You're not spoilt for choice in St Ives. Finding a decent hotel in this popular arts-and-beach town ain't easy. The Tregenna Castle resort is a bit grand and gets overcrowded with golfers and conference delegates; the newly refurbished Pedn-Olva is a touch supercilious. The Garrack Hotel is the antithesis of these: a family-run concern, now in the second generation of Kilby ownership. It is one of just two British hotels included in the Relais du Silence chain, the French organisation promoting places of charm and calm. And the setting is certainly peaceful. The hotel sits at the top of a hill in its own two acres of lushness, revelling in sweeping views over the town and out to sea.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
It's downhill all the way from here. Porthmeor Beach and the Tate St Ives are a steep, 10-minute walk away. You may prefer to get a taxi back rather than huff and puff upwards on foot. For those bringing a car to explore further afield (Chysauster Iron Age village, St Michael's Mount and, for local flavour, the Newlyn pilchard works are all just a few miles away), the Garrack has that rare attribute in St Ives - a car park.
The Garrack Hotel, Burthallan Lane, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 3AA (01736 796199, www.garrack.com).
ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?
Inside, the Garrack is a slight jumble of rooms, with an extension and conservatory unsympathetically bolted on to the original granite and slate building. Furnishings are in the British boarding-house tradition, but helpful staff and a good restaurant (chef Ben Reeve formerly worked with Anton Mosimann) help compensate for lack of overall elegance. Some of the main-house bedrooms sport four-posters. It's well worth paying a modest amount more to get a room with a sea view.
Freebies: Relais du Silence own-brand toiletries in the bathrooms; complimentary Cornish mead in the bedrooms. No charge for using the (unstaffed) leisure centre with L-shaped swimming pool and gym.
Keeping in touch: The 18 bedrooms and separate cottage annexe have TVs, phones and modem points.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Standard doubles with sea views start from £136 per night. For stays of three nights or more there is a special rate for dinner, bed and breakfast of £178 per room per night.
I'm not paying that: There are even more B&Bs in St Ives than there are art galleries. Try Chy Roma (01736 797539; www.connexions.co.uk/ chyroma), 2 Seaview Terrace, which has rooms for £28-34 per person.