Cornwall, that serrated spit of southwest England, has long been a favorite among travelers for its sweeping sandy beaches and rugged cliffs. But there are those who contend you’re not truly in Cornwall until you reach Penwith, the enchanted extremity of the peninsula that runs west from St. Ives and finally falls off into the sea at Land’s End.
Here, amid Cornwall’s most magical history, is where you’ll find the thoroughly modern Mount Haven Hotel (pictured). The location is postcard-perfect, just across the bay from Penzance, on the fringes of the village of Marazion, which lays claim to more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in Britain. Most of the 18 rooms face the sea, with a birds’ eye view of St. Michael’s Mount — the famed medieval castle that sits atop its own private island that has been owned by the same family for centuries, and is linked to the mainland by a causeway accessible by foot only at low tide.
St. Michael’s is also supposedly linked to the hotel by way of ancient ley lines (mystical geological connectors between the earth’s sacred places), or at least that’s how the hotel’s owners explain the calming, blissed-out energy of the place. Accordingly, the smell of incense in the hallways and the collection of Indian furniture and artwork throughout the property is all part of Mount Haven’s DNA.
As comfy and stylish as the rooms are (on the compact side but intelligently designed), the highlight of Mount Haven is its restaurant, one of the very best in Cornwall. Dinner starts with aperitifs upstairs in the bar-lounge or sea-view deck. Once your orders are ready, you’re escorted downstairs to the elegant white dining room, all crisp white linens and white walls. Everything is local and super fresh — fish comes in daily from the neighboring village of Newlyn, meat comes from local farmer in St. Just. And the basil sorbet is out-of-this-world.
If you are able to pull yourself away from it all, the local area delivers some of the most breathtaking countryside in the British Isles. Just crisscrossing through the swath of villages and country lanes by car is an odyssey in itself, but the real treat is Cornwall’s famed coastal pathway with its dramatic cliffside vistas.
You could easily dedicate an entire vacation to walking just a small part of the trails (that form the South West Coast Path’s 630 miles through Dorset, Devon and Cornwall). But even if you’re able to conquer just a half-day’s worth, you can do so directly from Mount Haven’s front door: your reward will be dramatic cliffside vistas that look down on palm trees and white-sand bays that kiss clean turquoise seas.
You’re not dreaming. You’re just in Cornwall.