The Parent Friendly Stays team had the pleasure of staying at Newquay’s Esplanade Hotel during February half term.  Here’s our full ‘tried and tested’ review.

To book your own holiday at the Esplanade Hotel, visit the Esplanade website (link opens in new tab) for full availability and pricing information, or send an enquiry via our PFS listing.

Skip ahead to read about:  first impressions   | our family room | the facilities | surfing lessons | summary

First impressions

"an immediate and tangible laid-back family friendly vibe"

the Esplanade Hotel as seen from Fistral Beach

We arrived at the Esplanade Hotel on a wet and windy Monday afternoon.  The hotel is easy to find, standing proudly above Newquay’s famous Fistral Beach, and benefits from incredible sweeping views across the west-facing bay. Parking was easy to find on the nearby streets and the warm lights of the hotel were a welcome sight as we dodged the rain and ran inside.

On entering the hotel it was obvious that the Esplanade Hotel is a family friendly affair and there was an immediate and tangible laid-back vibe. Toddlers were wandering happily around the lobby, families sat drinking coffee on the comfortable armchairs overlooking incredible sea views (more on that later!) and older children played with a super-size snakes and ladders game spread across the floor.

a lively and child friendly reception area

Our own offspring were greeted with a welcoming smile from the lady on reception and she immediately offered them an unexpected gift: an activity pack including a build-your-own bear kit.  Having by coincidence already bought one of these earlier in our holiday, we know their value (both in financial and enjoyment terms!) so this was a real treat to kick off our stay.

Friendly and helpful staff were a real feature throughout our time at the Esplanade, from the waiting staff showing us to our table for breakfast and dinner to the cleaners in the corridor who gave us a cheery hello every time we passed and were more than happy to drop off more supplies to our room.

Our family friendly accommodation at the Esplanade

"it’s not often you can lie in bed and watch the waves break over the rocks"

a bed with a view

As a family of five, we had booked one of the Esplanade’s family rooms with sea view. This did not disappoint!

In our experience, hotel family rooms can often feel overcrowded without much space for anything other than sleep, and even then we struggle to find bedrooms big enough to comfortably accommodate two adults and three children (with one usually ending up on a pull-out bed or similar).  In our Esplanade room, however, we discovered an enormous double bed for mum and dad, while the children had two bunk beds tucked around a corner from the main living space.  This room really could sleep a family of six without feeling cramped; quite an achievement!

children’s sleeping area (with build-a-bears in the foreground)

Between the two sleeping areas was a large area of floor space – perfect for activities like colouring, reading, and lounging around on the comfy bean bags while watching the tv and enjoying a complimentary hot chocolate or snack. Our room had full en-suite facilities with bath, shower and a range of quality toiletries for grown-ups and children provided free of charge.

Aside from the space, our accommodation’s defining feature was the promised sea view.  We had two large windows, each offering a superb outlook over Fistral Bay.  It’s not often you can lie in bed and watch the waves break over the rocks or admire the resilience of the occasional wind-swept dog walker taking on the weather on their morning stroll.  Even in the winter it felt really special to be this close to the beach, and the hotel’s prime position means the incredible and dramatic views can be enjoyed not just from your bedroom but from the lobby, restaurant, bar and more.  In the summer, you could be on the beach with your bucket and spade within five minutes of leaving your bedroom.

Child and parent friendly facilities at the Esplanade

“we were genuinely impressed with the range, availability and quality of the activities available”

The Esplanade Hotel is smart, modern, very clean, and gives the impression of having been recently refurbished given the quality of the furniture and facilities. Amongst those we made good use of during our stay were:

the swimming pool at the Esplanade

The swimming pool

Tucked away behind reception, and a great way to kill a wet afternoon. There’s a main pool, a shallow toddler area, a cosy hot tub and a sauna, along with changing rooms and showers.  Bedrooms at the Esplanade helpfully come equipped with towels and dressing gowns meaning we opted to get changed in the privacy of our room and wander down to the pool ready to jump straight in; the relaxed hotel atmosphere means you don’t feel remotely awkward walking through reception in your dressing gown!  The swimming pool was busiest when several families descended in turn for an afternoon pre-dinner dip, but at other times we had the place to ourselves.

games room (soft play area just out of shot)

Soft play and games area

A huge hit with children of all ages, and in regular use throughout our stay. There’s a fun soft play climbing frame for younger tots, along with pool tables and table football for older kids. In what felt to us like some very clever parent friendly planning, the play area is immediately adjacent to the main dining room and partially open plan; making it the perfect place for children to let off steam while mum and dad enjoy a drink or bite to eat nearby. Obviously this doesn’t necessarily mean the dining room is a quiet place for adults to relax – we sympathised with the small number of couples who’d chosen the Esplanade for their romantic Valentines Day meal out!  But for us, the family friendly vibe was ideal and really helped parents relax into their break.

the hotel’s 30 seat cinema

The cinema room

Before arriving we’d pictured a small room with a TV and a DVD player. But the Esplanade’s cinema room is genuinely really that: a 30 seat cinema with comfortable folding seats, a large screen and four showings a day from 10am till 8pm.  For us, the evening showing of Jurassic Park was ideal for occupying our kids before bed; but if we’d had younger children then the daytime showings of Frozen and the rest would also have been a perfect distraction.  There’s a tempting vending machine right outside too for film snacks.

