“A spectacularly sited Cornish coastal hotel, reinvented as a boutique family haven, with great facilities including creche and spa”
The 40 or so rooms are arranged over 3 floors, including some on the ground floor (for the less mobile) and some under the roof (which have the best sea views). Of course, sea views are what it is all about - sometimes turquoise, sometimes silver or glinting orange, always fringed with the foam of breaking waves - and it is amply worth paying the small supplement for them.
All rooms are dressed in fairly standard boutique clothes - a muted palette of greys, creams and olive green, with colour from a red blanket or chartreuse cushion, and a splash of designer style from white-balloon Flos lights and a pair of low slung Wegner oak chairs. We slept well, on thick mattresses with a chunky topper and half a dozen pillows (though the duvets were a bit too warm for our liking); and washing was a pleasure, with generous bottles of Elemis toiletries and a choice of tub or overhead rainshower. There's plenty of wardrobe space, a flat screen TV (with DVD player on request), and free WiFi. The only things you might miss are tea- and coffee-making facilities, though room service will whisk drinks up to you at any time.
Rooms are divided into 3 categories - inland, seaview and superior (like seaview, but larger). Most are around 20 square metres - neither big nor small - though a couple have narrow (4'6) beds as opposed to the more common queensize (5').
In addition there are some lovely family rooms which consist of 2 bedrooms (1 double, 1 twin) sharing a bathroom. We stayed with our son in #105, a lovely first-floor room if you can get it, with corner views to the sea. A couple of the family rooms have bunks instead of twin beds; another is on the top floor, with lofty views straight out to the Atlantic and a cosy kids room lit by a skylight window. Other rooms we liked were #118 (a smallish but very bright seaview double) and #114 - though it's worth noting that this, like several others, has a windowless bathroom.
The hotel offers a full restaurant service (breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus all day snacks and drinks, but no bar) in an airy, sea-facing dining room with parquet floors, white walls and high ceiling fans. There's also a less formal dining area above the 'Sea Vista' extension, aimed primarily at families and using a similar but more kid-friendly menu.
The fare is what you might call contemporary English with a hint of the Med, all of it painstakingly sourced from local suppliers. Menus are now a la carte (following mixed feedback about the fixed menus), with starters from about £6, mains from £12 and desserts from £5 (in 2012); wines - including a decent house prosecco - start from about £5/glass. So it's not cheap, but it is not bad, and if you're lucky, it might be truly excellent.
Certainly the salt-baked sea-bass I had on my first evening was one of the tastiest and softest fish dishes I've had all year, and my amaretto peach tart with Roskilly's ice cream was not far behind (though my wife's zabaione semifreddo was a bit mushy). Beef carpaccio and rump steak (from nearby Goonhilly Downs) also got a thumbs up, and it was nice to see squid and Cornish blue cheese salad making an appearance.
Needless to say, there is also a kids' menu, offering a familiar range of pasta, pizza, sausages or fish and chips (superior goujons and chunky chips). We actually preferred to order a starter from the main menu for our son - pea soup and smoked chicken salad both went down well, and felt somehow healthier. Alternatively you can book your children into High Tea in the Den at 5pm.
Breakfast - part buffet, part served - is good too, especially the syrupy figs with rhubarb yoghurt, the smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, and the crispy pancakes with raspberries; though, if we're being picky, it would be nice to see a wider range of breads. But staff were always open to requests, and quick to bring high chairs and borrow pens from reception to keep littl'uns amused while waiting.
If you want to head out, there are pubs and a restaurant in Mullion (2km), and more in Helston (10km) and Porthleven (15km). Just north of Mullion, the Poldhu Beach Cafe gets rave reviews for its beachfront pizzas and fish'n'chips - a great lunch stop if you're walking the coastal path.
Children are welcomed with open arms at Polurrian Bay, and will find all manner of games and entertainments to amuse them, from the superb creche to a weekly game of football (guests vs staff) in summer. We were particularly impressed with our pre-arrival email asking which of the many bits of child equipment (from potties to pushchairs) we would like awaiting us, and which creche sessions we would like to prebook (2 hours per day are included in the rates, even on the day you check out).
On our final morning, while our 3 year old was busy building a cardboard spaceship in the Den, my wife had a 2-hour spa treatment and I plunged into the surf of Polurrian Cove - a perfect way to purge our minds and bodies before the drive home.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
The family rooms are ideal, with 2 bedrooms (1 double, 1 twin) and a shared bathroom (tub and shower); you can also put a cot in most of them. Best of all, the rates are barely more expensive than a normal double room (you only pay for the extra breakfasts). For older kids, there are pairs of communicating rooms with their own small hallway - though these are considerably more expensive so personally I would not recommend them. For a couple with 1 baby, most normal double rooms have space for a cot.
Babysitters can be booked at reception, or...
... you can use the hotel's baby listening service for free when dining in the restaurant.
A vast range, including:
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The Den is a fabulous Ofsted-registered creche for children aged from 3 months to 8 years, and a 2-hour session per day is included in your room rate (starting at either 10am, 11am, 2pm or 3pm). Rowenna and her 2 colleagues are really friendly and confident with kids of all ages, and offer everything from a craft table and a sandpit to face painting or dancing.
There's a kids' menu, available from noon until 9pm, with the usual suspects - pizza, pasta, sausage, fish goujons with chips - though we found that the adult starters worked well as children's mains, and were tastier. Alternatively you can book High Tea in the Den at 5pm (under 8s only).
The beds are quite high (but bed guards are available on request). Parts of the grounds are stepped - not ideal for toddlers.