The Gurnards Head

Zennor, Cornwall, United Kingdom Book from

Reviewed by Cat Martin
Charming, characterful pub with comfy rooms, delicious food and a knockout location on Cornwall's World-Heritage north coast
You can’t miss this tangerine building, perched somewhat precariously on a bend in the road, its name proudly emblazoned on the roof. Despite the brash exterior, you'll feel yourself relax as soon as you walk through the door. Laid back and low key, the bar looks like it’s been here for years - but in a good way. Stone floors, log fires, books and newspapers all invite you to make yourself at home. The adjacent dining room is renowned for its fabulous fresh, seasonal menu, although dinner and breakfast can also be taken in the main bar area if you prefer (we did).

With 7 simple country-style bedrooms and limited phone signal, this is a great spot for a romantic weekend away or exploring Cornwall’s glorious coastal walks – switch off, kick back and relax. Whichever you come for, owners Charles and Edmund Inkin and their friendly staff offer the same cheery welcome and simple-things-done-well philosophy as at their sister pubs, The Felin Fach Griffin and The Old Coastguard.


  • The untamed coastal setting, which quickly works its restorative magic
  • Cool in summer and cosy in winter, the pub has an alluring atmospheric charm - locals and visitors mingle over well-priced ales and an eclectic wine list
  • Leave any diet at home, the food is so fab you'll want to indulge! Also, guests arriving via the overnight sleeper train get a free breakfast - just let them know you're coming
  • The understyled and unpretentious interior is a welcome relief after so many homogenized designer hotels
  • A technology-free zone - unreliable mobile reception means it’s very peaceful...


  • ...Although it can be tricky if you need to stay connected. There is WiFi but it can be patchy from time to time
  • At the time of our recent visit (May 2015) Rooms 3 and 6 were yet to have a bathroom makeover, but they are clean and functional
  • Dogs are welcome in all bedrooms and the dining room: if you are allergic, then this may be an issue
  • If you need to catch your return train, be sure to avoid the herd of local cows meandering to the milking shed. Alternatively, it’s a great excuse to stay an extra day!

Best time to go

Winter is perfect for peaceful romantic weekends, and short walks from pub to pub. The landscape may not reveal much in the winter mists, but the barren location is still beautiful. Cornwall is packed in summer, so be prepared for lots of other people at every turn. However, there are fantastic coastal walks in both directions, and lots to see and do in the area.

In you come over the weekend, be sure to book ahead for Sunday lunch; and on Mondays be prepared for live music in the evenings.

Our top tips

There is no minimum stay, even at peak holiday periods. Most people stay 2-3 nights over the weekend, but some come for a week - there's lots of hiking and beach sports on offer. It’s also a great overnight stop off either side of a trip to the Scilly Isles - the airport is just down the road.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Pub with Rooms
  • 7
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Room 6


The 7 first-floor bedrooms are simply decorated with pastel shades (in Cornish lime-based paints) and local artwork. Only Rooms 1 and 7 have sea views, but the road is so quiet its proximity isn’t an issue.

We loved Room 5 (the biggest) with its kingsize bed and cosy window seats overlooking the moorland. Room 7 has a large bathroom and the widest sea view - albeit across past a nearby farm and a power pole located just in the wrong place. Cosy Room 4 has a lovely grey slate bathroom with a shower over the tub. Room 1 is the smallest and cheapest, but this is compensated for by lovely views across fields to the Atlantic.

All beds are either kingsize doubles or "zip & link" twins; they’re also Vi-Spring, making them supremely comfy, with soft sheets, feather pillows and Welsh blankets. Extra details like Cornish spring water, Bramley products and fresh flowers add charm.

Most bathrooms lack natural light and showers are electric so don’t expect thunderous pressure. A note in the room directory suggests showers may be reduced to a luke-warm trickle, but not on our visit. If this becomes an issue you’re invited to enjoy a complimentary glass of prosecco whilst waiting for others to finish showering.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Radio
  • WiFi


Head chef Jack Clayton upholds the highest culinary standards in this award-winning pub-restaurant; expect beautifully presented and generous portions. We grabbed a table in the cosy bar (though the relaxed dining room is equally welcoming) and set about choosing from the appetising dinner menu. Luckily the staff were more than happy to advise.

Locally caught fish featured heavily and a beautiful skate wing ended up being our highlight. We also enjoyed a scrummy celeriac, parsnip and Scrumpy cider soup, stunning fresh crab and a delightful asparagus and poached egg creation. Puddings didn't disappoint either: delicious cappuccino mousse and a sticky toffee pudding.

The extensive wine list also reflects Charles and Edmund's core principles of value, interest and simplicity - they were even awarded "UK Wine Pub of the Year" in 2013. Cornish beers are available alongside alternative treats such as a 10-year-old Boal Madeira before supper, or a Chilton Damson Gin with pudding.

The bar also offers simple lunches such as country pork terrine with tomato chutney, or chilli salt squid. It’s essential to book ahead for Sunday lunch and families are very welcome.

In the morning, a hearty full English breakfast set us up for the day admirably, along with fresh apple juice and an awesome flat white. In summer, the homemade bread and knockout jams and lemon curd are taken on a shared table, (one eye on the paper, the other on the great sea view).

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Keep it simple: an early morning stroll to nearby cliffs to enjoy the stillness of the day, followed by lazing with the Sunday papers is unbeatable

  • To burn off some of those calories consumed, try a hearty walk from Penzance to Minack, or alternatively the easier pub-to-pub route: The Gurnard's Head to nearby Tinners Arms (and back, if possible)

  • Beaches: the closest beach is Treen Cove, but be sure to check the tides. Porthcurno’s cove of almost white sand is 20 minutes drive away, and there are many delightful isolated coves to explore in between

  • This World Heritage area is rich in history: from ancient stone circles to disused tin mines and the remains of an Iron Age fort

  • About an hour’s drive away in St Austell you can discover 150 years of brewing history at the St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre, or lose yourself in The Lost Gardens of Heligan

  • Rock climbing can be arranged a few minutes' drive away, or head to the little fishing harbour and surf beach at Sennen Cove, one mile northeast of Land’s End

  • Other beach sports, such as wind- and kite-surfing, are available further north at Watergate Bay

  • For arts and culture vultures, it’s just a short drive to the galleries of St Ives (15 mins), the celebrated Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens or the Minack Theatre above Porthcurno

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Museums / galleries
  • Sailing
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing


Children of all ages are welcome; the pubs relaxed atmosphere is perfect for families, as is the stunning coastal setting.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Room 5 can hold a rollaway bed or baby cot; Room 7 has a sofabed instead. Room 4 can hold a baby cot only. There are no interconnecting rooms but older kids could also use these rooms when the beds are made up as twins.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available free of charge, on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Smaller portions of adult mains are available and can be served from 5.30pm, plus there are 2 kids menus: 'Tiny Tots’ or ‘Bigger Bites’, each created for children of varying age and appetite. Breakfast is from 8am and they're happy to warm up baby food.

Families Should Know:

Babysitting is not available, and due to the thickness of the walls you may find a problem with your baby-listening device. No fridges in the bedrooms so ask if you need milk.

Kid Friendly:

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