One of the jewels of England’s south-west, St Ives in Cornwall is one of the world’s top “emerging destinations”, according to TripAdvisor’s 2021 Traveller’s Choice Awards. Art galleries, beaches, cosy restaurants and water sports are some of the highlights of this gem that most travellers can’t get enough of. And with so many available options, it can be hard to choose the best places to stay in St Ives. The good news is we’ve selected our top choices to save you some long hours of scrolling through the internet.
In this article, we’ll go over the main highlights St Ives has to offer, and our selection of the best hotels in St Ives and the best guest houses in St Ives.
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A quick review of St Ives
The town centre
You’ll find narrow, uneven streets that echo the style of typical Cornish seaside towns. Art galleries, independent shops and bars give St Ives a unique atmosphere, perfect for disconnecting from the outside modern world.
St Ives’ location makes its summers warmer and winters milder than many other destinations in the UK, and elsewhere in Northern Europe. This makes it one of Europe’s most demanded tourist beach destinations all year round.
You’ll also find yourself in the middle of the famous South West Coast Path, the longest marked footpath in the world (1,014 km), wrapping all the way around from Somerset to Dorset.
Don’t hesitate to take a hiking route along the path and follow the trail along the turquoise coastline clifftops. It’s one of our favourite things to do whenever we’re in the area. Take this quiet time to engage with nature and connect with yourself while you’re there. You won’t regret it.
Art in St Ives
If you are into art, St Ives is the place to go in Cornwall. It is a magnet for artists, with many having painted its iconic harbour landscape, and the town is also home to the legendary Tate St Ives gallery.
The artistic history of St Ives is a fascinating one. Starting in the 1800s, many artists sought inspiration from the Celtic Sea and produced some of the world’s most famous pieces of the 20th century. Dozens of notable artists of this era favoured St Ives among all places, leaving an artistic vibe in the town that you’ll be able to feel as soon as you step foot here.
Best beaches in St Ives
One of the main attractions of St Ives is its beaches. Actually, that’s something many of the best places to stay in St Ives have in common: fantastic sea views. More on that below! But the beaches you can’t miss in St Ives are Porthmeor and Porthminster.
If you wake up feeling like doing some watersports, you may want to head on to Porthmeor beach and surf the great waves this beach has to offer. If you feel like it, you may want to stop by the gorgeous Porthmeor Beach Café, where you’ll find all types of food and cocktails, locally sourced ingredients, and delicious coffee from Cornwall’s independent coffee merchants. Lifeguards will take care of you during the season, and if you don’t know how to surf, there’s even a surf school at the beach.
At Porthminster beach, you’ll find yourself surrounded by white sand, green grassy nature and translucent water. It is just minutes from the train station. You’ll find many places to eat around in case you want to get a refresh while enjoying the view.
Other beautiful beaches of St Ives are:
- Bamaluz Beach
- Porthgwidden Beach
- St Ives Harbour Beach
Check out our rundown of the best things to do in St Ives for more ideas.
Best places to stay in St Ives
Best hotels in St Ives
1. St Ives Harbour Hotel and Spa
Highlights: sea view rooms and spa facilities.
If you can’t get enough of the beach and need to be there 24/7, St Ives Harbour Hotel and Spa is one of the best hotels in St Ives. This hotel overlooks the gorgeous Porthminster Beach and is only a few footsteps away.
The hotel has a sea view spa, making it the perfect spot for relaxing weekends. You can choose between different spa-day combos that include options for couples, morning routines, and even an afternoon relaxing option with full tea service in the restaurant.
There’s also a pool, jacuzzi and a gym for you to enjoy a unique training session in front of the Celtic Sea.View and book St Ives Harbour Hotel & Spa
2. The Queens Hotel
Highlights: Location and breakfast.
This is your spot if you are more of a downtown person. The Queens Hotel is in the perfect location in St Ives centre, walking distance from many attractions like Tate St Ives (6 minutes), St Ives Harbour Beach (2 minutes), and The Seafood Cafe (3 minutes).
If you don’t feel like walking, that’s ok too. The hotel has an amazing gastropub. Michael Smith, Executive Chef at Porthminster Beach Café, has selected The Queens restaurant as one of the best hotels in St Ives for Sunday lunches.
Rooms are spacious, wifi works great, and breakfast is a must in this place.View and book The Queens Hotel
3. Tregenna Castle Resort
Highlights: commitment to sustainability and car parking.
If the future is green, then Tregenna Castle Resort is already in the future. This hotel is committed to building a sustainable experience for all its guests. So if you are into sustainability (like us), you’ll feel at home immediately.
