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EXPERT REVIEW Explore one of Britain’s most dramatic landscapes from this boutique beach hotel in (relatively) sunny southwest England


Overall eco rating

The Scarlet sits above a pretty beach on a spectacular cliff amidst the natural beauty of the north Cornish coast. The hotel also sits head and shoulders above most other hotels for the level of thought that has gone into achieving their green credentials.

Completed in 2009, The Scarlet strives to minimise impacts on the environment. The result is a hotel that has taken sustainable construction to new heights in the UK.

From the earliest stages of construction, this hotel made strides to be as ethical and environmentally friendly as possible, carefully relocating reptiles from the site before digging even began.

The building is incredibly energy efficient, incorporating renewable energy sources, a green roof, abundant insulation and many other energy-saving features.

The Scarlet team also practice what they preach and are fully trained up in sustainability and ethical issues.

The hotel's renowned restaurant offers a good selection of vegetarian and vegan meals, and uses a high proportion of local and organic ingredients.

The spa is also one of the greenest in Britain, with the two chlorine-free pools. The indoor pool is purified with bromine and heated using solar thermal panels, and the cold-water outdoor pool is naturally filtered by reeds.

  • If certified, would be a BREEAM ‘outstanding’-quality building
  • Super energy efficient and uses renewable energy for heating and hot water
  • Cleaning products and toiletries all environmentally and animal-friendly
  • Local, organic gourmet food in the restaurant
  • Two chlorine-free pools

  • Not actually BREEAM certified
  • No renewable electricity generated on site


The hotel has a strong connection to the local community and works with them in a number of ways, choosing local suppliers, sponsoring local charities, coordinating cleaning of the beach, sharing their green knowledge with other local businesses.

  • Provides significant employment of locals in one of the Britain’s more economically deprived areas
  • A strong buy-local policy
  • Works with local schools and colleges on educational initiatives
  • Champion and shares knowledge of green business practices with local businesses
  • Corporate sponsors of several local charities
  • Operate a Community Fund that local groups can apply to for funding of local sustainability projects

  • Not all of its teas and coffees are Fair Trade or Organic, although those that aren't are made locally

Animals & nature

The hotel has taken a number of steps to preserve the local environment for the benefit of wildlife, and responsible guests craving a bit of doggy TLC can sometimes even take the manager's dog for a walk on the beach. Toiletries are made locally, and cleaning products and toiletries are environmentally friendly and not tested on animals (TBC - PETA assessment of cruelty free credentials of cleaning products and toiletries to come).

  • Carefully re-homed reptiles from the building site prior to construction.
  • Organises beach-cleaning events for the cove beneath the hotel.
  • Building features a roof made of ‘sea thrift’, a plant variety indigenous to this part of the coast.
  • Natural outdoor pool with native plantings, creating a mini-habitat
  • Vegetarian main courses in the restaurant are varied and creative, with vegan options.
  • Meat, poultry and seafood are mostly organic and ethically sourced.Toiletries and cleaning products are not tested on animals.
  • Cleaning products selected for reduced toxicity and chemical use is minimised.


Environment & buildings

The Scarlet does pretty much everything we could expect a British hotel to do to be green. The building was built using sustainable materials and incorporates significant amounts of re-used and recycled materials. It has also been designed to minimise energy use in operation. The level of thought put into the design of the building and its systems is carried through into the operation of the building – when the Scarlet says they work carefully with their supply chain to minimise waste, you can believe them.

  • Could be a BREEAM ‘outstanding’ building
  • Insulated far beyond current standards, triple glazing throughout
  • Airtight construction (a storm can rage outside without so much as a flutter inside)
  • Passive solar design – no need for AC - natural ventilation with heat recovery
  • Renewable heat sources – (locally produced) wood chips and solar thermal panels. 
  • Clever use of natural light in corridors minimises the need for artificial light
  • Energy efficient lighting – LED lights, dimmers, motion detectors, etc.
  • Electric car charging point for guests (free of charge)The Scarlet collect candle wax from used candles and sends it back to the local manufacturer for reuse
  • If a guest leaves behind their handmade, organic soap, the Scarlet team will find a use for it in the laundry as a stain remover

  • Not actually BREEAM certified
  • No renewable electricity generated on site


Reviewed by

Tim Starley-Grainger


Overall luxury rating*

The scene

A few hours from London, the county of Cornwall in England’s southwest corner draws professional couples, families and surfers for weekends by the sea.

