This was our second stay at the Hell Bay, our first having been a couple of years ago as part of our honeymoon. It’s still just as wonderful. Staying on Bryher is always special, but staying at Hell Bay is something else. It is expensive – really, really expensive – but you enter a bubble of understated, unpretentious luxury and suddenly the price (and any other worries) don’t seem to matter.
The hotel itself is simply beautiful. It’s small and manicured just enough to feel like a little haven without being stuffy. It has a real sense of fun too – an inner quad with little screened sitting areas, a giant chess set, croquet on the lawn, and chickens in the posh-est hen houses you’ll ever see. There is a heated outdoor pool , a play area for small children, and a games room with jacuzzi, sauna and gym. The jazuzzi is a fun way to warm through after a day walking in the rain. But this isn’t what this hotel is really about; most people spend their time pottering around the island rather than sitting by the pool.
There is a range of rooms to choose from. We went with a studio suite, which although they don’t have a separate lounge, they do have a terrace or balcony with the most amazing views over Great Porth and out to sea. The rooms are thoughtfully laid out. Little things make it special. Like the fact the tea cupboard has a fridge with fresh milk, a teapot and cafetiere rather than sachets, plus a sink so you can still fill up the kettle if the bathroom is in use. Or the fresh bottled water left in the fridge each day (the drinking water is perfectly safe, but tastes chalky because of the way it is stored and processed on the island). Or the bed, which is so very comfortable and if, you want them, then feather pillows are available.
The food is consistently great. Breakfast is a cold buffet (pastries, cereal, yoghurt, fruit etc) with hot options. Dinner is a fine dining five course affair. The range of options isn’t huge, but given it’s all shipped in or foraged (you sometimes see the chef in the garden picking things for the table) that’s understandable. The restaurant deserves its rosettes. We are lucky enough to live in a part of the UK with some of the best restaurants in the country, but Hell Bay is up there with them. The wine list is pretty good too.
We found the staff to be fantastic, especially the girls who man the restaurant and bar. People clearly come to Hell Bay with really high expectations and we were impressed that the staff were unrelentingly positive and tried to meet pretty much whatever request came their way.
Part of the fun is the adventure of getting there. We would have flown into St Mary’s but it was foggy so we were transferred to the ferry. It was a smooth crossing but I think we were lucky and we were able to fly back. When you come to Bryher, you have to be prepared for flexible travel plans! The transfer between the hotel and the airport is well managed and smooth. The hotel doesn’t have its own boat; transfers are by Bryher Boat Services who operate a service for both Bryher and its bigger sister Tresco. Times are dictated by the tides and therefore only arranged the night before. You can’t get too rigid about your expectations of having a boat ready and waiting to transfer you. Just relax and go with it. Or, if you’re feeling flush, you can always charter your own boat.
Probably the most difficult thing about staying at Hell Bay is the risk of not making it there at all in bad weather. Whilst we were staying there were a couple of people who had sadly missed a few days of their holiday due to fog grounding the planes and not being able to make the ferry (which leaves early morning). Because we knew there’s always a risk that can happen we booked a couple of nights on St Mary’s first as a “buffer” against losing precious Hell Bay time. You can’t blame the hotel for the weather, but when you’re paying so much for your stay, you don’t want to lose any nights if you can avoid it.
All in all, we had a magical stay. It was only a four night break, but we felt like we bumped happily from treat to treat. I got so into the holiday mode that I forgot what day of the week it was. We will be back... In fact we’ve already booked.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hell Bay Hotel is an award winning hotel on the beautiful island of Bryher on the Isles of Scilly. Set in a picturesque cove facing the Atlantic Ocean, Hell Bay offers families and couples a friendly and private oasis to relax and spend quality time together and to enjoy the wild, natural delights of Bryher and the other islands of Scilly. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Hell Bay Bryher, Isles Of Scilly
- Hell Bay Hotel Bryher