When it comes to charming boutique hotels in Cornwall, Paula Lester finds that there’s nowhere quite like the Talland Bay Hotel.
Winding our way down the narrow lanes that seemed to contract still further the closer we got to the Talland Bay Hotel in Porthallow, I feared that our big 4×4 truck might not reach our destination. Thankfully, all anxieties were washed away as we turned into the (mercifully) wide driveway to this 16th century whitewashed eyrie and drank in the sweeping views over the cove.
Perched high on the hillside overlooking a rock-pool fringed beach on the south-east Cornwall coast, minutes from Looe and Fowey, this eclectic retreat (the grounds feature all manner of quirky sculptures, from wire-mesh fairies to multi-coloured wooden budgerigars) is proof there’s no need to travel too far into the county to find relaxation, comfort and delicious, locally-sourced food.
Time saved on the road was spent luxuriating on the sun loungers in the delightful terraced garden, where, on a clear day, it’s almost impossible to tell where the cerulean sky meets the deep blue sea.
Talland is also unusual in that it encourages guests to bring their dogs too. For £12.50 per dog, per night, your pooch will be given a comfort blanket and treats, as well as a sausage at breakfast and a chicken dinner at supper.
Eat, drink and be merry
Although it’s difficult to tear yourself away from that view and the sound of the waves lapping the beach below, the gourmet dishes produced by head chef Nick Hawke’s kitchen are well worth heading inside for.
After changing for dinner in our characterful room – with a huge silver sleigh bed, a beautifully appointed bathroom, a separate dressing room and a private terrace – we settled in the bar, where the attentive staff served exquisite canapés (compressed watermelon with crab and dainty baked beetroot and goats cheese tartlets) and aperitifs.
Once seated in front of the fire in wood-panelled dining room, we began with a delectable amuse bouche of pea velouté and toasted almond soup then feasted on roasted scallops with pickled Granny Smith apples and woodpigeon terrine, followed by half a lobster (my husband) and soft, pink lamb with artichoke and aubergine (me). This was all washed down by a bottle of Fleurie, as we watched the pale pink sun dip into the lilac sea. Bliss.
Walk this way
The next morning after a hearty breakfast, we took our dogs Sam (a springer spaniel) and Chester (a Jack Russell) on a walk along the coastal path to Polperro. Having huffed and puffed our way up ‘death hill’, we were glad of the chance to take a breather on the benches dotted along 1.5-mile route. And, when we reached the charming fishing village – where we persuaded Sam not to grab a seagull off the harbour wall – we headed to the darkly authentic Blue Peter Inn (01503 272743; www.thebluepeterinn.com) and tucked into fish and chips, before heading back to the hotel for a doze, followed by tea and biscuits and another delightful, final supper.
For those staying for longer, the fascinating Eden Project (01726 811911; http://www.edenproject.com) is a 40-minute drive and you can reach the National Trust’s Lanhydrock House in less than half an hour.
However, when you’re staying somewhere as sublime as Talland – we found it hard to leave the next morning – there’s really no need venture very far at all.
- The walks around Porthallow and along the South West Coastal path
- Talland’s walkers’ picnics (£42 per couple), including sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, spring water and Prosecco, plus luxury dog treats
- Do try one of the 70-plus gins in the well-stocked bar
- For a special occasion, why not share a chateaubriand steak for two
Rooms from £235 per night for B&B and dinner at the Terrace Restaurant, the Taste of the West’s best restaurant in 2017. A special rate of £169 per room per night including breakfast and a three-course dinner is being offered for the month of February 2018. (01503 272667; www.tallandbayhotel.co.uk)
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