A haven of comfort at the water’s edge, The Bay Hotel is a place of peace where land meets sea.
Words by Hannah Tapping
A visit to Coverack is like stepping back in time, a secret harbourside world that lives life at a gentler pace to that of its high-season, hot-spot neighbours; perhaps due to its peninsula location and the fact that you have to make that little bit more effort to get here, across the grasslands of Goonhilly Downs and winding down the steep road into the village; definitely because the village has an authenticity, something unique to be retained in modern times which is offered up with grace to all those who visit. The scene that opens up in front of you as you crest the hill is simply breathtaking and it’s immediately apparent that it’s a place to relax, take a breath and unwind.
Taking its cues from its context, The Bay Hotel combines ocean-inspired décor with a warm Cornish welcome. Occupying a breathtaking position just above the breakwater, this is a beachside retreat that you will never want to leave. The hotel has a history straight out of a romantic novel. Established in 1928, it was built by the now assistant manager’s great grandad, remaining in her family until the late 1980s. The new owner is a regular visitor to the hotel, testament to the beguiling effect the hotel has on each and every guest, old and new; all are welcomed including man’s best friend.
The understated elegance of the 14 bedrooms is matched only by their exquisite views across the water. Each has its own individual style, and all have the comfiest of beds made with the softest Egyptian cotton linens. Cute bottles of local milk in the fridge make for the perfect cup of morning tea which can be enjoyed while watching the rise and fall of the ocean beyond. Such is the hotel’s proximity to the sea, a morning dip is often the order of the day before a hearty Cornish breakfast, which can be enjoyed on the terrace if the weather’s fine. Those looking for a little more independence can enjoy a self-catering stay in the hotel’s new Sea Pod, with its own garden, well-equipped kitchen, bathroom and large double-bedroom. The Bay also has its own Wellness Room. Tucked away in the hotel gardens, this day-spa, which of course comes with a sea view, allows troubles and cares to ebb away on the tide as visiting therapists work their magic.
Sea views are shared by the lounge and the dining room. A pre-dinner drink tastes so much better when it has an ocean backdrop. Hevva, The Bay’s restaurant, is named for the rousing cry of the huers whose job it was to watch for the tell-tale signs of pilchard shoals. Once spotted by Coverack’s own huer, the shout of “hevva, hevva’ [here they are!] would alert the villagers to the fish’s arrival so that they could launch the boats. Fitting then that the menu here features fish and shellfish in abundance, much of it sourced from Coverack’s local fishing fleet and the very waters beneath the hotel. Lobsters and Cornish king crab, couldn’t be fresher, supplied by Lew who lives just next door – finer ingredients you won’t find. Local hake, line-caught mackerel and Fal oysters all grace the dinner menu, which is carefully curated for seasonality.
No Cornish restaurant should neglect the excellent meat available in the Duchy and Hevva is no exception. Beef comes from a local farmer whose grass-fed cows feast on the lush pastures above Coverack, who graze while breathing in the salty air that blows over them from the sea. Small producers are championed throughout the dishes, with food miles reduced to mere footsteps and everyone benefitting from direct sales. Smoked fish and game come from Celtic Fish and Game, a family-run business from St Ives. Fish is sourced from local markets, while seasonal game comes from some of Cornwall’s finest estates.
I often walk past The Bay, as Coverack is a favourite haunt of mine for cliff walks, wild swims and watersports alike, and I always feel in summer it’s reminiscent of the French riviera of old, such is its pace of life and understated elegance. The hotel’s terrace and perfectly manicured terraced lawns lead down to the winding road which is all that separates it from the sea wall and the beach below. The soft chink of glasses and murmur of gentle conversation float on the breeze from couples relaxing on steamer chairs in the hotel garden, sat beneath the shade of the palms. This is interspersed with the chatter of contented children from the beach at low tide as they forage in the rockpools and build castles in the sand.
The village of Coverack remains a local’s stronghold, with a thriving community year-round. Its working harbour and small fleet of fishing boats can be seen landing its catch across the water from the hotel, while on summer days the bay offers calm sanctuary for passing yachts. Nearby Meers beach, just a short walk away, is secluded and peaceful, revealing golden sands at low tide, while the Terence Coventry Sculpture Garden is another of Coverack’s hidden gems. Here you’ll find cliff top meadows intersected by winding paths and interspersed with impressive statues keeping their watchful eyes over the waves.
Out of season, Coverack hunkers down as winter storms ravage the coast, but it’s no less beautiful in this guise – there’s something very special about being snug and warm in the hotel bar while watching the mesmerising waves beyond. Whatever time of year you visit, The Bay will cast its spell on you.