Reviewed: Watergate Bay Hotel

As I write this, I’m sat on a lushiously plump sofa in front of a window bigger than the footprint of my bathroom, watching the surf roll into Watergate Bay. You could say this is my happy place and in fact this is the kind of post that I hesitate to write because I just don’t want to share it with anyone. But the secret is well out, not least because I always share copious photos on Instagram when we are here. So here you have it, my review of Watergate Bay Hotel.

To give you a little bit of context, this is our 4th visit in 18ish months. We first came when Bea was 18 months old, in February, then again that October (when I was pregnant with Cora,) this year in June and now in November. So we have seen all seasons. We have also stayed in 2 different room types, tried all the food options and given the Spa and Swim club a good work out, so I’d like to consider this an informed review. Importantly too, I’m not getting compensated for this post, we just really really love it here. I honestly don’t have anything bad to say.

First things first, getting there. We have driven and flown – FlyBe goes from Manchester to Cornwall and as we live close to the airport and it’s an internal flight, it makes it a less than 3 hour hop door to door, compared with 6 if we drive. Since having kids we prefer to fly, but we did this current trip by car and it was better than expected. There are advantages to driving as you can take in the local area, but to be honest we often find we don’t leave the hotel vicinity as we have enough to do here, so a car is definitely not essential. If you do fly, the airport is a mere 5 minute taxi ride away, though do book your ride in advance so you can get straight onto your holiday relaxation.

The hotel is perched on the cliffs overlooking Watergate Bay so there are quite simply EPIC views. Once you are checked in you can head straight into the Living Space, the hotel’s bar and casual dining spot which has a massive terrace for soaking up the view, and tons of lounging space alongside tables for eating. It’s one of those places where you walk in and look up, and the view takes your breath away. For me personally the feeling of relaxation and wellbeing that I get when I walk in there is second to none and plays no small part in why we keep returning.

The rooms (and the hotel decor) are coastal inspired but not in a cliched way. Think natural materials, driftwood panelling, and simple wood furnishings with waffle throws, sisal rugs and linen cushions. Add in wall mounted task lighting and it feels quietly comfortable. We usually stay in a House Family Suite, (room 51 is our favourite,) which has a bathroom, bedroom, small sitting area, and (best bit!) a bunk room within the bedroom which Bea goes in. This means we aren’t sat in the dark once she has gone to sleep, and neither of us disturb each others sleep overnight. Cue restful family holiday all round!

The second thing we LOVE about this place is the baby monitoring facility. Not just a baby listening service, upon check in you are given an android tablet and camera to place in your room. There is a rock solid separate wifi network throughout the hotel (it actually extends across the carpark to Jamie’s and The Beach Hut if you want to venture that far but we prefer to get a babysitter via the Kids club if we leave the hotel,) so you can have the total peace of mind that comes from being able to actually see your kids whilst you’re out of the room. You can even have two monitors if you have a child in each room. For us this absolutely makes the holiday as we get to go out every night alone for dinner after the kids are in bed, or for drinks if we have eaten earlier with them, and have some time to ourselves. It also means that nap time is golden hour. We have coffee, read, swim, go in the hot tub, use the spa… all whilst watching them sleep peacefully.

There are several eating options to enjoy – The Living Space that I mentioned above, and Zachry’s – which is where you have breakfast but also a more refined (whilst still far from formal,) evening restaurant. The food here is fresh local and we find it quite filling, so whilst the DB&B deals are great value, we prefer to have only one or two nights in the main restaurant. The Living Space menu is quite small but the daily specials are always interesting and enjoyable. Across the car park is Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall and under that The Beach Hut – also owned by the hotel, which we love. The crab linguine there is not to be missed! The hotel also does a children’s dinner sitting from 5-6pm which is either a buffet (when there are enough kids in the hotel to justify it,) or a kids menu. This is included in the DB&B rates. Under 2′s eat free. This is great we find for feeding the kids without having to worry about other child-free diners and also early enough to get them into bed ready for you to go and enjoy the evening.

The other fantastic thing at WGB Hotel is the Kids Zone. This is the first visit which we have used the closed sessions from 10-12am Monday-Friday as previously Bea didn’t want to stay without us. She has had a whale of a time playing outside in the play area, painting, playing with the toys and all fully supervised by qualified staff. Sessions are for 6m-2yo’s and 3-7yo’s then there is also an evening 3-7yo session from 6.30 which is handy if you don’t want to leave your little one in the room while you eat later, or if they wouldn’t tolerate going down somewhere new. And when there isn’t a closed session running, the whole kids club area and facilities are open for you to use with your kids – great for entertaining them when they just need some playtime.

Although I’m writing this review from the perspective of someone who has children, one of the nice things about the hotel is (outside of the peak school holidays) it has never felt over run with children. There are just as many couples and groups of friends as there are families which gives a really good dynamic and I have never felt like the other child-free adults there really wished there weren’t children around. The hotel is dog friendly too and there is usually a fantastic vibe of friendly people around, dogs to stroke, other parents and kid to make passing conversation with and fun, helpful staff.

