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"I've a Mumsnet friend who holidays on Bryher every year…"
I've a Mumsnet friend who holidays on Bryher every year - and now I know why. Billed as the "ultimate escape"; Hell Bay on Bryher is, undeniably, a bit of a bugger to get to. First you have to make your way to Cornwall. Then, from various different locations, you can catch either a ferry/helicopter/weeny propeller plane that whisks you off to St. Mary's - the largest of the Scilly Isles. Next it's a hop on to an inter-island launch - essentially, the islands' bus service - and then, twenty minutes or so later (depending on which boat you catch) you're on Bryher. And there, on the jetty, is a Landrover waiting to whisk you to Hell... which is all of two minutes away. So yes, it's a schlep - but it's so worth it.
As you come over the brow of the hill, you catch your first glimpse of the hotel, set on a ferociously wild looking bay that has claimed it's fair share of unfortunate sailors. Rather than one big building, Hell Bay comprises of a number of low-lying clapperboard houses, painted in creams and pastel blues, with walkways linking rooms with the communal areas. It's all very pretty, but the most spectacular thing is the incredible location - and the hotel makes the most of it. Everything here focuses on those views - so big windows, balconies and terraces abound, all looking out to sea or over the wilderness that is Bryher. The place is gobsmackingly beautiful. We spent the entire time just walking round going "wow";.
We stayed in Guinevere - a suite that takes up the ground floor of what looks like - and may well have been - a converted boathouse. Stylishly done out, it has a good-sized double room (with an enormous, phenomenally comfortable bed), with double doors leading through to a light and bright sitting room with armchairs that convert into equally comfortable beds for the kids. There's a cracking bathroom with a massive bath and superb overhead shower (can't be doing with rubbish showers) that provides the perfect pummeling after a day's walking. There's also a small hallway that interconnects all three rooms, with an additional sink, fridge and tea and coffee making facilities - would be really useful if you were traveling with a lot of baby paraphernalia. But the best thing was the terrace with loungers, which looked out towards the bay. A great place to just sit and enjoy the silence, it's also a good spot for feeding the varied birdlife that stops off at the Scillies on the long journey South. Sit quietly and you'll have a visitor within minutes.
The main communal area of the hotel houses the bar, lounge and restaurant. Again, the accent is on light and bright, with more whopping great big windows to stare out of, dreamily. The hotel is filled with original sculptures and paintings by artists with local connections - so there's plenty to look at inside as well. Lunch is served in the bar/lounge area, while the weeny bit more formal dining room is used for breakfast and dinner. (I say weeny, because - despite the stylish decor and wonderfully attentive staff - Hell Bay is a very relaxed place, and that's a massive part of its chilled charm.) Food was good - focusing on local, seasonal and regional ingredients... keep room for the Cornish cheese board. There's a separate High Tea for younger kids, but our seven-year-old ate with us, and, while initially a bit concerned that he wouldn't find anything he wanted to eat, ended up clearing the plate on both nights. I would say though that if your kids aren't that adventurous, they're probably better off eating at tea time as there isn't a kids' menu available later on. Breakfast is a full on affair - superb porridge, muesli and all manner of cooked goodies. Worth filling up on before you hit the great outdoors - Bryher may not be that big an island, but it's quite rugged in parts, so it doesn't hurt to fuel up first thing!
Other facilities include a kids' games room, with pool table, video game station and table-football; an outdoor play area; an outdoor heated swimming pool for when the weather is finer, and a small gym, sauna and jacuzzi for adults. There's also a Par 3 golf course, and Boules.
But, to be honest, you can get all that in lots of places. What you can't get anywhere are the deserted, white sand beaches (encrusted with so many shells that you risk getting blasRead moreLess
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