All of their food is sourced locally, they use natural cleaning products, and they encourage their guests to follow environmentally friendly practices in their facilities.
You’ll find yourself surrounded by tropical plants and huge gardens, and they even have bedrooms with a sea view if you want to get a full-beach experience. It definitely wins a spot in the top three best hotels in St Ives.
A big highlight of this place is that, unlike other places to stay in St Ives, plenty of car parking is available. After a long day looking for spots in the town on busy days, I can’t tell you how much of a difference this makes.View and book Tregenna Castle Resort
Best guest houses in St Ives
4. Harbour View Guest House
Highlights: seasonal events give the place a cool vibe.
Harbour View Guest House, located in the centre of St Ives, offers spacious rooms with sea view options to Porthmeor Beach. They provide free parking and a complete self-served breakfast that includes vegan-friendly options. Rooms have private bathrooms, coffee makers, refrigerators, hairdryers, and TV.
If you are into surprises, their restaurant puts together weekly events during the summer, where they serve different international cuisine dishes every week. In 2022, they hosted Japanese and Mexican food events.View and book Harbour View Guest House
5. Ocean House
Highlights: common kitchen space is top quality.
Located uphill, high among our selection of the best guest houses in St Ives, is Ocean House. This place offers a lovely location, 5 minutes’ walking distance from the leading shops and 10 minutes from St Ives Harbour or Porthminster Beach (it is half way between both).
It has a remarkable common space with a fully-equipped kitchen that the owners manage to keep spotless every hour.
The fact that it’s on the top of a hill makes this guest house special. But make sure you get there with enough energy for the hike and enjoy the reward once you get there!View and book Ocean House
6. Saltwater St Ives
Highlights: pet friendliness makes the difference here.
This recently refurbished bed and breakfast, Saltwater, is just a few minutes from Porthmeor Beach and Tate St Ives gallery. Most of the bedrooms have a sea view (check in advance to ensure) and come equipped with coffee makers, TV, and USB chargers. They offer a full breakfast with gluten-free and vegan options.
The guest house also offers different activities for guests, like surfboarding and bodyboarding. If you decide to take a shot, they also provide all the necessary equipment, so you don’t have to worry about anything else.
If you are travelling with your dog (or dogs), they have a few dog-friendly rooms for an additional cost (£10 per night). Very few of the best guest houses in St Ives offer this option.View and book Saltwater
7. Anchorage Guest House
Highlights: the artistic vibe
From all of the best guest houses in St Ives, Anchorage Guest House has one of the most original proposals.
Built in the 1730s, this three-bedroom guest house offers total comfort with a unique personal touch. Rooms are named after three of the many famous artists that lived part of their lives in St Ives. The homemade breakfast, perfect location and artistic history make it very hard to get a reservation if you plan your vacation on short notice!
In case you manage to find a spot here (remember to book with plenty of time), you can choose between the rooms: “The Wallis Room” (named after St Ives painter Alfred Wallis), “The De Maurier Room” (named after Jeanne Du Maurier) or “The Hepworth Room” (named after Barbara Hepworth). They all have historical details that will make you feel like an artist as soon as you arrive.View and book Anchorage Guest House
8. Storm in a Tea Cup Bed and Breakfast
Highlights: bed quality goes above and beyond.
The owners of Storm in a Tea Cup, Joby and Zoe, are both St Ives locals with all the knowledge and connections to help you spend the perfect days in the area. They’ll wait for you with cold beers in the fridge, a fantastic breakfast in the morning, and helpful advice about pretty much anything you need to know about Cornwall.
Bedrooms are spacious, stylish, fully equipped, and include local artwork made by local St Ives artists. The beds are big, and the quality is outstanding.View and book Storm in a Tea Cup
9. The Nook
Highlights: welcome gifts are unique.
The Nook is another B&B located uphill from St Ives. The rooms are big, have good storage space and modern decoration, and have sea view options. It is very nice of the owners to give every guest a welcome “Cornwell” pack upon arrival with fresh local apple juice and typical Cornish fairings cookies. There’s also a lovely typical garden where you can hang out with other guests.
If you are more of a self-catered accommodation traveller, you can also choose to book the Little Nook Apartment. This two-bedroom modern flat has a fully equipped kitchen, garden view, free parking and wifi. It can sleep up to four people, which is ideal for family groups.View and book The Nook
10. Tregony Guest House
Highlights: owners take customer service to the next level.
Charlotte and Gavin are the hosts at Tregony Guest House, and they go above and beyond the details you can expect. They make you feel 100% at home and ensure you get the trip of your life in St Ives. Charlotte is in charge of the amazing breakfast, always including English/Irish/vegetarian options.
