Hotel expert takes a shine to Ilfracombe
FILMING in Ilfracombe for the new series of The Hotel Inspector, tough-talking Alex Polizzi has confessed that she has a real affection for the town.
The face of the Channel Five series has a long pedigree in the hotel business, as the granddaughter of Lord Forte and niece of Sir Rocco Forte – and like the hotels that she investigates each week during the series, Alex has spotted the underlying potential of Ilfracombe.
ON CAMERA: Alex Polizzi at The Merlin Court, Hotel in Ilfracombe and above right with hotel owners Mike Shears, Helen Shears and daughter Carina Sparks. Pictures: Adam Gerrard
"I love Ilfracombe," she declared. "I love it by repute and I know it as the kind of place where you can have those really traditional holidays for families with children, which in the current financial climate, are making a real revival.
"It's a place where there are not masses of things to do, so I can come with my child and it makes me spend time with her, rather than just throwing money at the situation."
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She gave the 'gourmet quarter' a big thumbs up too: "There are some good restaurants here. I have eaten really well – at the Espresso Bar and The Gendarmerie and afterwards up the road at the Eclectick Bar for drinks, which was really lovely too.
"I love the harbour. It is one of the prettiest harbours I have seen, though I haven't done a boat trip yet – that's on my list of things to do. And the Tunnels Beaches was a wonderful attraction."
But, like the hotels, Ilfracombe doesn't escape her sharp eye and her penchant for spotting where there is room for improvement.
Astutely, she homed in on the seafront: "There should be a wholesale renovation of that row of arcaded shops along the seafront. There is nothing much there to buy, but it could be a wonderful shopping experience.
"And the whole promenade area – this should be the glory of the town."
She was pleased to hear that work is beginning this week, on a scheme to widen pavements along the seafront, developing a 'cafe culture,' with more space for cafes to site tables and chairs outside their establishments.
The recent filming expedition wasn't her first trip to Ilfracombe and Alex put her seal of approval on several of the hotels she has stayed in during previous visits, including The Elmfield, Epchris House and The Hamptons, all in Torrs Park. The Hamptons is even featuring in her new book.
See p4 for The Hotel Inspector's verdict on The Merlin Court Hotel in Torrs Park.
"I love the harbour. It is one of the prettiest I have seen, though I haven't done a boat trip yet – that's on my list of things to do. And the Tunnels Beaches was a wonderful attraction."