THE SCARLET HOTEL
I’ll be honest. My initial thoughts on the Scarlet hotel having a strict NO KIDS policy went a bit like this…“WTAF!? What have you got against MY children? Gah! I HATE a stuffy hotel! WHAT. IS. YOUR. PROBLEM? ”
Shortly followed by the crashing realisation that this isn’t Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. There’s no child catcher or Baron Bomburst and that my bat shit crazy reaction was probably a good indication that a child-free escape was probably just what I needed!
So, with the two kids safely dropped off with my Cornish in-laws (along with ‘The List’ You know, the one that details your child’s EVERY. LITTLE. movement over the space of 48hours) Mr Husband and I set off for the Scarlet
Set beautifully on the North coast of Cornwall, this luxury, eco hotel oozes understated charm. Nestled serenely – and surprisingly – amongst a residential area, the Scarlet hugs the picturesque Cornish clifftops, overlooking the breath-taking views of Mawgan Porth Bay. It’s springtime and the weather is as unpredictable as it can be in the West Country. And by this, I mean we are actually blessed with a warm spell! Hallelujah! Instantly, our spirits lift. There’s a warm buzz in the air and we’re both quietly grateful that even the Gods knew that as frazzled parents of a teenage son and a six year old daughter, that we F*CKING REALLY DID DESERVE A LITTLE BREAK! (*Double checks to see if I’ve put the expletive in the right bit. Ha!)
After several manoeuvres to get our VW camper van into their low ceiling car park nestled amongst the Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes, it’s safe to say that a stay at the Scarlet does not come cheap. It’s got the vibe of a private members’ club and to be honest, this ALWAYS makes me feel slightly on edge. Anything that’s refined or exclusive makes me feel a bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and it’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever quite come to terms with but that’s just me, so please don’t think this means it’s unwelcoming, because the Scarlet is anything but. In fact, as soon as we walk into the lobby we are greeted by friendly staff who explain the ‘no reception desk’ concept. As a way of creating a less corporate and more cosy environment from the moment we step inside, we are encouraged to snuggle down into their day-bed-like sofas, admire the local art work on display and simply soak up the atmosphere.
And they’re right to because the light display is HEAVENLY! Huge floor to ceiling glass panels give the illusion of always being connected to the outdoors. It’s truly magical. I’m almost teary with happiness – another sign that a child-free break was long overdue!
HOME FROM HOME
The staff insist that we make the Scarlet feel like home, which makes me chuckle as it’s nothing like our home at all. We are shown around several tucked-away snug rooms which they insist we slope off to at our leisure to freely peruse the brick heavy coffee table books or delve into the beautiful ornate drawers where you’ll find board games, books and blankets.
We’ve been upgraded to their best indulgent king suite – room number 1, Anella. The afternoon sun floods through the floaty curtains as a gentle coastal breeze does little laps around the large open plan room, around the huge free standing bath and then back out through the romantically set, private side garden. And then there’s the stunning balcony with it’s sparkling views out to sea. Truly. Breathtaking.
RELAX & UNWIND
I catch myself in the mirror looking like a goldfish and as we’re left to explore our home for the next 24hours, the tricky part begins. Relaxation, for me is a real struggle. Like many busy parents, I find it hard to just switch off. It takes time and it feels weird at first to even allow yourself the chance to indulge in ‘me-time’, but what the Scarlet does best in my opinion, is that it hits you with indulgence at every corner from the word go, so that you almost have no choice but to start to relax. So, after an hour sunbathing on the balcony, we head down to their cliff top hot tubs that we’ve pre-booked (there’s only two so it’s advisable to book in advance) As thoughts about the kids begin to crash into my mind, the champagne arrives just on time and serves to remind me that this is ‘our time’. The air is fresh and I remind myself to breathe from the belly, to enjoy this rare and precious time and to stay rooted in the moment, which isn’t hard to do when you’re surrounded by nothing but the sound of the crashing surf, cradled in the warmth of the water, watching a sparkling, spring sunset. Bloody hell! Right now, life is SO good – and so is the fizz!
