Budock Vean review: A heavenly spot on the Helford Estuary

Kate Green recommends the Budock Vean on the Helford Estuary.

There are few more perfect moments than returning from a 10-mile walk along the Cornish cliffs on a sunny, breezy November day to a mug of tea in an enormous sitting room that’s got sweeping views through floor-to-ceiling windows and a wood-burning stove that roars into action at the flick of a match.

The Budock Vean, one of Cornwall’s best-loved hotels, now has three five-star holiday homes in its extensive grounds and these offer the best of both worlds – the relaxation in privacy that comes with a self-catering holiday, but with dinner on tap a short walk away in a first-class restaurant.

The modernity of the holiday homes beautifully complements the traditional nature of the hotel, once a religious centre back in Celtic times, and has the friendliest, most courteous staff you could wish to be looked after by.

We spent three restful nights in ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ – Daphne du Maurier based her novel of the same name on a creek in the beautiful Helford Estuary that’s at the bottom of the hotel grounds – in November.

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The three-bedroom, three-bathroom house – the master bedroom is galleried with an extra child bed – manages to combine unfussy, clean décor with a lovely cosy feel. It’s beautifully appointed, too – our favourite thing was the wine chiller.

Food and drink

We had one dinner in the Budock Vean – don’t forget to take presentable clothes, as the hotel operates a no-jeans at dinner principle; it offers an excellent four-course dinner with substantial canapés at the reduced rate of £37.50 to occupants of holiday homes (breakfast is £12 if you really don’t want to bother with catering beyond fireside drinks).

We also ate at the nearest pub, The Ferryboat in Helford Passage – a friendly, atmospheric place right on the water where, from April to October, a little boat runs passengers across the estuary. You can walk across the hotel grounds down to the foreshore and along to the pub, although this is quite hard-core in the dark.

Things to do

At Budock Vean itself there’s a wealth of things to do: golf, tennis, a spa, swimming pool and hot tub. There are also bird-watching, boat trips (from the hotel’s own jetty, pictured at the top of the page) and the gardens of Trebah and Glendurgan within walking distance.

There’s also instant access to the South West Coast Path, one of Britain’s great wonders, accessed from Helford Passage. We walked the 10 miles to Swan Pool on the outskirts of Falmouth – a relatively gentle walk with glorious views, and there are several benches from which to survey the wondrous views.

The South West Coast Path in Cornwall (Picture: Dietrich Krieger)

We finished off with a hot chocolate at the delightful beach café, from where a taxi ride back took 20 minutes and cost £15.

Book a stay in a Budock Vean holiday home (minimum two days) at www.budockvean.co.uk on 01326 252100; a week costs from £665; offers are available.