Low, long, and suburban, the Nare Hotel—five and a half stars and counting—crouched over a huge Cornish beach. The dining room was all windows, and the magnificent view stretched out in every direction, observed glassily by an ancient clientele at candlelit tables draped in pink and white linen.

The whole thing was like an upmarket rest home. The heating was on at full blast. Scones and cake were served in the drawing room at 4:30 with clotted cream and canned conversation.