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"I just wanted to add to the original review here…"
I just wanted to add to the original review here as we have just returned from a week on Tresco (June 2009) and thought an update on the food situation might be helpful.
I was fairly worried about the food in the hotel before I went, as every review mentioned that it really wasn't up to scratch, and (a) there isn't a lot of choice on Tresco (b) I love food and (c) surely one of the main pluses about staying in a hotel is the choice of food and lack of washing-up to follow? Anyway, it turned out there was no need to worry - food was fab!
Breakfasts are the usual cereal/fruit/pastry/juice set up (fab fruit muffins BTW) and then a choice of porridge/smoked salmon and scrambled egg/smoked haddock and poached eggs/fresch mackerel/ kippers/full fry up - all delicious, piping hot and speedily brought to the table.
Lunches are gastropubby-type things with a lot of fish - scallops and crab feature highly on the menu. A lot of people who come to Tresco for the day will come to the hotel for lumch, but this doesn't seem to affect the food or speed of service. There are sandwiches on offer, things like pastrami and cheese with pickles, crayfish and rocket, smoked salmon and red onion, and my all time favourite, white crabmeat, rocket and lemon mayo. Pricy atRead moreLess
"We spent three days at the Island Hotel over October…"
We spent three days at the Island Hotel over October half-term. Like it's sister hotel, Hell Bay on Bryher, The Island hotel is a bit of a bugger to get to, involving either a helicopter flight or ferry from Penzance, or a combination of a flight to St. Marys and then an inter-island launch - essentially, the islands' bus service - to Tresco itself. We took this last option, and were met at the quay by a tractor pulling an open 'carriage' of sorts that took us the ten-minute or so walk across the island to the hotel itself.
Despite being right next door, Tresco is far more 'manicured' than Bryher, but it is no less beautiful for it - it's just different. Like Hell Bay, the hotel boasts one of the most incredible locations I've ever witnessed. Situated smack bang on the sea, looking out over Old Grimsby Sound, you are literally seconds from the beach here and, where possible, the rooms are designed to maximize on the view. We stayed in "Golden Ball"; which sounds like something to do with David Beckham but was actually a really nice, ground-floor family suite, quietly situated right at the northern end of the hotel. It wasn't as swanky as our room on Bryher, but was very smart nonetheless, with a good-sized double room and separate sitting room with sofa bed - both of which had fabulous views out to sea. We also had a huge bathroom; tea and coffee making facilities (with a proper cafetiere); fridge and a separate sink area in the main bedroom - which would be great for washing out baby bottles and stuff.
Nice additional touches were the half-bottle of champagne and bottle of J2O that welcomed our arrival, along with a kids' backpack that included toiletries, toothbrush, sponge duck, colouring pens and more.
The best bit though was the balcony that had steps leading straight down to the gardens...; and "our"; secret pathway out to the next cove. DS spent hours playing on the rocks there, trying to build a dam out of seaweed. (He was having so much fun that I didn't have the heart to tell him he was wasting his time!) As a location for a family hotel, it's pretty darn near perfect. ((I had a nose around some of the other rooms and there's a great selection to suit most family combinations you can think of.)
The hotel's lounge and restaurant look out to sea too, and there's plenty of outdoor seating, room to run around, rocks to climb and beaches to trawl within seconds of the front door. The hotel boasts it's own private beach and seasonal sailing school. Plus there's a tennis court and croquet lawn and, best of all, outdoor swimming pool. It being October when we visited, it wasn't warm enough to swim, but I bet it's lovely in the summer. And if it's chucking it down you can always hole up in the games room for a bit - there's a pool table; table tennis and video games console - or get stuck into a stack of board games in the lounge.
Fortunately for us, the weather was beautifully mild and sunny, which meant we could make full use of the bikes we'd hired. Tresco is virtually traffic free, bar the occasional tractor-trailer or golf buggy, so it's fab' for family biking adventures. The hotel can arrange bike hire for you - including child seats and tag-alongs - and I'd recommend it. We explored the entire island by bike - including the beautiful Abbey Gardens - stopping off each day at Tresco Stores to pick-up a picnic (fab' deli by the way) before heading off to yet another completely deserted beach. Unashamedly old fashioned, family fun - it felt like we'd fallen into an Enid Blyton novel, but without the slobbering dog or evil smugglers.
Idyllic stuff, for us the only negative was the hotel restaurant. The spread at breakfast was good, but dinner was a different matter. The waiting staff were charming and attentive, but there was no getting away from the fact that the kitchen was punching above its weight. The menu states: "Each evening our daily changing menu will reflect two contrasting styles of dishes, one being a 'simple and traditional' style, the other allowing greater 'freedom of expression' by Chef and his brigade."; On our first night we tried a poached fish dish from the latter...; and then wished we hadn't. On the second night we deliberately went for the simple option and fared equally badly, with a potted mushrooms starter that was verging on inedible and a steak that was big on gristle. It was such a shame - particularly as this part of the UK is famed for it's fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.
We would have loved to have been able to give The Island full marks on all counts, because it is so good in so many ways, but considering most people come on a half-board package the kitchen's failings are an issue. Hopefully things will have improved by the time the hotel reopens for the 2008 season. But please don't let the poor grub put you off (we'd definitely go back, regardless) because there is an escape route: namely the New Inn pub. Everything on Tresco is part of the Tresco Estate - including both the hotel and the pub - so it's possible to reserve a table and eat at the New Inn instead of the hotel. We did this on our third and final night and had a really enjoyable "gastro-pubby"; meal, before wandering home by the light of the (quite phenomenal) stars.Read moreLess
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