“ Tel: 01736 731488 / 6 Chapel Street / Mousehole / Cornwall / TR19 6SB / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. „
Bored of hotel chains? Find the traditional English B&B a little dull? Resent paying through the nose for individual treatment that sometimes fails to live up to the price paid? There are alternatives, one of which is a relatively new form of hotel: a restaurant with rooms.
My husband and I sought such an alternative on our last holiday as a childless couple this May. We both enjoy fine dining although being pregnant I was concerned that I wanted to go somewhere that didnt rely (in part) on its wine list. That removed hotels such as Le Manoir, the Vineyard or Chewton Glen from consideration as their delights are really best enjoyed with a glass in hand. Whilst browsing the net for alternatives I happened upon a report in the Timesonline about restaurants with rooms. These establishments are restaurants first and hotels second. Having decided to forgo the full-blown hotel experience this seemed an ideal concept a room to use as a base, a recommended restaurant for a meal in the evening and a short walk upstairs at the end of the day.
To be honest we didnt expect that much from the rooms offered by this type of establishment, after all, they are restaurants first. We were in for a surprise.
Of the recommended establishments The Cornish Range at Mousehole in Cornwall really stood out. The simple website eluded a warmth that others lacked. Further research threw up a number of reports that were very favourable and so the decision was taken to enquire further.
The Cornish Range only has three rooms and so with under a month to go until our trip we were ready to be disappointed. Thankfully we werent.
Being a small establishment booking was done over the telephone directly with the proprietors. No technological aids here, you could hear the pages of the diary being turned. As it happened all three rooms were available on the dates we had selected and thus we had a free choice. Good information was given and we were made to feel that we would be very welcome. Our room and table for dinner booked we looked forward in anticipation to our stay.
A booking confirmation arrived within a couple of days together with a credit card receipt for the deposit that had been taken. The standard letter was polite, part typed and part filled in by hand. The rates on the website and those quoted over the telephone didnt quite match. The website has since been updated, although, surprisingly, the rates seem to be a little lower now at around £90 a night for B&B.(per room).
And so we arrived.
Mousehole is a tiny village nestled on the Cornish coast with roads barely a cars width wide. The Cornish Range is situated in a little back street on one such road. There is no car parking at the restaurant/hotel but there is are a couple of small public car parks about 2 minutes-walk away so we unloaded our luggage and then my husband parked the car.
There is no obvious reception area and thus I found myself entering an empty restaurant (it was not a mealtime) and popping my head round into a spotless kitchen where I happened upon a delightful young man. He immediately wiped his hands and came out to confirm our booking and show us to our room. This was clearly low-key yet incredibly friendly.
Access to the rooms was up a set of stone stairs at the side of the building. This would make it unsuitable for the less mobile as the stairs were quite uneven. Upon entering the building my heart sank. The corridor into which we came was rather dull with wrinkled rugs on the floor. It wasnt shabby chic, just rather shabby. I began to worry.
Well, worry was unnecessary. The room into which we were shown (the Pender - see the category photo) was large, clean and very tastefully decorated. New-England style is probably the best description pale, crisp linens, maple wood and a wonderful super-king-sized bed! The bathroom was well appointed although not quite so spectacular as the room itself. It was, however, very clean.
Storage in the room was ample for a long stay and comforts such as a TV, kettle (with tea and coffee) and an occasional table with accompanying chairs completed the set up. A magazine rack gave an insight into the type of clients that the rooms attract with young, well-to do titles such as GQ and Cosmo. Heating in the room was by radiator control and the windows opened as required.
Upon exiting the accommodation we ventured slightly uphill to a wonderful terraced garden, perfect for a quiet chilled glass of wine of an evening (if only I could have partaken!).
The restaurant is situated on the ground floor, under the rooms. It is a relaxed room with around 10 tables, an open bar to the rear, and a kitchen hatch. In style it is not quite as relaxed as a bistro but not as formal as a posh restaurant. Its simply comfortable with modern. Local artwork, an old iron range and simple furniture add to the ambience.
The menu centres around fish not surprising given the number of local active fishing ports in the area. Cooking again falls between the simple and high brow with good quality dishes that truly show off the delights of the local fare. Veggies are catered for, but not well. There are two menus available, a la carte and an early bird set menu available up to 1930 (well suited to a tired, pregnant guest!).
One thing that did let the restaurant down was the fact that the early menu was a subset of the a la carte and did not change daily. Being a small menu, this was disappointing. My husband and I always take different dishes when we eat out and, rather uncouthly, sample each others. This meant that without selecting the vegetarian dish one of us had to repeat a dish on the second night. We could have gone a la carte but this would have doubled the cost of the meal. Dont get me wrong, the food was excellent and repetition was no real hardship. It was just a shame.
Service was low key and a little inefficient, particularly on the first night where one waitress was performing full service on all tables. You could see her stress.
Breakfast was another matter entirely. It was superb, cooked to order and plentiful. Fresh croissants, toast, full English and cereals were all on offer. The odd thing though was taking breakfast in an empty restaurant. We were the only guests and so dined alone with the owner or staff members chatting at the back. Local tradesmen came in and out, passing the time of day. Perfectly charming yet quite odd!
I would recommend the Cornish Range wholeheartedly though. It was ideal to use as a base for exploring that part of the coast, enabled you to feel like part of the local community and was reasonably, although not cheaply, priced.