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Review of Primrose Valley Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall

Posted by at 04:50 on Thursday 02 September 2010

>> For contact details see greentravellers's full listing for Primrose Valley Hotel

Primrose Valley Hotel breakfast room. Photo: Primrose ValleyPrimrose Valley Hotel breakfast room. Photo: Primrose Valley
Primrose Valley Hotel is a small, boutique hotel on Porthminster Beach in one of Cornwall's best-loved seaside towns, St Ives.

The rooms
Don't be deceived by the 'hotel' in Primrose Valley's name. With only nine guestrooms over a three-storey Edwardian villa, it feels much more like a chic guesthouse, and there isn't even a reception desk. Each bedroom has an individual style and colour scheme. Room 6 had fabrics of turquoise and teal and a warm oak floor, reflecting the colours of the beach. I loved the retro radio and elegant white sofa, and appreciated the welcoming bowl of fruit after six hours of train food en route from London. Bathrooms are compact, with shower not bath. 

The food
Primrose Valley serves only breakfast, but what a breakfast it is. There are cooked items like pork chipolatas made in nearby St Just, Tesyn goat's cheese, and eggs from Old Cotswold Legbar chickens with such yellow yolks I had to ask if they were natural. Also cereals made in Wessex and an array of locally-produce jams, marmalades and butter. In the bar, there's an extensive international wine list (admittedly not locally-sourced), but also Cornish wines, ciders and even an alchoholic Cornish ginger beer.
Room 6 at Primrose Valley Hotel, St IvesRoom 6 at Primrose Valley Hotel, St Ives

Surfing is a major draw in St Ives, while fishing excursions, sailing and wildlife-watching trips to Seal Island are some of the other popular water-based activities.  The town is a mecca for art-lovers, with the big-hitting Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden, as well as countless smaller galleries and independent art retailers peppered around the cobbled streets of the town. St Ives is also a good base from which to explore other nearby highlights of the region like Sennen Cove, Land's End and the Minack Theatre at Porthcurno. The hotel's website helpfully highlights '50 things to do without the car'. 

What makes it green
Owner Andrew Biss says he is wary of "forcing the green stuff down guests' throats", and the hotel's massive efforts had passed by the fellow guests I chatted to. But the hotel has left no stone unturned in trying to reduce its ecological impact. The beautiful fresh flowers in the hotel are grown within 13 miles; wallpaper was hung with organic wallpaper paste, even the 'do not disturb' signs are made from recycled 'foamex'. Andrew and Sue chose Ecotricity to supply their power, on account of that company's investment in renewable energy sources, and a high-tech lighting system and energy-efficient condensing boiler help reduce energy consumption.

The hotel gives £5 off per night to guests who arrive by public transport, and is pleased to report a 60% increase this year in guests doing so. An optional £1 donation to the Marine Conservation Society is added on to every guest's bill automatically, and the hotel is a member of and ambassador for CoaST (Cornwall Sustainable Tourism Project).Exterior of Primrose Valley Hotel. Photo: Primrose Valley HotelExterior of Primrose Valley Hotel. Photo: Primrose Valley Hotel

Top tip
Spas might not top every green traveller's wish-list for a hotel, but the single spa treatment room at Primrose Valley does deserve a special mention. All products are by the respected UK company REN, and the round cotton pads placed on your eyes during a facial are the cut-out 'legs' from locally-manufactured terry-towel nappies, which are laundered and re-used.

Getting there

Primrose Valley is a rail traveller's dream, located just a couple of hundred metres from St Ives station, and a few minutes walk from the centre of town too. St Ives is not on the main line that continues down to Penzance - you change at St Erth and take a pretty 14-minute journey along the coast. Plan your rail travel carefully in advance; the trains are very reliable but if you "just miss" your connection you can find yourself several hours behind schedule.

The hotel is more suited to the gourmet- and design-conscious green traveller than the 'bring-your-own-sleeping bag' type, but the number of green awards this hotel has earned speaks volumes about its eco-ethos. Unlike many seaside hotels which take on seasonal staff for the summer, Primrose Valley lets staff clock up hours peak-season and take time 
off in the winter, which means a close-knit team of cheerful, welcoming, knowledgeable staff. If you're arriving in St Ives by train, you'd be hard-pushed to find a more conveniently-located place to stay.The REN Room at Primrose Valley Hotel dining room. Photo: Primrose ValleyThe REN Room at Primrose Valley Hotel dining room. Photo: Primrose Valley 

For contact details see greentravellers's full listing for Primrose Valley Hotel


Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

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