Carbis Bay Hotel & Restaurant, St. Ives, Cornwall

Last weekend we stayed at the Carbis Bay Hotel for one night as part of a long weekend away in Devon and Cornwall. I expected it to be lovely. We both did. It looks lovely in all of the numerous glossy magazines that it’s advertised in. And we had a great time – but that was in spite of a fairly rubbish hotel and restaurant experience. 

The main issues were

  1. The room was so hot. So so hot. And not just hot – but loud. Our room’s window was just against that loud generator machine that exists at the back of all large buildings e.g. pubs, blowing hot air. So it was loud whether or not the window was open, and even if we did open the window to put up with extra noise, we couldn’t get any air. I told the staff about it as I checked out and they were very apologetic, offering a fan if I stayed there again, but it wasn’t just the room – it was the lobby, the dining room, the corridors. I was so hot at dinner I nearly had to leave to get some air, but it was raining – they were obviously catering to their audience (read: slightly older people) who were all comfortably in their cardigans it seemed. That night was actually one of the worst night’s sleep I’d had in ages. And it wouldn’t have been solved by a fan – because it was so noisy too.
  2. The room was not superior. I guarantee it was not superior, despite saying so on Secret Escapes where we booked it and on the booking reference letter Carbis Bay sent us. I mean it backed onto a loud generator like at the back of a pub! And it was small. I have eyes – I have looked on their website – and the pictures of their superior rooms do not look like the room we stayed in. Our room looks like the pictures of the standard rooms on their website.
  3. When we arrived in the first day, one woman was already on the phone (fine) and one woman was free. Just as I walked in the door, the second woman’s phone started to ring – and she looked at me, and answered the phone.
  4. The iron – we didn’t have an iron. We were told there was one in the wardrobe, we explained that no, we had looked in the wardrobe, there was not an iron, nor an ironing board in there. We then left and came back from the spa over an hour later and still no iron – we called to ask, and they told us ‘don’t worry’ it would be there soon. It took a long time to come, and I don’t know why we were made to feel bad for asking.
  5. At breakfast, I got told off for ordering coffee before ‘checking in’ (there were no signs about ‘checking in’ to breakfast’), and then they proceeded to ignore us for the rest of the meal and never offered us anything cooked, not even toast. Nothing. How rude!
  6. When I checked out I was told I had to have the receipt from the deposit they took from me on day 1 – it apparently had a special code on it. Luckily I had it but it ticked me off that apparently they wouldn’t have been able to refund this £100 ‘deposit’ if I hadn’t have kept my receipt – because they never told me to keep it the day before.
  7. There was a lot of construction going on on the beach directly in front of the hotel which was noisy from 8am on Monday onwards which was pretty disturbing whether on our morning run or while we were on the beach mid-morning.
  8. Adam’s car got properly scratched overnight somehow while we were parked in the hotel’s carpark – despite us deliberately parking in the single space on its own to the right of the reception.
  9. The food was poor – in the restaurant, and in the beach restaurant. Now let’s delve into this particular item more fully, as it is technically a food blog…

First of all, the menu was small and boring. I’m not that mean usually but it was just disappointing – there were about 7 dishes, 2 of which were to cost an extra £10 supplement on top of the set menu price. We could have had vegetable tagine with couscous, or a range of ‘meat + 2 veg’ dishes.

So we got the amuse bouche, which was a bit of parfait on tiny spoons and some bread. The bread was boring. You know how restaurant bread can be lovely? This was bland. See the top of the pic below, we didn’t even eat it – boring.

Somewhat embarrassingly, we both ordered the same meal for both starter and main course. And although it looks fairly pretty, the starter was definitely the worst. It was a ‘ballotine of chicken with quail’s egg arancini’… and the chicken was cold – not just room temperature, cold out of the fridge cold. Gross. The arancini was a light batter and lovely but as Adam said, “the dish just doesn’t work!” It was like the component parts had never been eaten together before. But give them credit for plating up beautifully.

Carbis Bay Hotel Restaurant

For our main, we both got the fish and chips – we were right on the coast, after all. But this they even managed to mess up. The chips were TERRIBLE. I love all chips. They were basically raw. And the lemon drizzle they made was both far too overpowering – basically like what you’d have on a lemon drizzle cake – and poured over everything, including the chips. On the other hand, the fish was tasty and its batter lovely and crispy.

Carbis Bay Hotel Restaurant

Adam was gutted about the pudding menu – every single item bar one (the one he chose) had fruit in it – there was no sticky toffee, chocolate cake – just not that tempting in our opinion(s). Plus, by this point I was sweating so much in this terribly hot restaurant, I nearly had to go stand out in the rain in the middle of the meal.

Carbis Bay Hotel Restaurant

Carbis Bay Hotel Restaurant

I had a pudding from the specials menu – a Strawberry Pavlova, but as you can see from the picture it was more butterscotch than strawberry. It was nice, I ate all of it – but the meringue was all pretty soft (on the soggy side).

So all in all, a pretty naff stay at the Carbis Bay Hotel, but I just don’t think we were their target audience. It felt stuffy and pretentious and – of course – HOT. You would have thought they could do a nice stay for us. In their favour though, we had a lovely hot tub in their Spa overlooking the bay, and it was nice to have the beach right there, as proven by our determination to go kayaking after we checked out on Monday.

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