The Nare Hotel review: Expect a charmingly old-fashioned welcome at The Nare, a hotel serving up its own style of laid-back luxury on the Cornish coast.
The Nare Hotel review
The world might be hustling and bustling along outside but you’d never know it at The Nare. This delightful hotel sweeps you up, cocoons you in comfort and lulls you into a state of calm. Perhaps it’s the unhurried pace of life here or perhaps it’s the backing track of the sound of the sea, but staying at The Nare feels like stepping back to a simpler era.
The hotel definitely knows how to make guests feel welcome. If you arrive by train at Newquay or at Truro, as Lucy and I did, a free transfer will be waiting to whisk you down winding country lanes, depositing you on the edge of the ocean where the Nare sits perched overlooking Carne Beach. On either side stretches the Roseland Peninsula, a verdant slice of Cornwall as remote and lovely as its name suggests.
Step inside the hotel and there are huge, airy sitting rooms full of squashy sofas, vases of flowers and paintings by local artists. French windows look out on the ever-changing ocean. When we arrived a crackling fire had been lit to take the edge off the stormy weather outside and afternoon tea was in full sway, with the lovely staff (one pervading impression from our stay was that The Nare’s staff are all amazingly helpful and charming, with a nothing-is-too-much-trouble approach) presiding over scones (that must be eaten jam first, in the Cornish fashion), cake and lashings of hot coffee.
Lucy and I headed up to our room, if you can call a suite about the size of my flat a room. Our sumptuous quarters had a balcony looking out on the garden as well as our own little sitting room, well stocked with books, magazines and a bottle of port. Dogs are very welcome, too. This has to be one of the most pooch-friendly hotels around – they even have their own a-la-carte menu.
It was tempting to never leave our luxurious eyrie, but when the sun comes out The Nare’s gardens are the place to be. Wander outside and you’re in a sub-tropical oasis planted with a rainbow of flowers. To your right is a smart tennis court, to your left, a turquoise pool edged by beach huts. And everywhere you walk, the wide ocean serves as a backdrop. A path leads down to the tawny sands of Carne Beach, with sheltered water perfect for swimming and kayaking. On rainy days, retreat to the hotel’s spa, which is small but perfectly formed – as well as the outdoor pool there’s a warm indoor pool, a sauna and treatment rooms (a 20 minute massage is included if you stay in a suite) as well as a bubbling hot tub tucked into one of the beach huts outside.
The whole hotel has an unhurried feel, and retains an air of old-fashioned Cornish holidays. You wouldn’t be surprised to see girls in bathing caps and vintage swimsuits tossing a ball by the pool. Perhaps that’s because the hotel is still run by the same family – The Nare was bought and redesigned in 1989 by the late Mrs Bettye Gray, and her grandson Toby Ashworth now presides over things. And if you’re thinking that you could plot a wonderful murder mystery here, you’re right – author Jon Stock’s new spy thriller To Snare A Spy is based at the hotel, and guests can even sign up to do a little undercover work during their stay. Espionage over afternoon tea – that’s my kind of weekend.
And so to dinner. The Nare’s smart Dining Room feels like it’s suspended over the sea, and supper here will make you wonder anew if you’ve been transported back into a more genteel time, especially when a waitress in a frilled apron offers you pudding from a trolley groaning with sweet goodies. But I preferred the more relaxed Quarterdeck restaurant downstairs. Designed with many a nautical nod, it serves up locally-sourced ingredients outside on the deck during lunch and in a candelit dining room when night falls. Food in both restaurants is all about fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, with lots of delectable just-caught fish and extremely naughty puddings to choose from. There’s also an extensive wine list with an affordable bottom end. If you’re staying elsewhere on the Roseland Peninsula it’s definitely worth popping in for lunch in the sunshine, a proper Cornish afternoon tea or a snug dinner.
There’s one more delight up The Nare’s sleeve. In nearby Smuggler’s Moorings the hotel’s own ‘gentleman’s motor launch’, the Alice Rose, waits ready to take guests out for a day on the water. We sipped gin and tonics on deck and watched the coast whizz by, stopping to admire the smart seafront of St Mawes, exploring down quiet creeks along the Fal and Helford rivers and then anchoring off a beach for a slap-up picnic lunch on the deck. And when the sun came out we all braved a jump off the back of the boat into the chilly but beautifully fresh sea water. This is definitely the recipe for a happy summer’s day.
I’ve only seen The Nare in its summer glories but I can imagine how cosy it must be in winter, with the roar of the sea outside and a fire burning merrily inside. If you’re thinking of a late summer escape, planning a special Christmas break by the ocean or are just in need of a bit of looking after, you won’t find a lovelier spot or a warmer welcome than at The Nare. I’ll definitely be back for a spot of lunch and a big dose of vitamin sea.
Country view rooms at The Nare including morning tea and afternoon tea from £290 for a double, suites from £360. Would-be spies can also sign up for Operation Snare. Non-residents can also book to eat at the Quarterdeck and the Dining Room for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. A day aboard the Alice Rose costs £85 for guests, including lunch and drinks. Try my guide to creative Cornwall for ideas for things to see and do.