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At a glance

  • You'll love

    Amazing beach location

    Adults-only swim times

    Jamie Oliver's Fifteen

  • Kids will love

    Surfing and swimming

    Nursery and games room

    Tot-to-teen activities

  • Don’t expect

    High-luxe trappings

    Starched tablecloths

    All-day childcare

Overview

Watergate Bay Hotel on Cornwall's splendid north coast has family-friendly charm in (buckets and) spades. This low-key surfers' paradise spoils Mr and Mrs with spa and bar time (not to mention Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall), while the kids catch waves on the beach, run riot in the playroom and race across the sands.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Watergate Bay Hotel with us:

A full-size bottle of Another Place hand lotion, handmade exclusively for the hotel with pure essential oils of chamomile, frankincense, clove and geranium

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at Watergate Bay Hotel

Dinner, bed and breakfast

Parent-approved

School out for summer? The hotel’s Extreme Academy is very much in: it's a perfect playground of golden sands and sparkling seas where hip little ones can catch some waves

Smith & Family

Facilities

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Watergate Bay hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

69, including interconnecting options and 18 spacious family suites.

Check–out

11.30am. Earliest check-in is 3pm, but guests may use the facilities as soon as they arrive.

Rates

Double rooms from $273.02 (£165), including tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include a full buffet-style breakfast. Children Under-3s stay free in travel cribs (request in advance). In high season, under-7s stay in parents’ rooms for 20% of the room rate (25% for children aged 8–15). There's a 15% discount on interconnecting rooms if the second room is occupied by under-7s. In low season, all under-8s go free; in mid-season, one under-8 goes free. 

Also

During school holidays, every child aged 8–15 receives a free surf lesson with the Extreme Academy during their stay.

At the hotel

Two-mile beach with surf school and watersports centre; swimming pools; spa treatment rooms; gym; restaurants; bars; crèche including soft-play area and outdoor playground; kids club; games room; free WiFi throughout; DVD library; self-service laundry.

In your room

Flatscreen TV, DVD player, radio, iPod dock, tea- and coffee-making facilities. Bathrooms are stocked with the hotel’s own Another Place spa toiletries and fluffy bathrobes.

Our favourite rooms

Family Suites have a king-size bed with room for a travel cot plus a second room featuring bunk beds (with rails) – space enough for a family of five or six. All en-suites have baths with over-bath showers, and there’s a fridge – invaluable for prepping baby food and bottles at unsociable hours. Four of the Family Suites also win the jackpot on account of kitchenettes with microwaves and sinks, as well as the fridge. Family Suites in the coach house don't have a sea view – some overlook the car park. You could also consider one of the interconnecting Standard Rooms in the main part of the hotel (with sea views); there's a family kitchen on each floor.

Poolside

Spacious, serene and with stonking views out to sea via floor-to-ceiling glass, the Swim Club’s 25-metre infinity pool is made both for lap-swimming and simply soaking (see also the bubbling hot tub on the outer deck). Adult-only sessions run from 7am to 9am and 6pm to 9pm; otherwise kids are welcome and there’s a shallow area designated for doggy-paddlers. Wise stuff this: if you clock-watch, you needn’t feel self-conscious about storming in with little feet and armbands in tow – and when you do broker a little kid-free time yourself, you can time your dip for when you won’t be divebombed by someone else’s over-Smartied six year-old.

Spa

At the Swim Club, therapists use the hotel’s own Another Place beauty products to pamper guests. Opt for primping (eyebrow shaping, waxing) or pampering (massage, body wraps, facials) in one of three low-lit treatment rooms (one is a double). A separate mani/pedi room sits in a raised-up alcove off the bar where you can watch the waves as you unwind.

And…

Pack light(er): there’s a self-serve laundrette with a washing machine and a dryer – we all know newborns go through six outfit changes a day. It’s also handy for speed washes when suncream and sand get everywhere.

Book ahead

At peak times especially, it pays to plan ahead. If you can anticipate wanting a mani/pedi on day two of your break, book it before you even pack your suitcase, along with a babysitter. Likewise if you want dad and the kids to kitesurf together, pre-booking will ensure you make the most of the facilities.

