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Country house hotel chic

A riverside haven in a busy world, where authentic quality makes for the sweetest of dreams.

Beautifully tucked away in private grounds covering some 65 acres of golf course, parkland and sub-tropical gardens leading down to a private foreshore on the Helford River, Budock Vean is a family-run, four-star, country house hotel with friendly, high quality service at its heart.

The hotel has been privately owned by the Barlow family since 1987 and under the watchful eye of Martin Barlow since 2000. June 2020 would have been Martin’s 20th anniversary of taking the reins from his mother and father, and this family approach is nothing new to Budock Vean, which has been independently run as a hotel for just shy of 90 years. Covid restrictions mean that celebrations have had to be placed on pause for now, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate the beauty and authenticity of the hotel from afar, ready for when stays can resume. The lockdowns have seen the grounds, maintenance and reception teams remain on site, keeping things ticking over whilst we wait for a re-opening date to be announced. Thus far, this year’s visitors have been restricted to the squirrels, hawks and deer that can be seen meandering the hotel’s grounds; it’s set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so there’s plenty of meandering for them to do!

Budock Vean is rooted in history, a subject recently studied by a History MA student in conjunction with nearby Falmouth University. Extracted from the research we learn that: “Budock Vean has operated as a successful country house hotel since 1933 when it was first opened by Eddie Pilgrim and Harry B. Parkinson after an extensive renovation. With its sprawling grass and woodland views, its unique position beside the Helford River, and its peaceful seclusion from urban life, Budock Vean has long been an admired beauty spot. Budock Vean Hotel, first appeared in The Sphere’s register of British Hotels in October 1933. The new hotel was eagerly anticipated, with hopes that its golf and tennis facilities would attract tourists to Falmouth, and that its development would make the district more accessible.”

“After opening, Budock Vean hotel was awarded AA, RAC, Hotel and Restaurant Association, Wine and Food Society recommendations, and received praise in the press. In 1935, Harry Parkinson moved back to London leaving Eddie Pilgrim to further develop the hotel, adding extra bedrooms and private suites. It was during this time, in May 1936, that esteemed writer Virginia Woolf stayed at the hotel whilst on holiday.”

With such an illustrious history and clientele, the hotel has always exuded authentic quality. There is a genuine mix of modern, yet traditional, service that is seamlessly blended with a family feel, putting guests at ease. Everyone is made to feel welcome and comfortable. In spite of its grandeur, unrivalled location and luxury interiors there are no airs and graces here. Budock Vean’s ethos is to make all who visit feel wonderfully at home and relaxed; which is what you want, whether you’re on a holiday, staying a few days or just escaping for a day.

Your arrival will take you down a picture perfect, private, tree-lined drive, which gently delivers you to the front of the building with its soft stonework, slate and wonderful planting. Enter into the main hall and you get the first sense that the hotel seamlessly blends the old with the new. The décor and furniture are modern yet delightfully comfy and welcoming, decorated with pieces and paintings from local artists capturing the spirit of the area.

A short stroll through the gardens and past the various wildlife ponds takes you to the hotel’s foreshore on the Helford River. You’ll see the outside changing rooms from the 1950s, reminiscent of days gone by and a wonderful suntrap. At high tide there are fish to be seen as well as the odd seal and often kayakers paddling quietly by. A partnership with local company, Koru Kayaking, offers the chance to explore the river directly from the hotel by kayak or you might opt for a more leisurely trip out on the water aboard the hotel’s river boat, the Hannah Molly. Exploring the coves, secret beaches and creeks including Frenchman’s Creek the inspiration, of course, for Daphne Du Maurier’s novel of the same name, makes for a day on the water like no other.

As well as messing about on the river, the hotel is home to a 15m indoor pool complete with a huge log fire and one of the most impressive ceilings going. An outdoor hot tub overlooks the top of the gardens and the terrace, a perfect spot for lunch or drinks. There are two outdoor tennis courts, a full-size snooker room and, of course, the golf course; a lush, nine-hole, 18 tee parkland course designed by five-times Open winner James Braid. The hotel’s Natural Health Spa offers a warm welcome and treatments using Elemis products, what better way to relax than with a secluded, get-away-from-it-all kind of escape. At Budock Vean you can while away your days without ever having to leave the hotel grounds.

If you’re staying a while, then there are 55 bedrooms to choose from, in addition to four traditional self-catering properties and three, new build holiday homes, with plans to build more. The bespoke, architect-designed holiday homes offer the best of both worlds; as an investment and a bolthole to escape to. The hotel takes care of housekeeping, bookings and marketing on behalf of the owners so you are assured the same quality and welcome whatever accommodation you select. Over recent years, there has been huge investment in the refurbishment of the hotel, the most recent of which being the restaurant which was totally transformed in February 2020, just before the first lockdown.

It’s not just holidays that Budock Vean caters for. The hotel also offers a place to make business a pleasure. Whether you’re travelling solo for work, looking for a place for a team to hunker down and work together or searching for somewhere to stay after working locally, Budock Vean is ‘just the job’ as they say in these parts. Its very location inspires creative thinking and winding down in equal measure.

As with any business venue – which feels a somewhat incongruous word to describe this workplace wonderland, as it’s far less a venue, and more a sanctuary – meeting rooms are essential. Budock Vean has three, each with built-in presentation and meeting technology. There are also a range of breakout spaces and lounges, with the option to use meeting rooms as business suites, plenty of free parking and a helipad.

Whatever your reason for visiting Budock Vean, there is no doubt that you’ll be in safe hands. The fact that it has been family-run for over 30 years means that you’ll always get the very best when it comes to service, setting and style.


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