We are often asked about Polraen Country House Hotel, its history and how, as a family, we came to move to Looe from London. Well here we are, still running our small hotel in Looe in South East Cornwall 18 years later! But what a journey!
The house certainly has an interesting past. It was built of Cornish granite circa 1740 reputedly as a coaching inn at the hamlet of Sandplace on the old road from Liskeard to Looe. The house remained part of the large Morval Estate until it was sold to Peter Bessell, Liberal MP for South East Cornwall in the 1960s.
If walls could talk!
Many locals remember Peter Bessell as the former Member of Parliament who lived at Polraen Country House. In an attempt to escape debts, Peter Bessell fled abroad and his former home was sold back to the Morval Estate. It was bought by the Hagan Family in the 1970s and they converted Polraen to a small hotel. Thus the former coaching inn returned to the tradition of providing bed and breakfast to passing travellers. Meanwhile, Peter Bessell was living in California. Having avoided prosecution for his former business trading by fleeing abroad, he traded friendship to return to the UK by giving evidence at the infamous conspiracy trial of the former Liberal Party Leader Jeremy Thorpe, who was accused of attempting to murder his gay lover.
The Allcrofts Era
After the Hagans, the next owners were our predecessors, Joyce and Peter Allcroft. They ran Polraen for 17 years until February 2000 when we moved with our two small children, then aged 5 and 2, from Wimbledon in London to Looe. We turned our backs on city life and our previous careers in marketing and financial services in seek of a different lifestyle. We wanted to bring up our children in a wonderful place and to be near their grandmother who had retired to live in Looe six years earlier.
The Bridges Family
In the last 18 years, we have undertaken significant refurbishment to every room in the house. We’ve added a conservatory and landscaped the garden. Along the way, we’ve won awards by achieving and maintaining a high standard of guest accommodation for visitors to this lovely part of Cornwall. Original features include an old range, window shutters, and log fires, whilst period paints and cushioned window seats emphasize its Cornish country charm.
We are proud of our awards, particularly for hospitality, environmentally aware operating practices, and Martin’s great cooking. We couldn’t achieve this without the support of great staff.
Me must also mention one more very important family member who sadly is no longer with us. May, our black labrador, spent most of her 16 years at Polraen joining guests in the garden for their welcome cup of tea and biscuits.
After running Polraen as a full service hotel for most of our time here, we now no longer serve evening dinner. However, Martin’s excellent cooking shines through our breakfast menu. Of an evening, we’re very happy for guests to relax in the hotel facilities and enjoy the country house accommodation using the Conservatory for picnics, snacks and light bites.
There are plenty more stories to tell about Polraen Country House and our time here. Come and meet us!