Hell Bay

Bryher, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom Book from

The UK's most westerly island hotel: bright rooms, good food and heated pool in wild and wonderful setting
Hell Bay's name says it all. Shipwrecks, treacherous waters and tales a plenty. Set on Bryher - the smallest inhabited island of Scilly and many people's favourite, you're on the edge of the Old World with nothing but ocean between you and America. Craggy rock outcrops stagger your horizon to create a dramatic and secluded setting. This 25-room hotel allows you to stay in style and comfort and its restaurant is billed as the best on these isles.

Owned by Tresco's Dorrien-Smith family you can expect solid and dependable service and rooms with a distinct New England style. Every room and space is filled with original, often important Cornish art work. Couples will revel in being somewhere so unique, so far out. But it also has special appeal for families whether through its sandy beaches, heated pool, games room or just feeding local farm chickens.

As the name suggests it can give a shiver of excitement and romance. You secretly want to experience the mother of all storms knowing you can quickly retreat to this warm and welcoming sanctuary for some very civilized living. Where else can you say you've been to hell and back? Bring it on!

Highs

  • One of the UK's most remote and rugged settings with wonderful ocean views
  • The Isles of Scilly are spectacularly beautiful and unspoilt and Bryher is the least developed of the inhabited islands (it's wilder than neighbouring Tresco)
  • Stylish, comfortable and well-equipped rooms most with sea views, and good restaurant serving super-fresh seafood
  • Family-friendly with 2-bedroom suites, kids games room, tennis, watersports, high teas and virtually car-free

Lows

  • Getting there and back by small propeller plane or ferry is part of the fun (the hotel can help arrange your journey) but travel plans can be scuppered by fog or high winds
  • It's expensive but room rates do include dinner and there are usually enticing off-season deals
  • Not for those seeking nightlife and shopping (Bryher has just one grocery store-deli, gallery and cafe) - this is somewhere to unwind, enjoy the outdoors and get away from it all.

Best time to go

The climate is mild - compared to the rest of the UK, Bryher has less rain, more sunshine, warmer winters but cooler summers (max temp is about 22C). The best of the weather is in the spring and summer months but winds can pick up at any time. School holidays get booked up far ahead.

Our top tips

Take binoculars and wet weather clothes - even if it's dry and you take a boat trip, the spray may soak you.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Island Hotel: 25 rooms
  • 25
  • Restaurant and bar (open mid March - end October)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 25 Oct 2015 - 11 Mar 2016
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Pool Table
  • games room
Room: Emperor

Rooms

The 25 rooms are located in a collection of clapboard cottages and boathouses set behind the main hotel. You can choose from 7 suite types but all interiors have a similar New England flavour: light and bright with tongue and groove pannelling and fresh shades of blue and cream. Expect Lloyd Loom wicker chairs and crisp Malabar fabrics. Most have a sitting area, some have patios, others balconies with stunning sea views. All have contemporary Cornish paintings (the Dorrien-Smiths are great patrons of the arts). Cosy, comfortable and high spec (Wifi, Roberts radios with iPod docks, TV/DVDs, underfloor heating) with big beds, new down duvets and total peace, you'll be unlucky not to enjoy a wonderfully comfortable sleep here. Bathrooms may not be cutting-edge design but they are spotless with powerful showers.

At the top of the tree, (or out on the front with the best of all views) the Emperor Suite has 2 bedrooms and well sized deck with loungers so perfect for a small group or family. Juno is the upper floor of the "Boathouse" and has an open plan sitting room and balcony. Empress is a fully detached single storey building built to resemble a traditional gig shed. You get your own private decked area as well as inside sitting area and it leads directly out to the hotel's gardens.

The most popular rooms are the ground and first floor Studio Suites, all with good sea views from their balcony or patio. These are best for couples, but the Galatea Suite has two bedrooms and there are others that can be interconnected on request for families. Note that some have ensuite with shower only.

Set further back in the garden, the Spring Tide Suites are either ground floor (with patio) or first floor (no balconies but good sea views). High Tide Suites are similar in layout but with a lesser view although you do get a four-poster bed. Both these types of suite have a small sitting area (with two comfy chair beds) which can be closed off with sliding doors.

The slightly cheaper Garden View Suites are set around a courtyard and lack the sea view but some have a second twin bedroom designed for families.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fresh milk delivered daily
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

People come from every island to eat at Hell Bay. It's a special treat and staying in situ gives you a head start with either a hearty cooked breakfast from the menu or continental fare. You can eat Bouillabaisse, fish and chips or Hell Bay burgers in the bright and airy bar or, when weather permits, out on the terraces. But the main event is dinner which is included in the room rate.