Pet-friendly

Dogs are welcome, for £15 a night (maximum two dogs per room; the second dog is charged at an additional £5 a night). You’ll need to bring your own food and doggie kit for them though.

Eco friendly

The hotel works hard to look after its beautiful beach, organising quarter-year clean-ups with the Marine Conservation Society. Its own-range hair and skincare products are made from natural ingredients and the food on your plate will be seasonal and locally sourced.

Food & Drink

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Watergate Bay hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Dining

Watergate Bay’s main dining room is closed for a revamp until March 2014, but in the meantime, breakfast and dinner are still available in the Event Space or Living Space, with competent brasserie cooking (sea bass, Jerusalem artichoke risotto and crispy pancetta) care of Executive chef Neil Haydock (ex-Fifteen Cornwall, the hotel's neighbour). The Living Space is for burgers, Spanish-style sharing plates, and bay views. Within the Swim Club, café-bar the Ocean Room has chocolate tarts and Danishes for a with-coffee sugar fix, plus nibbles for cocktail hour. With superlative views of the sands, this is the place to watch the waves, whether it’s with the Sunday supplements, your iPod, or a bottle of wine and your favourite person. Down on the beach itself is the take-away Venus Café for vanilla cornets, fish 'n' chips, or chilli con carne in winter. The Beach Hut, also directly on the sand, does brilliant brunches, burgers, steaks and moules marinières. As soon as it’s warm enough, staff throw open the floor-to-ceiling windows so that the sound of the waves fills the room – but it’s equally lovely as a winter refuge. You're also deliciously close to Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall – not actually part of the hotel but near enough to consider it part of the family.

Family fare

All restaurants – including Fifteen Cornwall – offer a kids’ menu. A kids’ tea is served daily at 5pm (book in advance, £7.50 – although children are welcome to dine later with parents if preferred). There are highchairs and baby-change facilities at all restaurants bar the Venus Café. Chefs at the hotel will also happily purée food on request. 

Hotel Bar

The Living Space bar is spacious and buzzy – a good option if the kids want to scoot about a bit while you have a beer. If they’re looking more docile, the bar at the Swim Club is a beautiful spot to watch the sunset, just bring colouring-in or Angry Birds as it’s not really a place to run riot. The Beach Hut will also mix you a Manhattan.

Last orders

Drinks served until 10pm in the Ocean Room and until late or the fat lady sings in the Living Room. The latter serves food until 10pm.

Smith Insider

  • Top table

    The Swim Club café serves slices of cake and juice – on-point for post doggy-paddle Elevenses – but really comes into its own for Mr & Mrs Smith’s cocktail hour as the sun slopes into the sea. Ask for a romantic window table at Fifteen.

  • Room service

    24-hour sandwiches, soups and salads are just a phone call away.

    Also

    Cows’ milk for baby bottles is free – just ask. There is a secure parents’ kitchen on each floor of the hotel with a microwave, washing-up facilities and a fridge/freezer.

Childcare

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Watergate Bay hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Parent approved

'School out for summer? The hotel’s Extreme Academy is very much in: it's a perfect playground of golden sands and sparkling seas where hip little ones can catch some waves'

Smith & Family

Crèche

There's no full-time childcare provision, but the Kids’ Zone is open from 8am to 9.30pm daily for guests' use (children must be accompanied outside the free supervised sessions: see below) and comprises a room stashed with more toys than Hamley’s – robots, ride-ons and scooters; dolls and dressing-up; trains, games and automobiles – as well as a soft-play corner for tots, plus reading mats where little ones can sit cross-legged and explore the excellent selection of books. Outside is a small playground with areas for climbing, balancing, hiding and exploring. A further art room offers not just daily-changing but several-times-daily-changing arts and crafts thoughtfully laid out on little activity tables. There’s a computer, lots of educational-looking sticklebricks and blocks, plus kiddie toilets. In school holidays, the Kids Zone is supervised for children aged 3–7 from 10am to 12 noon; and every evening year-round from 6.30pm–9.30pm (it's free, so you'll need to book ahead). All staff have Early Years Professional Status and are CRB-checked, qualified Playwork Practitioners, and judging from the calibre of the care on offer, related to, if not actually, Mary Poppins. Otherwise it’s unsupervised by staff and obligatory for a parent to be in attendance between 8am and 6.30pm. This means you can tag-team childcare while the other half snoozes/swims/sips a cold beer.

