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Published September 18th 2014
Dog friendly island getaway
Hell Bay Hotel nestled on Western Shore
The tiny island of Bryher, Isles of Scilly, has two distinct faces. It all depends on the season, and where you are at the time. The south-east is said to be calm and sheltered whilst the rocky north-west is exposed to relentless Atlantic waves.
Located on the western side of the island, the aptly named Hell Bay Hotel is "the" place to stay during the holiday season, but we are told they close for the Winter as staff escape to more liveable climes.
Bryher, meaning 'place of hills' lies to the west of Tresco and to the north of Samson. It is the smallest of the five inhabited islands in the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago of around 140 islands and rocky outcrops. The island has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with rare plant life of Special Scientific Interest.
Activities here revolve around the outdoors - boating and walking during the day. Artists come here to paint. Writers gain inspiration from the beauty and tranquillity, and walkers and mere mortals like me just enjoy the scenery, fresh air, beaches and vast array of walks and outdoor activities.
View from Hell Bay Hotel
There is a small population of around 80. There are very few cars and the island is criss-crossed by footpaths and walking tracks. The general store/post office has just about everything you need if you choose to camp. Next door is the Art Gallery/craft shop for mementos and gifts, and I've heard that during the summer months, some the locals set up small stalls in front of their houses selling local produce, like fudge and Bryher crabs.
My first thought is, 'why didn't we book in here for 5 days rather than two?' Although it's a little chilly and quite windy, there's a seriously rugged beauty where the changing light let's one understand why so many artists and photographers come here. The Hell Bay Hotel is a holiday in itself, very tastefully yet casually decorated making it a comfortable place to just hang out.
View from our suite
There's a heated pool, gym and sauna, a very small 7 hole golf course, and a giant outdoor chessboard. The accommodation is comfortable in itself, and the main lounges are great for a relaxing afternoon read as you gaze out to sea.
Hell Bay Hotel Lounge
Hell Bay Hotel Lounge
After settling in to our 3 room suite which also had a separate mini-kitchenette with fridge, sink and kettle, we braved the windy weather to walk for a while, popping in to an unattended local artist's gallery. It was the CCTV that kept a watchful eye on visitors.
Hell Bay Hotel, outdoor dining
During dinner we watched the sun setting over bay, as all thoughts of having one course were soon forgotten. The menu read well and as passing plates were delivered to other tables, we became keen to try the good looking dishes. Everything is either locally caught or grown, or if not available here, comes from nearby Cornwall, and tastes as good as it reads.