The Well House in St Keyne, Cornwall bills itself as a ‘Country House Hotel’, calling to mind sweeping gravel drives and acres of tranquil parkland. The reality is more modest than that, so if you are looking for a hotel with architectural distinction and a polished, five-star atmosphere, you might be better off elsewhere.
Delusions of grandeur apart, it is still an enjoyable place to stay. The house was built for a Victorian tea planter and the setting is a secluded spot in the Looe valley, so you are well placed to make a quick hop into Devon if you should choose.
Owner, Richard Farrow, bought the hotel in 2006 and he and his staff are clearly dedicated to making it a hit with great enthusiasm and a hands-on approach. Sitting in the bar before dinner we quizzed Dylan, the barman, on one of the starters. ‘Hmmm slow roasted pork belly, absolutely delicious I’m told, if you like dead pig. But not for me, I’m a veggie,’ he explained. Not to be deterred, Adam ordered the dead pig followed by dead duck and I ordered a Cornish crab cake followed by fillet of beef. The food at the Well House is very good.
The following morning we wandered up to the well at St Keyne that has a particular relevance for engaged couples. The legend tells that St Keyne who devoted her life to helping people in the West Country – gave the waters of the well special powers so that the one who drinks first will be the boss in married life. The water looked pretty murky, so neither of us was tempted to drink. I’d like to think that this is a good omen for the future.