The Inspector calls at The Headland hotel in Cornwall and loves the views – but not the prices


The Inspector visits a landmark hotel in Cornwall and falls for the sea views and the spa that takes you on a ‘thermal journey’ (but the high prices and ‘dreary’ dining room disappoint)

  • The Inspector pays £366 for a dinner, bed and breakfast package at The Headland hotel above Fistral Beach
  • His ‘cheery’ guest room is decorated with splashes of colour – but only offers a view of a concrete wall 
  • In January, the hotel will close temporarily while the huge main dining room is revamped, he reveals 
  • Remember, the Inspector pays his way… and tells it like it is 

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The new spa — or Aqua Club, as it’s known — at The Headland is quite something. It sits bang on the coast overlooking the raging (at this time of year) Atlantic and has no fewer than six pools, designed to take you on a ‘thermal journey’; plus its own cafe, gym, sun deck, steam rooms, saunas and treatment rooms.

Its sleek design is in stark contrast to the heavy-going lobby of this Victorian landmark hotel, much loved by families, above Fistral Beach in North Cornwall. But I get the impression that the Armstrong family, which still owns it, are slowly making changes. 

Many of the bedrooms have been updated and in January the whole place will close for a couple of months while Samphire, the huge main dining room, is revamped.

The Inspector calls at The Headland (centre), a Victorian landmark hotel that sits above Fistral Beach in North Cornwall

The hotel's 'sleek' new Aqua Club spa (pictured above) is 'quite something', says the Inspector

The hotel’s ‘sleek’ new Aqua Club spa (pictured above) is ‘quite something’, says the Inspector

The Aqua Club's pools are designed to take you on a ¿thermal journey¿

Aside from the six swimming pools, the Aqua Club features a cafe (above), a gym, a sun deck, steam rooms, saunas and treatment rooms

The Aqua Club’s six pools, one of which is pictured left, are designed to take you on a ‘thermal journey’. Aside from the swimming pools, the Aqua Club features a cafe (right), a gym, a sun deck, steam rooms, saunas and treatment rooms

‘You won’t recognise it,’ says our waiter. That’ll be good because at the moment it’s dreary and soulless.

Go for a room with a view of the ocean, but they don’t come cheap. Our budget won’t stretch that far and so we make do with an internal room, where the blinds are drawn.

No wonder. It looks out at a concrete wall — and we’re paying £366 for a dinner, bed and breakfast package.

Even so, the room is cheery, with a high upholstered headboard and splashes of colour here and there. 

The Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, convalesced at the Headland after suffering from mumps while training at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth; and writer Rosamunde Pilcher, who grew up nearby, used to attend parties at the hotel. More recently, the 1990 movie of Roald Dahl’s The Witches was filmed here.

Dinner at Samphire is a big disappointment. Everything we want to eat comes with a whopping supplement, including £25 per person for the rib of beef.

'Go for a room with a view of the ocean, but they don¿t come cheap,' the Inspector advises

‘Go for a room with a view of the ocean, but they don’t come cheap,’ the Inspector advises 

It's a historic setting - the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, convalesced at the Headland after suffering from mumps, and the 1990 movie of Roald Dahl¿s The Witches was filmed here

It’s a historic setting – the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, convalesced at the Headland after suffering from mumps, and the 1990 movie of Roald Dahl’s The Witches was filmed here

I rarely turn my nose up at what’s on my plate but just can’t manage more than a couple of bites of the slimy warm mackerel starter.

Breakfast is a far more jolly affair. It’s pouring with rain outside, but it’s still a magnificent view. 

A South African man is at the next door table with his girlfriend. ‘If I leave here without walking on Fistral Beach I will always regret it,’ he says. ‘And no country does rain quite like the UK.’

TRAVEL FACTS 

The Headland Hotel, Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall, TR7 1EW. Doubles from £216 For more information call 01637 872211 or visit headlandhotel.co.uk.

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