This hotel provides a quite unique experience that is well known and documented – the tiny tidal island accessible only by the special sea tractor at high tide, the heritage and history, all the proven associations with true icons of the 1930s (as per the named and themed rooms). But is it worth the very sizeable tariff for that experience today? It would seem from other reviews that staying here certainly polarises opinions of Trip Advisor members.
Our view on the whole experience is a certain YES. We stayed 2 nights for a very special occasion – my wife's milestone birthday weekend – and found that most others staying were there for similarly significant events. This immediately creates a special atmosphere. Burgh Island is all about dressing up in black tie and evening/ cocktail dresses and being part of an old fashioned house party – straight out of Agatha Christie's Evil under the Sun, which is set there. This works a treat for a special occasion and is worth the saving up for.
The obvious highlights are preparing and dressing for the evening in old fashioned style, gathering for the well made, potent and delicious cocktails in the splendid Peacock Room before dinner when perusing the menus – whilst overlooking the spectacular seascapes and providing a taste of inter-war hedonism that is simply unforgettable – and the dinners and after dinner drinks. We enjoyed a likeable jazz group and dancing on the Saturday evening and also the lazy daytime hours on the tiered terraces overlooking the sea with periodic dips in the famous Mermaid Pool, an enclosed 'sea pool' within a cove that is refreshed with every tide. The privacy of the Hotel is such that the many day visitors to the island and the splendid old Pilchard Inn – also run by the Hotel – go by almost unnoticed. We were pretty lucky with the weather and that is always a consideration in the UK.
Throughout our stay the service was exemplary but quiet and unobtrusive and the food was of the highest restaurant standard. All requests were happily accommodated – riding on the tractor to the mainland on my wife's birthday just for the ride 'through' the sea (free), beautiful flowers and bucks fizz delivered at breakfast (obviously not free but high quality), and you are not thrown out of the island on the last morning but can stay as long as you like after vacating your room.
The rooms are all themed and all have something special about them and enjoy sea views. We stayed in the 'Malcolm Campbell' – a small suite with super art deco style furniture, 1930s items and Campbell memorabilia plus an amazing bathroom adjoining the bedroom with a huge pink 30s bath tub and suite.
You can see why this place needs a high tariff to pay its way – the high maintenance requirements and costs of keeping a concrete 1930s listed building with metal windows up to scratch next to the beautiful but corrosive sea are quite evident and this must be a never ending battle. Don't expect a designer hotel with clean minimalist lines, modern gadgets and boutique touches to avoid disappointment – Burgh Island does not pretend to be that. Parts are a little faded even slightly scruffy, there are no TVs in the rooms and wi-fi and even phone signals are intermittent, but that is all part of the experience surely.
Getting it right for the milestone birthday was a high pressure task that was then entrusted to the Burgh Island Hotel. I'm pleased to say they delivered the goods. Staying there is certainly a very considered decision – 2 nights DB & B would pay for a week's holiday in many sunny Mediterranean resorts – but it should be done at least once for one of your life's special occasions. You will have the photos and stories to relish for a long time after.
- Also Known As:
- Burgh Hotel Island
- Burgh Island Hotel Devon