The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West

Selena Young discovers The Alverton, a historic hotel with good cooking in the heart of the Cornish capital

What’s the draw?

Many of us will have been stung by an unfortunate Airbnb experience – forgetting to tick ‘entire home’ and kipping in someone’s garage springs to mind (yes, really). So it was while staying at The Alverton that I was reminded of the reliability, hospitable charm and inviting extras that quality hotels deliver.

Homestay apps have their place, of course, but there’s no denying that hotels like The Alverton reign supreme for a city break, especially when they have a Trencherman’s Guide-rated/two-AA-rosette restaurant in-house. Good luck finding that in a holiday rental.

The Alverton is hidden away on the edge of the Cornish capital, and reached by a steep winding driveway that dramatically reveals the Grade II*-listed building as you emerge at the top. Its historic backstory – it was a convent as well as the home of William Tweedy, president of the RHS – is evident in period features such as a bell tower and mullion windows, and in the mature gardens that encircle the building.

We stayed in a suite in the hotel’s courtyard, one of a secluded complex of guestrooms that blend old with new in heavenly style. Arched windows and exposed stonework and beams made a characterful counterbalance to plush fabrics, a swan-dive-deserving king-size bed and a freestanding copper tub, which gleamed in the light streaming through stained-glass windows.

Cooking creds

Exec chef Nick Hodges and head chef Ollie Wyatt are the talented duo who ensure the à la carte menu is flush with seasonal Cornish fare.

The Alverton seafood

What to order?

Our dining experience kicked off at the bar with a Cornish Negroni and a local ale, although on balmy evenings the terrace is the best spot for an aperitif.

A starter of scorched mackerel served with a piquant rhubarb chutney and pickled vegetables was a taste of the pleasures to come. Just as beautifully executed was a dish of chilled Creedy Carver duck breast on a bed of rice noodles, dressed in a chilli and coriander dressing with toasted peanuts.

There’s a popular notion that fish tastes better by the sea, but our catch-of-the-day main of pan-roasted grey mullet with a side of crisp monkfish cheek challenged that contention. Served with smoked leeks and a buttery sauce, the meatiness of the monkfish made a delicious contrast to the delicate mullet. Sea views are nice but those monkfish cheeks were nicer.

The indulgent finale included a chilled chocolate and sea-salt caramel fondant with malted ice cream and raspberry jus, and a summery, wicked-sharp passionfruit cheesecake.

Need to know

The hotel hosts lots of interesting events including regular live music on the terrace in summer, themed balls, festivals, chef tasting evenings and special afternoon teas.

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