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Hotel and Spa Review: The Headland hotel, Newquay in Cornwall

By Natasha Heard  |  November 10, 2020
The Headland
Image Credit: Mat Spencer

Approaching The Headland hotel in Newquay via the expansive driveway always feels a little like coming home. The familiar, inviting coastline, the Atlantic breeze and the greenery of the grounds either side that guide your entry to this 120-year-old hotel add to the anticipation of a stay that will envelope you in luxury.

Blending classic interiors and a laid-back nature alongside a host of brand-new amenities that offer any visitor a well-rounded stay, The Headland never seems to stop evolving to offer its guests the five-star visit they are promised.


Headland hotel
The typical Cornish hospitality is prevalent from the moment you enter through the revolving door with hotel staff ready to help in any way they can.
Image credit: Guy Harrop

The typical Cornish hospitality is prevalent from the moment you enter through the revolving door to the time you regretfully drive away with the iconic red and grey structure in your rear-view mirror. All hotel personnel try their very best to ensure their guests are catered to, be it with a cappuccino in the spacious lounge, a tour of the new spa facilities, a hand with luggage, a top up of a drink or with your dining arrangements.

The latest addition to the hotel’s facilities is the £10 million Aqua Club, which opened its doors in the summer. It provides an extra six indoor and outdoor pools, an additional restaurant named The Deck and an outdoor terrace on which to lounge and take in the views of Fistral Bay. The stand-alone wellness centre is the perfect complement to the hotel which boasts The Samphire Restaurant, The Terrace eatery, a lower ground five-bubble rated spa with Spa Lounge offering coastal views, a pool, sauna, steam room, aromatherapy showers, treatment rooms, state-of-the-art fitness suite; sumptuous public rooms and a bar serving delectable cocktails.


Headland hotel
Suites at The Headland provide a welcoming and cosy set up for a stay at any time of the year.
Image credit: Guy Harrop

There are plenty of accommodation options too, depending on the type of stay you require. A village of one, two and three-bedroom cottages make up the self-catering options, while inside the hotel you can choose from a selection of individually styled suites and rooms featuring glorious views and all the comforts you desire.

My room was one of the few with a balcony – perfect for taking in the sheer natural beauty of the bay, Fistral Beach, Pentire headland and the Atlantic vista, with the mesmerising soundscape of the seagulls, waves and wind making for the perfect lullaby and wake-up call.

Another standout feature of the room was the ornate dark wood four poster bed, which was dressed in swathes of duck egg blue and cream fabrics and laid with crisp, white sheets and a selection of firm pillows inviting any guest to dive straight in. The classic features continued in the spacious room with shining, dark wood bedside tables and a matching desk and occasional table by the front door.

As well as some gold touches in the mirror and lamps and matching soft green/blue walls and furnishings, there was a comfy sofa at the foot of the bed and a small table and chairs, though not quite in keeping with the rest of the space. The large bathroom boasted a twin sink, spacious bath, gloriously heated floor and roomy walk-in shower (I would highly recommend that the provided shower mat goes down – I discovered this the hard way!) Added extras include Elemis toiletries, a small fridge, reusable branded shopping bag, fan and umbrella in the wardrobe – hello British weather – along with an espresso machine and some lovely Headland fudge too.


The Deck restaurant
The Deck is a circular space looking out onto the outdoor and indoor pools and offers a casual vibe

As mentioned, there are a few dining options, but I was looking forward to trying out the new offering at the Aqua Club – The Deck. Sitting in the centre of this brand-new building, the Mediterranean-inspired eatery has a cool, casual vibe and produces a selection of light bites, tasty mains, retro desserts and cocktails such as dips, salads, flatbreads, and ice cream sundaes.

Open from 12pm to 9pm, the eatery has large windows back to the indoor pools and tinted windows out to the deck area to make the most of those sea views. Swimmers are leisurely soaking in the hot tub in the outdoor area which bridges the gap between the eatery and the coast and this just adds to the relaxed vibe. The circular space is centred with a large, round wood burner which leads up through an atrium roof, while much of the foundation is made up of grey stone with oversized plants, grey chairs and a grey and white geometric floor finishing off the area.

The atmospheric pool lighting, upbeat music and modern décor all make for a relaxing spot to dine; it’s casual dining at its best.

The Deck restaurant
The dessert menu is a celebration of ice cream desserts and the banana split was a winner

So, onto the food and I started with some crudités and beetroot hummus as well as a portion of rosemary and garlic fries. Some cute little matchstick vegetable bundles arrived, very neatly presented and swiftly devoured with the hummus, which was rather bland and didn’t taste much like beetroot, but the tasty chips made up the flavoursome element.

