. This is a great summer escape in the centre of the action in Cornwall.
Nestled in a nook in the cliffs in Watergate Bay this recently refurbished hotel is one of the grandest addresses in Cornwall. Choose from double rooms, suites, apartments, or beach lofts. There are good restaurants on-site, and one of the best surfing beaches in the UK is just outside the front door.
4 – BUDE, TINTAGEL & THE FAR NORTH COAST
Best places to stay in Cornwall for young families with a mystic appeal
Way up in the north of Cornwall the seaside town of Bude can feel a little cut off from the rest of Cornwall. Connected by minor roads, it’s slightly hard to get to the main attractions and blessed with a remote feel; something lacking in the other parts of Cornwall.
For families looking for safe and relaxing swimming options, Bude is a great choice. Summerleaze is a sandy beach protected by a breakwater and Bude Sea Pool is the largest semi-natural tidal pool in the country.
The far north Cornish coast is also the centre of the esoteric side of the county. Just south of Bude, Tintagel Castle – the mythical home of King Arthur – stands on a rocky bluff above Merlin’s Cave. Nearby, St Nectans waterfall is a mystical retreat and the harbour of Boscastle houses the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic.
With the addition of a couple of lovely fishing villages like Port Isaac and Crackington Haven, the north coast is a great place to stay in Cornwall for a quieter getaway.
Set on the cliffs overlooking the harbour of the charming fishing village of Port Isaac, this quirky hotel has a clever school theme. The town is picture-perfect, but with tiny laneways, the fact that the hotel comes with free parking is an enormous bonus.
Surrounded by sandy dunes with views over Summerleaze beach, this modern stylish hotel is in an excellent location for a lazy family beach holiday. It may look traditional from the front, but the Nordic-styled interiors are bright, fresh and breezy.
Trewornan Manor is an adults-only hideaway for those looking to relax and get away from it all. The stunning, listed manor house is surrounded by 8 acres of gardens and a further 17 acres of grounds. With great service from the hosts, it could be hard to tear yourself away.
5 – BODMIN MOOR AND THE RUGGED CENTRE
Best places to stay in Cornwall for moorlands and remote wilderness
While the beautiful and rugged coastlines of Cornwall attract most visitors, the centre of the county has a wild appeal all of its own. Dominated by Bodmin Moor, a 200-kilometre grassland rising 420 metres above sea level, there’s a surprisingly remote wilderness feel to the centre of Cornwall.
Heather-strewn moors are cut by prehistoric settlements and ancient stone circles. Small, wooded glens hide beautiful wild swimming locations. Hiking trails lead through old farmsteads, disused quarries and high wetlands.
The centre of Cornwall is the perfect option if you’re looking for a quiet place to stay in a remote wilderness area. It may not have the stunning beaches and coastline, but it also lacks the number of visitors that follow.
The Jamaica Inn is an atmospheric pub with 20 rooms conveniently located on the A30 in the middle of Bodmin Moor. It’s perfectly located for you to explore the hiking trails that run along the moor, leaving directly from the front door.
London Inn is a traditional and cosy pub with lovingly furnished and well-presented rooms. Situated on the edge of Bodmin Moor, in the picturesque village of St. Neots Village, London Inn is an adult-only hotel with excellent hiking and cycling options nearby.
This charming traditional cottage on the edge of St Breward is a great spot to explore the moor and the North Cornish Coast. It sleeps 4 and backs onto a pretty meadow within easy walking distance of the local pub.
6 – ST MAWES & THE ROSELAND PENINSULA
Best places to stay in Cornwall for gardens, manor houses and fine living
The scenery, and the lifestyle that goes with it, gets a little gentler in this part of Cornwall. Wedged between two graceful estuaries packed with sailboats, the Roseland Peninsula is home to some of the finest houses & gardens in Britain. In between the grandeur, lovely fishing villages, pretty churches, and gentle coastal trails provide a slower pace for your Cornwall stay.
The village of St. Mawes is at the tip of the Roseland Peninsula. Once a thriving fishing village, it’s now more famous for its boutique accommodation and glamorous properties than the morning’s haul.
Take a boat cruise along the river, dine in grand hotels or visit the impressive Lost Gardens of Heligan. For a British day out, visit one of the many National Trust properties in the area.
Lovingly presented rooms, great views and a quality breakfast would already make this guest house a winner. But the location is great too. A short walk will get you to cute Mevagissey, and a short drive to the glorious Lost Gardens of Heligan.
The classiest address in one of the classiest villages in Cornwall, the Idle Rocks sits on the quayside of the traditional fishing village of St. Mawes. Individually designed rooms, a renowned seafood restaurant, and breakfast on the seafront terrace make this a stylish stay in Cornwall.
The Rosevine is an elegantly styled apartment hotel with grounds and views dropping to the seafront and an indoor swimming pool. The Hidden Hut of Portscatho is only a short walk beach and it’s a great spot from which to explore the peninsula.
7 – POLPERRO & EAST CORNWALL
Best places to stay in Cornwall for less-visited headlands and villages
Polperro and east Cornwall is on the main thoroughfare connecting the north of the county with the west. So, most people who visit, do so on the way through without stopping. And that’s a pity, because although it doesn’t have the most popular beaches, it does have a few gems well worth exploring.
Rame Head is a rocky shoreline dotted with popular sandy beaches, while at the other end, the tranquil Fowey Estuary is great for days out on the water. Hire a boat or a stand-up paddle boat and cruise past the lovely waterway overlooked by grand houses.
The fishing village of Polperro is arguably the quaintest and most atmospheric in Cornwall. Lantic Bay, a magnificent beach nestled under 100 metres high cliffs, is a striking beach that is often deserted.
It’s a great place to see the less-visited side of this beautiful county.
Just 5 minutes from the centre of Fowey with stunning views over the harbour, Fowey Harbour Hotel is in a convenient yet peaceful location. Recently renovated, the Victorian property has elegant rooms and helpful staff.
The cute fishing village of Polperro can get packed on summer days. So, it helps if you can be here in the early morning or late evening. Staying at the Claremont allows you to do that with a bit of style thrown in as well.
A boutique B&B perched on the banks of the river just outside the pretty village of Looe. Louise & Simon are friendly and hospitable hosts, plus there’s a covered pool, mini grand piano, and a terrace that provides a great spot to relax with lovely views.
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As London-based travel bloggers, we’re often exploring exotic destinations far from home, but there’s a wealth of great experiences to be had within the UK. Here are some of our favourite guides for Cornwall. For more see our Britain page.
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The best circular walks on the Pembrokeshire coast
Where to stay in Pembrokeshire
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The most beautiful Cotswolds villages
How to spend 1 day in Bath
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