With an abundance of insouciantly stylish hotels, Natasha McNamara discovers St Mawes, the small Cornish coastal town that's big on charm
The more I visit Cornwall, the more I understand why this county has fought hard (and recently won) its plea for independence as a UK Celtic minority. Situated in the furthest point southwest of the UK it's truly like another country, and when sun is on your side why on earth would you go to the trouble of flying abroad? Beautiful, well-loved sandy beaches are framed with lush green countryside. The small towns and fishing villages that skirt the coastlines are everything you want them to be, with shops selling local produce and fish, dotted with quaint pubs and cafes. It honestly feels to me like the UK is starting to take note of the stunning West Country riviera that requires just a short flight or a few hours in a car or train. There's a lot of choice and variation when it comes to picking your Cornish holiday, you can opt for full-blown beach holidays or a country retreat, but what I personally love about the area, is that you can easily combine the both. We visited the small town of St Mawes which is right at the tip of the Roseland Peninsula close to Falmouth. While it has a thriving tourist trade, it also caters for many second homes and luxury holiday accommodation meaning the town has a sophisticated vibe that is reflected in the pubs, shops and restaurants. There is a surprising number of choices when it comes to eating, from pub in the heart of the town to the high end (the couple behind it have recently opened ) and regular pop-ups such as .
We recommend a trip to Olga Polizzi's boutique , where eat in beautiful sun-filled restaurant that overlooks the sea both inside or on the terrace. Even with mist or light rain the view is breathtaking with full view of St Anthony's lighthouse blinking in the distance. Food is locally sourced and of course features plenty of freshly caught fish (and the most stunning crab dishes) an excellent wine selection. Sitting in the hotel terrace it's easy to imagine the hotel in its former incarnation as a sailing club in the 1940s. If you decide to visit the hotel, take the approach from the road above the hotel and delight in the 100 or so steps that cut into the landscape whilst taking in the incredible views. Hotel Tresanton also houses a chic shop, , featuring Danish outerwear and cosy cashmere.
We stayed with St Mawes Retreats who have a selection of luxury properties in and around the town. Stargazers, a four-bedroomed house in the center of the town, was our home from home, although if my home had the view we enjoyed I'd never leave. Huge glass windows mean you are never far from it and that goes for the bedrooms as well (in the master bedroom, you can even enjoy the view from the bath). The open layout of this large property was perfect for our family as we were always all together but had our own space. That said, the kids had their very own games room with pool table and Nintendo Wii to occupy them, a trampoline and table tennis in the garden should they ever tire of the well-kept, huge garden.
The house décor is contemporary and to a very high standard. Two living rooms, a well-equipped modern kitchen and dining area, lovely outside eating space (did I mention the view?) and such individually unique bedrooms that fighting over is to be expected. The owner has added considerate touches (such as a dressing up box, a huge collections of games and children's crabbing nets), that only someone who has real experience in catering for little ones would think of. For me, this really means that the property is an all-weather winner. In the summer you can enjoy the gardens and the beach, but a winter vacation, curled up in front of the log fire would hold equal pleasure. For a real treat you can hire Sarah Greenhalgh from to come to the house who offers a range of beauty treatments and therapies. If you want to bring the local produce to your door, hire a chef to prepare and serve a meal as discussed with you in advance. St Mawes Retreats can also arrange for you to accommodate large groups for special occasions in the property.
Take a ferry across the waters to Falmouth, go fishing, walk to the castle, indulge in some water sports - or just park yourself in one of the cafes and take it all in. We're hooked.
Ways and meansSt Mawes Retreats offers five properties sleeping 4 (), 6 (), 8 (), 10 () and 12 (). Each St Mawes Retreats property caters to couples, friends, families and large groups of guests. .
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