Foodies come for celebrity-chef eateries (Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein), surfers for the crashing waves, walkers for cliff-top rambles, gardeners for The Eden Project, history buffs for the ruined castles and quaint seaside villages and art lovers for the gallery-filled town of St Ives.

But the reason any of them stay at The Scarlet is simple. Pure, unadulterated luxury, with sea views, a gorgeous spa and a restaurant so good, you need never leave the hotel.

  • Beach with long, shallow wading area and occasional surf-worthy waves below the hotel
  • Dramatic cliff-top walks start right behind the hotel
  • Halfway between cute Padstow and artsy St Ives
  • Easy one-hour walk or 15-minute bicycle ride to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, and a short taxi to Rick Stein’s Padstow eateries
  • Good train connections to London and throughout the UK to Bodmin Park Station, 25 minutes away

  • Quite a distance from the nearest international airports and train stations.
  • It’s on the Atlantic Ocean, and the water is never very warm.
  • You have to walk down some wonky steps on a hillside to reach the beach, so not ideal for anyone with accessibility issues.

The style

The sea is always in sight, thanks to abundant floor-to-ceiling windows in rooms, the restaurant and lounge areas. Pad around on the wood floors, flop by the fire on one of the vibrantly coloured sofas, or wallow in your room’s huge bath or walk-in shower. Read a book in the library, soak up sun on the terrace or play a game of snooker in the games room.

And definitely bring your swimsuit. Even if you’re not brave enough for the outdoor natural-water pool, you’ll want to go for a swim in the eco-heated indoor one, and make sure to book in for a free session in the wood-fired, cliff-top hot tub.

At night, leave the curtains open so you’re awakened with the sun and sea views right from your bed.

  • Sea views from all rooms
  • All rooms have private patios, balconies or roof gardens
  • High-threadcount white sheets, plenty of plump pillows and comfortably firm mattresses
  • Locally designed furniture and artworks give a unique character and sense of place
  • Easy-to-use lighting system with a wide array of lighting options (romantic, all lights, reading, etc) that doesn’t require an electronics degree to use
  • Powerful showers and some rooms have large whirlpool-style baths
  • Gorgeous locally made natural toiletries, including a rich conditioner and creamy body lotion

  • Traditionalists will not appreciate the casual style - t-shirts and relaxed string-tie trousers - of staff uniforms
  • No minibars or tea-making facilities in the rooms means you’ll need to call room service for a cuppa

The facilities

A world-class spa, award-winning restaurant, grown-up games room and buzzy bar make this a hotel you’ll be reluctant to leave.

  • Clifftop outdoor log-fire seaweed hot tubs
  • Indoor swimming pool 13m x 4m cleansed by low-dosage bromine
  • Clifftop outdoor pool purified by natural reeds and plants
  • Sea-view yoga and meditation room with free classes
  • Steam room
  • Games Room with snooker tables
  • Extensive library with books for guest use
  • Bar with creative cocktail menu and locally made beers and ciders

  • No sauna
  • No bicycles for guests use

We love

  • A soak in the ruby-red cliff-top log-fired hot tubs, with views over the crashing Atlantic seashore below, is a true one-off.
  • Sea views everywhere – the indoor pool, outdoor pool, the restaurant, all the rooms, the terrace and the lounges
  • Sandy beach just below the hotel.
  • Cliff-top walks from the rear of the hotel.
  • No kids – proper grown-up luxury.
  • Welcoming to solo travellers, with communal dining table for those who fancy it.

You might not love

  • The weather – this is Britain. You can’t count on sunshine.
  • The beach is sandy, but it is the Atlantic, so it’s not warm.
  • Kids not welcome.

Reviewed by

Jill Starley-Grainger

The Scarlet

Tredragon Road, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall TR8 4DQ United Kingdom

+44(0)1637 861800

Standard room rates from £120



"The Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall proves you don’t need to sacrifice luxury to protect the environment" The Ecologist

"Although green, and the Scarlet most definitely is, from its biomass boiler to its Europe-only wine list, there's no sense of a hair-shirt approach. Once inside the adult-only sanctuary the feeling is one of sybaritic relaxation" Conde Nast Traveller