A destination for surfers, creatives and those who love to eat, this harbour town is among the most famous pockets along Cornwall’s rugged coast. We’ve consulted locals who have let us in on their favourite places in St Ives.

If Cornwall is the crown jewels of England’s coastline, then St Ives is the sapphire that glistens the brightest. Gaggles of fishermen’s cottages interspersed with small galleries and restaurants serving sparklingly fresh seafood give way to flaxen sands and azure bays. Between licks of rich Cornish ice cream and hours surfing the waves (or at the very least basking beside them), you’ll soon realise why the town’s population can treble in the summertime, as holidaymakers flock to this rugged stretch of shoreline. Indeed, you’ll need to plan your visit in spring or autumn if you don’t want to be knocking elbows.

We’ve consulted locals and ambled along the coast – inhaling salty air and Cornish pasties en route – to pinpoint the best places to spend a getaway in this bohemian enclave.

TO STAY

Harbour View House

With a name like “Harbour View House” it’s unsurprising that this bolthole is known for its painterly panoramas across nearby Porthmeor Beach and Carbis Bay. Inside, rooms are understated, with the odd flourish of floral paper nodding to the more traditional Cornish B&B. What we love most about this place is its café, where, against a Pinterest-worthy backdrop of line portraits, blonde woods, frayed rattan and billowing monstera, guests and visitors sip rich coffee while feasting on delightfully chewy brownies. 

 

Primrose House

Part of the St Ives community since 1908, this 11-bedroom Edwardian building is a pebble’s throw from Porthminster Beach and within easy reach of the vibrant town centre. Despite its heritage, there’s a thoroughly modern, pared-back aesthetic that hits the sweet spot between design-forward and homely, coupling a muted palette with exposed-stone walls and weathered woods. Opt for a room with a balcony to soak up those Celtic Sea views. 

 

Trevose Harbour House

Between flaxen sands, vibrant restaurants and art galleries, this elegant white townhouse is a go-to for those seeking a classic British beach experience without any of the tackiness. The coastal location manifests in a smart blue-and-white scheme that runs throughout the property, from over-sized navy headboards to the Bristol-blue bottles of Neal’s Yard products that pepper the en-suite bathrooms. Spot artwork by St Ives’ residents on the walls before heading to the sun-trap terrace or enjoying an afternoon tea of local produce. 

 

Boskerris Hotel

Sugar-white walls are complemented by small pops of coastal blue, coral and glass that add a distinctly Mediterranean vibe to this 30s Cornish hideaway – helped along by the Mediterranean-style menu cooked up in the restaurant. Check in to the Celebration Room and lower yourself into the sea-facing sunken bath – you’ll be able to see Godrevy lighthouse – before visiting the on-site beauty therapist for a shiatsu massage.

The Lifeboat Inn

Snuggle up by the roaring log fire at this harbour-side pub and tuck into hearty, locally sourced white-crab sandwiches washed down with West Country cider. Sated, amble upstairs where five bedrooms and two self-catering apartments take the building’s period features and update them with bold tartans and modern flourishes. Opt for an ocean-facing room to look out over the famed lifeboat house that supports seafarers. 

 

Headland House

Set in an Edwardian house overlooking the picturesque Carbis Bay, this boutique B&B has views out to sea and an outdoor seating area for sundown drinks. Each bedroom is bright and breezy, with whitewood finishes and plush beds. Bespoke touches range from local artwork to the ‘snug lounge’ where you can relax with a book in leather chairs bathed in candlelight. In the morning, enjoy a delicious home-cooked breakfast and come evening, choose crisp wines and sweet sherries from their honesty bar.

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