Venton Vean, Penzance
Owners David and Philippa Hoyes admit to being guesthouse novices (they were London lawyers in a former life) but there's nothing amateur about their classy little B&B. In a quiet street, a hop and skip from the seafront, it has three immaculate bedrooms – think cornices, cast-iron fireplaces, white-painted floors, cool colours (greys, blues, aquamarines), contemporary furniture and a dash of vintage. You get cotton robes, homemade biscuits, natural Cornish toiletries and interesting breakfasts (try Mexican tortillas with hot salsa and fried eggs). A walk through sub-tropical Penlee Park (just opposite) brings you to the bars and restaurants of Penzance.
• Trewithen Road, 01736 351294, ventonvean.co.uk, doubles from ?80 a night B&B
The Inkin brothers (who also run the Gurnards Head near St Ives) took over this tired but classic hotel in the summer of 2011. They have since ripped out the starchy dining room and installed a relaxed brasserie-style restaurant and bar with a gastro pub vibe. A room makeover is in progress (and they have reduced the silly old prices) but some things will never change – such as the palm trees in the garden and the awesome sea views (from St Michael's Mount to St Clement's Isle to cute Mousehole harbour). A big plus is the high quality, sensibly-priced food. You can eat really well here for around ?20 a head (main courses start at ?10.25).
• The Parade, 01736 731222, oldcoastguardhotel.co.uk, doubles from ?120 B&B (and look out for special offers)
On a main road into town, it's not the prettiest of houses, but this friendly, "contemporary" B&B deserves every one of its five stars. Each of the eight luxury rooms (including two stylish singles and a star-gazing penthouse suite) offers pocket-sprung mattresses, quality linen, iPod docks and power showers; some rooms have views of Pendennis Castle; one has a chandelier dangling over a free-standing slipper bath. There's a jolly little breakfast room (wake up to Baker Tom's organic breads, Kernow sausages or a Highcliffe special – homemade pancakes or French toast with Cointreau). Falmouth's beaches, harbour and railway station are within easy walking distance.
• Melvill Road, 01326 314466, falmouth-hotel.co.uk, singles from ?40, doubles ?75 B&B
On a windy headland between Mullion and Porthleven, Roger and Lucy Thorp's crenellated villa is set in a walled garden with spectacular views across Mounts Bay from the west coast of the Lizard peninsula. Stay in the Tower Room (with its own lounge and verandah), the Cabin (a cosy hideaway for two) or the Observatory (in the garden). Breakfast is cooked on an Aga and served at a communal table in the family kitchen. The Thorp's own Barefoot Cafe next door runs occasional pop-up nights (log fire, live music, guest chefs) or the Halzephron Inn is five minutes' walk down the hill. The coast path – right on your doorstep – takes you to beaches at Church Cove or Gunwalloe.
• 07899 925816, halzephronhouse.co.uk, doubles from ?80 B&B
Once part of the Heligan Estate, it was a disused cowshed in a field until Janie and Mike Cooksley turned it into a homely B&B. Four large rooms include the Hideaway (essence of beach hut in its own mini garden) and the Hayloft (split-level two-bedroom suite with wheelchair access); all nicely furnished and zinging with colour. Breakfasts feature Calenick Farm sausages and local free-range eggs. In the Shack the Cooksleys serve home-cooked dinners (by arrangement – just ask when you book) and in the Stable, they offer holistic therapies, a hot tub and a tipi treatment room. Heligan's Lost Gardens are a mile away.
• 01726 844881, bosue.co.uk, doubles from ?100 B&B
This beautiful, slate-hung house – built in 1937 – overlooks Mevagissey bay from clifftop gardens that slope down to the South West Coast Path. As you'd expect, it's not cheap, but Trevalsa offers a couple of budget rooms (and, due to demand, they are thinking of adding another). The economy tariff won't buy you a sea view, but you will still get to enjoy the hotel's original oak panelling, open fires, glamorous restaurant (three courses from ?24.50 per head), boats slipping across the bay at sunset, sea-gazing hut in the garden and the hotel's own deserted beach.
• School Hill, 01726 842468, trevalsa-hotel.co.uk "economy double" from ?85, small double with sea view from ?110 B&B
The Tamblyn family have been farming this middle-of-nowhere corner of Cornwall for nearly 200 years. And somewhere along the line, they seem to have got lost in a time warp. Clucking hens, brown paintwork, faded upholstery, flagstones, wood-smoke, scrubbed pine – it's almost as though the 21st century hasn't arrived (apart from the Wi-Fi, of course, and the occasional fashion shoot). Sleep in iron-frame beds or an ancient four-poster. Breakfast on homemade breads and Botelet's organic blueberries. Spend the day exploring the Fowey River from Lostwithiel's medieval castle down to Fowey harbour and the coast.
• 01503 220225, botelet.com, from ?35pp B&B (from Easter to late autumn)
Mike and Jo Lawrence's converted stone barn sits in seven acres of rolling farmland that dips down to the East Looe River – one of the most undiscovered corners of south Cornwall. They offer two king-size rooms, two singles, a self-contained apartment and, for breakfast, fresh breads, local eggs and bacon and fruit from their own polytunnel. The scenic branch line railway between Liskeard and Looe trundles through the wooded valley below. Mike, incidentally, is an expert on sustainable building materials (check out the straw bale hut in the garden).
• 01579 340450, web.me.com/trusselbarn/Trussel_Barn/Welcome.html, doubles from ?90 B&B, self-catering from ?60 a night (minimum 3 nights)
The decor is not its strong point, but if you can turn a blind eye to the colour scheme (a palette of peppermint, sunflower and maroon), this relaxed, family-run hotel has a lot going for it – an award-wining restaurant specialising in fresh Looe Bay seafood, a heated outdoor pool, six acres of garden and a terrace overlooking the Looe Estuary. The Barclay also runs the excellent Trawlers on the Quay right next to Looe's busy fish market. In the gardens, there are timber-clad, self-catering cottages which are available for short breaks.
• St Martins Road, 01503 262929, barclayhouse.co.uk, doubles from ?125 B&B, self-catering one-bedroom cottage from around ?239 for three nights
In a Georgian townhouse in the centre of Callington – a proper little Cornish town which nudges the Devon border, Dartmoor and the beautiful Tamar Valley – Peter and Tessa Sulston's three guest rooms are simply furnished with oak beds, custom-made quilts and original art. They offer solar-powered electricity, generous home-cooked dinners (with 24 hours' notice), run art courses in a coach-house studio in their walled garden and gourmet weekends in cahoots with award-winning local restaurant, Langmans.
• Church Street, 01579 383491, lower-house.com, singles from ?35 and doubles from ?70 B&B, dinner from ?12.50 per head
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