An old-school Cornish haven of calm and comfort, with expansive views and a warm welcome for guests of all ages, shows the art of hospitality is alive and well, says Elizabeth Mistry.
This is the place to come if you are looking to relax in well-upholstered surroundings among others who enjoy a peaceful atmosphere – no piped music, and only muted conversations with occasional screams of delight and happy woofing from smaller (human and canine) guests in the public areas.
Outside, the cliff slopes gently down to a wide, family-friendly beach. It isn’t unusual to see three generations constructing an elaborate sandcastle or digging a giant hole to rival some of the mining activity that once fuelled the Cornish economy.
Surrounded by an almost endless stretch of sand on one side and green fields edged by traditional Cornish hedges on the other, guests quickly feel that the rest of the world is far, far away
The overall style is very much ‘English Country House’ but with – mercifully – less chintz and considerable emphasis on comfort and genuine kindness; Children’s questions are answered without condescension, and solo guests, especially the less vigorous, are tended to with a discreet mixture of compassion and courtesy that many bigger and better-known hotels could learn from.
But the fact that the family-owned and run Nare – proprietor Toby Ashworth and his team are quietly celebrating the hotel’s 30th anniversary this year – has the feel of a secret hideaway is integral part of its charm.
It is the sort of place you could imagine children from the Narnia stories or the Famous Five spending their holidays (if they could afford to) – but that is not to say there isn’t a warm welcome for guests from all backgrounds as our mixed party found. And the staff are also a delightful blend of locals and new arrivals.
You could come here and stay in a bubble if you wished, but if mixing is your thing – and especially if you are a first time visitor – the staff, some of whom have been working at the hotel for many years, make a point of coming to introduce themselves.
Having offered an impromptu lesson in napkin sculpture, our waitress, Eda, won a small admirer for life (and his parents enjoyed the satisfaction he derived from seeing his practice result in some very fancy shapes).
Over a couple of days, I observed numerous unprompted kindnesses to guests of varying ages and abilities – and many happy reunions. Some have been coming for years. After your first stay, subject to availability, the hotel offers the option of reserving the same dates the following year.
Perhaps this is why some people save up their money to return again and again. I met guests who first visited as children, now returning with their own families to enjoy a scrumptious afternoon tea (included in the rate for each guest), mesmerising views, indoor and outdoor pools as well as croquet, a grass tennis court, a small gym and a well-stocked library that turns into a screening room at the touch of a button.
The Nare offers beautifully decorated rooms which can be arranged to accommodate all sorts of set ups from a single – a proper room with a view of the countryside or the water – to elegant twins, doubles and suites which, in addition to enjoying extraordinary views over Carne Beach, come with some fantastic hi-tech ‘portraits’ that anyone who takes up the offer of the hotel’s Espionage Experience will particularly enjoy.
Some of the suites, such as the ones mentioned in To Snare A Spy, incorporate a separate single cabin bedroom with its own sea view – allowing solo children (or a glamorous grandparent or secret security guard) to stay within easy reach of the master bedroom. At the other end of the building there is also a family room with a separate twin-bedded room for complete privacy.
A number of newer ground floor rooms are available to well behaved dogs (and their owners). Additionally, there are a couple of accessible rooms for guests with disabilities – which can be twinned if a carer is required. One has a roll-in shower for wheelchair users – and there is step-free access from some ground floor rooms to the main restaurant.
Food and drink
Formal dining upstairs (over 8s only at dinner when jackets and ties for gentlemen are encouraged) offers panoramic views and a choice from a set menu. This might include West Country pork or locally sourced Portloe lobster. Vegetarians are acknowledged though the selection is pretty heavily weighted towards seafood and meat.
Puddings include local dairy ice creams or sorbets and the restaurant’s signature dish, crepes suzettes which are dramatically flambéd at your table.
Light eaters, or those with very young children, will find the poolside Quarterdeck restaurant offers a high tea and a children’s menu – and a more informal atmosphere. Upstairs, the generous breakfast buffet – with clotted cream for your porridge – and cooked-to-order options are designed to set you up for the day.
Catch up on sleep in the exceptionally comfortable beds, then – if you are planning to stray from the hotel on foot (some sort of transport is needed, so bikes are available to guests as is the hotel’s classic style but brand new Morgan motorcar) try the South West Coast Path (which passes the hotel) and take a hike to the nearby villages nestling on the Roseland peninsular or towards the lighthouse at Nare Head.
In addition to the Morgan, there are two boats for hire (which come with skipper Simon at the helm) to explore the hard-to-reach inlets or the more challenging sailing at Carrick Roads further down the coast. Just make sure you’re back in time for tea.
Accommodation was provided by The Nare. Rooms (inclusive of bed, breakfast and afternoon tea) from £158.00 (single) and £299.00 (double).
The Nare Hotel, Veryan, Cornwall
Telephone: 01872 501111