There’s a reason why every man and their dog flocked to Cornwall when staycations were given the big thumbs up from Bojo and co, and that’s because quite frankly, it’s the Victoria Secret model of the UK. Breathtaking views for days, crystal clear waters that look like they’ve come straight out of the Amalfi coast and plonked themselves in Cornwall, and gorgeous quaint little towns that make you feel so far from home.
So when I started collaborating with Visit England on their Escape the Everyday campaign, I was absolutely buzzing to hunt down some hidden gems and see what Cornwall has to offer, in particular, Penzance and Bodmin.. to show you what the region has to offer all year round.
Now, a quick little detour before I tell you where to eat, sleep, eat, visit, eat… I wanted to tell you a bit about Visit England’s Escape the Everyday campaign. Launched last year, the campaign is all about how to escape the monotony of lockdown life responsibly, rediscovering, or even just discovering, the gorgeous UK. This trip in particular focused on reconnecting with places and people and I absolutely blimmin love this as I have family in Cornwall, so it really took me back to being a young kid, exploring without a care in the world (with considerably worse fashion sense and eyebrows). There are so many practises that businesses have put into play to make travelling as safe as can possibly be too – keep an eye out for ‘We’re good to go’ signs as they mean the business is adhering to government guidelines – and there is such a wealth of opportunities for unique and fun things to do that discovering the UK really is where it’s at, not only during summer, but all year round.
OK, back to Cornwall, let’s get ourselves down to Penzance and Bodmin, shall we?
Where to stay:
Artist Residence Penzance
I am a big, big fan of Artist residence hotels. They’re the perfect mixture of boutique vibes but homely service whilst every room is retro and cool, and the Penzance branch was no different. The staff were amazing, the room itself was a dream. Cosy but so comfy (plus the shower was sexier than Derek Shepherd which is always, always a winner) and we just really enjoyed this being a base for the night. The location is also unbelievable, with two epic pubs – more on this later – literally opposite and the high street 30 seconds away. Plus, and probably most importantly, the breakfast was actually incredible. I asked my boyfriend what his favourite part of the trip was and this landed in his top 3, so if this doesn’t tell you about our priorities then I don’t know what does. But he’s right, it was banging!
The Bodmin Jail Hotel – Without fail one of the most fun places I’ve ever stayed in. The Bodmin Jail hotel only opened a couple of months back – so good to get in early whilst you can – and it’s a historic former prison. The ruins were turned into an attraction site and more recently the hotel, and they’ve seriously done the most incredible job. It somehow manages to keep all of the layout/feel of the prison architecture whilst making it cosy, warm and inviting. We stayed in the governess room and it was absolutely beautiful… very luxe and opulent without being pretentious. The bathroom was as big as my London flat and the room/bed etc. were beautifully comfy and stylish. We also ate dinner at the Chapel restaurant and my good GOD, it really was unbelievable. The service was truly impeccable (we were seated in the bar whilst the order was taken and then brought up to the restaurant. It was very sassy and I felt like Beyonce for the night which really is all you can ask for). And obviously it goes without saying that the food was phenomenal. The Chapel restaurant is already a gorgeous location, but the artwork projected onto the ceilings just topped off a truly special night. Highly, highly recommend!
Where to go:
I definitely knew a lot less about Penzance than other Cornish towns but my god, there is so many incredible things to do there. Half of me is buzzing to tell you all about them, but a tiiiiiiny part of me secretly wishes I could keep them a little secret to myself. However… Joey might not share food, but Elle does share banging recommendations so here we go.
Geothermal pools at Jubilee Pool – The first of it’s kind in the UK, the Geothermal pool is natural salt water heated to between 30-35 degrees by their very own thermal well. They also have the incredible Art deco jubilee pool which is the largest sea water pool in the UK. I’d be an absolute liar if I said I was brave enough to dunk myself into that pool but if you’re a better person than I am, then really do go wild. We were unlucky that it was torrential raining when we went so please don’t be put off by slightly grey and dreary pictures, it really is such a highlight in Penzance.
Wander the lanes – Penzance is a great spot to just wander as it’s full of gorgeous cafes and antiques shops. Make sure you stop off at The Terrace which is a fab cafe, and have a little browse in Akasha’s curiosity shop which is full of clothes, collectables and vintage items.
Fraser’s Fish and chips – If you’re coeliac/gluten free, then get yourself ready to buy a ring and propose to me because I’ve just found the best gluten free Fish and chips around. I also have it on good authority that the gluten filled version was outstanding too.
St Michael’s Mount – I absolutely loved visiting St Michael’s Mount. It’s a tidal island in Mount’s bay which has a path that’s only walkable at low tide. We didn’t actually manage to go across to the island itself but we walked the gorgeous pathway and it was so cool to see it all in person.
The Turks head and Admiral Benbow – I thought living next door to Shoreditch that I would’ve seen every cool pub there is to see… but I was very, very wrong. The Admiral Benbow is a pirate inspired pub which is full of rescued artefacts from shipwrecked vessels over the last 400 years. You really do feel like you’re in a strange old school but quirky pirate ship, having a good old drink. I really loved it here. Equally, The Turk’s head is what I would describe as a proper boozer (and that’s coming from a Bermondsey native so, I got you). Good drinks, good vibes, good atmosphere, cool surroundings. They’re also basically next to each other so I’m absolutely not encouraging mad boozing but I absolutely am encouraging a bar crawl at the very least 😉
Mousehole Harbour – If you’re in Penzance anyway, you can’t not take a drive down to Mousehole harbour. It’s a stunningly picturesque cornish harbour that looks like you’ve landed straight on the set of Doc Martin – which is actually based in the busy Port Isaac, I’d highly recommend here instead as it’s so much quieter – as well as being surrounded by gorgeous cafes and quaint cottages.
When we arrived in Bodmin, we realised that it was the perfect in between base. Somewhere not too far from all of the things we wanted to do, so if you’re in Bodmin, here’s what I recommend:
The Oggy Oggy’s Cornish pasty shop – Gluten free pals, you’re in for an absolute treat because I found glorious gluten free pasties in here. Actually, that’s a minor lie… my fella went off to find a pasty before we left Cornwall to go home and came back with a gf option and I’m not sure I’ve ever loved him more.
The Eden Project – Less of a hidden gem as I’m sure a lot of you have heard of the Eden Project before, but it really is for good reason. The two main domes house thousands of plants and each dome emulates a natural biome. One dome even simulates a rainforest and is the largest indoor rainforest in the world. A must visit.
Port Gaverne – Probably the place I’ve felt most at peace in a very long time. We drove along to Port Gaverne – next to Port Isaac – and hiked up to the top and it was genuinely worth every step
which nearly killed me because I’m the unfittest woman alive. The view is just breathtaking but the small harbour at the bottom is equally gorgeous to chill in and soak up the surroundings.
And that my friends, is a little round up/guide to two gorgeous areas in Cornwall which I couldn’t recommend enough. It’s so important to not just visit the main tourist areas and branch out to the smaller quieter towns as not only will the small businesses benefit massively, but you’ll have so much more space and feel a lot safer too. Thank you again to Visit England for working with me on this, I’m having the BEST time escaping the everyday safely and discovering just how stunning the UK is.
This is a paid partnership