The Nare takes its name from the Nare Headland
which stands to the east of this hotel on Cornwall’s Heritage Coast. The hotel
itself overlooks Carne Bay with its beautiful broad beach, now owned by the
National Trust. During World War II Carne Bay was guarded by two concrete
pillboxes and The Nare’s flagpole now rises from the roof of one of them.
These days the hotel has 40 rooms, but at its
centre it feels like a big, middle-class country house, with a long sequence of
rooms facing south on to Carne Bay. Scattered throughout the ground floor drawing
rooms are coffee table books, jigsaw puzzles, games, and a lot of modern art
owned by the Gray/Ashworth family. There is a library for quiet reading with a
varied collection of books that are genuinely worth picking off the shelf.
Outside there is a heated swimming pool surrounded by subtropical
gardens. There is an indoor pool too – under the dining room – for when
the Cornish weather turns cold.
The hotel was built in 1929 with
guest rooms facing the sea and servants’ rooms facing inland. In 1989 it was
purchased by Mrs Bettye Gray, a famous hotelier in the area whose portrait
still hangs in reception. It was Mrs Gray who set The Nare’s high standards of
customer service, and its commitment to original art. Bettye Gray always
claimed that she didn’t understand modern art at all, but she famously liked
much of what she saw. Indeed she built a small gallery on the eastern end of
the hotel to display her early purchases.
In 1996 Mrs Gray brought in her grandson Toby
Ashworth to run the hotel, and he has wisely retained many of those famous
period touches. No one is asked for credit card pre-authorisation on arrival.
No one signs for drinks either – the staff know who you are and keep their own
tally. Although tea and coffee facilities are available in each room,
morning tea can also be ordered to be brought up with the
papers. Cream teas are served every afternoon from 4pm in the dining
room and on Tuesday evenings at 6pm Mr Ashworth always hosts a champagne reception for new guests.
Bedrooms are still divided between those that face
the sea and those that face inland. These days the ‘country-view’ rooms are an
excellent budget option and are also useful as an overspill room for a big
family. Do whatever you can to get a sea-view room however, especially one of
those with a terrace where you can spend an entire day admiring the view and
possibly working on your tan. You can even arrange for a room service
lunch to be brought up so you never need to leave.
If you do fancy venturing beyond The Nare do ask
about the hotel’s 38-foot motor launch, the Alice Rose. She is available every Monday,
Wednesday and Friday in spring and summer. Guests board eight miles
away in Tolverne and the cruise begins down the beautiful River Fal with lush
vegetation on either side. Heading further out to sea, the Alice Rose passes
Falmouth and Pendennis Castle before turning up the Helford River in order to
moor for lunch. The captain even invites you to a pre-prandial swim if you’re
feeling hearty. The round trip costs £100 per person and includes drinks, house
wine and lunch. Guests are back at the hotel in time for that splendid
afternoon tea – scones, cake and shortbread biscuits. You probably won’t need
dinner that evening!