Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Carbis Bay - a Cornish Hideaway

December 2018 
We were surprised and also somewhat dismayed to learn that what we think of as our secret Cornish hideaway will soon be revealed to the world. It has just been announced that the hotel will be playing host to the next G7 Summit in June. 
For many years we have stayed at this lovely hotel that sits within its own private sandy cove and enjoys spectacular views across the Atlantic.  We prefer to visit during the winter season, and especially enjoy escaping there for a few days prior to Christmas. We have often left home in typical inclement December weather, only to discover on our arrival, warmer, sunnier climes. The area has a very special light which has over the years attracted and drawn many of our great artists to live and work there. 

Built in 1894, the hotel was designed by the renowned Cornish architect Silvanus Trevail. It quickly gained popularity as a result of a boom in British seaside holidays at the end of the 19th century, which had become possible with the expansion of the railways. The architect, Silvanus, eventually rose to become the President of the architects' professional body, The Society of Architects.

The hotel was immortalised by the author Rosamunde Pilcher, where it appears as The Sands Hotel in her novel The Shell Seekers, and also in her book Winter Solstice. 
'Penelope, however, has taken everything in her stride. By everything, I mean the enormously thick carpets, swimming pools, jacuzzis, private bathrooms, televisions by our beds, huge bowls of fresh fruit, and flowers everywhere. We have clean sheets and towels very day. Our rooms are all in the same corridor, and have adjoining balconies, looking out over the gardens to the sea. From time to time, we step out onto them and converse with each other. Just like Noel Coward's Private Lives.' 
Virginia Woolf spent three weeks at the hotel in 1914 and, years later, wrote To The Lighthouse, inspired by Godrevy Lighthouse which sits on an island across the water from St Ives Bay . 
There is only one rather narrow vertiginous road leading down to the hotel which I suspect may have proven to be an important aspect from the point of view of security, and a very narrow clifftop path that winds it way along to St. Ives together with a single track small railway. Both of these are also very easy to secure and protect from prying eyes and reporters. The lovely food, the peace, quiet, and the seclusion, no doubt all played a part in the choice.  
You can see more of the area here including a short video showing the railway journey that runs from St. Ives and passes through Carbis Bay.

47 comments:

  1. It sounds lovely and what a storied literary history it has!

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    1. It was the haunt of many well known artists too.

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  2. I had no idea that The Sands in The Shell Seekers was based on an actual hotel. I have read that story many times. I hope that once the G7 is over, the hotel will return to being a quiet place of retreat once again.

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    1. I didn't realise myself until we actually stayed at the hotel for the first time many years ago now.

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  3. A lovely setting, the hotel does look very nice so hoping all goes well for the summit when it arrives.
    Hope you and your husband are doing ok after your injection.
    Take care.

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    1. We haven't had any problems with our jabs. Just a tiny prick which we hardly felt, and no after effects whatsoever.

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  4. We have so many beautiful places here in Great Britain that it baffles me why people need to go abroad. That looks like another stunning little place to put on my list of places to visit.

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  5. What a gorgeous bay and beautiful hotel. No wonder you like to return. 'To the Lighthouse' I remember well from when I studied English Lit. - how exciting to be able to see the actual lighthouse itself. If we ever get back to the UK.... :)

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    1. I read To the Lighthouse when my youngest son was studying the book as part of his A Level examination.

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  6. The event itself will be over and done with quite quickly but there is going to be a good deal of disruption during the week before it takes place. After that, however, all will return to its tranquil former self. At least you won't have arch-creep Trump in attendance.

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    1. It will be interesting to see just how it all pans out.

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  7. Hello Rosemary, The blue water and apparently sandy beaches make it look like some resort in the Mediterranean. I hope that the conference won't ruin your secret hideaway. It does seem like it would be quite windy and cold in the winter. I can't recall ever visiting the beaches of Lake Erie during freezing weather, but for a number of years my office window looked out onto the lake, which was especially dramatic during stormy weather.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I took that photo during the winter - they have the Gulf Stream in that area and they are also able to grow tropical plants outside.

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  8. Dearest Rosemary,
    You are oh so lucky in Southwest England to have almost Mediterranean weather, especially for a nice winter escape oh so valuable.
    Let's hope it remains nice and kind of secret.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - they certainly have a very mild climate compared with here even though it is only 125 miles away.

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  9. It looks wonderful - and althugh the G7 summit sounds a bit alarming, it is bound to help this historic hotel to survive if it goes ahead. Let's hope it can. How nice it will be to return to some of our favourite haunts, won't it?

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    1. I can't imagine how all of the world leaders will travel down the vertiginous road to the hotel along with all of their security and hangers on.

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  10. That is a nice part of Cornwall. Too good for the carve-up G7.

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    1. I don't want it to change but I fear it will once it becomes known.