Kids Club

The XA Club runs during school holidays only and offers supervised evening fun for kids aged 7–12: staff lay on the likes of Punch and Judy shows, British Bulldogs and beach volleyball (all weather permitting), and also screen a U- or PG-film each night. There’s also a free Games Room, open all day and outside of school holidays (although unsupervised during these times). Tweens and teens are in their element here with table tennis, table football, controlled internet access, arts and crafts, PlayStation, X-Box 360 and Wii consoles.

Babysitting

Babysitters are available for £12 an hour (minimum three hours, between 6pm and 2am only); book at least 24 hours in advance. All babysitters are crèche staff, which means they’re CRB-checked and qualified Playwork Practitioners.

Baby-listening

The hotel offers two first-rate, tried-and-tested baby-listening services that extend throughout the hotel, including the bar in the Swim Club – they even reach the Beach Hut and Fifteen Cornwall. The first kind uses your in-room telephone and a handheld monitor, but, rather brilliantly, a video monitor has now being introduced that uses a camera in the room and a paired tablet device for real-time monitoring and bulletproof reassurance. Both services are free and will give you the child-free evening together you deserve.

Other Services

Between 6.30pm and 9.30pm all year round, the Kids’ Zone is fully supervised for little Smiths aged 3–7 to play in while you both enjoy dinner. You’ll need to stay on hotel grounds and book with military precision: places are limited, and, somewhat unsurprisingly, sell out like hot cakes.

What's there already?

For babies

• Highchairs • Travel cot • Cot bedlinen • Baby monitors • Soft toys • Baby gym • Crayons • Board books • CBeebies

For toddlers

• Highchairs • Booster seat • Cot beds • Cot bedlinen • Toddler-proof toys • Scooters • Crayons/pens • Craft materials • Picture books • U-rated DVDs • Indoor/outdoor play area

For older children

• DVD library • Board games • Craft materials • Doll's house • Lego • Ping-pong table • Table football • Wii consoles • XBox • PlayStation • Surfboards • Wetsuits

Activities

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Watergate Bay hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Things to do

You’ve come for a beach holiday and rain or shine you’ll get to enjoy the two-mile sandy beach at Watergate Bay: it fills the windows of the infinity pool and bar, plays host to the Extreme Academy surf school and sets the scene for endless hours with boogie boards, buckets and spades. But you’re also here to press the reset button, so ensure you put yourselves front-and-centre for once and utilise the hotel’s evening crèche, play areas, games rooms and free baby-listening services while Mr Smith gets to court his Missus (or while she spoils herself in the treatment rooms).

Hotel activities

The hotel’s beach-front Extreme Academy is both for rookies looking to discover their inner surfer and seasoned adrenalin junkies seeking new thrills. Book a session in surfing alongside traction skiing, paddle-surfing and several other watersports no-one’s ever heard of. Over-8s can surf and over-12s can try some of the slightly less racy options; parents will need to sign consent forms.

Sunny days

The two-mile stretch of sand at Watergate Bay is one of a clutch of truly beautiful beaches clinging to the rugged North Cornish coast - nearby Porth and Lusty Glaze beaches, like Watergate Bay, have lifeguards throughout summer. Sunbaked afternoons here are about creating back-to-basics, archetypal childhood memories and slowing down to nature’s pace. Fly a kite, cast a net for crabs, thread pretty pebbles on a ribbon, write a message in a bottle and dig for pirates’ treasure, bury dad in seaweed then make a fortress from sand.

Rainy days

The Ocean Room lounge bar makes a moody spot to stare out at stormy seas with comforting coffee and cake. You’ll find complimentary papers and glossies here, too, in which to lose yourself. Youngsters can hit the crèche or Games Room or seek out dominoes and board games tucked away on shelves in the Living Space.

And there's more…

Fancy exploring the coast other than on foot? Go horse-riding as a family or hire bicycles to beat a path from bay-to-bay; reception will point you in the right direction. Mum and dad can also change things up with a cardio workout in the Swim Club or Pilates in its fitness studio.

