At the beginning of the month Belle and I ticked off one more item of my list of 50 things to do before 50 when we spent the night on Burgh Island.
That makes it sound a bit like we are Famous Five wannabees, and rowed over to a deserted island to sleep in a cave and watch for smugglers, but it was about as far away from cave camping as you can get. Burgh Island is cut off from the mainland at high tide, but it’s also home to a luxury hotel. Less ginger beer, ham and tomatoes and more champagne on arrival and smoked salmon open sandwiches.
Staying at the Burgh Island Hotel was on my list for multiple reasons. Firstly, it’s a gorgeous art deco building, with lots of original features and furnishings, and that’s one of my favourite periods for architecture.
More exciting though is the Agatha Christie connection. Christie came to Burgh Island regularly to write, and two of her most famous crime novels are set here – And Then There Were None and Evil Under The Sun. The ITV version of Evil Under The Sun is filmed here too, so you can wander around saying things like ‘Oooh this is where they met on the stairs’ and ‘this is the restaurant where Poirot and Hastings have dinner’. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that.
We stayed in the mermaid suite, which had a view out over the mermaid pool – a natural swimming pool formed in the cliffs. The room was gorgeous, the view for gorgeous and the service the whole time we were there was delightful. Somehow every single member of staff managed to get the perfect balance between being friendly and helpful, but not imposing. Whenever someone asked if we needed anything it somehow felt like they genuinely wanted to make sure we were having the best possible time, but in a really casual way, so you felt special but relaxed. It was very clever.
We went with one of the ‘dinner on us’ offers, which I’ve just discovered they are running until the end of May, which meant that our dinner was free with the room booking. Although the Burgh Island Hotel isn’t cheap, having a three course dinner for two thrown in did make it decent value for a luxury stay, given how expensive good restaurants seem to have become lately.
For dinner you have a choice of the Grand Ballroom, which is black tie, or the Nettlefold restaurant if you want more of a smart casual vibe. We went with the Grand Ballroom as an excuse to dress up and were so pleased we did. There was a live jazz band playing throughout the evening, and one of the couples having dinner had clearly been going to ballroom dancing classes – we’d seen them earlier in the bar and the husband had looked very stern and surly, but as soon as he was on the dancefloor he just beamed, they were a joy to watch.
The thing that made the whole trip for me though was discovering that there were ACTUAL MYSTERIES to solve on the island. They don’t make a big deal out of it, but as we were exploring the hotel we started noticing little bits of Morse code and strange symbols hidden in the corners of paintings.
When we asked about it, we discovered that there are not one but TWO treasure hunts throughout the island. Each had clues to find, a cryptex to open and puzzles to solve. I had known that our trip was going to have mystery connotations through Agatha Christie and Poirot but I didn’t realise we’d actually get to solve two mysteries of our own.
We had SUCH a lovely night in the Burgh Island Hotel, I really cannot recommend it enough if you want to treat yourself. Do look out for offers like ‘dinner on us’ as this does bring the price down a lot. You might want to check in before you book too about which facilities are open – when we visited the mermaid pool was closed due to a rock fall and the croquet lawn was being resurfaced due to a persistent family of bunnies. We didn’t mind because THE MYSTERIES but it’s worth double checking if these things are deal breakers for you.
Overall though, a wonderful time was had by all, no one had to sleep in a cave and yes, we solved both the puzzles correctly, of course we did.
Visit the Burgh Island Hotel website to find out more.