St Ives is a quintessential Cornish fishing town with its white-washed cottages, postcard-perfect harbour and pristine white sand beaches. Whilst the sound of fishermans’ boots stomping along its cobbled streets has been replaced with chattering tourists, it has retained its original charm – albeit updated with a fresh lick of paint. Chic boutique hotels that wouldn’t look out of place in Nantucket sit alongside centuries-old pubs, while just outside the town in Carbis Bay, a five-star resort with a showstopping infinity pool awaits. Here’s our pick of the best places to stay.
The best hotels in St Ives are:
Location: Carbis Bay
Wake up to the sound of the Atlantic crashing on the shore outside your beach suite; this hotel is the only one in Britain with its own private Blue Flag beach. Classic country decor runs through the main Victorian manor house – think chesterfield headboards and vintage floral cushions – while the beach suites follow a minimalist New England look. Spend the afternoon lapping the infinity pool overlooking Carbis Bay, followed by a stint in the outdoor sauna and spa (they offer Aromatherapy Associates treatments by candlelight). For dinner, reserve a table at the onsite Ugly Butterfly restaurant, fronted by chef Adam Handling, who also runs the Michelin-starred Frog in London.
Price: Doubles from £350, B&B
Location: Treloyan Avenue
Just a half-mile stroll along the coastal path, south of St Ives, you’ll find this 18th-century mansion-turned-family hotel set within 72-acres of manicured gardens. Kids will love the plethora of facilities here, including an indoor and outdoor pool, tennis courts and a playground. The family suite is perfectly sized for a family of four, complete with bunk beds in an adjoining room. Complimentary onsite childrens’ activities are available during school holidays; drop them off and indulge in a well-deserved hot stone massage at the Castle Spa. Ready to explore the town itself? The Tate St Ives is eight minutes away by car (free entry for under 18s).
Price: Family rooms from £236, room only
Location: The Terrace
If you’re after a pampered stay, look no further than this 19th-century grand dame overlooking Porthminster Beach. The sea-facing HarSpa boasts a wow-factor sun terrace dotted with loungers. However, if the Cornish mizzle descends, head to the toasty indoor pool and jacuzzi. Treatment wise, try the decadent Champagne and Truffles facial, which uses rose quartz therapy to smooth wrinkles, or opt for a deep tissue Reviver massage, aimed at easing sore muscles, especially after surfing. Upstairs, the 50 rooms have a luxurious feel, decked out in candy stripe fabrics with Egyptian cotton bed sheets and Bramley toiletries. Finish the day sipping a complimentary gin in your suite, while gazing out over the rolling waves.
Price: Doubles from £246, B&B
Location: Porthminster Beach
Soothing oatmeal tones and a clean Scandinavian aesthetic characterises this 11-room guesthouse, just a towel’s throw from Porthminster Beach. Rustic wooden walls sit alongside abstract artwork and Shaker-style furniture. Book Room 5 for a king-bed, roll top bath and sea views. Alternatively, stay in The Pod, a quirky mezzanine apartment with a snug double bed underneath a large skylight, primed for stargazing. Complimentary breakfast and home-baked afternoon cakes are a welcome perk. Porthminster Beach Cafe next door is a must-visit. Expect fresh-off-the-boat seafood with unparalleled views of St. Ives Bay – just make sure you reserve a table ahead of time.
Price: Doubles from £135, B&B
Location: Tregenna Hill
Snuggle up with your other half at Host, a boutique micro-guesthouse housed above a buzzy pizza restaurant and cocktail bar. Book one of two surprisingly spacious suites, named The Library and The Terrace. Exposed brick and ornate moulding hint at the building’s heritage as a former bank, while velvet sofas, faux fur blankets and a log burner create a seductive feel. Tuck into a wood-fired pizza at the onsite restaurant, washed down with an organic rose gin and tonic from local distiller Tinkture, before sneaking back upstairs to soak in The Terrace’s in-room freestanding tub. Complimentary parking is an added bonus in this part of St Ives.
Price: Doubles from £250, B&B
Location: Porthminster Beach
Take a stroll down The Warren – yes, it’s as narrow as it sounds – and you’ll find Pedn Olva, a pub-hotel plonked on a granite outcrop, south of St Ives Harbour (its name means “lookout on the headland” in Cornish). Dogs are part of the family here, with treats and water bowls on offer, plus they can join you for meals in the bar. Expect traditional pub grub alongside more inventive dishes, like confit duck rillettes with chilli and pineapple chutney. Almost all of its 30 rooms feature sea views, best admired from the sink-in Vi-Spring beds. Take a dip in the heated outdoor pool (open from Easter to October), before heading up to the oceanfront terrace for a sundowner.
Price: Doubles from £165, B&B
Location: The Warren
Detail is everything at Trevose Harbour House – from the carefully-curated artwork to the Neal’s Yard toiletries in the bathrooms. Owners Angela and Olivier know a thing or two about hospitality; they met at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland and have worked in top hotels across Europe. A bright white and Mediterranean blue palette sets the tone for each of the six individually styled rooms, featuring mid-century furniture and ultra-comfy Hypnos beds. Ask for the Roof Suite for breezy views across the bay to Godrevy lighthouse. Breakfast is a big deal here, with cardamom French toast and dry-cured bacon from St Just alongside artisan coffee on the seasonal, locally sourced menu. St Ives Harbour is three minutes away on foot.
Price: Doubles from £180, B&B
Location: Carbis Bay
Squishy leather sofas, pebble grey panelling and an inglenook fireplace greet you on arrival at this boutique hotel, just two miles outside of St Ives. Think biscuit-hued Cotswold pub with a maritime twist. The traditional charm continues in the rooms, decorated with tartan headboards and antique hardwood furniture alongside contemporary features, like walk-in showers and in-room tablets. Reserve the Spot The Gannet room and watch the waves roll in from the window seat. Downstairs, the cosy bar beckons – complete with pool table and darts – as does the onsite restaurant, led by the Rosette-winning chef at sister hotel, Carbis Bay. Take advantage of access to their private beach and spa.
Price: Doubles from £240, B&B