Local Guide

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Watergate Bay hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom
Smith tip

When it's raining, the next-best seasidey adventure is to be found a 10-minute drive away at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium (www.bluereefaquarium.co.uk), where you'll find everyone from Nemo to Jaws. Under-3s go free, and there are baby-change facilities.

Don't miss…

Dropping in for drinks at the banquette-lined Scarlet Bar (+44 (0)1637 861800): five minutes up the road at this adults-only eco-friendly Smith stay, the sun terrace with its mesmeric views out to sea just cries out for cocktails at sunset.

Between the sand, sea air and salty surf, north Cornwall is an awesome natural playground for big and little kids. The sprawling sands at the Watergate Bay Hotel are long enough to host polo tournaments and music festivals – so you and your little ones might simply commandeer a new section of sand every day of your stay without tiring of the scene. Older kids can hire bikes or ride horses nearby, and the North Cornwall Route lays hours of coastal path-walking and picnics at your feet. 

On your doorstep is Jamie’s Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall (+ 44 (0)1637 861000), which benefits from the same open-front, al fresco set-up as Watergate Bay's Beach Hut in summer and enjoys corking views. It’s all about executive chef Andy Appleton’s top-tier Italian cooking here (seven-course tasting menus, including the likes of St Austell mussels and clams with spicy ‘nduja cream, pappardelle with venison meatballs and gremolata), although the restaurant’s social enterprise deserves equal mention (working with a core team of local farmers and producers and turning unemployed youngsters into trained chefs). Fifteen Cornwall works just as well for brunch, family lunches, and cocktails with antipasti as it does for a with-bells-on romantic dinner – just decide whether you want to go down the babysitting or the baby-listening route (it’s not recommended in the evening for under-7s). It's down a steepish set of stairs and doesn’t permit buggies. Book ahead.

Ten minutes by car is the peaceful village of St Mawgan – and at its heart, at the bottom of the hill, is The Falcon Inn (+44 (0)1637 860225). This pretty, wisteria-covered pub has been pulling pints since the 16th century; visit for roast leg of lamb on a Sunday or just for a glass of wine and a Cornish pasty in the beer garden. There are highchairs, change mats and a kids’ menu - plus plenty of room to run around outside while Mr & Mrs Smith catch some rays.

Gaze down on the world’s largest indoor rainforest from a treetop platform at the Eden Project in St Austell (+44 (0)1726 811911), 30 minutes' drive away, then explore jungle and waterfalls, as well as contemporary architecture, immaculate garden displays and world-class sculpture. The young (or young at heart) can follow endless shortcuts and stepping-stone trails through the trees or come face-to-face with a Giant Bee under a gigantic golf ball-esque biome. There are highchairs in all eateries, microwaves for heating food, unisex baby-change facilities, and it’s buggy-friendly throughout. Break for some cake between biomes at the Eden Bakery, where an army of bakers in an open kitchen works all day to turn flour and yeast into artisan pain au chocolat or pizza (depending on the time of day).

Let off steam and settle a few scores with Mr Smith over a morning’s racing at St Eval Go-kart circuit between Newquay and Padstow. This all-ages, all-weather outdoor track (bring a change of clothes if it looks like rain) is the south-west’s largest. Attention Mrs Smiths: no flip-flops or sandals and hair must be tied back if you’re racing on the main track. Choose from a Thunderkart (age 16+), junior (12–15), cadet (7–11) or infants (3–6, who have their own mini Le Mans). There are lockers, cubicles and baby-change facilities.

If you fancy a day-trip, head to St Ives for pottering among studio-lined lanes and admiring art. Your reward for the 50-minute drive is a proper burger at the harbour-front Hub, 4 the Wharf (+44 (0)1736 799099). This laid-back diner concentrates on the basics – beer, burgers, hot dogs – then makes them the best they can be. That means aged Cornish rare-breed beef in your burger and oak-smoked free-range pork in your dog, both wrapped in an artisan baker’s bun. There are bambinoccinos, mini burgers or mac 'n' cheese for your Mini-Mes. And now the culture: Tate St Ives (+44 (0)1736 796226) hosts some 70,000 artworks, but for a coast-themed treasure hunt, play first-to-find Dalí’s Lobster Telephone. The gallery café flies the flag for premium local produce via its mackerel on toast and mezze plate offerings. Baby-changing, kids’ menus and highchairs are all in residence. 

