In Cornwall, Poldark is the growth industry – and from guided tours to the Aidan Turner merchandise on offer, business is good.
Gwel an Mor has a better Poldark claim to fame than most. Last year the cast including Turner, Heida Reed, Ruby Bentall and Eleanor Tomlinson stayed there while filming series two, and enjoyed it so much that Benton and Reed ended up returning for a New Year’s Eve party.
Suffice to say, the resort hasn’t been loathe to make use of the connection, with the lodges where the actors stayed adorned with the kind of blue plaques you’d expect to see embellishing a London townhouse. But then, that’s why I was there – to live like the Poldark party people do.
Located in Portreath on the north coast of Cornwall, Gwel an Mor consists of small cabins and larger lodges spread over a hillside, with the self-catering residences left in peace by the resort staff (sort of like a posh Center Parcs).
The lodge I stayed in was quiet, spacious and offered a nice cliffside view, which could be enjoyed from a personal heated jacuzzi. It was perfect for a bit of blissful solitude or Poldark-like brooding over the ocean – though the lack of staff attention could be a little unnerving.
When we arrived late at night after a long and scenic Great Western Railway journey, the only person there to greet us was a night caretaker, who led us largely in silence towards our lodge before leaving us on the doorstep. Still, once we were inside the lodge (see main image, the one Heida Reed had stayed in according to the plaque) our worries soon washed away. Sparsely but warmly decorated, the lodge was kitted out with everything we could need, including softs beds, several TVs (one in the non-ensuite bathroom) and a welcome basket of local Cornish produce (which is an optional add-on).
And when the morning arrived, there was plenty to do. The resort encompasses a putting green, gym, swimming pool and tennis courts, as well as a collection of animal enclosures boasting goats (which you can feed with special bags of food available at reception), foxes, donkeys, birds of prey and reindeer among others. Some of the animals can be visited at any time and others can only be met during occasional tours.
If you fancy getting in touch with nature in a different way, there's a spa offering a variety of treatments, ranging from standard massages to the slightly more outlandish. I sampled a marine mud mask (about £65), which entailed being smothered in organic mud and wrapped in cling film for about an hour. The experience was as odd as it sounds, but the beautician made me feel supremely comfortable and relaxed.
Of course, there are cheaper ways to get slathered in mud, with the added advantage that you can play out your Poldark fantasies. There are some lovely short cliffside walks and beaches within spitting distance of the resort. But if you're after something a little more scenic or lengthy, you’d be best hitting the road.
Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson and Heida Reed (off-camera) in our lodge
On that theme, if sharing your accommodation with Aidan Turner and co isn’t enough, you can undertake a special Poldark tour, taking you right to the rugged locations where Ross and Demelza were recently forging new storylines. The trip we took was with Poldark tours, and well worth the time and money even if you’re not a fan – it’s a great way to see scenic Cornwall locations, even if you don’t care how many times Aidan Turner was topless in them.
At the end of a long day of Poldarking and animal husbandry, you'll want a bite to eat. If you can't be bothered to use your lodge’s cooking facilities, there’s also an award-winning Mediterranean restaurant onsite called the Terrace, where Spanish born, French-trained chef Joe Lado Devesa uses the best local ingredients to create tapas and more traditional dishes. Our specials were pricey but lived up to their name, although the plainer fare was a bit generic.
Overall, Gwel an Mor was a great place to stay – a little expensive but with views, accommodation and ambience that even Aidan Turner would struggle to scowl about.
Radio Times Travel rating: 8/10
Poldark rating: 10/10
Cost: £500+ for minimum stay of 3 nights at peak times of year
Hotel address: Gwel an Mor Resort, Feadon Lane, Portreath, Redruth TR16 4PE
How to get there: Drive, or nearest train station is Redruth, 10 minutes' drive away.
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