‘Not everyone likes the style of the Inkin brothers’ hotels’, writes our series editor Fiona Duncan, but if you agree with the Charming Small Hotel Guide attitude that a jar of fresh flowers in the room and a stylish old radio are as good as a large flat screen TV in the bedroom, or acres of designer mahogany squeezed on to walls, then you’ll get the point of The Old Coastguard.
It was a boring Victorian seaside hotel until its recent makeover, but the Inkins have avoided formulaic designer dodges to bring it up to date. They have spent the money instead on the basics – the beds, which are soundly comfortable, thick towels, and properly served, not over-ambitious food. Try the starter of grilled figs with honey or a main course of rich beef stew.
The downstairs sitting area is the hotel’s ace card: full of sunlight. You relax on striped armchairs and deep sofas looking out over the harbour and sea through a wall of big windows that capitalise on a view that will keep you stationary for hours.
The 14 bedrooms are gradually being made over to Charlie Inkin’s taste for tongue and groove panelling behind the beds, mustard yellow paint and striped curtains in greens and blues. We like bedrooms 1, 2 and 3 the best, and number 5 with its bath facing the sea. Everywhere there are finds from auction rooms.