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From the Blog

The South West tried and tested: 50 holiday experiences recommended by our guests

Posted by Sophie Hesp on Updated on

Where to eat, what to see and top tips for making it special

We love hearing our guests' holiday highlights, whether it’s where they’ve enjoyed lunch and had a dip in the sea, or how their children have taken their first steps while on holiday. So if you’re undecided about how to spend your next South West staycation, what better way to firm up your plans than with recommendations from visitors past and present?

Featuring personal insights about must-visit restaurants, beautiful beaches and child-friendly activities, we’ve been chatting on the phone and flicking through guest books to bring you the experiences that our guests can’t stop talking about. From newly-discovered gems to local businesses that are too good not to share, enjoy our pick of tried and tested experiences across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.


Restaurants and pubs: top dining experiences


One thing’s for certain – our guests love their food, whether it’s sharing platters by the beach or fine pub grub in the heart of the countryside. 

From those holidaying in Cornwall, we hear great things about The Blue Plate in Downderry, Paul Ainsworth’s No 6 in Padstow, 2 Fore Street in Mousehole and newcomer, The Pig at Harlyn Bay. Nathan Outlaw’s seafood restaurants receive plenty of honourable mentions, while Catch in Mawgan Porth is a ‘must visit’ for our Prennek House guests.

We hear the best coffee can be found at Cherry Trees in Padstow and Archie’s Loft in Coverack, while for families visiting The Old School House or Seathift, ‘Kota Kai in Porthleven is the best restaurant, with a play room especially for toddlers!’

If you’re staying in Polzeath, take a recommendation from our Treasure House visitors and ‘try the nduja pizza at The Waterfront – gluten free pizza bases! Also the fruits de mer at The Cracking Crab.’

For Somerset stays, ‘a lovely walk and dinner at The Bridge’ is always a talking point, while foodie highlights in Devon include The Seahorse, The Oyster Shack and a drink at The Cherub Inn. 

Rounding out our dining recommendations are two must-visit spots from The Tate Family: ‘The Paris Hotel is our new favourite pub and the perfect way to dance in the New Year. The Greenhouse in St Keverne was equally good.’

And of course we can't mention dinner without the wonderful Chef Fiona - her in-house private dining makes her one of our most requested concierge options.

Image above right: © Kota Kai

Activities and leisure: the great outdoors 


When you’re visiting the South West, heart-melting views are guaranteed. From scenic river cruises to coastal walks, you needn’t venture far to soak up the sights and feel fresh air in your lungs. 

Perfect for those checking into South Devon, previous guests ‘can recommend catching the local boat to Dittisham and then walking back to Dartmouth via Long Woods, a beautiful walk for the senses.’ Other popular boat trips include Fowey via the Bodinnick Ferry and the much-loved water taxi from Rock to Padstow.

If you’re most at home on the water, The Lewis Family recommend their afternoon in Kingsand and Cawsand, where they ‘sat in the sunshine looking at the sea eating fresh mackerel and had a paddle boarding lesson with Lucy at SUP. She was a great teacher and would recommend her highly – the paddling has come on leaps and bounds.’ A swim across Mousehole Harbour has proven a hit with many of our guests too, while kayak sessions with Vertical Blue Adventures and coasteering with Cornish Rock Tors both come highly recommended in the summer.

St Enodoc and Trevose golf clubs are favourites for our holidaying golfers, while the Penrose park run has been enjoyed by a number of guests embarking on active getaways. For adults, the spas at Cowshed and Trelowarren Estate spa are loved for their relaxing treatments, and a wine tasting at Polgoon Vineyard is always looked back on with fond memories.

While we don’t need our guest books to tell us that the gardens at Trebah, Tremenheere and The Eden Project are ‘heavenly’, it's clear that The Lizard, Cape Cornwall, Kynance Cove and St Michael’s Mount are amongst Cornwall's most-loved landmarks. If it’s a clifftop climb you’re after with a stay at The Yellow Cottage or The Paddock, ‘the hike up the coast path to Tintagel Castle is both beautiful and fascinating. The castle, its beach and caves, are otherworldly, and make you believe in the Arthurian legends.’

Finally, if you’re exploring on foot with little ones, a break at The Cove means the coast path is never too far away, as these guests tell us ‘We didn't use the car all week. We walked to Pentire Head and around the coast to Rock. All walks do-able by a seven-year-old upwards.’

Family-friendly experiences: something for everyone


Holiday memories can last a lifetime, and they’re even more special when children are involved. If it’s safe, family-friendly beaches you’re hoping for, look no further than the Cornish coast. 

Recent guests of ours at Sea Breezes fell in love with Daymer Bay and Polzeath, where ‘everyone from the toddlers to the teens were very happy. George Stoy's surf coaching was the best in town and even mummy can surf now! We were lucky enough to see numerous dolphins including babies on the sea safari. Memories to treasure.’

Just around the coast, Mawgan Porth also promises safe and sandy fun: ‘It's a wonderful place, lovely views and very relaxing. Great beach for children and dogs.’ Marazion, Trevone, Treyarnon and Harlyn Bay also rank highly with families, with Harlyn being loved by four-legged friends especially. 

Back on dry land, Trevaskis Farm and Dairyland are popular with young adventurers hoping to let off some steam, while the Seal Sanctuary in Helston and Mousehole’s Christmas light switch-on are always home to glowing guest book reviews. 

Before we wrap up, we can’t forget how the children themselves often brighten our day with entries of their own, like this one from Ednovean House: ‘Absolutely awesome. It is like a mansion. View is good. Kitchen has everything you need! The fish pond is cool! I want to come back.’


To book your stay at any of our holiday homes across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, visit our website. Here, you can save and share your favourites, find all the key details you need and explore the local area with help from our bespoke concierge recommendations. 


Posted by Sophie Hesp

When she's not out for a roast by the coast, Sophie loves exploring with her partner and their golden retriever pup, Obi. She writes about all things Cornwall and is a strong believer that there’s no such thing as too many house plants.

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