The Scarlet, Cornwall: An Eco Friendly Experience

Luxury Hotels: Set on a spectacular cliff top site in a wild corner of Cornwall, The Scarlet artfully combines great design with sustainability. Arranged over five levels, it was built to blend seamlessly into its surroundings, with flat roofs covered in sea thrift and rocks.

The entrance may be low key but the interior is anything but. With no reception in the airy lobby it's like walking into a fabulous house, and the first thing to catch your eye are the floor-to-ceiling windows that frame a breathtaking view of Mawgan Porth bay, its rolling surf and golden sands flanked by steep cliffs.

Furniture is contemporary, sleek and tactile. From the roof terrace where you can sunbathe or star gaze, to a series of chic lounges where bright colours and bold patterns blend harmoniously. Art, from modern sculptures to original paintings, is everywhere.

All 37 rooms - there are five categories: Just Right, Generous, Unique, Spacious and Indulgent, which increase in size - have large windows and their own private outdoor space from a balcony to a large terrace, with views of the sea and Atlantic sunsets.

Our spacious room was decorated with natural wood and stone, sharp lines and angles eschewed in favour of sensuous curves. The king-size bed was clad in warm taupe and honey fabrics, and the stand-alone bath (in the middle of the room) and curtain-free shower were covered with opalescent mosaic tiles.

Eco-chic in all the details, the high-thread count sheets, fluffy towels and robes are made of organic cotton. The delicious-smelling soaps are from the Cornish Soap Box Company and come with a little canvas bag so you can take them away with you.

While The Scarlet doesn't compromise on luxury, you can relax in the knowledge that your hedonism is being offset by its green ethos. The three sisters behind the hotel kept its environmental impact at the forefront from the start, from using water-based eco paint and a huge biomass boiler that burns locally harvested woodchips, to grey-water recycling and solar panel-heated pools.

A child-free zone, The Scarlet is perfect for a romantic getaway, designed to help couples reconnect. Aiding this process is the lack of Wi-Fi and mobile phone reception (if that thought scares you, there are ethernet cables available and you can get a signal further along the road) and, not least, two lipstick-red, log-fired hot tubs. Set on the cliff edge overlooking the dramatic sweep of the bay, a romantic soak in the mineral-rich seaweed baths is ideally paired with a glass of champagne.

Inside, the hotel's innovative spa is based on Ayurvedic principles. After a consultation to determine your dosha, or body type, you can choose from a single treatment, or a range of treatments, creating a spa journey that can last up to four hours. Get scrubbed down in the hammam, or slather each other in black rasul mud, which will leave your skin glowing.

Then choose from the low-lit post-treatment relaxation space filled with suspended tepee-like pods. Filled with cushions, the swaying motion will soon have you drifting off to sleep. Or take to a day bed or squishy bean bag in a more uplifting, sun-drenched room overlooking the reed-bed natural pool and the sea beyond.

The more active can swim in the large pool - where glass walls blend indoor and outdoor space. Or brave the Atlantic for some wild swimming, coasteering, kayaking, even surfing. On dry land you can try yoga, horse riding and tree climbing. Unsurprisingly, some people never leave the hotel.

Breakfast in The Scarlet's stylish, light-filled restaurant is an informal, leisurely affair, prepared with seasonal locally sourced produce: generous portions of fruit salad, homemade bread and jams, a very full English.

Dinner is more glamorous and intimate, but the dishes on Michelin-starred chef Ben Tunnicliffe's eclectic, daily changing menu are equally home-grown, and designed to let the flavours of the fresh ingredients shine through.

With wine recommendations from a Euro-centric list, (less air miles) including Cornish Camel Valley wines, I opted for the seared hand-dived St Austell scallops, with onion puree and peppered satsumas, followed by charred rib of St Ives beef with caramelised shallots, salsa verde and griddled polenta, rounded off with a decadent hot chocolate soufflé with pistachio ice cream and, greedily, a selection of poetically named local cheeses.

My experience at The Scarlet left me both relaxed and invigorated - and it didn't cost the planet.

The Scarlet Hotel

  • Tredragon Road
  • Mawgan Porth
  • Cornwall TRD 4DQ

    Double rooms start at £180 per night, for two sharing, including breakfast and VAT. Book on: 01637 861800;

    Getting there: the author flew from London to Newquay on Air Southwest ( The Scarlet is only six miles from the airport.

    Full Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored in part by Air Southwest, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Sarah Gilbert.

    Sarah Gilbert

    Sarah Gilbert cut her travelling teeth on InterRail, spending summers in France, Spain, Italy and Greece. Bitten by the travel bug, her trips gradually grew longer and more exotic, from two months exploring Turkey, to a year travelling from Mexico to Chile. Now a freelance travel writer based in London, she contributes to Wanderlust, Conde Nast Traveller, The Guardian and The Independent, among ot...(Read More)

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