Gluten Free By The Sea: The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall

Having spent a blissfully peaceful few days at an amazing lighthouse clinging to the side of a cliff in deepest Cornwall, we decided to head to the Scarlett hotel for Mr D’s big birthday. In truth, it was a shocker of a day weather-wise, wet, dark and miserable. Yet somehow as we walked into the Scarlet hotel and we were greeted with the sight of an infinity edge pool (albeit not for swimming) slipping seamlessly into the sea beyond, my heart lifted.

The Scarlet is a 37 bedroom eco hotel located in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall. It’s quite close to Newquay, but not so close you actually need to go anywhere near Newquay but there are still plenty of great waves if surfing is your thing.  Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant is in neighbouring Watergate Bay.

The building is quite unique and certainly about as far removed as is possible from a British seaside hotel. I loved the unconventional layout and all the modern art works scattered around the hotel. We stayed in an ‘Indulgent’ room and felt a sense of liberation in the very different layout of our room. The freestanding egg shaped bath, toilet and shower were all located in three separate parts of the room instead of locked into a bathroom together.

In truth our Indulgent room located at sea thrift level had a compromised view of the sea. Having booked the room online, the hotel then called me and explained the position of the room and offered an us alternative if I wished to switch rooms. I was most impressed with this customer focused approach. Better for us to know in advance than arrive and be disappointed. In the end we decided to stay with the room we had booked.

I’d ordered a birthday cake for Mr D and this year decided that I’d try and organise a gluten free cake. Well, if you don’t ask you don’t get, right? I’d been very clear about the cake’s contents when ordering and it genuinely seemed as though it wasn’t going to be a problem for the hotel to organise. It tasted seriously good….

We arrived as lunch was still being served so ventured into the dining room. Initially I had just wanted a salad but was coerced into trying the very reasonable lunch menu at £16 for 2 courses. As always, I explained my dietary restriction and the waiting staff were very knowledgeable about the food and were able to tell me what I could eat from the menu (this was consistent throughout my stay). I was impressed they seemed quite clued up on intolerances. For example when I told them I couldn’t eat gluten, I was asked if dairy was also a problem for me. Very smart.

This amazing plate of gluten free bread was placed in front of me…..There were THREE types; white, poppy seed and sun dried tomato. How great is that? I was lucky enough to enjoy this gluten free bread later at dinner and also at breakfast the following morning.

The gluten free bread tasted absolutely amazing. I was told guests often ask the chef for the recipe – it really does take taste that good. Not at all sweet and with a proper crispy, crunchy crust.

While I sat enjoying my delicious lunch of duck with pickled vegetables followed by pollock with aubergine and roasted artichoke over a glass of Cornish sparkling wine I couldn’t help thinking something seemed to be missing…..Noise….From little people. I looked around and realised that despite this being half term week there were no kids. Yep, the Scarlet is a hotel for grown ups. Hurrah. Tranquility.

As we sat enjoying lunch and watching the waves on the beach below, the sun burnt through the clouds. This photo was taken approximately 1 hour after the photo at the start of this blog:

In the afternoon we booked a session in the ruby red tea cups (just visible in the photo above) for a detoxifying seaweed bath. When we booked the spa treatment it was dark and raining so we felt like pioneers planning on venturing outside in the cold, wet February afternoon. But Mr D had lady luck smiling on him as we padded outside in our dressing gowns because the sun was out we felt like lottery winners as we ordered another glass of the really rather good Cornish sparkling wine to sip in the spa bath and watch the waves on the beach below.

We both really enjoyed dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. I had salmon mi-cuit adjusted to be gluten free and for main course I chose ray wings with purple sprouting broccoli served with a gloriously rich Bourgogne sauce. Dessert for me was probably the most perfect dessert I’ve never thought of eating, honeycomb parfait with stewed rhubarb. Simply delicious.

The Scarlet’s website lists the many activities on offer from surfing, to kayaking to tree climbing. Most days there is a complimentary yoga class and I really wish I’d brought my kit. This is the perfect, calm place to practice.

There are lots of reasons to come to the Scarlet hotel but if you need to eat gluten free, you will be well looked after here.


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  1. bridal jewellery
    March 26, 2011 / 1:53 pm

    Wow that hotel looks stunning! It must be hard finding places that cater for your diet, I find it bad enough just being vegetarian so I can imagine your difficulties. Glad you’ve found somewhere that takes care of you!

    • Gluten Free Mrs D
      March 27, 2011 / 6:00 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I used to be vegetarian and I find that looking for places that cater for gluten free diets requires a similar level of extra effort in some research in advance. It’s not quite as easy as just rocking up to a restaurant is it, you have to check in advance that there will be suitable dishes available. Having said that, if I were still vegetarian AND gluten free, it really would be tough!