The West Country has had its fair share of publicity lately thanks in no small part to the storms over the last few weeks and the media coverage that’s accompanied them – so much so that Visit Cornwall even produced a video to say they were very much open, accompanied by the #openforbusiness hashtag. Living in Cumbria, though, we weren’t about to let a little rain deter us and so we made the lengthy journey down to the Lizard peninsula.
We had two interconnecting rooms (one double, one twin) on the second floor of the hotel, each with separate bathrooms equipped with robes and Voya toiletries.
The rooms offered ample space, with super-comfy beds, and the view of sea and the rugged Cornish coastline being an added bonus.
The next morning, looking back at the hotel against a backdrop of blue sky, you could be forgiven for forgetting it was mid-February and how different the weather had been the previous week.
We wandered along a short stretch of the South-West Coastal Path to Poldhu beach, passing along the way the Marconi Centre and the site of the first ever trans-Atlantic wireless communication. It was from here in December 1901 that a short radio signal was sent to Marconi in Newfoundland. Little would he have realised then that this pioneering work would later give rise to everything from mobile communications to the Polurrian Bay Hotel’s free WiFi offering… and it all started here, just a few hundred metres from the hotel itself.
Dropping down into Poldhu, we found a lovely little beach café, had a drink and a snack, and wandered back. Temperatures were surprisingly mild given the time of year that we didn’t particularly have to ‘wrap up’.
The next day, we visited Lizard Point, the most southerly tip of mainland Britain, which is just a 20 minute drive from the hotel. There are a few walks you can do there, as well as regular tours of the lighthouse.
If you get chance, also call in on Kynance Cove just a couple of miles to the north of Lizard Point. It’s regarded as one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the south-west and has enjoyed increased popularity since Victorian times, welcoming many distinguished visitors including the poet Alfred Tennyson.
Further afield, we were very impressed by the tidal island of St. Michael’s Mount, modelled on its more famous counterpart of Mont St. Michel, but still pulling in an impressive 300,000+ visitors per annum. If the tide is in, you can get there by an amphibious vehicle. We caught the last of these as the tide was on its way out and found ourselves driving all but the very last bit. (On our return, we came back on foot via the causeway which was undergoing repair as sadly about half of it had been washed away by the preceding weekend’s storm.)
As you may or may not know, St. Michael’s Mount is also a land where giants once roamed and legend has it that one giant named Cormoran, who plundered livestock from the mainland, was one morning tricked by a boy called Jack who dug a hole that the giant fell into. The giant’s heart (we’ll assume you already know that giants’ hearts are made of stone) was placed in the path that leads up The Mount. Can you see it?
If you’re ever there in person, place your foot on the stone in question and your right hand on your left shoulder and you can feel the giant’s heart beating. (It works best on the way up rather than the way down…)
Giants aside, St. Michael’s Mount has an interesting history and is unique in that the main building on the summit is essentially a monastery, castle and family home (still lived in by the St. Aubyn family today) all rolled into one.
Make sure you go inside as the interior is immaculately kept and well worth a look, plus there are guides on hand who will offer many further insights into the history and life on the island.
Nearby, you also have the Minack Theatre with the spectacular backdrop of Porthcurno beach. A little further on is Land’s End but, more worthy of a stop just to the north, the beautiful sandy expanse of Sennen Cove.
In addition to all that there is to see and do in the area, for me what is really special about the Polurrian Bay Hotel is how conducive it is to relaxation for the whole family. Even on rainy days, there’s plenty to occupy children – ‘The Den’ where there’s a regular programme of staffed events such as baking and all manner of creative play, trunks full of toys and board games, a games room with table football, pool table and games consoles, a cinema with two films showing each evening, and a DVD library from which you’re welcome to borrow.
There’s even about 20 stone ‘mice’ for children to hunt for around the hotel and a certificate to claim from reception for those who successfully find them all.
If you have a rainy day where you still feel the need to get out, we’d recommend a visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary at nearby Gweek. At the time of our visit, they were looking after a record number of baby seals due to the recent violent weather, but they have an excellent record when it comes to rehabilitation and returning them to the ocean.
Do make sure you attend the feeding times and informative talks led by Alex. He is the font of all knowledge, not just on seals but seemingly on just about any wildlife – very entertaining and great with the kids. He even offers his email address out to children should they have any questions they want to send him afterwards, and his beat-boxing to otters has to be seen to be believed!
Dinner back at the hotel is quite relaxed in the evenings, and the hotel sufficiently small, that children can leave the table to watch a film or play in the games room, assuming they’re old enough, whilst Mum and Dad relax with one last glass of wine before retiring. Pictured is the fried cuttlefish with chorizo and chickpeas which punched some really great flavours.
For parents with younger children, or for those looking for something even more relaxed and informal, the Vista restaurant serves food throughout the day and it wouldn’t matter one iota if you’re little one was throwing a tantrum. It’s all very easy-going with like-minded guests who are only too aware of ‘the terrible twos’ and other parenting dilemmas, meaning you can still unwind even if you’re having a ‘bad day’.
If the prospect of having children everywhere daunts you a little, don’t worry… the hotel has thought of that. For those desperately in need of some child-free time there is a ‘grown-ups only’ snug that you can escape to in order to read or simply have some time to yourself.
We’d had a thoroughly enjoyable stay – for me, the highlights had been how relaxing it was for both parents and children and, of course, the hotel view…
To be honest, we weren’t relishing the 7-hour journey home but the hotel made a lovely gesture by giving us a couple of bags marked ‘Safe journey – thank you for staying’, and equipped with a few drinks and snacks for the hours that lay ahead. What a lovely thought – silly though it may sound, it’s often the little things like this that really make a hotel for me.