Fresh ingredients are the name of the game whether it be Bryher crab or lobster, Tresco beef, farm veg or foraged herbs. Chef Richard Kearsley's short modern menu changes daily but you can expect fine dishes like sea trout with fricassee of peas, baby gem and pancetta, or best end of lamb with butternut squash, asparagus and baby leek. We loved our pan fried fillets of John Dory with aubergine caponata. Every dish is beautifully presented and prepared with love and skill. All we ate was delicious from the amuses bouche to petit fours but most memorable were the small beignets of blue cheese with carpaccio of beef and rocket which completely hit the spot.

For younger diners there's High Tea served from around 5pm with a kids menu offering simpler dishes.

Never to rest on their laurels, the team also runs a summer, Portuguese inspired Crab Shack where in the evenings, in a barn, they cook up just 3 dishes: scallops, mussels or crab, accompanied (if you choose) by wine, coffee, bread, fries, a cheese board and crème brûlée. This promises to be a lovely way to experience a different dining experience in the Isles of Scilly.

If you want to eat out, simply catch a boat across to Tresco (10 mins) where you can choose from the Ruin Beach Cafe with its wood-fired oven pizzas, the Flying Boat Club, or the more traditional New Inn for fine ales, pub grub and a tempting selection of icecreams.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating: Veranda 2
Activity: Lobster Pots

Activities

Bryher is just 1.5 miles long by half a mile wide so it can be explored easily with dramatic views, sandy beaches as well as rare flora and fauna.

  • Go for a windswept walk up Badplace Hill for amazing views across Hell Bay and Shipman Head, or look for shells on the white-sand beaches

  • Visit the Fraggle Rock cafe, the island's only deli-shop and the gallery owned by local artist Richard Pearce. Look out for Veronica's fudge sold at her honesty stall.

  • In fine weather splash around in their heated outdoor pool Indoors, there is a small gym, jacuzzi and sauna.

  • Water Sports can be organised whether it be kayaking, snorkelling and diving. They can arrange private boat as well as sailing courses run on neighbouring isles.

  • There are regular fishing trips and boat trips to see seals

  • The Scillies are a haven for birdwatchers, particularly in October when migratory birds visit the islands or from April to July when you can see puffins.

  • Pop across to the neighbouring island of Tresco (10 minute boat ride): here you can visit the famous Tresco Abbey Garden with its unique collection of sub-tropical plants from around the world and idyllic sandy beaches. Lunch at the Ruin Beach Cafe - the terrace is a great spot on a sunny day.

  • Enjoy some spa treatments at Tresco's Flying Boat Club Spa where there's also a lovely indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and steam room. A treatment room has also just been created in Hell Bay's grounds with a visiting therapist.

  • Play tennis on the nearby court or golf at The Isles of Scilly Golf Club on St Mary's which has fabulous views. There's also a small 7-hole pitch and put course by the hotel. Clubs, rackets and balls can be provided.

  • If it rains, hole up in your room with a movie - you can borrow DVDs from reception

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Pool table
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis

Kids

Children are welcome. There are several family rooms, kids menu and a host of activities and facilities; Bryer is a great place to roam around and explore.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

There are four specially designed 2-bedroom family suites: the cheaper Garden View Suites (Shah and Lily) which have a courtyard patio, the slightly more expensive ground floor Galatea Studio Suite with sea-facing patio, and the top end Emperor Suite which has the best sea views. Eleven of the other rooms have a sitting area, which can be closed off by sliding doors, with either 1 chairbed (High Tide Suites) or 2 chairbeds (Empress, Juno and Spring Tide Suites) suitable for children. Some of the sea-facing Studio Suites can also be interconnected.

Babysitting:

Babysitting can be arranged with a little notice, see Rates

Baby listening:

Baby listening can be activated by your telephone and reception can listen in (reception is open generally until 10pm in High Season and 9pm in Low season)

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

High Tea each day and kids menu is available

Kids Activities on site:

  • Heated outdoor pool
  • Children's activity room with pool table
  • Table tennis
  • Video games
  • Outdoor play area
  • Giant outdoor chess board
  • Astro-turf tennis court

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Sandy beaches (nearest within 200 yards)
  • Boat trips to see puffins and seals
  • Horse riding (St Mary's)
  • Feeding chickens

Families Should Know:

Children under 14 years must be supervised in the swimming pool.

Distances:

  • Airport: 20-minute boat ride away on St Mary's
  • Hospital: 20-minute boat ride away on St Mary's
Kid Friendly:

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