The Old Coastguard, Mousehole
A year-round star of the local food scene. Retreat to this west Cornwall bolthole for a leisurely lunch or cosy supper and a sleepover.
It’s not over ’til its over… but if we’re being honest, Summer seems to have had its fun with us. And has anyone else completely forgotten how they passed their time in gnarly Cornish weather?
What we need is some special places to hang out that shine in all seasons – and we discovered a corker this summer.
The Old Coastguard in Mousehole offers the most inviting sanctuary on cold-weather days and a family-friendly, seaside garden when the sun in shining.
I’ve walked past it countless times and always thought it was mostly hotel but in fact, it’s more a restaurant with rooms. And rolling to bed after a great meal here is all too tempting.
The historic fishing village of Mousehole (pronounced Mowzal and named for the tiny exit from its harbour) is just beyond the end of the line, a few minutes drive past Penzance, at the wild and arty end of Cornwall.
Dylan Thomas honeymooned in Mousehole and it’s just the sort of place that makes you want to hole up and pen a poem or two.
The Old Coastguard is on the edge of the village, as you drive in from the Newlyn end and is easy to miss, as you make a beeline for the harbour. However, if lunch is on your day-trip agenda, you need to get this place on your radar.
Relaxed and comfortable, with great food and spectacular sea views, The Old Coastguard invites you to linger. We made the mistake of popping in for a quick lunch but could have happily stayed all afternoon.
The laidback interiors include soft yellow walls and lots of cladding, rustic dining furniture and comfy sofas, accented with fresh flowers, local artwork and elegant lighting, by Cornish designer Tom Raffield.
The bar, dining room and sea-view seating areas are light and spacious, making the most of the views but with plenty of cosy corners.
Upstairs, the recently refurbished rooms continue the relaxed coastal theme and come complete with vintage radios and stacks of paperbacks, designed for slow-paced weekends by the sea.
Part of a trio of restaurants with rooms, run by brothers, Charles and Edmund Inkin, The Old Coastguard and sister inn, The Gurnard’s Head are among the best places to eat in west Cornwall and share a sustainable ethos. The affordable, seasonal menu here, stars fresh fish and shellfish, landed in Newlyn and other nearby harbours and Cornish meat sourced from local farms.
We began with Porthilly Oysters, followed by a rustic bouillabaisse (my dream comfort food on mizzly Cornish days) and a perfectly cooked piece of hake, served with beetroot, lentils and kale.
Though we always tend to go for fish, there were dishes to tempt carnivores and inventive vegetarian options too.
If you fancy exploring beyond the village, some of our favourite spots nearby include Lamorna Cove (an hour’s walk from Mousehole along the South West Coast path) and the stunning beaches of Porthcurno, Pedn Vounder and Porthgwarra. For a culture hit, see what’s on at famous The Minack Theatre and admire the art at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens and gallery, in Gulval.
I also love a mooch round Newlyn. Watch the bustle of the harbour, grab an ice cream at Jelberts, wander through Newlyn Art Gallery and catch a film at brilliant indie cinema, Newlyn Filmhouse.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A leisurely lunch by the sea, a glass of wine with a view or a cosy fish supper and a sleepover. We won’t visit Mousehole without stopping by in future.
Not for: As a hotel, The Old Coastguard is best suited to couples (though they’ll happily put you up a cot or camp bed). If you’re holidaying with the family in Mousehole, I’d probably plump for self-catering but definitely book a table for a fab lunch or dinner during your stay. The restaurant is kid-friendly, dog-friendly and just a five-minute walk from the harbour.
The damage: Starters from £7.50, mains from £13.50. 3-course Prix Fixe Supper Menu £24.50. The Old Coastguard’s September Sleepover offer runs from 2 Sept – 4 Oct, offering 2+ nights, including supper and breakfast from £355 for two.
The Old Coastguard, The Parade, Mousehole, Cornwall, TR19 6PR. Oldcoastguardhotel.co.uk