+ Enlarge
Watergate Bay Hotel
On the beach, Watergate Bay (off Watergate Road), Cornwall TR8 4AA, United Kingdom
Hotel setting

Cracking north Cornish coast

Getting There

A pebble’s throw from Newquay (that’s 10 minutes by car) but a world away from anywhere, Watergate Bay is set on its own amazing two-mile stretch of sandy beach on Cornwall's North coast.

Planes

Newquay Airport is five minutes' drive away (www.newquaycornwallairport.com). You can jump in a taxi from there to the hotel for just £10, or ask reception staff to organise a car transfer for the same price.

Trains

Newquay Station is 10 minutes by car, served by First Great Western trains. The hotel can organise a taxi transfer for £15. Newquay is on a branch line (change at Par station) so it’s worth checking that you won’t save time (and toddler temper tantrums) by travelling directly to Bodmin Parkway station and then getting a taxi to the hotel (30 minutes).

Automobiles

A car isn't essential if you're happy staying at the hotel, but wheels will give you much-needed independence on longer stays. There’s plenty of free parking for guests at the hotel’s onsite carpark. After the M4/M5 leg from London, exit the A30 at the Highgate Hill roundabout then take the third exit for the A39 towards Wadebridge and Newquay. At the Halloon roundabout, take the third exit, continuing on the A39 towards Wadebridge. At the next roundabout take the first exit onto the A3059, signposted for St Mawgan and the airport. After about a mile, turn right to St Mawgan and the airport. At the B3276 T junction, turn left to Watergate Bay.

Parent travel tip

Ring ahead of your arrival to check on the best place to park. There’s a separate parking area to the right as you look at the front entrance, for example, that has a back door leading straight into the Coach House – so you can check in, install the kids in your room and then bring in the bags and buggy without having to carry them all the way back though the main hotel.

Reviews

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Watergate Bay hotel – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Smith & Family  Parent Panel reviews

Every property featured in the Smith & Family collection – including Watergate Bay Hotel – has been selected and approved by parents.

Tweens, tots, whatever you’ve got, the seaside-chic Watergate Bay Hotel near Newquay offers every opportunity for youngsters to run (supervised) riot while you recharge and remember life beyond the inbox. School out for summer? The hotel’s Extreme Academy is very much in – its' a perfect playground of golden sands and sparkling seas where hip little ankle-biters (small people) can catch some ankle-busters (small waves). Staying with really small ones? Let Mr Smith do daddy day-care at the rather epic crèche while you swim languid laps of the infinty pool before swapping so he can sink a cold beer.

Fill afternoons with vanilla cornets and crabbing under aquamarine North Cornish skies then head back, sand in their Crocs and freckles on their face, in time for kids’ tea. Let lapping waves be their lullaby then switch on your in-room baby monitor (it streams video; we bet you don’t have kit this hi-tech at home) and hit the bar for a fret-free drink à deux. The final flourish? Those monitors even work in Fifteen, so the two of you can have your cake and eat it over a sultry after-dark dinner…

Smith & Family

‘Oh the joys and pains of the English seaside… where else do you get to contort oneself into a damp carbon-based wetsuit so as to be able to learn to surf, snug as a bug in a rug, than in Cornwall in February? Taking to a surfboard for the first time aged 43, after an excellent lesson from a Canadian surf dude called Dave, I was even able to get up on my feet and strike an iconic Beach Boys pose. Feeling the full force of acceleration as the wave propelled the board forward was almost a life-changing experience.

Best bit of the holiday? Standing in the Cornish surf on the coldest day of the year watching my nine-year-old son, warm in his head-to-toe wetsuit cladding, stand up on his surfboard and successfully ride his first wave – just as the clouds parted and sun broke through for the first time in weeks. I even skipped the second half of an England v France rugby match to walk along the beach at sunset with my wife and three children.’

Anonymously reviewed by Ed Orr, Smith Hotels

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