Cornwall often has a faint air of magic, an otherworldly feel, compared to much of the rest of England.
Whether it’s villages with names that all seem to start either Tre- or Pol- or the stunning countryside that greets you within minutes of crossing the Tamar Bridge just past Plymouth, or that the county seems more sparsely populated than most or a combination of all three, it’s a perfect place to get away from it all.
We stayed at the Talland Bay Hotel, which is on the south coast between Looe and Fowey. It’s the perfect approach to a hotel – at the end of about a mile of country lane, which at the end opens up to reveal the hotel and a picturesque bay with unspoilt coastline in both directions.
There is plenty to do in the area. Fowey is a charming town in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that attracts many people to its winding, narrow streets. Its medieval roots are evident, as are many Georgian buildings, and it doesn’t take a huge amount of imagination to be transported back a couple of hundred years.
And on an unseasonably, but pleasantly, warm late September day it’s a lovely spot to sit on the harbour overlooking the estuary and eat an ice cream. Even on a more traditional British weather day, there are welcoming pubs aplenty in which one could happily while away an afternoon.
That was to the west of the hotel and was a short drive away. To the east, following the South West Coast Path, Looe is a four-mile walk. Again, the scenery from the coastal trail is stunning – it may not be the most easy-going of paths but the effort is more than repaid by the views over various bays.
Looe itself is a larger and busier town than Fowey. Its sandy, enclosed beach – a luxury to those of us more accustomed to the Solent shoreline – understandably attracts sunseekers. And it’s still a fishing town, with fresh catches sold every day and fish and chip shops everywhere.
Back at the hotel and again you are transported to a different, calmer world; one in which evening drinks are, of course served on the verandah and one can stroll around a manicured lawn looking out over the sea before dinner.
Despite the fact that when you look around it feels as if you should be wearing a jacket to dinner, we encountered no stuffiness among the guests or staff.
Everyone was friendly and seemingly either pleased to be enjoying their weekend away in a magical county, or proud to work at a hotel that made such a good job of providing superb hospitality.
Talland Bay Hotel
Tel: 01503 272667
Porthallow, Cornwall PL13 2JB
The hotel runs Wallace and Gromit breaks, in which from October to April a guest can bring a dog for free, with a treat and a blanket awaiting their pet on arrival. This includes a three-course dinner for two people in the conservatory Brasserie, where the pooch can join the guests, and also includes a full English breakfast. The low season price is £140 per room per night, and the mid season rate is £180. The hotel is fully booked over Christmas but has spaces left for its New Year’s Eve party deal, which includes several days of cream teas, luxurious five-course dinners and bracing coastal walks.