There’s a seemingly endless choice of places to stay in Cornwall, so finding the perfect Cornwall Hotel for your family can be a daunting prospect. Natasha Harding recently discovered The Nare with her husband and nine-year-old daughter Lexi, and is happy to report that her quest for perfection is now over. Here’s why.
Less a Cornwall hotel and more an inviting country house
a secluded bay on Cornwall’s south coast. A traditional, yet oh-so welcoming, former country house it welcomes families and from the moment you arrive, you can expect to be cared for in a way that doesn’t happen too often these days.
In fact, at this Cornwall hotel, a valet parks your car, your luggage is whipped away and deposited in your room, and polite enquiries are regularly made about your day so far.
Super-soft bedlinen and fabulous sea views
We stayed for two nights in a sea-view suite which was tastefully furnished and wonderfully spacious. Think solid walnut furniture, an enormous bed dressed with super-soft linens, and a bathroom full of Penhaligon’s products, and you get the general idea. There was even a sideboard, finished with a decanter of sherry and glasses. And we were lucky enough to also have a private terrace with chairs, sun loungers and a view of Carne Beach below. If only the sun had been shining it would have been perfect.
A separate ‘cabin’ room enchants Lexi completely
Much to her delight, Lexi had a separate cabin room with shelves full of children’s stories, as well as a welcome gift of a beautifully wrapped book, bucket, spade and fishing net. On the back of her door she found a snuggly dressing gown, a pair of slippers were tucked into her wardrobe, and she couldn’t stop smiling as she uncovered treasure after treasure.
Alternative room options include sea view rooms, country view suites and county view rooms, several of which I had a sneaky look at as I walked by and can confirm they were also beautifully furnished with all the special touches you’d expect from a five-star Cornwall hotel.
Afternoon Tea every day in the drawing room, of course
Food lovers will not be disappointed by The Nare either, although I guarantee your waistband will be tighter when you leave.
Upon arrival, we had afternoon cream tea in the drawing room, a Nare tradition that’s served every day from 3.30pm. So look forward to homemade scones, cake and biscuits and, if you’re feeling decadent, a glass of Champagne.
Looking after kids is another talent at this five-star Cornwall hotel
Like the great Cornwall hotel it is, The Nare looks after children very well, and even provides an early high tea as well as a babysitting or baby listening service. All good news for couples planning a date night during their stay here.
Cocktails before dinner and other very civilised stuff
The restaurant staggers arrivals so it’s never too busy and the atmosphere is kept at a constant relaxed and country house genteel level. Plus, as each guest is given a dining time and invited to have a cocktail in the drawing room or lounge bar an hour beforehand, it feels even more civilised.
The dining room overlooks the ocean and is a formal setting suitable for adults and children over the age of seven. Most men wear a tie and jacket. Shorts, even if they’re tailored, are a no-no and some guests pulled out all stops with full evening wear: I spied at least two bow ties.
Special mention goes to the old-fashioned and fabulous dessert trolley
As you’d expect from a Cornwall hotel on the coast, fish features heavily on the menu and choices included scallops, Cornish crab, Dover sole and lemon sole. Although meat lovers were well catered for too, with chicken, duck and lamb also available. And the children’s menu is super, with choices including sausages, chicken breast and spaghetti bolognaise.
The menu changes daily, many ingredients are locally sourced and, it goes without saying, that every meal we ordered was beautifully presented and cooked to perfection. However, special mention has to go to the old-fashioned dessert trolley: we indulged in panna cotta, tiramisu and waffles, accompanied by fresh fruit and cream. If you have room, there is a cheese course, which we politely declined as it was impossible to eat another morsel.
The care and attention to every detail means you leave the dining room feeling as though you’ve had a culinary experience, not just a meal.
For something a little less formal but no less delicious
The Quarterdeck is the hotel’s less formal restaurant, which families with younger children might prefer. It features the same menu and sea view as the main dining room, but with a slightly more relaxed mood. It’s also open during the day for lunch and they serve sandwiches and light bites until 2.30pm. We ate in both restaurants and honestly we couldn’t choose a favourite.
Breakfast definitely deserves a special mention as The Nare is much more country house casual than Cornwall hotel in the mornings. Even the dining room is transformed with gingham tablecloths, the vibe is chilled and guests are welcome to eat in their dressing gowns if they so desire.
The Nare invites you to play any old way you want
Naturally you’ll be eating a lot during your visit, so you might want to fit in some exercise to balance things out. Fortunately the hotel has two heated swimming pools: one inside and one outdoors. Alternatively you can play tennis, try your hand at croquet or simply spend some time in the gym.
Although, if you prefer your activity a little more low-key, try the sauna or steam room or unwind in the outdoor hot tub overlooking the beach. I could have stayed there all day watching and listening to the waves.
Art lessons in the conservatory and a library stuffed with books
If the weather isn’t so good and you don’t want to brave the elements, the spa also offers beauty treatments, there’s also a well-stocked library, as well as games in the drawing room.
Lexi and I opted for a two-hour art lesson in the conservatory with resident artist, Jeanni, where we painted a canvas and learnt all manner of tips.
A Cornwall hotel with a real sense of heritage
The Nare was built in the 1920s and has been in proprietor Toby Ashworth’s family for over 30 years. Toby is very hands-on and regularly visits to welcome guests old and new, many of whom he knows by their first names. Of course he’s very passionate about the hotel and it’s future plans. However, it’s very clear that everyone who works at this Cornwall hotel loves their jobs and are valuable members of an exceptional team.
Assistant manager, Matthew Redhead, started his career here as a porter and, as with every other staff member we encountered, was welcoming and proud of his job. He told me that many guests return every year, frequently requesting ‘their room’ and it’s easy to see why as The Nare certainly does have a very relaxed atmosphere.
Put down your phone, reading and board games are actively encouraged
Part of the reason for that appealing ambience could be the fact that it doesn’t cater for weddings or events or corporate shindigs. Instead, the focus is on quality family time with people holding conversations and playing board games. Phones are even politely discouraged in communal areas and it was a novel experience to see families reading together in the library.
Cornwall’s south coast is a natural family playground
If you can tear yourself away from the hotel, there is a lot to do in the immediate area. Carne beach is accessible via a short path and a lovely spot for swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking and rock-pooling.
More ambitious guests might want to go further afield, and the South West Coast Path which runs alongside the hotel, makes for a beautifully bracing walk. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve forgotten your walking shoes, the boot room is stocked with wellingtons.
Truro is 20 minutes away by car, and you’ll pass through the delightful village of Veryan en route. However, the harbour towns of Mevagissey and St Mawes are closer still and full of restaurants and independent shops.
Don’t miss out on the Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Lost Gardens of Heligan is a fabulous day out with kids, sprawls across 200-acres and is home to exquisite grounds, farm animals and wildlife. It also has two huge play areas which include a seriously good rope bridge and the largest jumping pillow in the South West! Leave at least four hours for this adventure, and wear sturdy shoes.
Why we’d go back to this Cornwall hotel in a heartbeat
It’s all the luxurious little touches that make The Nare stand out from the Cornwall hotel crowd: the discreet, yet welcoming staff; a bedtime turndown service; fresh flowers everywhere; no blaring music anywhere. It’s not going too far to say a stay here is like visiting a bygone era, but in a good way.
Would we go back? In a heartbeat. There was so much to love about The Nare from the soothing sense of peace to its attention to detail. In fact, there’s a high chance we might become one of the ‘year-after-year’ families with ‘their room’.
Images © Natasha Harding @