Rooms are decorated holiday-style, equipped with kettle, coffee and tea varieties (a must for me!). Options are available for couples or family rooms (up to three people).
The location is also uphill (great exercise) with great views and walking distance from all the main attractions of St Ives.View and book Tregony Guest House
Best places to stay in St Ives: Carbis Bay
Just a five-minute drive from St Ives, there’s another Cornwall gem: Carbis Bay. This fantastic village won the Blue Flag award for the 15th year in a row for its high environmental, safety and educational standards. The Carbis Bay Hotel privately owns Carbis Bay Beach, but anyone can visit at any time of the year.
It is worth taking a day or two of your trip to visit this spot, or even just stop by if you’re walking the coastal path. Here’s a selected list of the best places to stay in St Ives while you visit Carbis Bay.
11. Carbis Bay Hotel
Highlights: beachfront rooms, restaurant variety.
Carbis Bay Hotel owns the glorious 25-acre Blue Flag Carbis Bay beach. And to add some more to the table, they also offer ocean sports activities, a beach shop, a spa and an outdoor beachfront swimming pool.
You can stay in beachfront rooms, lodges, villas or beach house suites, where you’ll be just steps away from the beautiful Carbis Bay beach. The hotel can accommodate up to eight people on their beach from villas, something you will not find in even the very best hotels in St Ives.
Even if you don’t stay here, I strongly suggest you check out some of their beautiful restaurants, where they serve local fresh food, specially prepared for each time of the day.
There are four restaurant options you can choose from: Walter’s on the Beach (cocktails), The Beach Club restaurant (lunch), Ugly Butterfly by Adam Handling (British food), and The Orangery Restaurant (breakfast).View and book Carbis Bay Hotel
12. Downsfield Bed and Breakfast
Highlights: English breakfast and options on request.
Five minutes away from the beach, there’s this welcoming, warm vibe B&B. You can get to Downsfield Bed and Breakfast walking the South West Coast Path, enjoying the coastline on your way to Carbis Bay from St Ives. And if you’re not in a walking mood, you can also take a £2 train from St Ives and still get the sightseeing experience.
Rooms are very comfy, decoration is on the spot, and owners are super friendly. On top of this, they offer a full English breakfast that you order in advance, and they have special menu options available on request. Definitely one of the best guest houses in St Ives.View and book Downsfield Bed and Breakfast
13. The Gannet Inn
Highlights: summer kids club makes a difference both for kids and parents
This boutique hotel, The Gannet Inn, is designed to be a relaxing, stylish place with a welcoming vibe for all its guests. Its fully equipped rooms can accommodate couples or families (up to four people).
They also have a restaurant, lounge bar, spa, and even a summer kids club where they lead various children’s activities. With kids being taken care of, you’ll be able to enjoy the massage therapies and beauty treatments, or pick one of their spa/wellness packages.
The restaurant serves fantastic food, so make sure you don’t miss that.View and book The Gannet Inn
14. Green Apple Bed and Breakfast
Highlights: guest attention from Adrian is amazing.
Family run, this B&B has that personal touch that makes all the difference. You can be sure that Adrian will take care of you during your stay at Green Apple B&B.
The location is five minutes away from the beach, and also walking distance from most Carbis Bay restaurants. They have eight cosy guest rooms with everything you might need: TV, tea and coffee making machines, alarm clocks and driers. Breakfast is included, and there are plenty of options for you to pick and start your mornings in Carbis Bay.View and book Green Apple Bed and Breakfast
Budget places to stay in St Ives
15. Cohort Hostel
Highlights: CO2 emissions are offset with your reservation. And if you pay +£1, you can get an extra tree planted!
If you are looking for options to travel sustainably, you should check Cohort Hostel out. This hostel has launched a planet rebuild project. After checking in, they’ll plant one tree in your name to offset the carbon emissions of your trip to St Ives. Their goal is to plant 2,500 trees by 2021. They are also a Gold member of Green tourism, which means they work up to higher environmental standards.
Located in a beautiful building, Cohort Hostel offers private dorms, family rooms and dorm beds in female-only or mixed rooms. These are some highlights:
- Free luggage storage
- Movie room
- Free printing at the reception
- Fully equipped and spotless kitchen
- Free coffee and tea in the morning
Map of places to stay in St Ives
You can see the locations of the places to stay in St Ives featured in this article on the map below:
Fancy coming back to Cornwall for a remote working trip next time? See our guide to taking a workation in Cornwall.
To find the most beautiful coastal spots around the country, read our picks of the best beaches in Cornwall.
Have you stayed in any hotels in St Ives or guest houses in St Ives? We’d love to hear about your experience. Please share in the comments below.
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