Hotel Review: The Lugger Hotel, Portloe in Cornwall
A tiny, tranquil fishing village on the south coast of Cornwall was just what the doctor ordered for me one cool, sunny weekend in October.
Sitting pretty on the Roseland peninsula, the small village of Portloe oozes charm from its unspoilt secluded spot where the hills dramatically stretch down to produce a small, beautiful cove that mesmerises you upon sight. I spent a weekend catching every glimpse I could of the spot in the delightful village and there’s no better place to do this from than The Lugger hotel, which sits at the head of the slipway.
THE HOTEL / ROOM
The 17th century smuggler’s inn hosted me and my guest, Nick, for the weekend and we honestly found it difficult to tear ourselves away when the time to depart came around. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with the calming and picture-perfect setting and the laid back charm of the hotel itself, which reflects what I love about Cornwall. There are 22 bedrooms and a recently refurbished one bedroom cottage across the slipway to choose from in this Bespoke Hotel. Our room was spacious, light and modern, with an incredible window seat on which to pass the hours gazing at the water.
Simply decorated in light tones with touches of pale blue and the odd stripes, our room was well positioned with a small tub chair and window seat facing out to the water. The triple aspect room had a large comfy bed with big cushy pillows and cushions. We had tea and coffee, a big TV and a spacious bathroom too. Each night during the turn-down service we were left a hot chocolate sachet and marshmallow in a tall glass mug and during the day the most delicious chocolate chunk cookies awaited our return. Our room benefited from a private entrance and our own outside terrace and we felt very at home there.
We also has a sneaky glimpse of the cottage, which has seen a recent transformation from a tired interior to one that had us marvelling at how much fitted in the space, while feeling spacious at the same time. Charming is a word often used when describing cottages and this one was and it had been beautifully updated with luxuries including a stone sink and a stand alone bath in the bedroom, which looked out to the water, as well as duck egg blue flashes against a white, cream and wood interior.
Not long after we arrived and while the weather held out, we took a drink onto the outdoor terrace that leads from the restaurant and indulged in the view for an hour. The hotel also has a lounge, which promotes a very cosy atmosphere and was frequented by us before dinner each evening to peruse the menu and sip a drink. After a drizzly walk up the coastal path and around Portloe we snuggled in the lounge for a few hours with a hot drink and a paper in front of the fire, it was delightful and relaxing. Low ceilings with white painted beams and white walls are paired with low armchairs in neutral tones and blues and wood tables to offer a rustic and cosy setting, with a few nautical cushions thrown in to remind you of your seaside location. In addition there’s a dedicated treatment room and a list of indulgent treatments to choose from so it really doesn’t matter what the weather is doing outside.
We were really pleased to be spending two nights at The Lugger with dinner at the 2 AA rosette awarded restaurant both nights. The menu, from head chef Craig Barrett, looked really interesting with local delicacies (Portloe crab anyone?) and lots of interesting flavours and we tried to sample a good selection of dishes to make the most of the award-winning cuisine.
The décor of the restaurant is comfortable and clean with windows looking to the water, low dark beams and dark chairs lightened up with pale walls and small tables with white cloths draped over them. The floors are either tiled or wood and large images of local nature scenes in black frames or black and white photos in cream frames can be seen all around.
On the first night I opted for arancini from the specials menu, which had a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce to liven up the cheesy flavour. The warm rice balls were gooey inside with a crisp outer and were really tasty, as hoped. I followed this with venison loin with celeriac beetroot and spinach, which was rich, hearty and delicious with a generous portion of rare meat, a nice vegetable selection and a good variety of textures.
Nick tucked into white crab, citrus, crostini and sea grass, which he described as ‘light and delicious’ and stuck with seafood by choosing monkfish for his main course. With Asian influence, this was served with sag aloo, a fennel bhaji and a crab samosa. The meaty, yet light, fish lends itself well to a bit of spicing and the variation of flavours and textures was delicious, Nick highly recommended this so I had it the second night and liked it just as much as he did! We kept it pretty simple with dessert with ice cream for me and a West Country cheese plate for Nick, though I vowed to go all out the next night as they looked very nice as they passed us by!
By evening two we were in our routine of a drink in the lounge while we poured over the menu. Nick chose the day boat scallops with cucumber, citrus and chilli and I opted for the goat’s cheese mousse with textures of beetroot to start. Nick tucked into three juicy scallops, which had torched cucumber and a good kick of flavour, while I adored my colourful array of beetroot and creamy tasty goat’s cheese – add a little crunchy element and it would have been perfect. As mentioned I sampled the monkfish and this time Nick had lamb with fig, wild mushrooms and a veal jus. He also enjoyed a glass of Malbec and he loved it with his autumnal dish, which had sweetness from the fig, a rich, flavoursome jus and a juicy piece of good quality lamb.
We did not want to miss out on desserts this time and we were so glad we didn’t! Nick chose the baked yogurt with berries and almonds and I was tempted by the Valrhona chocolate delice with orange, clotted cream and chocolate soil. An artful plate of rich, sleek chocolate, tangy orange flavours, smooth clotted cream and sweet, crunchy honeycomb greeted me and made up a ten out of ten dessert. Nick liked his creamy dessert with sweet strawberries, raspberries and blackberries and coulis to lighten up the flavour of the yogurt.
All in all the awards are well deserved here, the food was creative, presented with care and, above all, of good quality. The variety of flavours and textures on each plate and the variety of the dishes on the menu as a whole have clearly been carefully planned and you can be sure to enjoy a tasty meal here.
IN A NUTSHELL
Words I would use to describe Portloe include enchanting and tranquil and The Lugger itself, well, charming and homely come to mind with delightful food to devour while you are there as well. A place where time seems to slow right down. I’ll be back for sure.
Address: The Lugger, Portloe, Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom TR2 5RD | 0843 178 7155
Natasha’s press trip was organised through Bespoke Hotels. Formed in 2000, Bespoke Hotels has grown to represent over 180 properties worldwide, and now stands as the UK’s Largest Independent Hotel Group. Ranging from specialist golfing hotels, to award-winning spa resorts and chic city centre properties, the group prides itself on offering a diverse roster and a unique, individualised management style.