When Andrew Palmer's motorboat broke down on the sweeping private beach of Priory Bay, he stumbled on an old-fashioned hotel with extensive grounds that he never knew existed, despite a lifetime of holidaying in the area. He bought it, and with the help of a talented friend, Annabel Claridge, effected its stunning transformation, opening in summer 1998. Since then, the rooms have been updated two or three times more, becoming more distinctive each time over.
  Bedrooms are decorated with charm and freshness, each different, some seaside simple, others more dramatic; they exhibit an eclectic mix of original features. The house itself has a colourful history and a quirky hotch-potch of styles, with a Tudor farmhouse at its core and Norman tithe barns and designer Yurts in its grounds. The Yurts contain their own bathrooms and have superb sea views. Memorable details of the main house include the Gothic church porch brought from France in the 1930s, the Tudor fireplace depicting the Sacrifice of Isaac, and the delightful Georgian murals of pastoral island scenes in the dining room.
  Recent renovations have brought the gardens into a class of their own, with garlic and wild orchids, tennis courts and cheeky red squirrels, but the highlight of the 70 acre estate is the private sweep of beach, 'The only place this side of the Carribean', we have been told, 'where you can get married overlooking a beautiful, tree-lined sandy beach'. Dinner, on our last visit, was very good.