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Tourism is an essential part of Cornwall's economy.

Cornwall's comparatively good weather and seaside location make it a popular destination for locals as well as foreigners.

Its accommodation choices are perhaps best described as 'unsophisticated', and maybe all the more charming and characterful for being so.

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The Ancient Celtic Kingdom of Cornwall

Part 2 :  Where to Stay in Cornwall

The Queens Hotel in central downtown Penzance. 

  Part 2 of a 4 part series - click for
1.  An Introduction to Cornwall
2.  Where to Stay in Cornwall
3.  What to See  in Cornwall
4.  Touring To and Around Cornwall

Conurbations, Cities, and Towns in Cornwall

Truro's cathedral dominates the town's skyline.

Carlyon Bay, part of the St Austell-Par conurbation.

The harbor at Polperro.

Another reason to visit Cornwall.  Their unique and very tasty Cornish pasties - a protected product that can only be called a Cornish pasty if cooked to a carefully defined recipe and made in Cornwall.

Even Cornwall's largest towns and 'conurbations' are small, so wherever you choose to stay will definitely not be a 'big city'.

Although there are some lovely places to stay in tiny villages, most people prefer to stay in medium or larger sized towns.

Not only does this give more accommodation choices, but you will then have more services in the local area - more places to eat and drink at, maybe local attractions and entertainment, and even such simple things as a supermarket or other food store and gas station.

In terms of population size, there are several 'conurbations' that comprise multiple towns all next to each other, and they offer, in their combinations, the largest population centers, even if the individual towns in the conurbation may be small and even places you've never heard of.

The largest of these is centered around Camborne to Redruth, parallel to and south of the A30.  It had a combined population of 55,400 in the 2011 census.

The next is around the area between St Austell and Par, with a combined population of 34,700.

A third conurbation is around Falmouth, growing Falmouth's own population of 22,000 to a total of 33,000.

Other stand-alone places include Penzance, Newquay, and Truro.

Although Truro is the smallest of these three centers (pop 18,800) it is the only officially designated city in Cornwall (because of its cathedral).  It is also one of the most central parts of Cornwall.

St Ives is another popular place to stay, but has a smaller population of 11,400.  Nearby Carbis Bay and Lelant add another 3,500 to this count.

It is worth noting that the major city of Plymouth (pop 257,000) is right on the border with Devon and some people choose to stay there.  Plymouth is only 78 miles from Penzance, so while strictly speaking not in Cornwall, it can still serve as a base from which to explore Cornwall.

We have tended to stay in either Penzance or St Ives when visiting, and typically we drive down to Cornwall, enabling us to visit places on the way to Penzance/St Ives (for some reason we usually take one of the southern roads in) and then also visiting a different set of places when driving back out of Cornwall (and yes, we tend to take a northern route back out).

Although these two places (and there is only 7.5 miles between them, although they have very different character and personality and weather) are more on the western side of the region, this isn't too important a consideration because just about anywhere in Cornwall is less than a one hour drive away, and wherever you travel to always involves wonderful scenery on the journey.

So, our recommendation is to choose either Penzance, if you'd prefer a slightly larger town with more of a 'Victorian' feel to it, or St Ives, if you'd prefer a smaller town that feels more like a seaside village and more arty, as your primary place to stay.


The Beachfield Hotel in Penzance.

The Artist Residence in Penzance.

If staying in Penzance, the defining feature of course is having a nice water view, and possibly having the waterfront directly opposite, on the other side of the road.

We quite like the Queens Hotel (see image at top of page).  The Hotel Penzance is well regarded on Trip Advisor, as also is the Beachfield Hotel.

The Artist Residence is fairly described as 'funky' - you might like this or not, and should look at some pictures before choosing.  The Chapel House is another B&B and has been very nicely done up.




St Ives

Tregenna Castle Resort, in a pseudo-castle sort of style, on the hills just out of St Ives.

The beautiful view from one of the balconies at the Blue Hayes Hotel in St Ives.

If choosing to stay in St Ives, do consider not just the tiny town itself but also nearby Carbis Bay, which would allow you to possibly select the Tregenna Castle Resort, and some of the Sea View rooms offer glorious views over the bay and to St Ives itself.

We understand the hotel is being renovated at present, which might be as well - it was a bit tired the last time we visited, but it is a classic hotel and in a way, some faded glory adds to the ambience.

Trip Advisor rates the Blue Hayes Hotel highest, and then the Boskerris Hotel.  The Blue Hayes Hotel is nice, as is the Boskerris too, but it is in Carbis Bay, and so not an easy walk to St Ives downtown.

Much more convenient is The Pedn Olva, another hotel we liked ourselves.



Part 2 of a 4 part series about Cornwall. - Please visit the other parts of this article series - click for
1.  An Introduction to Cornwall
2.  Where to Stay in Cornwall
3.  What to See in Cornwall
4.  Touring To and Around Cornwall

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Originally published 03 Jan 2018, last update 30 May 2021

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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