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Muddy Stays: Crantock Bay Apartments

Well thought out self-catering luxury apartments with access to spa and bistro, looking out over the North Cornwall coast and next to the West Pentire wildflower meadows.

THE LOWDOWN

Crantock Bay Apartments, along with the Crantock Bay Spa and C-Bay Café/Bar/Bistro sits on the cliff-top overlooking Crantock Beach. (Don’t confuse this with the C Bay Spa, which is in Carbis Bay near St Ives. Crantock Bay is between Newquay and Perranporth, slightly further up the north coast of Cornwall).

The Eyles family first purchased the hotel in 1951 and then the current owners, Nina and Tony Eyle, decided to convert the place into a series of luxury self-catering apartments in 2013.

The spa, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows looking out of the coastline and local artwork hanging on the walls, was designed and opened in 2018. The C-Bay Cafe/Bistro opened alongside the apartments with the bar lounge a more recent addition in 2019.

There are currently 15 different holiday apartments, a combination of 2, 3 and 4 bedroomed apartments, split-level apartments and the 4 bedroomed three-story Surf Holiday Home, all of which are privately owned but centrally managed by the team at Crantock Bay Apartments.

All of the apartments are well set up for children and most are dog friendly, as is the C-Bay Cafe/Bistro. Children (but not the dogs) are also welcome in the pool.

Families return to their favourite apartments year after year – this is self-catering at its most luxurious. It’s not quite a hotel, so you do need to bring your own pool/beach towels, coffee pods and provide your own dishwasher tablets once you’ve used up the supply in the extremely generous welcome hamper, but it is pretty darn close.

THE VIBE

It may be luxurious at Crantock Bay Apartments but it is not pretentious, set out to make the most of the gorgeous sea-views and Cornish coastline. The buildings are sympathetically set against the surrounding grounds, which is mainly grass dropping down to the Coast Path, with the carparks hidden from view to the side and underneath the tennis court.

Each apartment being privately owned is decorated individually but the general vibe is generous well thought out luxury, with wooden floors, white kitchens and floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors in the living spaces and bedrooms with sea-views. All apartments have outside spaces or balconies with access to a bookable shared BBQ space. Inside the apartments feel huge, with plenty of bathrooms and even utility rooms plus outside shed storage for surfboards and a place to hang wetsuits to dry.

NEARBY

Newquay is just over the river but Crantock feels a world away from the holiday-makers and surfers in the town and its beaches. The apartments are just beyond the village itself and look out over Crantock Beach and the Gannel estuary.

Crantock Beach is at the mouth of the estuary and at low tide reveals a long stretch of golden sand backed by dunes. At the far west of the beach is the headland Pentire Point West. Follow the South West Coast Path round the headland and you’ll reach Polly Joke beach. The slopes of Pentire Point and above Polly Joke are famed in early summer for their vibrant wildflower meadows – the whole area turns bright red and yellow with poppies and corn marigolds. Totally instagrammable and people come from across Cornwall to take photos – definitely don’t step on the flowers.

The Gannel estuary with its dunes and grasslands is a sanctuary for wildlife and seabirds, including nesting fulmars, jackdaws and pigeons, which can be seen from the Coast Path. The water itself, once full of sailing ships carrying supplies, now attracts kite surfers but as with all estuaries can be dangerous for swimmers as strong rips can appear.

At the southern end of Crantock Beach, in the caves known as Piper’s Hole, conceal a beautiful secret, visible only at low tide. Enter the first cave on the right where you should be able to see a flat slab carved with the outline of a female figure and a few lines of verse. It is said that these carvings are from the early 1900s and the work of a local man, known as Joseph Prater.

The beach at Polly Joke is another of Cornwall’s so-called secret beaches, as you can only approach on foot. A firm Muddy favourite, dogs are allowed all year, and again there is everything you could wish for – golden sands, rock pools, caves and plenty to explore, even inspiring Winston Graham’s fictional beach Nampara Cove in Poldark. Sadly there has never been any sign of Ross himself any time I’ve visited, but the poppies and sunset views (almost) make up for it.

Crantock is well-positioned for Newquay Airport and not too far from the A30/A39 if you’re driving, although you’ll want to leave good time for bypassing Newquay itself which in summer can still prove somewhat of a bottleneck.

Once you’ve arrived, there’s not really any need to leave and you could certainly easily spend a week without getting back in the car (get your food delivered for the day you arrive, or stop at Morrisons in Newquay on your way past) as the C-Bay Bistro on site and the next-door Bowgie Inn have you well catered. That said, if you’re a foodie, you’ll no doubt want to head to Padstow (30 mins drive) or even Fowey which is under an hour away.

