If anyone asks me where I like to take a short break, I’d have no hesitation in recommending St Ives in Cornwall.
INTO THE LIGHT
We spent many a happy weekend during our courting days (that shows my age!) enjoying what St Ives has to offer.
It caters for my love of the blue seas and my partner’s love of the magic light that is a magnet for so many artists. It holds fond memories for us for happy and sad reasons. We were married in Penzance Registry Office and stayed at the Tregenna Castle Hotel in an uncommonly warm September 1996.
What’s sad about that I hear you ask? It was the day of Princess Diana’s funeral. It was touch and go whether the ceremony would go ahead but at the eleventh hour we got the green light from the Registrar in Penzance. I’m sure Princess Diana would not have wanted it any other way!
We paid St Ives another visit in early spring 2008 and stayed in different hotels offering three very different, but equally enjoyable experiences.
Things to do
For what to see and do in St Ives when you visit, check out the official website of the Cornwall Tourist Board at www.visitcornwall.com
Places to eat
There are so many good restaurants and pubs to choose from.
The Cornwall Tourist Board has a list of them at
but we would recommend;
Blue Fish Restaurant
The restaurant is set above St Ives harbour, inside the town’s old fish net lofts. The sleek, fresh interior of the restaurant is further complemented by fabulous views of the harbour.
Telephone 01736 794204
The Sloop Inn
Right on the harbour, this is one of St Ives’ oldest inns. Full of character and characters!
Telephone 01736 796584
Interesting facts about St Ives
■ Tate St Ives opened 1993. Before being renovated into an art gallery the building was a disused gaswork.
■ Tate St Ives took two years to build, costing over £3 million.
■ Artists moved to St Ives in the 1880’s. The St Ives School began in 1928 inspired by local fisherman turned artist, Alfred Wallis.
■ The Skidden House Hotel, the first hotel in St Ives, was built in 1540. It was named after the metal skids fixed to cartwheels to stop horses and carts from skidding downhill.
■ St Ives is the most popular town in Cornwall for visitors to visit. ■ St Ives was voted Guardian Seaside Town of the Year 2007.
■ The famed quality of light in St Ives which attracts artists from across the world is due to the sun reflecting off the sea and the unique composition of St Ives sand.
■ Many famous people have lived in St Ives from time to time; Turner, Whistler, Sickert, Henry Moore, Dame Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Bernard Leach and Virginia Woolf.
■ St Ives enters recorded history with the arrival of St Ia or Hya, the Irish princess who brought Christianity to the area in the 5th Century.
Primrose Valley Hotel
On our first night we stayed in this five star hotel which is situated less than one minute from the blue flag Porthminster Beach. Just a five minute stroll alongside the ocean, brings you into the harbour and the cobbled lanes of St Ives itself.
The hotel is a contemporary styled Edwardian seaside villa with ten bedrooms comprising of six doubles, one family/triple, two twin/doubles and one suite. We stayed in a double room which faced the rear of the hotel.
This is a family run hotel with husband and wife team Andrew and Sue Biss and Sue’s mother Rose Clegg. Sue’s impeccable taste and design flair are evident throughout the hotel as are the couple’s eco-friendly principles.
The breakfast menu showed their passionate and almost obsessive emphasis on using food of the highest quality from producers and suppliers in Cornwall. It even lists where each item is sourced. So dedicated are the owners to giving something back that Andrew was on a training week with a charitable organisation which provides aid in the form of shelter to countries which have been ravaged by war or by natural disasters.
What we liked
■ A mere stroll from the beautiful Porthminster Beach and a short walk from St Ives.
■ The passion and dedication to all things eco-friendly and sustainable with an armful of eco-friendly awards to prove it.
■ The most amazingly tasty breakfast using locally sourced produce.
Tregenna Castle Estate
As we’ve had regular visits to the Tregenna Castle, staying in the hotel and in one of the charming cottages in the grounds, for the second night of our stay, we decided to try one of the one bedroomed apartments at the rear of the ivy clad castle which is surrounded by prize-winning sub-tropical gardens, overlooking St Ives harbour.
We were very surprised by the high standard of the accommodation which consisted of a spacious lounge and fully fitted kitchen with separate toilet and shower room on the ground floor and a good sized bedroom and toilet with shower on a mezzanine. The accommodation was tastefully decorated and immaculately clean.
Our breakfast and dinner were served in one of the dining rooms in the castle and we also had use of the leisure facilities which included indoor pool, steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, badminton and squash courts. In warmer weather there is an outdoor heated pool.
There are also tennis courts, a golf course, sub-tropical gardens and woodland walks. The hotel has 81 bedrooms and 70 self catering cottages/apartments. Because of its location, the hotel is popular for weddings (it’s licensed to perform civil wedding ceremonies) and conferences and banquets. The holiday apartments are ideal if you want a base to explore St Ives from but still have sports, leisure and restaurant facilities on hand.
What we liked:
■ The use of the hotel’s many leisure facilities.
■ Self catering accommodation which was tastefully furnished and spotlessly clean.
■ Fifteen minutes’ walk from St Ives.
The Blue Hayes Private Hotel
For our last night we chose to stay in the five star Blue Hayes Private Hotel. We met with owner Malcolm Herring who told us how he’d completely refurbished what was once a traditional seaside hotel into what stands today, which is a superb glowing white building with spectacular views over the bay and a minute’s stroll from the long sandy Porthminster beach.
Malcolm’s passion and pride for the hotel (and his home) was evident as we chatted. He even closes the hotel every year for a month to completely redecorate it and clean the carpets, which are white by the way.
With only five suites to choose from, we were extremely lucky to have the prize one – the Master Suite with its four-poster bed and the biggest all-white, luxuriously appointed bathroom I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few). The pièce de résistance for this suite had to be the French doors which opened onto a private balcony, with a sweet table and two chairs, with our own private view of the harbour and St Ives Bay.
We would have been quite happy to spend our time in this haven but the local pub, The Sloop was calling! A short stroll along a path fronting the beach and we were there.
Our thirst for Sancerre quenched, we strolled back along the path to our ultra comfy bed and slept like logs. Anyone in the hospitality business will tell you that good staff are everything. We met them at breakfast. Malcolm has a team of very personable staff who obviously share his passion for giving guests what they want – a haven for happily attached couples wanting somewhere to hide from the stresses of life and completely relax.
What we liked
■ The luxuriousness of it all.
■ The breathtaking views from the balcony terrace.
■ The banter with the amiable staff.