AT ONE WITH NATURE
Once our session is up, we are greeted with our fluffy white robes and decide to head to the natural outdoor swimming pool, which Mr Husband is keen to dive into. Reeds and naturally occurring pond plants filter the pool so be warned, it’s cold and the floor is slippery. Mr Husband dived in while I ended up slipping a little but hey, it got the job done quicker! Admittedly, we don’t stay in for too long – it’s Game of Thrones cold – but that classic combi of hot and cold wakes us up in way that caffeine never could. I feel as though my mind has been reset. Alert and invigorated, we then move onto the indoor pool – which is an extension of the outdoor source so it doesn’t use any chemical nasties.
Onto food! Priding themselves on serving the freshest, locally sourced food since 2009, the Scarlet’s menus change each day and with the seasons. Working with innovative, organic and sustainable growers, fishermen and farmers in Cornwall, whatever you order, you are guaranteed a delicious treat. Service was impeccable and even though you’re fine dining, staff were dressed casually not in stuffy suits. A mix of young surfers and older local folk too, they honestly couldn’t do more to help and assist. Again, going back to the Pretty Woman thing, this kind of service always makes me and Mr Husband feel pretty awkward. What with him being a local Cornish lad too, our usual tactic in this situation is to chat loads and get to know them. I’m not sure whether this is our way of saying “Look, we’re here and yes this is very indulgent and we bloody love it, but we really don’t require all this fussing.” It’s like turn-down service. I personally just don’t geddit? There’s always that fine line for me of great customer service and being too helpful that just starts to make me feel awkward. Some people are cool with it and that’s great, but it makes me feel on edge, so we work on readdressing that formality level and immediately, once it’s cranked down a notch or two, we all feel that we can relax into our evening. In fact, we’re the last to leave and we do so feeling like we’ve said goodnight to an extended family and not the employees of a luxury eco hotel.
SUSTAINABILITY & STYLE
The eco thing is mega at the Scarlet. Click on that last link to see the full extent of what the place offers and how they are trying to tread more gently on the world, something that I think we all should be doing, where we can. Every little detail, from the complimentary organic soaps to the slippers made from recycled plastic bottles, it’s all been thought out with an eco conscious awareness that is really commendable. The next day over breakfast, again proudly derived from local produce (you have to try their orchard fresh Polgoon apple juice and porridge with Tregotha Estate honey) the list of choice might be limited but there’s something beautifully non-corporate and not wasteful about these little touches that truly makes the Scarlet stand out from the rest.
MAKING THE EFFORT TO ESCAPE
As we leave, it’s bittersweet. Excited to see the children and happy in the knowledge that we’ve relaxed and had the opportunity to unwind but then the niggling thought that once life, work and the daily grind become a reality once more, we’ll slip back to our old ways. The husband is more chilled in general, I’m definitely more guilty of being a stress-mess, but that’s why it’s so important for me to make that effort to escape. As a parent, I struggle to find the time but also wrestle with the guilt that I don’t deserve to treat myself for something that generations before did in probably far worse conditions and not ever felt like they had to ‘treat themselves’. I don’t think my parents ever did, but hey, the world is different today and for us, as a couple, it boils down to happy parents, mean happy children. Of course the Scarlet doesn’t hate kids and as a parent, like many, I find that invitation to an adults only event or venue odd at first, whether that be a wedding or in this case a luxury hotel, but as you’ll soon discover, once you learn to drop the ball that starts to define you singularly as a only a parent, you’ll begin to remember who you were pre-kids. And that’s good and healthy, in my opinion. Life will of course sweep us up and swirl us about but I’ll always remember the Scarlet for reminding me that every so often, us grown-ups also need to catch our breath, recharge and re-set.
*A one night stay bed & breakfast in the Indulgent King at the Scarlet in April 2017 was priced at £440. Please note, this was not a press trip, but a very generous 40th birthday treat from my Cornish in-laws.