‘Strung out, single mum seeks downtime.’ Prior to my visit to the Polurrian Bay Hotel I was a walking ad for why parents need a break. My patience was thin and my hair thinning. I was doubtful that even a stay at this boutique family hotel would help my frazzled state. Despite promises of childcare, spa treatments, soothing sea views and gourmet cuisine, I simply couldn’t see myself getting a break with two children and a dog in tow.
The weekend didn’t start well. Have you ever tried to cart your baggage from car to hotel room whilst carrying two kids and keeping a hound under control? In the end I opted to leave the children in the hotel room, where, on my return (carrying all the luggage in one back-breaking load) the TV was teetering on the edge of the table and the 10 month-old had jammed himself up against the door, howling, so I had to push him over (more howling) in order to get back in.
The fact that the reception staff were so friendly and didn’t treat me like incompetent mother material made me feel a little more relaxed about my entrance. As did the jaw-dropping view to the Atlantic waves crashing against the dramatic cliffs of Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula. And once I’d dumped the bags in our spacious family suite (two doubles with en suites and an interconnecting hallway) I was soon armchair-bound in the hotel lounge with a cup of tea. The kids meanwhile pinged peas and pasta each other from their high chairs and proceeded to make an assault course out of the furnishings. Yet the staff didn’t bat an eyelid and calmly came over to assist when my two year-old pulled a giant conch shell off the windowsill.
When it comes down to wining and dining (or whining and dining in my kids’ case) the Polurrian is far from stuffy and regimented. In addition to formal restaurant dining times there are all-day menus that you can choose to eat wherever suits your mood. ‘We’re having a party here’, declared the two year-old as he gobbled up sausages and pasta with a sea view. Well, it certainly seemed worthy of celebration as I didn’t have to cook or clean up, but my celebrations really started when the kids were tucked up in bed and I hit the pool and Jacuzzi. With a baby listening system rigged up to reception I didn’t even have the baby monitor following me around as I curled up in the snug, hound at my feet, and tucked into a platter of Cornish cheeses with a bold glass of Merlot.
Admittedly it was after that first glass of wine that the relaxation truly set in for the duration of my stay. When two year-old threw a tantrum at breakfast I simply fixed my gaze on the sun glinting off the windswept ocean. When he had a fever in the night I gave him Calpol and a cuddle, then crept back to my comfy king-sized bed and slept blissfully until the early wake-up wails. When the children were whisked off for two (free) hours of childcare in the crèche I went under the expert hands of the therapist for a massage, then waltzed down to the beach and jumped in the sea. Freedom, as it turns out, even just two hours of it, is a great rejuvenator.
Later joined by a travelling companion we set foot along the coast path with babes in backpacks, taking in the landscape drama on the mile-long route to Poldhu Cove, past where Marconi sent the first transatlantic message in 1901. By night we dined in the restaurant, choosing beef from Goonhilly Downs and Mounts Bay mackerel from a menu chocked full of local ingredients. Fine wines flowing we finished with coffee in the lounge and a moonlit stroll to the beach.
I’m fast learning that it’s not just the provision of baby equipment that makes a hotel child friendly. Here our room was equipped with all the paraphernalia I needed from a cot and bottle warmer to a toddler toilet seat. However, what makes accommodation family-friendly is its attitude and tolerance to the noise, pace and mess that comes with small wild things on holiday. And the Polurrian Bay Hotel has this attitude down to a fine art. Plus there’s a crèche (Ofsted registered), a kids room with X-Box and a big screen TV, and an outdoor play area to boot.
Everything considered it was hardly surprising that when I left the Polurrian Bay Hotel, after just 36 hours, I did so with a spring in my step. Yes, my children had been demanding, the dog had needed walking and the poo picked up in his wake. But I had finally been given the time and space in which to relax. And so I was once again ready to embrace the adventures of motherhood with gusto.
The Polurrian Bay Hotel, Mullion, Cornwall: http://polurrianhotel.com