Driving in circles around the Cornish fishing village of Mevagissey after an already long journey, my husband and I briefly cursed ourselves for not printing out instructions for how to get to Polpier House rather than relying on Google maps.
My 4G had ceased functioning and we briefly wondered how we were every going to find the holiday home we had arranged to share with eight friends and three preschoolers – including our own – for the weekend. Happily, a glance upwards from the harbour solved our navigational woes; Polpier, it transpired, sits grandly on a hill overlooking the village, its crenellated roof a striking sight. Once at our destination, we soon discovered that the views back down the hill from this opulent, late 19th-century mansion to the harbour and out to sea are even more unmissable.
Polpier, which sleeps 16 adults, has been expensively but tastefully renovated to offer all mod cons (think underfloor heating and powerful walk-in showers) in addition to Victorian splendour. There are seven rooms in the main house, including one two-bedroom suite, two of which can be configured with twin beds. This being a high-end wedding venue as well as a holiday rental, there is a separate honeymoon suite in the grounds, complete with balcony overlooking the harbour.
It’s safe to say that nobody in your party is likely to feel short-changed by their sleeping quarters. All the rooms are spacious (some are almost intimidatingly ginormous); all are en suite and come complete with luxurious bedding, towels and toiletries.
Nor is anybody likely to feel cramped by day; the living spaces are vast - so big that there’s a DJ booth complete with disco lights in the main hallway - and offer a plethora of options to keep everyone entertained. There’s the snooker room and table tennis; a huge main kitchen/dining room backed up by a well-equipped catering kitchen; two living rooms; three wood-burning fires and several sizeable televisions... and all that’s before you stroll outside to the tennis court, croquet lawn, barbecue, outdoor dining area and, best of all (in warm weather at least), sizeable swimming pool.
A separate 10-bed property within the grounds, Penpol, can be rented on its own or in conjunction with Polpier. Travel cots (and high chairs) are available for smaller guests.
Out and about
There’s not actually a pressing need to leave the grounds while staying at Polpier, given the diversions on hand. If you do get itchy feet, however, its a five minute stroll downhill to Mevagissey, with its pretty harbour, small aquarium, model railway museum, shops and eating options.
For bigger excursions, the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan (heligan.com) are less than three miles away and the Eden Project (eden project.com) is half an hour’s drive. There are several beaches nearby, including at Polstreath and Gorran Haven, and in high season (until 1 October), a passenger ferry plies the scenic route from Mevagissey to the harbour town of Fowey (mevagissey-ferries.co.uk). Outdoor pursuits including golf and cycling can be easily arranged; there’s a pretty comprehensive guest book at Polpier with plenty of details.
Food and drink
Few staples are provided for guests arriving at Polpier - its essentially just tea bags, coffee and sugar - but that’s easy to overlook that when you’re distracted by the gigantic stack of fresh scones sitting in the middle of the breakfast bar. This being Cornwall, there is of course clotted cream and jam to go with; a perfectly indulgent pick-me-up at the end of a long drive.
For those who cannot live by scone alone, there are sizeable supermarkets 15 minutes’ drive away in St Austell, or you can get an online shop dropped off in advance; housekeeper Amanda will unpack it for you. A local independent grocer/deli, Moores, will deliver meat, baked goods, dairy and deli treats with 24 hours’ notice (01726 843035). On weekdays, in season, Polpier’s gardeners will help you pick fruit, veg and herbs from the house’s own gardens.
Mevagissey is bustling if small, with several restaurants and take-aways to choose from; try Salamander (01726 842254) for locally-sourced fare or the Central Café (01726 843109) for lip-smacking fish and chips to eat in or take away. Most of the pubs also offer food, including the 15th-century Fountain Inn (01726 842320).
Polpier House, Tregoney Hill, Mevagissey, Cornwall PL26 6RE (polpier.co.uk). Prices range from £1,750 for a two night stay in low season to £11,250 for a week in August; sleeps 16. Dogs are welcome, as are hen and stag parties.
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