Lastly, I always try to fit a treatment in at the swim club. Every one I have had so far has been totally blissful. The Ocean Room is a quiet space for well behaved kids only and adults only after 7pm and the outdoor hot tub overlooking the beach is very relaxing. We go swimming at least once a day every day with the girls in the stunning sea view pool and I love that the changing facilities feel like a bathroom you would want in your home, not a public pool. Think countertop sinks, amazing showers, interesting tiles and slate floors in individual changing rooms. There is also an accessible/family changing room and a small gym.

So how do we spend our time here I hear you say? Well, we certainly kick down a gear and go at a slower pace. Breakfast starts at 8 and we are usually there soon after, for Waffles, bircher muesli, croissants and the usual cereals, cooked breakfast and fruit etc. (The breakfast is an absolute highlight!) Previously we would head straight to the pool after, but this time Bea has gone to kids club and while Cora naps we have enjoyed another coffee and relaxed. Then we might have a quick beach walk or swim before lunch (in the Living Space or The Beach Hut) and napping both the kids together before either swimming or walking on the beach again. WGB is massive so at low tide you can get a great walk up and down the beach plus you can take the Coastal path in either direction for some variation. We usually feed the girls at the kids dinner session whilst having a drink ourselves then head back to bath and bed them, but sometimes we might eat out with them earlier then put them to bed and go back downstairs for drinks and to read or talk in the bar. Then we do it all again the next day! We often think of going out, and we do go for the day to Padstow but we are more likely to get out of the hotel by walking some of the Coastal path or the beach, digging with Bea or building sandcastles. There’s a Surf school in the bay, Yoga and other classes. But mostly we like just pottering, eating and making the most of sleeping children!

I think I’ve covered everything… I could go into so much more detail and wax lyrical for hours but I think you get the gist! Please do ask any questions, I’d love to answer them. WGB really has become an incredibly special place for us and we hope to be coming back here for many more years as a family. If you have been thinking about it, don’t hesitate. It’s amazing!

Rebecca x

Psssst! While we are still here I’ve been posting loads of peeks inside our holiday and the hotel itself over on Instagram Stories. Head over to my Instagram profile and tap on my profile photo to see more!

Dream Destination: Lefkada, Greece

I wouldn’t normally share what was essentially a quiet family beach holiday that we took recently, but given the recent controversy surrounding Greece I thought I would share and try to encourage more of you to travel there if you were reconsidering. Pete and I have travelled extensively round Greece as students and since, so it holds a special place in our hearts and we were really excited to go back with Bea.

We went to Lefkada, essentially one of the Ionian islands (just above the better known Kefalonia,) but actually only separated from mainland Greece by a small body of water. You fly into Preveza airport and drive to the island – over a causeway. It took about 45 minutes to get to Agios Nikitas from the airport.


We had actually been to Agios Nikitas several years earlier but I didn’t remember much of it as we went early in the season and the weather was shocking. What we did remember was a quiet small village with a single restaurant and shop lined street leading to the sheltered beach. It’s a perfect family resort, with very few English people (we only heard/saw one couple all week,) with a couple of bars and no clubs so mainly couples and young families.

The beach is gorgeous and was perfect for us because it started getting shaded at one end from about 2pm which meant we could sit with Bea, without worrying about keeping her from roaming out from under a brolly and she could swim in the sea in shade too. It’s a pebble beach, which we had varying degrees of success at preventing Bea from eating!


For true sun worshippers, over the headland is Milos beach which would start the day in shade but faced west so kept the sun until it set. We got the water taxi around the headland once but we also trekked up for the view one night after dinner too. It’s a serious hike in the heat but doesn’t actually take that long. Maybe 10 minutes up and the same down.


Our days were lazy, starting with breakfast on the balcony, then a swim with Bea in the pool before nap time. We often spread a towel out by the pool as a play mat and headed down to the beach for lunch or afterwards once the shade started to arrive.


We took toys to the beach, tried to get another nap out of Bea and took her swimming in the sea – she loves swimming! We took snacks too and around 6 would head up to one of the beachfront bars for a drink before dinner. Each night we ate on the way back to the villa then headed up for bedtime and a drink if we weren’t too exhausted ourselves!



As for the financial crisis, we were there just as the banks closed and everybody was tut-tutting when we announced we were going to Greece (we had pre-booked, but somehow blissfully unaware a couple of weeks prior.) We compensated by taking a LOT of cash – we brought home half of what we took and paid for the car and hotel for the last night online before we went. We didn’t really hear mention of it or see any difference at all. It’s not an expensive village and we weren’t doing much so it was cheap but the hotel we stayed at on the last night was cheap to eat in too – the evening buffet for example was 15 euros each.


We loved it so much as a family holiday we are thinking of making it a regular trip for (early or late) summer sun. I do hope you haven’t been put off Greece – they certainly need our tourism right now and I imagine much of the islands are unchanged by the situation – in terms of what a holiday maker would experience at least. We had the most amazing week! :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS.
Where we stayed: Villa Dioni & Ionan Blue
Travelling with a baby – gadgets and kit we took with us that made the trip easier