Monday, June 22, 2009
This could be the most perfect place in the world
The Hubs and I went to Burgh Island, which could well have mean the most amazing place in the world. We were dead excited about the trip and the trip up there (a 4 hour drive from London) seemed to take forever. We finally got there around five, when the tide was out, which meant we didn't need the sea tractor to get across. The landover across the beach was plenty cool though. Not so cool was arriving to realise we'd forgotten my swimsuit and all our toiletries.
By some minor miracle, we'd managed to bring champagne in lieu of deodrant and tooth brushes, and this assisted us in getting dressed for dinner. There's a black tie dinner every night at Burgh Island, though you can opt out and eat in the private rooms, your own suite, or the pub. It's pretty well-documented that we're big fans of dressing up, so there was only ever one option for us.
The hotel is totally Art Deco, inside and out, and the dinners are run in the spirit of the twenties. Everyone is received into the bar for cocktails and canapes in black tie. The cocktails are distinctly delicious and very generous in their alcohol to mixer ratio. The canapes are in keeping with the times as well (for better or worse!). The black tie is distinctly questionable. There were very glamorous (older) ladies, but there were also some middle aged ones who didn't seem to have made the same effort.
The cocktail list is extensive and everything lingers around £7 a cocktail. In the two nights we were there we sampled a Lost Afternoon (Bison Vodka and Earl Gray), a Cha Cha Cha (Diaquiri varient), Miss Magaret (Margherita variant, cinnamon salt rim was good), Bramble, Manhattan, Whisky Sour and several Bison Vodka martinis with a twist. We were on first name basis with the bartender when we left. The wines were reasonable too - a Chianti came in at about £32 and a decent Gavi at £28. We had our own champagne for when we were getting dressed, I'm still rocking the Chapel Down.
Food at Burgh Island is pretty good. Not something I'd swoon over but given that they're essentially mass catering (everyone takes dinner around 7 and the hotel probably turns 50 at a time), they do very well. The slow-roast beef was done rare on request, quite an achievement given that it if often done well when so requested. Everything went down a treat, eased by the alcohol. I do wonder if I hadn't been 4 1/2 drinks deep by the time I sat down... would it all have tasted better? The textures were all perfect. This may be the first time in my life I've regret drinking more than 48 hours after the fact.
Another first for me is this bold claim: the food and the drink didn't matter. The beauty of Burgh Island was in how incredible special it was. Aside from being exceptionally private (only 50 guests on an entire island), it was unbelievably romantic. We stayed in the Artist's Studio, over the pub but strangely peaceful. There was a roaring fire, a leather sofa, a fridge for champagne, a sleigh bed and a bathtub smack bang in the middle of the room. We would open our eyes in the morning to the most stunning sea view, complete with a happy blue boat bobbing in the water. Coffee was delivered to us first thing in the morning, and we could laze around before breakfast, which was served as late as half ten.
We're not big hotel people. We generally prefer doing holidays where we set out with an aim of having an experience that we treasure years down the road. Hotels generally don't do that for us and so we tend to focus on the destination and use that as much as we can. In this case though, the destination was the hotel. The hotel was pretty much the Island and the walking routes, mermaid (sea water) pool and old-world pub were all within its grounds. It also had picture perfect landscaped gardens you could play croquet on, and 20s tunes were piped through the site. Ambient isn't the word.
Given how little the hubs and I tend to care about things (and hence our need to do everything in extremes? Someone get us counselling...), it's strange how much Burgh Island touched us both. Despite the crunch-unfriendly expenditure, the extreme hangover, the overnight pounding to the waistline and the fact we were the only couple there without children over the age of ten left at home, it was a perfect weekend. There isn't very much that would have been more right about it.
To end this, here's a picture of the Hubs in the Mermaid pool