Stay at the Nare to visit the gardens of Cornwall

I spent my train journey from London to Truro feeling quite shy. This long-awaited trip to the vaunted Roseland Peninsula had been in the works since Christmas, but I had been incredibly hard to pin down. Whether meetings collided with a dead-end date, or I took a turtle approach to kind follow-ups (not my usual style, but like that instant burst of bluebells in a meadow, emails flow through the inbox -fast speed mail when early). spring is coming), I knew it hurt a little and I felt guilty.

Because this is the part of my job that friends, family and strangers envy: glamorous country trips, notebook and pen tucked under arm and weekend bag in hand, invitations to explore some of the most picturesque landscapes, public and private, free. , reveling in anecdotes and personal stories that may never make it into the glossy visitor brochure. “How can you call it a job?” a friend tells me bluntly over dinner one weekend. He works in a lab pouring over data samples, “you get to look at the rhododendrons and enjoy a spot of lunch for your efforts.” It’s no ordinary day in the life of a journalist, but it’s no fable either.

The Nare Hotel
Photo credit: Niamh Collins

This “oh lucky thing!” the trip is to The Nare Hotel in Carne Bay. I had completed my attendance just 48 hours before, but within moments I had received a signed letter awaiting my arrival and a smartly printed itinerary that included the highlights: Residents’ daily afternoon tea is served in the Parlor. Warm scones, a selection of local jams and of course Cornish clotted cream | Enjoy the subtropical gardens of the Nare and a walk along Carne Beach or the Southwest Coast Path | Visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan – how delightful. I will also be met at the station by Grant Alexander, The Nare’s Marketing Manager. Embarrassed by my aforementioned incredulity, I said I would arrange a taxi that would be as unobtrusive as possible. Nare wouldn’t hear of it. It’s a service they offer to all guests and if requested they can pick it up from the front door and drive it to the lobby.

One of the reasons why the Nare is so magnificent is that it is in a secluded spot on an unspoilt stretch of beach, nestled at the top of the rocky bay. The downside is that this doesn’t make it difficult at all to get to, so a door-to-door service eliminates any danger of trip disruption. “We want to make everything as seamless as possible,” Grant would later tell me, “your experience starts the moment you book with us.”

A virtual butler is available to answer any questions and prepare any preferences in advance. One of my takeaways from The Nare will be that nothing a guest could ask for would be too much trouble. The assumption many make when assessing whether a hotel is “luxury” is to focus on the obvious signifiers of the champagne and strawberry variety, but true luxury is someone considering exactly what you might need before you go. you think her: a bed for your dog placed in the sunniest spot of your room, a slice of cake kept aside because you might have chopsticks once you return from a walk, the names of the guests rolling off the lips of the staff as if greet old friends.

The Nare Hotel
Photo credit: Niamh Collins

I later express a preference for sparkling water and it’s something I never have to ask for again. A bottle will sit on the table, chilled and ready to be poured, to save me the trouble of answering the question the next night. I’ve always said that hospitality is the hardest industry to work in, but the team here make it look effortless.

I’m getting ahead of myself in my story, but as I enjoy tea with Toby Ashworth, the owner, he tells me what I’ll christen this article “threaded needle consideration” – if you’re about to go out to dinner and realize you’ve got a loose blouse button, the most frustrating thing is to get out the sewing kit and thread a needle. Having a needle pre-threaded in the chamber saves any of that palaver. It’s something Toby learned from his grandmother, the original owner of the hotel. The Ashworth family are a Cornish hotel dynasty who have been instrumental in transforming the holiday experience in this treasured peak of South West England.

Family businesses are always so fascinating because there is more at stake than the usual concerns of a business owner — “legacy,” “custodian,” “generation” are words that are thrown into play — the heart of a business pumps harder. a lot of intensity. when it is run by a family. There is a desire to honor what has come before and a strong desire to protect what is here for the future. I’m getting ahead of myself though. I haven’t had a chance to consider any of this as I grab my bag from the storage above the train and head to the parking lot where I meet Grant.

A few cars and taxis are dotted around and I can see a shiny Range Rover parked and a man in a smart suit and glasses standing next to it. I keep looking. Surely this can’t be for me? And how mortifying it would be to wander off and then learn it’s for someone else. I stay a moment, but with no alternative travel possibilities, I admit I will have to risk the misunderstanding. I am pleased to learn t

his is indeed Grant. I’m greeted warmly, my bag tucked into the trunk and we begin our journey. We talk on the road about The Nare and its plans for the future, especially the reason I’m so lucky to be here, is Spring Garden Break.

Horticultural tourism is a booming industry, but few hoteliers are aware of the power gardens have to attract visitors across the country. Cornwall is home to some of the most impressive: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Trebah, Trelissik, Trewidden and, if we board a boat, Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. It is not lost on The Nare that it is in a prime location as a base for guests to be within easy reach of these wonders. The challenge is that many visitors prefer Cornwall in summer rather than spring, but what delights are they missing and surely something can be done to change that?