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  11. Sounds a beautiful place... and quiet. I was lucky enough to explore Devon and Cornwall around 40 years ago during a few summer and autumn trips and it was still fairly quiet then. Been watching Rick Stein's Cornwall and Cornwall: This Fishing Life past few weeks on TV so it's bringing back loads of memories as I walked through all those coastal villages and towns. Nowhere else like it for fine weather, cliff clinging houses, or great light.

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    1. I wonder when and if we will ever be travel again. Boris thinks that the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel, but I think that there are years of problems ahead for all us.

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  12. Oh no, hope they can't go there! Surely June will still be impossible for travel. We were in Taormina, Sicily just prior to the 2017 G7 Summit - it was disgraceful what they did to the lovely old town, tearing up the streets and piazzas trying to make it look new and 'posh.' Apparently they flew the world leaders in by helicopters, quite chaotic. Meanwhile Mt. Etna looked down on them, breathing heavily, probably considering "should I or shouldn't erupt and teach them all a lesson!"

    Beautiful part of Cornwall and The Shell Seekers has always been a favorite of course.

    Good to see you here, so glad you had no problems from the vaccinations. We have an appt. on Sunday morning, fingers crossed it goes well.
    Mary x

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    1. I can't imagine just how things will pan out in June, but I was I was disappointed that our special place will be shown to the world.
      Neither of us had any problems with the vaccination. We hardly felt the prick and had no after effects whatsoever. I am so pleased to hear that your appointments have been arranged now, that is really pleasing news to hear x

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  13. We have stayed here a number of times and enjoy the walk along the coast from the hotel into the heart of St Ives, one of our favourite places. (We are often lazy and catch the train for our return!) It is such a lovely part of the country and pre-Covid we visited every spring and autumn. When our second jab has worked it's magic I think we shall be booking a return!
    Very limited parking at the hotel, I wonder how they will manage?

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    1. I am pleased to know that you too share our delight in Carbis Bay. May be they will build a heliport landing pad! I find it difficult to imagine a stream of large cars making their way down that steep entrance road. Having been there you know what I am talking about.

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  14. It looks charming and serene. I can understand your disappointment of it being discovered and possibly overrun with tourists in the future. You may just have to enjoy your memories and find another place.

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    1. You are right Janey - if the character of the place changes then we will find somewhere else to stay instead.

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  15. What a perfect spot! Your second pic puts me in mind of an Agatha Christie murder-mystery location, so I'm surprised that this fit the bill for a VIP event, haha! ... It's been ages since I read the VW, so I might pop that onto the pile, vertiginous as it is.

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    1. As far as I am aware there is no hanky-panky in the corridors! Agatha Christie was actually a west country person, and had a beautiful house in Devon by the coast too. We visited it a couple of years ago at blossom time, it was really lovely.

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  16. What a fabulous place and just when I was shouting out to hubby, 'hey look at this, lets book a weekend here' I read on and found the entire Government will be taking it over - so it will never be the same again! I can see why it's been chosen - difficult to creep up on, hidden away.

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    1. Sadly not just the Government but world leaders too. I do hope that it doesn't spoil or change the place.

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  17. Almost impossible to keep such an amazing and secluded place to oneself , now I too know where it is and could be one of my future places to visit , whenever possible :-))

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    1. I would be very happy for you to go there Jane, but not all of the world!!!

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  18. Good morning dear Rosemary,
    A beautiful place to be. No place in the world is safe anymore for the huge amount of tourists.
    Have a wonderful day and stay safe!!
    Marijke

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    1. Hello Marijke - the world seems to be growing smaller and smaller and there are very few places that are now "secret havens".

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  19. Hello, Rosemary - I had known Britain invited Australia, India, and Korea as guest nations to G7 Summit. I welcome it for the security and cooperation in Indio-pacific region. I hadn’t known about the site. The seaside summit at Carbis Bay looks so wonderful for the leaders of the world … but I understand how you feel. I look forward to seeing the area and the hotel on TV news in summer as surrounding places are always introduced. Production of vaccines seems unable to catch up the demands of the world. You were so fortunate.

    Yoko

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    1. Hello Yoko - I agree that it will be interesting to see, but you know how I feel about one of our special place to visit.
      We do feel fortunate and very grateful to have already had our vaccine jabs.

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  20. Dear Rosemary,
    The world is getting smaller all the time. I hope that after the Summit your beautiful and pristine beaches will be all yours again.

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    1. Hear, hear Gina, so do I. Hope all is well with you.

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  21. That's the downside to beautiful places - too many people. I hope it remains special for you.

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    1. Who knows anyway what the situation will be like in June - things seem to be continually changing with the virus situation. It is all up in the air and unpredicable.

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  22. Yes, I was shocked when I heard this on the radio the other day, gobsmacked as they say in modern parlance. (I was there many years ago).

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    1. The logistics of trying to get a cavalcade of large limousines down such a narrow steep road to the hotel seem crazy.
      I am pleased to know that you are familiar with Carbis Bay too.

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