by Sherelle Jacobs, The Telegraph, November 20, 2017
"There’s a crack in the bottom,” I said. “Well dear, let me smooth it out for you,” was the kindly reply. I frowned petulantly into the ridiculous pot – gaping split at the base, more fingerprints than a bungled robbery scene – then lobbed it across the table. A bit too forcefully, splattering myself with clay.
I was having a crash course in pottery at Bedruthan in Cornwall – Britain’s most craft-tastic hotel – under the expert eye of Heather Hunt, an esteemed local ceramic artist. I’m not arty, but I’ve been curious about pottery since a friend signed up for a course in Clapham and started ranting about it being the new mindfulness. So when I heard that Bedruthan was doing beginner-friendly workshops, I eagerly signed up my mum and myself for some bonding time.
With all the clay-throwing and flattening and rolling, our pottery class overlooking the ocean delivered on the therapeutic front. Fusing two pots together to make a clay bell proved tricky; particularly when mine started to resemble a misshapen potato. Thankfully, Heather was on hand to rescue it.
But we then carved patterns on our bells, which I really took to.It required a cheerful patience and quiet concentration – a state of mind rarely reached by my frazzled London self. Mum also had a hoot: "When I was at school in the Sixties, only the boys were allowed to do pottery; the girls had to do needlework!" she sighed. "Now I get to have a go – finally!"
We had also signed up for a girly spa break: what could be more de-stressing than a weekend of body pampering alongside craft-based stimulation for the mind? Plus the recent cold snap has left my skin rougher than a mattress topper that’s had too many turns in the washing machine. We decided on a 165-minute scrub, massage and facial priced at £165 – or £1 a minute, cheaper than a psychic hotline – for two.
My only regret is not insisting on separate treatment rooms. "You’ll ho wash off between the scrub and massage and there’s only one shower. I assume you won’t want to go in together," said the deadpan therapist. I shook my head so vigorously I trapped a neck nerve. "No, no," I replied. "We’ll take turns." During the facial, my state of relaxation was punctured by a loud snore. "You fell asleep," I chuckled to mum afterwards. She gave a wry smile. "My dear, I wasn’t the only one".
Embarrassing narcoleptic episodes aside, the seaweed scrub left my skin smoother than Cornish butter. And inspecting myself in the mirror post-facial, did I detect the flushes of a resurgent summer glow? Bedruthan is more hippie than hipster.
Interiors look like something conceived by a psychedelic knitting class: patchwork purple sofas; candy-striped armchairs; more shades of hot pink than the Mac counter in Selfridges. Cushions are stitched with the kind of groovy patterns that Elton John cuts his suits with.
The building – a sprawling compound with fraying carpets – has the slight whiff of a shabby university complex. Retro touches – a jukebox here, a Twenties radio there, are less self-consciously cool in effect, more charming curiosity shop. It meant mum felt at ease. And as a Tooting-dwelling 20-something who has to deal with more exposed hipster-style brick than your average builder, I loved Bedruthan’s vibe. It was a breath of fresh air.
Locally sourced grub was also pleasing. Juicy scallops the size of goldfish with smoky horseradish purée; and pigeon breast with lusty blackcurrant reduction and nuanced sage granola particularly impressed.
The trendy bar delivered rhubarb gin cocktails to a soundtrack of Eighties music. But it wasn’t sceney: the clientele was less beards and oversized classes, more women in tea dresses and intellectual men with ponytails. You know, the too cool to be cool sort, who run poetry jam societies and flit hyperactively between discussions of American politics and motorbikes.
Bedruthan is sloppy in places: historic stain on bedroom sofa; the odd dirty placemat at dinner or poorly washed breakfast mug. If the hotel was a person it would be a scruffy creative who only showers at weekends, but on the plus side it’s proficient in clay work, bookbinding and cross-stitch. It’s not for everyone – but for millennials like me seeking a new craft hobby and temporary reprieve from identikit hipster hangouts, it hits the spot. And – yep – pottery is already on my New Year’s resolution list.
Doubles from £156 per night, including breakfast. Pottery classes from £45, including a light lunch, on selected dates throughout the year. Access possible for guests using wheelchairs. B3276, Trenance, Newquay TR8 4BU (01637 860860; bedruthan.com).
Read the full expert review: Bedruthan Hotel & Spa, Cornwall