The ‘book nook’

A small but handy space near reception with colouring, activities, board games and more. Probably aimed at children a little younger than ours, but we loved discovering some free milk and cookies waiting to be collected just before bedtime!

the light and spacious Cove restaurant

The Cove Restaurant

Our stay at the Esplanade was on a breakfast and dinner inclusive package, meaning we had the chance to try out all the on-site food offerings. Breakfast was a two-course affair with continental breakfast, cereals and fruit followed by a range of hot options including full English. We enjoyed three-course dinners on both nights of our stay, trying local specialities like mussels along with traditional meals like lamb and steak. Child-friendly options included sausages and chips, spaghetti bolognaise, pesto pasta and burgers. All our choices received a thumbs-up from the children and adults alike. The cheapest bottle of wine was around £22 (and tasted great to us!).

The cocktail bar

An adults-only space from 7pm, forming a cosy space for exhausted mums and dads or indeed child-free guests to relax in peace. We enjoyed some drinks here on our second night while the kids watched a film in the cinema room – feeling grateful our children are old enough to enable this.

the soft play area in full swing

Overall, then, we were genuinely impressed with the range, availability and quality of the activities available at the Esplanade.  It really made our stay a relaxing and enjoyable one, even in the wet winter weather.

It’s hard to find much to criticise from our time at the Esplanade, with only the tiniest niggles encountered during our stay.  The pool tables had clearly suffered a bit from youthful exuberance: one was out of order for most of our time, and the other missing a few balls when we got a turn (it was fairly competitive at peak times).  That said, we reported both issues to be helpful and they were quickly resolved by the staff. We also spotted a few out of date menus in the lifts and online; obviously not a big issue, other than our fussy son inevitably setting his heart on pizza which turned out to be unavailable.

And finally, hardly a criticism of the hotel, but we found relatively little to like about the centre of Newquay itself – roughly a 20 minute walk away – compared with the attractive and quite separate Fistral Bay setting of the hotel. Maybe we’re not the main target audience for Newquay..

Surfing – in February?!

"an entirely memorable experience supported by a brilliant instructor"

cold and, at this point, a little nervous

Attached to the Esplanade Hotel is the Quiksilver Surf School, and we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to give surfing a go during our stay next to one of Cornwall’s most famous surfing beaches. That was despite us being beginners, not naturally sporty at the best of times, and frankly quite nervous about far from ideal weather conditions (wintry cold, pretty windy and what the locals apparently call ‘messy’ waves..).

Having changed into our wet suits in the relative comfort of our hotel room we trudged down to the beach with our patient instructor Bertie for some introductory instructions on safety and technique.  Then it was the moment we were all slightly dreading – time to hit the waves!

a terrible photo just before the camera died of water exposure

It was reassuring to swiftly confirm that our wet suits really did do their job and all five of us were soon waist deep in the presumably sub-ten degree water without feeling the cold. Our youngest (aged seven) found the whole experience a little frightening given the strength of the waves and quickly retreated to the relative safety of the nearby rock pools. But the rest of us got stuck right in and, with Bertie’s expert assistance, the children managed some thrilling rides back towards the beach.  Of course, no-one got close to standing up, and we all ended up fully submerged several times.

Would we recommend the experience? Absolutely, even to timid beginners visiting in winter like us. With hindsight it would probably have been sensible to save ourselves the effort of transporting five large surf boards down to the beach given half remained unused, and from the start focused our attention on our children given they were total beginners. But nevertheless, an entirely memorable experience supported by a brilliant instructor and one we’re really pleased we gave a go.

In summary..

"the best hotel we've ever stayed at!"

the Esplanade’s well-justified motto

The Esplanade Hotel has some obvious strengths as a parent friendly holiday destination: large comfortable family rooms, great facilities like the swimming pool, cinema and play areas, and a fine Cornish beach on the doorstep.  But for us at Parent Friendly Stays it’s often the small extra touches which make the most difference to our stay: ever-friendly staff; unexpected welcome gifts; free evening milk and cookies; buckets and spades to borrow.

And, of course, the relaxed family friendly atmosphere demonstrated so clearly by children of all ages roaming freely around the hotel with mums and dads looking on happily from afar while taking the chance to unwind for a brief moment themselves; the ultimate evidence of a genuinely parent friendly stay.

a final look at that incredible sea view

Based on our stay, we’d strongly recommend the Esplanade Hotel to families seeking a Cornish hotel for their next holiday.  And the PFS kids felt the same.  Their verdict: “the best hotel we’ve ever stayed at!”

Book your own holiday like ours via the Esplanade Hotel website (opens in new tab) or send an enquiry via our full PFS listing.