I was just about to order the wine when the sound of gunfire shattered the harbourside calm.
‘Ah, that’ll be the pirates,’ exclaimed the waiter, clearly ruffled. ‘They do this most weekends, it gets me every time.’
Not everywhere would you see explosive battle reconstructions and hear shanties sung on the quayside – but this is Charlestown, historic Cornish port and key location for the BBC TV series Poldark.
They’re clearly proud of their heritage and history here.
We are dining at the Longstore, a stylish steakhouse and seafood restaurant housed in a modern industrial-looking building but elegantly turned out inside. It rises above the harbour in this attractive coastal village and I must say, it’s a quality stop-off for Sunday lunch before our drive home after a stay in Cornwall.
We’re on the terrace with a great view of the dock where some tall ships are moored. For a small place it’s very busy, no doubt many of them ‘Poldark’ tourists, keen to follow in the footsteps of Captain Ross and friends.
Our base for the past few days, before we came to the Longstore, was the Alverton Hotel in Truro, a luxurious pad in the attractive cathedral city, less than 20 miles away from Charlestown.
Previous visits to Cornwall have seen us stay in holiday cottages or tents and more often than not we’ve been on the coast.
This time was different as we chose to visit Truro and stay in a hotel.
The charming Alverton is a Grade II listed former convent, now an award-winning 50-bedroom hotel and popular wedding venue set in 11 acres of gardens.
It’s clearly the best hotel around and I’m not surprised to read that its aim is to become the best in Cornwall. I think it stands a good chance of achieving this accolade.
Set on a hill a short walk from the centre, the Alverton is stylish and grand with slate roofs, ivy clad walls, and arched mullioned windows.
It was built in 1830 by architect John Loughborough Pearson, who also built Truro Cathedral.
Originally designed as a family home, it became a convent in the 1870s.
Today it is a hotel with individually designed, fully-equipped bedrooms and suites. The Courtyard wing is a short walk from the main hotel and comprises of 15 unique bedrooms and suites.
The hotel was rightly awarded four AA Silver Stars last year while its Brasserie has two AA Rosettes.
With three young children in tow, I didn’t think we were the Alverton’s usual guests, but we were made to feel very welcome by the young and friendly staff.
We felt like we had arrived somewhere very special as we were led up an imposing staircase and through grand corridors to our room.
We were in one of the executive suites, a spacious room on the first floor with views of the Great Hall, lawn and terrace below where high tea was served.
There was a four-poster bed, separate lounge area with a sofa bed for the children and a beautiful en-suite bathroom. There was all the usual accompaniments for a room of this standard – I particularly liked the vintage-style DAB radio and telephone.
Dining was a delight too – the restaurant was roomy and elegantly lit and it offers a menu combining contemporary dishes and restaurant classics. Special mention must be made of breakfast; there is sumptuous choice including a Cornish grill (vegetarian option available), eggs Benedict or Royale, smoked haddock, grilled kippers and Belgian waffles. This choice comes on top of the selection of pastries, cereals, smoothies, juices, jams and fruits which you can tuck into beforehand.
Once we managed to leave the hotel, we found Truro to be a delightful place, a compact city centre of cobbled streets perfect for exploring on foot. Essentially a market town, Truro’s city status is due to its striking cathedral, which dominates the skyline. I was surprised to learn this magnificent building was completed as late as 1910.
There is an impressive array of shops, both independents and national brands, some nice walks including a river path and some lovely parks which the kids loved.
The friendly Locals call Truro their ‘great little city’ and they are rightly proud of it. It was a shame to leave.
So it was Charlestown on the way back and I must recommend dining at the Longstore, a fairly recent addition, if you’re in this part of the world, if only to try their smoked aubergine on toast, a heavenly concoction with mint yoghurt and pomegranate. There’s also a selection of fine seafood (including St Austell Bay mussels and scallops) and steaks. All this in a stylish setting with great views over Charlestown.
Go West, young man (and woman) and check out these delights.
Rooms at the Alverton start from £129 per night, and vary depending on time of year and size of the room.
The Alverton Hotel is a five minute walk from Truro centre, and is made up of 51 rooms, including six executive suites.
To book, or find out more, email [email protected], call 01872 276 633 or visit thealverton.co.uk
The Longstore at Charlestown Harbour is open everyday lunch 12pm-3pm and dinner 5.30pm-late. Call 01726 68598 or visit thelongstore.co.uk
Source : BournemouthEcho