SU CARROLL steps back in time at an historic inn at the heart of Dartmouth
It’s funny what makes a stay at a hotel special. For me, it’s the Three Bs – Bed, Bath and Breakfast. A comfortable bed with top quality bedding, a bathroom with a touch of luxury and a breakfast which celebrates good local produce.
The Bayard’s Cove Inn in the Old Town area of Dartmouth ticked all three boxes easily. But what really made our stay special was the natural warmth of the staff. This was ably demonstrated during breakfast taken in an area at the back of the inn. Nearby were a group of (obviously) local ladies gathered together in a crossword club – all attempting to solve the same photocopied newspaper puzzle.
“Hurrah!” yelled one energetically throwing her hand in the air and promptly knocking a dish out of the hand of the waitress clearing the breakfast tables. Reassurance was instant and genuine and much laughter followed. The atmosphere returned to something akin to a well-behaved party – there were people chatting to one another at adjacent tables, much fussing over dogs and a general air of bonhomie. You can train your staff all you like, but if you don’t recruit the right people in the first place you will fail.
Luckily, it’s not just me who has noticed the great service at Bayard’s Cove Inn. They were finalists in two categories at the 2018 Devon Food and Drink Awards, won a Gold Award from Taste of the West and Bronze in the best Small Hotel Boutique Accommodation category at the Devon Tourism Awards.
Bayard’s Cove Inn is a charming destination in a great location – a Tudor mansion in the Old Town area of Dartmouth, opposite the historic lower ferry and a short walk from the Bayard’s Cove Fort, a Tudor fortification now maintained by English Heritage. Several Tudor buildings have survived in Dartmouth – including the Castle at the mouth of the river, also now protected by English Heritage – and the town is enthusiastically embracing its connection to the Mayflower 400 commemorations.
In August 1620, Pilgrims on the Mayflower and sister ship the Speedwell would have seen the Bayard’s Cove Inn building from their mooring near the Fort after the ships sailed into Dartmouth for repairs. The two vessels then returned to Plymouth where the Mayflower set out alone across the Atlantic. Dartmouth is developing trails to guide visitors around the town to connect Tudor sites and important places in the Mayflower story. When you’ve walked the trails and visited the Dartmouth Museum in the beautiful Butterwalk (highly recommended) head back to the Bayard’s Cove Inn to enjoy a delicious evening meal which showcases local produce including lamb, beef and (of course) fish and crab.
A popular choice is their answer to moules frites – local mussels cooked in Heron Valley cider. For information on Dartmouth’s Mayflower 400 project go to dartmouthmayflower400.uk. Bayard’s Cove Inn can be booked online at bayardscoveinn.co.uk.