The Nare Hotel
Photo credit: Niamh Collins

Nare’s answer is spring break in the garden. Toby had the ingenious idea of ​​uniting all the great gardens of Cornwall for a magnolia county. This is the first time that the arrival of flowers in each location has been noted and shared to announce the arrival of the season. Visiting in April, I missed out on the best magnolias, but was promised the treat of rhododendrons and azaleas. The weather is mild; I couldn’t have picked a better weekend to visit.

After a half-hour drive, we arrive at the elegant coastal house, the sea view glistening in the late afternoon sun, framed by the rocky splendor and verdant green of the coastal path. It is truly amazing. “The beach is pretty crowded today because it’s so hot,” Grant warns me. There are no more than fifteen people. Having grown up in a family of sun worshippers, holidays in the UK have always been unpleasant, the weather too unpredictable to warrant bathing suits and sunbeds day in and day out, but looking at this extraordinary sight I am well aware of what I have i missed

Inside the hotel, I’m introduced to Toby, who leads me on a tour of The Nare’s latest extension – a beautiful suite of suites, a function room.

m for family gatherings and the mix of guests is almost ready to be revealed – I am wrong to assume that large weddings and conferences will be hosted here, which does not match the quiet home-from-home beauty of the hotel. True, the tranquility of this place would be destroyed by a rowdy bridal party. I am also wrong to assume that this “expansion” means adding new rooms for more guests. There are a few additions, but primarily the existing rooms have been extended so that they can accommodate lounge areas, sun baths and second bedrooms to make the most of what the hotel already had. What strikes me about The Nare is that nothing seems to be driven by economics.

Toby and I sit and enjoy cream tea in the parlor overlooking their charmingly manicured garden and sea view. It’s cozy rather than opulent, and couples enjoy their selection of custard cakes, scones and shortbreads. It feels like a scene from an Agatha Christie novel, not, I hasten to add, because of any impending sense of thriller-style narrative, but because there is a familiarity and easy conversation between guests that is rare for a hotel.

The Nare Hotel
Photo credit: Niamh Collins

For business trips, I tend to be a solo traveler and tend to exchange a word or two here and there, but mostly observing the scenes around me. At The Nare, the environment is not one of anonymity, it would be impossible to operate from the shadows — pleasantries are exchanged, days are asked, plans for the next day are discussed, the atmosphere in the lounge encourages dinner-party-style conversation.

Almost all the guests I speak to visit the hotel every year and are keen to share with me what they value about the Nare Gardens and Cornwall. For dinner, I sit on a table next to a retired teacher who tells me how she brings her watercolors and pastels to paint the landscape. We discuss landscapes, travel and writing (the notebook I have perched next to a glass of merlot is a revelation about my profession). During mic fours in the lounge, I’m engrossed in a lovely conversation with a couple who are here to celebrate their wedding anniversary – suddenly it’s midnight, we’ve been struggling for over an hour. It is a charming element to the hotel that after a trip to Nare Head to get the full impact of the coastal view, a morning walk on the sea before breakfast, a swim in the warm waters of the spa pool or a trip to one of the Great Gardens of Cornwall, (read about my visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan), one can return to the hotel, share the delights of one’s day and hear about others.

From a culinary perspective, the silver service offered harkens back to days gone by, appetizers, desserts and flambée carts wheeled out to read to guests. The food is exquisite. Tender venison, seared tuna, meringue with sugar and fresh raspberries, bananas flambéed in rum with Cornish ice cream, I can’t resist taking three or four pieces of local cheese to complete the meal with a glass of port.

Toby invites me to dinner on the second night of my stay. We catch up with guests in the lounge as they energetically swap stories about WWII aircraft, then pour over a delicious wine list he’s assembled himself over decades of collecting boxes from auctions . Toby speaks with such enthusiastic passion about the hotel, but with a refreshing candor of the challenges facing a hotelier, especially in the long shadow of Covid. The Nare’s strength is its niche: “we don’t have to be hip, but we have to be relevant.” It’s a phrase Toby uses frequently, but it’s a good one to sum up the approach here.

Before my way back to the train station on Monday morning, I take a leisurely stroll along the length and then the width of the beach. It’s a stunning day, a light sea breeze, warm sun, dogs running in and out of the ocean and as the tide recedes, I’m mesmerized by the mussel and moss studded rocks that border the stretches of sand. It’s the most relaxed I’ve felt in a long time. I can understand what you mean my friend. I haven’t technically been on vacation, but I feel like I’ve had one. Grant kindly takes me to St Austell and asks if he can carry my luggage to the platform. This time, I must insist on doing it myself. Unfortunately, it’s time to reacquaint myself with reality.

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