Countryside , 13 April 2013

The Hotel Review / Budock Vean, Cornwall

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Halfway through my first evening at Budock Vean I was politely advised by a waitress that there had been a complaint about my phone. I can imagine you’re thinking I answered a screeching phone and barked down it with impunity, all the while waving my butter knife around wildly. Oh no – I had taken my (silent) phone out of my bag to take one photo (minus a flash). That was it. It was during that meal that I realised that some parts of England can be as foreign as the most distant reaches of the planet, and that for those seeking a haven from modern trappings, Budock Vean is the place for you.


It wasn’t only the mobile phone ban in the dining room, and the tacit understanding that tolerance for technology was limited, but scores of other little signs which told me flashy modernity was not the thing here. There wwas the Budock Vean clientele, who were genteelness personified, from their muted dinner table conversation to their polished manners. There were the staff, who are impeccably trained and couldn’t have done more to welcome us. There was the menu – local, fresh, delicious. There was also the ritual of old-school at play – we were told, for example, that guests tended to congregate prior to dinner in the bar for a sharpener. I half expected to see the Major in the corner of the bar cradling a brandy.

Although the pace of this foreign land may have taken some adjusting to, it was a very welcome change. A 15-minute drive from Falmouth, Budock Vean actively encourages the pursuit of better health, and enjoying the great outdoors is therefore central to the hotel’s mission.


The foreshore was my favourite part – it is impressively vast and disarmingly beautiful, and Budock Vean have thankfully implanted reclining chairs which came in handy for my tired feet (and a nod to the older clientele – a WC). The walk down to the water is itself beautiful with a huge variety of plants and signposts for the local animals to look out for flanking the winding paths.

The grounds also boast a golf course, boating facilities on the river, an indoor swimming pool, and all-weather tennis courts. The all-weather part is important for, despite the general mildness of Cornish coasts, we were treated to two days of unrelenting rain during our stay.


The Spiezia products (and treatments – I had an aptly-named ‘Head in Heaven’ rhythmic back, shoulder, head and face massage, which sent me into a 15-hour unbroken sleep) provided particularly thrilled me – as a wholly organic enterprise committed to quality and sustainability, it fit the hotel’s ethos perfectly; Budock Vean tries to shoulder some environmental responsibility and this filters through to every part of the enterprise – the rooms, for example, are fitted with recycling receptacles and full-sized Elemis products, rather than wasteful minis. While on the rooms, I should add that they, like the hotel, are spacious and homely –  again, this isn’t a slick enterprise, but one designed with longevity in mind, and we certainly didn’t want for anything.

When my time to leave came, I was nervous about being thrust back into the belly of London. I had enjoyed the swimming and walks, the peace and homemade scones. I had become used to the refuge where manners matter, dinner jackets and ties can only be removed on school holidays and wallpaper is patterned. But I took a bit of Budock with me – when I go out for dinner my phone stays firmly planted in my handbag.

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