Muddy Reviews: Una St Ives
Set in a little spot of paradise, just minutes from the beautiful sweeping sands of Carbis Bay and the arty fishing harbour town of St Ives, Muddy checked in for a weekend off.
The Una St Ives resort is tucked into the countryside near to Carbis Bay (you’ll recognise the name as that is where the G7 visited earlier in 2021) in the west of Cornwall. It is super easy to access from the main A30 and makes a great location for exploring and relaxing in this far west corner of the Duchy.
It’s all about luxury self-catering breaks at Una St Ives with 29 cedar clad architect-designed lodges and villas set into the Cornish landscape. There are a mix of one, two, three and four bed properties, which you can book by the week or weekend, as well as an increasing number of stunning villas to own on a hassle-free Live & Let basis. (From the upper floors and balconies you can see where some of the new buildings will be at the rear of the site).
Set in sweeping wild flower meadows and with countryside walks on the door step, everything you could need for a relaxing break is on site, including a spa with state-of-the-art facilities and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and evening meals. As you’d expect with it being self-catering, the added bonus is that you also have your home from home in your villa should you fancy cooking your own favourites, or just all spending time together watching TV.
The site is spacious without feeling like everything is too far away to be easy to access, and the lodges and villas discreetly set so that there are private spaces and views without rows of fences and screens – it’s communal without feeling like you’re on holiday together with people you don’t know.
Una St Ives takes its eco credentials seriously: all lodges and villas have solar panels, sedum roofs and cedar cladding as well as lamb’s wool insulation and triple glazed windows, meaning they are warm and quiet.
Inside, you’ll find fully equipped kitchens with spacious dining and living areas, perfect for family meals; outside, there are individual private spaces and parking for each property, so you can drive up and roll in without having to worry at all about parking. Some lodges and villas have an outside hot tub and many have cosy wood burners in the living space, making Una a year round resort.
We stayed in a three-bed lodge, which had more than enough space for a family of four, and we could happily have had the kids sharing the twin room and invited the grandparents along for the other double room to make six, without feeling like we were on top of each other.
Everything was tastefully and neutrally decorated, with the art work in both the lodge and the main building / spa taking pride of place. Aside from the TV though, there were no books or games included (*sadly they’ve been removed for the time being due to Covid cleaning), so you’d need to remember your own – the upside, no clutter whatsoever!
My bed, with white sheets and duvets, was a little on the soft side for my liking, but everyone else slept soundly. Towels are provided for the bathrooms and there are even additional ones to take to the pool. No toiletries were included save a bar of soap though so you also need to remember to pack your own shampoo and so on.
There was, however, a lovely welcome pack for the place, which included washing up liquid and four loo-rolls, as well as enough tea, coffee and milk for the first day or so. No breakfast cereal or bread though, so you’ll need to remember that if your kids are early risers (breakfast in Una Kitchen doesn’t start until 8.30am). The kitchen has all the pans and plates and so on, as well as place mats, but if you’re a real foodie and set on serious cooking day after day, you might want to double check on specific equipment.
SCOFF AND QUAFF
On site, should you not fancy cooking yourself, is the adjoining stylish bistro, Una Kitchen, under the care of winning Cornish chef Glenn Gatland, where residents and non-residents alike can enjoy his Mediterranean-inspired menu created from local Cornish produce, as well as beautiful cocktails. Daily menus include some great fish dishes, signature pizzas, wood fired Sunday roasts, and breakfasts along with a great selection of drinks.
You can see above the Gozney wood fired oven which was the first of its kind to be installed in Cornwall and is huge – making the place perfect for winter breaks – in summer, the doors open onto the deck – and just right for pizzas, steak and mackerel, all of which we put to the test (below) and were enjoyed by the whole family. Dogs are also welcome in the restaurant and actively welcomed by the extremely friendly team who provided excellent service and looked after us beautifully.
The heated infinity pool below is the centre piece of the wellness facility – a square 1.2m pool looking right out into typical Cornish wild gardens. In the summer, the wildflower meadow was in bloom as I swam. Back for this review in the autumn, the colours had changed and as we swam the rain lashed the floor to ceiling windows and it felt super cosy inside.
There is also a children’s pool plus loungers, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi, making it an excellent place to spend a weekend morning. Locals can also buy membership, so there were quite a few kids with their families, making it feel buzzing but not over busy. No lifeguards, but you can bring your own noodles and floats.
I’ve got to admit that I did not, ahem, test the gym or fitness studio, but there are there as an option for a workout should you desire, and again looked out on fresh Cornish air and countryside. I did however do the hard work and head for one of the four treatment rooms – last time I was at Una I had an excellent massage, so this time my daughter and I opted to have a mum/daughter pedicure treatment. There is an extensive range of pampering and holistic treatments and the products are Elemis.
OUT AND ABOUT
You could stay on site for your whole trip, but while that would be nice, I think you’d be missing out, as part of the beauty of Una is that it is the perfect family and dog-friendly countryside base for exploring the wild and remote West Penwith peninsular. St Ives, Penzance, Sennen, St Just and Lands End are all within easy driving distance – you could do a circular route in a day and see all of them, but the real gems are to be found by parking and walking.
With only a weekend we couldn’t do everything, so I had to be a bit selective. We headed to the Jackson Foundation Gallery (above) in St Just, which won Best Art Gallery in the recent Muddy Awards, to look at the Kenidjack: A Cornish Valley Cornwall exhibition, and then after refuelling with ice-cream from the Moomaid parlour, headed down to Priests Cove (below) at Cape Cornwall. This is one of the places Kurt Jackson paints often, and if you watched him on Rick Stein’s Cornwall show earlier this year, you’ll recognise it.
Off the shore you can see the Brisons and there’s even a little tidal pool in which you can take a dip (and two people did, sadly not me as I had already swam that morning in the pool at Una). Park in the National Trust carpark and there is a lovely little walk down to the cove, from which you can also pick up the coastpath where you can walk to Sennen or Lands End. The café was closed as we were there late afternoon, but it is open in summer for longer hours. In winter, the NT carpark makes a good place to take your own hot drink and watch the storms chase in from the sea to the west.
On the Sunday we headed into the bright lights of St Ives itself, heading first for coffee and then the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden before the Tate itself. See my insider guide for more tips on the town – the Searooms on the harbour makes a good small plates type dinner choice, but things are still busy, so you’ll probably need to book ahead for Saturday night or Sunday lunch, even in autumn.
Had we had longer, we would have continued our arty theme and headed into Penzance and Newlyn, to the Newlyn Art Gallery and Exchange, revisited the Tremenheere Sculpture Garden and Penlee House and the Jupiter Gallery. We would also have booked into the Gurnard’s Head for lunch and walked more at Zennor, but you could spend a month down here easily and still not have done everything… for more ideas, you can check out my suggestions for Joe Biden when he visited earlier in the year.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families, or couples, with or without dogs, who want self-catering with space and peace and quiet, out of the hustle and bustle of a town, yet with amenities. If you were a larger group, you could also hire two or more lodges next to each other, retaining your own space but with the option to hang out together too.
Not for: The lodges are luxe but it is still self-catering, so you’ll have to make your own bed and so on, so worth bearing that in mind if it’s not your bag – plenty of hotel options here to look at instead!
The damage: A self-catering stay at Una St Ives in a 2-bedroom lodge costs from £140 per night for a 3-night break in low season. A new 2-bedroom villa will cost from £180 per night for a 3-night break in low season. Includes leisure club access.
Una St Ives, Carbis Bay, Cornwall, TR26 3HW,
+44(0)1736 257 000, unastives.co.uk