As we approach the depths of winter, is there any better time to start thinking about summer escapes? As the nights draw in, the thoughts of wide sandy beaches, amazing food and late-night drinks seem all the more appealing, however all this can sound nothing short of impossible on a student budget. Luckily for us Exeter students, we are just a three-hour panoramic train journey or a two-hour drive from one of the UK’s most coveted tourist destinations – St Ives, Cornwall. The Razz committee were lucky enough to be invited to stay a night at the Cohort Hostel and take a lesson at the St Ives Surf School, so deputy print editor Hope Claydon and I went to check it out….
Cohort Hostel opened it’s doors in April 2015 after being fully refurbished with an incredible attention to detail; from the first moment you arrive it is clear to see that the space is exceptionally well managed. Every area was spotlessly clean and we were welcomed warmly by reception, who provided us with our room keys, padlocks and were more than happy to answer any questions. The social area had plenty of sofas to relax on, with full Wi-Fi access and even TV’s and iPads there was more than enough to keep you occupied, and would be a great place to hang out as a larger group.
With private rooms, mixed dorms and female-only rooms, the hostel has a range of options to suit the needs of individual travellers and large parties; we were placed in a beautifully finished six-bed room conveniently close to reception and the bathroom facilities. The room itself was very spacious, with high ceilings and large bunk beds enclosed by a curtain for privacy, as well as generous locker spaces ideal for storing luggage. Natural light flooded the room and despite the fact it overlooked a bustling street, it remained very quiet throughout our stay. With it’s vibrant yellow and white colour scheme, the room felt fresh and impeccably clean, fully furnished with pillows and a duvet and a small wash basin, whilst every bunk had it’s own reading lamp, plug socket and USB port.
Located barely a five minute walk from the train station in the heart of the town, Cohort Hostel is perfect for exploring everything St Ives has to offer. A stroll through the pretty cobbled streets and across the stunning sandy beaches was the perfect evening activity; with every turn there is a new sea-view or quaint cottage to be admired. St Ives has a huge range of culinary options, from the traditional fish and chips to elegant seafood restaurants everything feels incredibly authentic. We chose to eat at Hub, a gourmet burger restaurant (part of the same south-west chain as Exeter’s very own Hubbox) situated on the thriving harbour-side. With it’s reasonably priced food and views of St Ives lit by night it made the perfect place to relax before we set out in search of an authentic Cornish pub. St Ives is populated with a selection of atmospheric pubs; we visited the famous Sloop Inn and The Castle Inn, where we even stumbled across a group singing sea shanties as we drank our pints!
After a very refreshing night’s sleep we woke early and checked out of our room in time to catch spot of morning surfing at the St Ives Surf School, based at the dramatic Porthmeor Beach, one of St Ives three beaches and a popular water-sports destination. Despite the chilly autumnal morning the team at the school were energetic and incredibly welcoming to the group consisting of a wide range of ages and surfing abilities. Wetsuit and board hire comes free with the lessons, so we soon got changed into our gear and headed down the beach with our boards to begin the lesson.
The small class sizes (I was with just four other adults) meant that there was plenty of time to chat to our instructor and work on our technique. For the full duration of the two-hour lesson, the teaching was lively, informative and safety-conscious; as beginners we were guided through the basics step by step, not even approaching the water until we were
fully aware of the techniques and had practised them back on the sand. This meant that once we were in the water, the majority of our attempts to catch waves were successful (though I did experience plenty of wobbles and nose-dives). Whether you’ve been surfing for years or wouldn’t be able to tell one end of a board from the other, there’s a class to suit you – in just two hours I felt I had really achieved something in managing to stand on the board. With such great, personalised teaching, full equipment hire, and the chance to surf on one of the most beautiful beaches in the country, what more could you ask for? Even if surfing doesn’t take your fancy, St Ives Surf School offer an affordable range of exciting watersports including kayaking, coasteering and stand-up paddle boarding, all taught by expert instructors.
What’s more, with the ‘Surf ‘n Stay’ package, run by both
Cohort Hostel and St Ives Surf School, you could experience the best of the South West for yourselves! For just £80 or £90pp (depending on group size) you can book yourself a two-night stay and two surf lessons – perfect for a society trip or even just a weekend break from university life. With three beautiful beaches, incredible places to eat and drink and a lively atmosphere along every cobbled street, what are you waiting for?
– Sarah Turnnidge
Discover amazing deals from both Cohort Hostel and St Ives Surf School below –