Hotel review

The New Inn, Isles of Scilly, hotel review: ‘You could be in the Maldives’ | Travel

What is the story?

Owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and leased by the Dorrien-Smith family since 1834, Tresco is the second largest (two and a half miles long by one mile wide) of the five inhabited Isles of Scilly – all about 30 miles east west of mainland Cornwall. The fastest way to get there is a 15-minute helicopter flight from Penzance; you can also sail on the Scillonian III passenger ferry to St Mary’s in under three hours, then transfer to Tresco on a much smaller ferry. Although the island has around 100 self-contained cottages, this 19th-century inn with 16 renovated rooms and a charming residents’ lounge is the place to stay if you’d rather have someone else cook breakfast.

What do we like?

Very good community pub, it looks like a real hangout for locals and the many returning families who holiday at Tresco every year. A recent renovation has barely touched the traditional bar – where the walls, made of wood jettisoned by a passing freighter in 1994, are lined with maritime memorabilia. But a long dining space called the Pavilion is fresh and modern. Painted in Farrow & Ball’s understated lichen green, the vaulted ceiling here also nods to the location behind New Grimsby Harbor and the sea beyond, visible through floor-to-ceiling windows at one end. Beyond is a newly added terrace, the best spot when the sun is shining. Huge lobster-like bamboo pendant lights, zinc-clad tables, and striped banquettes complete the look.

The menu mixes classics (beef burgers, rib-eye, fish and chips; the last one is disappointingly bland) and seafood. The crab sandwiches are excellent, as is the whole mackerel, cooked on the outdoor grill and served with buttered new potatoes, a salad of marinated vegetables and salsa verde. There is Tribute Cornish lager on tap.

All rooms are simple yet elegant, with turquoise tongue-and-groove woodwork, plum flag-print headboards, and framed pressed flowers. The Garden Terrace doubles on the ground floor have freestanding tubs and their own patios with lounge chairs.

The best hotels in the Isles of Scilly

What’s nearby?

Tresco Abbey Garden, a 25-minute walk away, is the archipelago’s main attraction, with admission included in the price of your room. The microclimate facilitates the outdoor survival of global exotic plants that would have little chance elsewhere in Britain. From here it’s a short walk to Pentle Bay, one of the island’s sensational white sand beaches – other notable beaches, not marked on the official map, flank Old Blockhouse, a ruined fort of artillery. All of them are generally deserted and, if not for the water temperature, you could be in the Maldives. Happiness.

Emma Love was a guest at the New Inn, which offers double guest rooms from £185; mains from £18 ( Helicopter transfers from £135 pp ( Penzance to St Mary’s ferry transfer from £66 pp (; the boat to Tresco costs £6 per person ( Suitable for children; accessible; restaurant

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