Places & Spaces: The Scarlet, Cornwall, UK

The Scarlet is a super-chic eco-retreat on the south coast of England.

England isn’t known for its good weather, so its beaches can get overlooked by overseas visitors. The south-western county of Cornwall (as in Camilla, Duchess of), however, enjoys a micro-climate, meaning it’s (mostly) mild and sunny thanks to the Gulf Stream that flows past its shores.

The Cornish Coast is also hugely fashionable with Brits, and their chosen escape is The Scarlet. This luxury eco-hotel with spa is located on an isolated clifftop overlo0king the sea; children aren’t allowed, ensuring a peaceful, grown-up ambiance. Owned by three sisters, who conceived and designed it as “the place we would most like to be and want to share,” the hotel is hard to fault on either eco or design grounds.

The Scarlet has a solar-heated indoor pool, natural outdoor pool (supplied by rainwater, using a reed bed filtration system); an air-tight timber-framed building, reducing heat loss; a green roof planted with sea thrift (a native plant) to aid insulation; a biomass boiler using wood chips; natural ventilation; grey and rainwater harvesting; and even an electric car-charging point.

The decor is a perfect expression of funky chic – no cold, minimalist tones here; colorful prints complement rich colors, with wood floors and soft, curvy shapes (round tables and seats) adding to the warm feel; all 37 guest rooms, which come in five sizes, have sea views with outside space – balcony, terrace or garden access, complete with design-statement moulded plastic chairs.

Spa treatments use ayurvedic, organic seaweed and house-brand (ingredients: local clay, salt and herb) products. The relaxing atmosphere encourages you to hang out – literally, in pods suspended from the ceiling; there is also a couple’s suite, with double bath – say no more.

We like: the bright red log-fired outdoor hot tubs overlooking the sea; the mud bath, where you get messy slathering yourself and partner in mineral-rich Moroccan rhassoul, for that extra frisson; and the free meditation classes, a new addition to the yoga and pilates already offered.

If you can bear to drag yourself away, nearby activities include tree-climbing (discover your inner child), surfing (inner dude), wild swimming (inner adventurer/naturist) and basket-weaving (inner crafter).

Rates start at $260 including tax, breakfast, inner calm and (with luck) fine weather.

Places & Spaces is a travel guide that will inspire you to carve out a vacation on your calendar. All of the gorgeous locations and accommodations in our guide share our concern for the environment. From tent glamping to lavish built environments, fair warning, you’ll feel compelled to pack your suitcase.

Fiona Flores Watson

Fiona Flores Watson covers Places & Spaces for EcoSalon and currently resides in Seville, Spain.