Rebecca McMillan and Karl Maguire are a couple who own and run Wildflower Illustration Co, a small stationery studio in Cheltenham. They fell in love with Watergate Bay when they visited with Rebecca’s parents. Earlier this year they returned for ‘Taste of the Bay’.
As a couple who have travelled the world for a whole year together, you might think we would be a little more adventurous than to plan to visit the same hotel four times in two years – but we think that says more about Watergate Bay Hotel than it does about us.
There really is something special about this place, that leaves you day-dreaming about it long after you’ve left. Perhaps it’s the fact that the crashing waves and ever-changing sky are almost always in view, whether it’s from the dreamily decorated bedrooms, the glass-walled indoor swimming pool or the impeccably decorated ‘Living Space’. Or maybe it’s the reliability, the comfort that can be found in returning somewhere you have been and loved before. The knowledge that the food will be delicious, your sleep will be deep and you’ll leave with lightly freckled skin and salty hair.
So this time, we decided to stay for ‘Taste of the Bay’ – a three night/four day package with three meals at the restaurants in the Bay. Since our last visit, we have welcomed Martha, a springer spaniel cross whippet (we call her our ‘sprippet’!) – so it was really nice to stay in such a dog friendly hotel. The moment we would sit down in The Living Space we were greeted with a bottle of water and glasses for us – and a bowl for Martha.
Our first evening meal was in Zacrys. We were also visiting with my parents and their two labradors, so we all met for a long walk on the beach in the late afternoon to catch up and tire the dogs out after their car journey. Karl and I chose to have the red onion pakora, vegetable methi and red lentil dahl. We both really enjoyed it- it was full of flavour but not too spicy.
For desert I had the lemon cheesecake and Karl had the chocolate fondant. Naturally I ended up trying both and they were equally delicious! We all really enjoyed the meal, and the atmosphere was very relaxed. We discussed how nice it is to eat really outstanding food somewhere which doesn’t feel in the least bit ‘stuffy’.
Our lunch at the Beach Hut was absolutely wonderful. We managed to pick the most glorious day, so we had an incredible view across the bay and the cloudless blue sky. Dogs are allowed inside, so Martha sat under the table and busied herself with trying to catch the attention of a nearby labrador. Karl went for the quinoa & vegetable burger and fries and I had a huge plate of incredible nachos.
After ice-cream for dessert (the weather was so hot we couldn’t really have had anything else) we were so full we could have happily snoozed all afternoon. Martha obviously had other ideas though, so we worked up the motivation to stroll on the beach and soak up the sun.
Our final meal together was at Jamie’s Fifteen. I remembered a really fantastic meal here from the year before, so was already looking forward to it, but this time it genuinely surpassed all our expectations. We opted for the five-course tasting menu and I really recommend this if you’re like me and always agonise over food choices. With five courses and coffee, we were able to try a bit of everything. We all started with the Burrata with picked rhubarb and pistachio, apart from my Dad who opted for the oysters. The Burrata was absolutely delicious – soft, melt-in-the-mouth and paired perfectly with the sweet tang of the pickled rhubarb.
I followed it with a broad bean, mint and almond risotto, and then had the crispy hen’s egg with polenta, broccoli and almond gremolata. All the portion sizes were spot-on and I was very happily full but not uncomfortably so. The final course for all of us was the chocolate torte, yoghurt gelato and praline, which was as delicious as it sounds.
As an added bonus, Rebecca sent us a print of the painting below.
“The painting is one I did from a sketch when I was sitting in the Living Space outdoor area and completed at home using a photograph as reference.”
Thank you to Rebecca and Karl from wildflowerstories.com for their guest blog.
If you want to stay for two nights and experience all three restaurants for yourself, find out more about Taste of the Bay