Hotel review: The Gurnard’s Head is a gloriously unpretentious Cornish ‘dining pub with rooms’


Great British boltholes: The gloriously unpretentious Cornish ‘dining pub with rooms’ in a remote and magical setting on the Atlantic coastline

  • The Gurnard’s Head takes its name from the nearby Cornish headland
  • It has eight ‘characterful’ rooms and B&B doubles start from £205 a night
  • Menus in the restaurant change daily, serving ‘fabulous’ seasonal produce 










There are many reasons why The Gurnard’s Head stands out – and not just that it offers a vibrant splash of turmeric yellow on the wild moors enveloping it.

A large part of The Gurnard’s appeal is that, although it has been beautifully renovated, it remains a good old unpretentious inn. Its warm atmosphere embraces; the upbeat staff exude sunshine.

The inn, which takes its name from a rocky headland on Cornwall’s Atlantic coastline, feels fantastically remote.

Vicki Reeve first visited The Gurnard’s Head (pictured) 14 years ago after a hike on the Cornish coast 

It’s a beacon for coastal-path walkers: my partner and I first popped in for drinks after a hike 14 years ago – just after Charles and Edmund Inkin had taken it on. We booked for dinner, which was a triumph. Now we visit often.

The granite-walled ‘dining pub with rooms’ has three communal areas. In the traditional, cheery yellow bar (Cornish beers, Duchy gins, a fine array of brandies and whiskies), locals drink by open fireplaces alongside DFLs (Down From London) who’ve caught on to this as a superb spot.

The bar leads into a snug, then to the bold red and ultra-marine of the rustic, art-filled restaurant with views to the garden and moors.

Farmhouse tables and the understated website might play down menu expectations, but it’s class all the way.

We have supremely tasty starters: cuttlefish, peanut and sesame; asparagus, spiced butternut and dukka. A hake, baba ganoush and merguez main is scrumptious, while vada pav (deep-fried potato dumpling) with courgettes and chilli jam is divine. A rhubarb sorbet, honeycomb and yogurt dessert is mouthwatering.

Upstairs are seven guest rooms, but we’re in the new ‘best’ quarters – an annexe accessed via a courtyard, which has had a first-rate facelift from top (opened-up roofspace) to toe (underfloor heating).

The large room has a delightful Tuscan air, with butter-yellow limewash walls, a Vispring bed and weighty Welsh blanket. There’s a Roberts radio, dainty country-cottage flowers, oil seascapes and monoprint landscapes. 

Vibrant: Pictured is The Gurnard’s Head's art-filled dining room, which has views of the garden and moors

Vibrant: Pictured is The Gurnard’s Head’s art-filled dining room, which has views of the garden and moors

Vicki marvelled 'at the roiling sea below' while standing at Gurnard’s Head peninsula, pictured

Vicki marvelled ‘at the roiling sea below’ while standing at Gurnard’s Head peninsula, pictured

TRAVEL FACTS  

The Gurnard’s Head, near Zennor, Cornwall.

Dinner, B&B doubles from £205 a night (gurnardshead.co.uk). 

The enormous bathroom has rich-green, waxy tadelakt plaster feature walls above the tub and in the roomy shower.

In the sitting area is a sofa made for two, a commodious armchair for reading, plus weighty curtains and a woodburner – flagging this as a great hidey-hole in winter too.

French doors open on to a pretty terrace, leading to the beer garden. Beyond is the footpath to the breathtaking Gurnard’s Head peninsula, where we marvel at the roiling sea below. Bliss.

The USP: A magical setting and a relaxed haven with fabulous food.

The rooms: Eight different characterful and calming en suites. Some have sea views, others moorland. No TVs.

The food: Daily-changing menus feature super-fresh seasonal food, often in intriguing combos. 

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