Activities wise there are surfing schools at Crantock, and obviously Newquay and it’s more famous surfing beaches just up the coast. The apartments are well catered for with books and TV, although you may want to check the specific apartments for streaming services, as the one we stayed in only had an option for DVDs. The Eden Project near St Austell, National Maritime Museum in Falmouth and various National Trust properties are within an hour’s drive.

SCOFF & QUAFF

We ate at the C-Bar Bistro which is a relaxed cafe/bistro and bay, open all day to non-residents as well as those in the apartments, with most tables looking out over Crantock Bay. In summer, you can eat on the sun terrace and in the garden, which opens onto the south-west coast path, welcoming walkers, bikers and dogs.

The cafe serves food all day, including coffee, cake and afternoon tea as well as hot food for lunch. The more sophisticated evening menu incorporates locally sourced seasonal ingredients with Cornish and British influences, alongside popular dishes such as the classic ‘C-Bay’ burger in a Baker Tom bun and locally caught sustainable fish.

With such a relaxed cafe atmosphere you’d be forgiven if you thought the food might follow a similar vein but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cooking. The fish was delicious, the children enjoyed the burgers, and my breakfast pancakes were among some of the best I’ve eaten (and I’ve tried a lot of pancakes, its a perpetual search).

PILLOW TALK

We took the king-sized master bedroom with the ensuite (complete with two sinks, no arguing on holiday, and a walk in shower) and the kids delighted in sharing the other sea-view bedroom with a huge bed we could have divided into twins if we’d have asked. The white bedlinen and towels made it feel like a posh hotel but you do need to provide your own toiletries, robes and slippers (being self-catering and all).

The blinds and wooden furniture added to the clean lines of the place but I was mainly enjoying the sea-view from the bed whilst I drank my morning coffee. In summer being able to step straight out of the door into the garden must be delightful.

The kitchen was well-thought through and you’d easily be able to turn out food for the masses, just as long as you remember your own coffee pods for the machine. The welcome hamper was extremely, well, welcoming, including the first day’s starter kit of dishwasher tablets, bin liner etc, as well as an entire Cornish cream tea, plus wine.

KID-FRIENDLY

Oh yes, and dog-friendly too. High chairs are provided in the apartments as well as stair gates where appropriate (the apartment we stayed in was all on one level, so I’ll take their word for this). There is a kids menu in the C-Bay cafe/bistro and dedicated child-friendly swim times in the indoor pool.

The beaches nearby are perfect for sandcastles, rock pooling and body boarding – all the hallmarks of a good ol’ summer holiday right outside the door of the apartment. You won’t even need to jump in the car. The pub nearby also allows kids and serves food all day.

SPA

The spa offers treatments from manicures and pedicures to beautifully crafted spa rituals and Cancer Touch Therapy. I was booked in for a mix and match massage treatment, where you can specify what you’d like – yours truly obviously spends a lot of time typing, so I went for my usual back & shoulder massage plus accepted the suggestion of a facial.

This was no sports massage – in fact, I found it so soothing and relaxing and such a nice way to end the week I ended up falling asleep. I also appreciated that the pre-treatment questionnaire inquired after my mental as well as my physical health, which is not something I am always asked. I liked that the treatment was definitely holistic.

The team chooses to use products from the ethical and award-winning Made for Life Organics that are hand-blended in Cornwall. As a nice touch, the candles on all the tables in the cafe are lit in (empty) jewel coloured glass product jars. The oils and balms smelt divine and I also enjoyed the facial exfoliator made with dried calendula petals.

Downstairs from the spa you’ll find the heated indoor swimming pool and spa bath, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over the coast. The pool is just about long enough to swim lengths but it is more of a relaxing swim type place, with large scale art from local artist Lorna Wiles (you can find her studio on the walk to the beach) and loungers to sit back and switch off. Beautifully calm and adult, especially during the evening when the pool lights are on. But also, kid-friendly in the family hours – the shallow end really is shallow, and my kids loved being mermaids in the clear water. They enjoyed the pool so much they asked to swim in both the morning and afternoon kids sessions.

As a bonus, non-guests can use the swimming pool and spa on a daily, monthly or annual membership.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Families and groups who want most of the facilities of a hotel but prefer their own socialising space and the option to cater for themselves. Relaxed family dining and those who want to bring their dogs.

Not for: Couples wanting to get away from it all as the grounds and swimming pool are communal. If you need to be in a town to be happy on holiday, this also isn’t the option you’re looking for.

The damage: Short breaks in Apartment 2 which sleeps six from £590.

Crantock Bay Apartments, Crantock, Cornwall, TR8 5SE

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