Review by Fiona Duncan, published 12th October 2008.
One of best things about staying in a hotel is that there’s time to have a bath. Don’t get me wrong; I do wash, but while at home it's a practicality, in a good hotel it becomes a luxury. My Desert Island Discs treat would be a deep bath with a pillow at one end, and an endless supply of hot water, oils and bubbles.
The sunken bath in our room, Orchard, at the Horn of Plenty, would do very well. Lying beneath a large sash window, it has a wide tiled sill on which to put radio, book and glass of wine. Life, with its nagging, insistent problems, buzzes off.
The magnificent view from the window is enough to keep me esconced. The River Tamar makes a silver dash as it flows through its deep, rocky gorge and among the thick woods that rise above it. The otherwise bucolic scene is given an industrial twist with the presence of several tall Victorian chimneys poking above the trees. I yell daintily to my husband to bring the hotel information folder – please – and discover that they are the remnants of copper mines and that the gracious house in which we are staying was built for the mine manager in 1866. A bald patch on the hillside marks where storage tanks for arsenic once stood. First the copper ore dried up, then the arsenic, and eventually the house, Tamar View, opened for business as the Horn of Plenty.
In a world where dining well in casual surroundings has become the norm, it feels like a real treat to eat, and stay, at the relatively formal Horn of Plenty. You won’t be bowled over by the ground floor decoration (though the bedrooms are lovely), which feels more “bland international” than “private house”, but you will by the food, the view, the palm-filled terrace and the charm and dedication of the staff.
My big problem, when we stayed a few weeks ago, was with the room rates: far too high, and I told the owners so. Now, I’m glad to pass on to you that, having rebranded from “country house hotel” to “restaurant-with-rooms” (much more appropriate) the rates have been reduced in line and you will now find value for money. Go there – and have a nice bath. Oh, and a delicious dinner besides.
Gulworthy, Tavistock (01822 832528; www.thehornofplenty.co.uk). Doubles from £120 per night, including breakfast. Dinner, bed and breakfast for two from £180. One specially adapted room for guests with disabilities.