There was a good selection of flatbreads available, which are freshly cooked in a pizza oven, and I opted for the Parma ham version with garlic butter (can you tell I love garlic?) cherry tomatoes, parmesan and rocket. I also greedily opted for a starter size portion of the Cornish crab and grapefruit salad, which included cucumber, shallots, watercress and a pink grapefruit dressing (and unbeknownst to me; rocket). I asked for no rocket, but both dishes came with it, so once I had removed the dastardly leaves, I tucked in and thoroughly enjoyed both.

Ice cream was the theme of the dessert menu, and I am pleased to note that this involved a selection of ice cream-based treats that the child in anyone will rejoice at. Of peach melba, banana split, baklava ice cream sundae and a Cornish cream tea sundae (there were Callestick Farm ice creams on their own and a chocolate olive oil cake too) I opted for the banana split. Alongside a hefty scoop of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream each sat some chunky slices of caramelised banana, chocolate chunks, raspberry sauce and dried banana pieces. There was a great mix of sweet flavours and textures and it was a lovely way to end the meal.


The Aqua Club
Natural materials are in abundance and the design led space boasts indoor and outdoor vitality pools with benches and jets to massage.
Image credit: Anthony Greenwood

Food and suite aside, I was most certainly looking forward to trying out some of the new facilities and indulging in a spa treatment during my stay. At the time of my visit the Aqua Club was open to hotel guests only to assure social distancing could be adhered to, and I wasn’t complaining, though I’m sure locals would love to get a look in soon. A sauna and steam room were closed but the rest was open, and I couldn’t wait to head there for a dip or two. Six new pools sounds like you might be heading to a large leisure centre in the grounds, but it’s smaller than it sounds, which isn’t a bad thing, I might add.

Natural materials are in abundance and the design led space with its curved design and windows galore make for an elegant and relaxing space. There’s a skinny 25-metre indoor swimming pool with glass roof above; indoor and outdoor vitality pools with underwater benches, beds, and jets; a splash pool and a hot tub with a little pool around outside and a spacious deck area with loungers. There’s direct access from the cottages onto the outdoor deck and the club is standalone so any hotel and cottage guests have to brave the Atlantic breeze when they want a dip, though there are spacious changing rooms to head to.

The addition of the Aqua Club on the grounds means that guests have an all-new spa facility and eatery, but, rest assured, the existing spa and pool on the lower ground floor of the hotel remains, and this is where all the treatments take place.

Aqua Club
The 25-metre training pool sits inside the brand-new Aqua Club.
Image credit: Anthony Greenwood

I booked in for a hot stone massage and popped along after an early breakfast to indulge. My spa therapist was Tina who was excellent; friendly, helpful and offered lots of advice as well providing me with a great massage. The treatment started with a hand wash while chatting through my consultation form then I hopped onto the warm bed to begin the massage. The scents of frangipani and the ever-relaxing tinkling spa sounds filtered through the room whisking me away to another place and readying me for a thoroughly chilled session.

Legs, feet, back, arms and hands were massaged with the hot stones, left and right, then it was time for a dedicated back and shoulder massage with elbows, hands and stones. I then turned over for a super-relaxing neck and shoulder rub, releasing so much tension I didn’t even know I had there, before beautiful lavender scented products were massaged onto my face. The treatment ended with a soothing scalp massage and I lay there thinking that I could quite easily come back for this treatment every month, in fact every week! I never felt that there was too much or too little pressure and the temperature and music level in the room were perfect. It was pure bliss.

Regretfully bringing myself back into the present, Tina talked me through which products she had used, offering me advice before leading me to the relaxation room. I took no convincing when it came to purchasing the Elemis frangipani monoi body oil that was used, especially after being told it can be used as a foot treatment, after a bath all over the body or as weekly hair treatment. In light of this, I couldn’t wait to continue my spa experience at home, and the provided robe to head to the relaxation room in was so deliciously soft, I bought one of those too!

Spa treatment at The Headland Hotel
Spa treatments are so utterly relaxing and therapists are professional, knowledgeable and friendly.
Image credit: Guy Harrop

The low-lit relaxation room does what it promises, with curved beds adorned with blankets making for a cosy retreat to rehydrate, relax and reluctantly reawaken yourself to tackle the day, albeit from a much more calm and serene perspective.

In a nutshell

The Headland is the ideal retreat whether you’re looking for a spa-focused weekend, a food-led break, whether the beach, water and coastal paths are calling or if you fancy a little bit of everything. It’s a great place to slow down the pace, enjoy the natural beauty that Fistral and Newquay have to offer and recharge yourself for whatever life is about to throw at you. Book now and give yourself a five-star treat to look forward to.


Rooms at the hotel can be booked from £145 and there are various packages to enjoy including the winter storm watching at the hotel, cosy Cornish getaway and one-night recharge packages.

Address: Fistral Beach, Headland Rd, Newquay TR7 1EW
Phone: 01637 872211

See snippets of my travels on Instagram @tashheard_food_travel and Twitter @tashheardtravel