Situated on Cornwall’s scenic southern coast, in the pretty port town of St Mawes, Hotel Tresanton commands spellbinding views across the water to the green headlands of the Roseland Peninsula. A former yachting club, the hotel was fashioned from a cluster of old houses in the 1950s, hence its higgledy-piggledy levels. Step forward Olga Polizzi in 1999, and Tresanton was transformed into the Cornish equivalent of a chic and sprawling Greek villa, full of mood-lit nooks, characterful rooms and holidaying A-listers.
Thirty, including 12 with a terrace, one with a garden and three family suites.
Double rooms from £205.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Some rates include breakfast. A minimum two-night stay is required at weekends.
Sailing and windsurfing lessons can be arranged. Wellies and crabbing nets provided. DVDs and board games will keep you amused on rainy days.
At the hotel
A 50-seat cinema, lounge, treatment room, boutique (Onda), DVD library, Hunter wellies and crabbing lines to borrow, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV,DVD player, fresh fruit and Ren bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Room 1, and Room 29 in the Nook, are often booked by honeymooners; Rooms 5 and 6 are in the main building and both have a terrace; Room 7 has a particularly large window with a great view.
Indulge in a Thai massage, Indian head massage or Chavutti Thirumal massage, applied by the feet to the entire body.
Beach shoes, binoculars, sou’wester if you’re feeling boaty.
Hire Pinuccia, Tresanton’s 48-foot racing yacht with crew or a motorboat for beach trips with picnic lunches.
Up to two dogs are welcome in double rooms with a terrace, Garden Suites and Room 28 for £25 a night. Beds, bowls and blankets are provided and pooches get a treat at turn-down. Four-legged guests must be confirmed with the hotel when booking your stay. See more pet-friendly hotels in Cornwall.
Very welcome. There's a kids' playroom and a full-time nanny organises activities for kids during the summer months. Babysitters can be booked in advance. Extra beds for 4–12 year olds can be added to some Spacious Double or Twin rooms (£40 a night).
Exeter aiport is two hours from the hotel. From London Gatwick, daily flights head west to Newquay in only an hour.
The train station in Truro is 30 minutes away.
From the M5, you can use the A30 to get further west right up until the B3275, when you’ll need to follow signs to Ladock. After that, use the A3078 towards Tregony/St Mawes.
Worth getting out of bed for
In between watching the sky change from vivid blues to pinks and purples, see what's being screened in the hotel's cinema and nose around in the boutique. Borrow some wellies and crabbing nets to go rockpool hunting. Sailing and windsurfing lessons can be arranged through the hoterl, too. For first-timers and well-practiced riders, the Veryan Riding Centre is just a 20-minute drive away. Step back in time in the Lost Gardens of Heligan in St Austell. Catch a midday show at the open-air Minack Theatre, overlooking the ocean. For art, visit Tate St Ives, or head to the National Maritime Museum, in Falmouth; the foot ferry leaves St Mawes harbour every 20 minutes.
Smith stablemate Driftwood serves wonderful fish, seafood and locally gleaned produce, as does Idle Rocks' restaurant, just across the bay.
‘Sorry, sir, your car still isn’t ready.’ These are not the words you want to hear the morning you plan to take the lady away for a weekend of fine loving. Unless, like me, you have Germanic blood coupled with a Tourette’s-like argumentative disorder: I tend to see these things as opportunities rather than problems. I go red, the garage guy goes apologetic, and 23 minutes later a Porsche Boxter appears. For, as that PJ O’Rourke manqué Jeremy Clarkson will tell you, silly cars are the key to bearable weekending sans PlayStation 2.
Our weekend is to be spent at Hotel Tresanton, the place that began Cornwall’s transformation from a two-week bucket-and-spade destination to chic mini-break hotspot. 300 miles of sinuous open road from London and the boutique-hotel reputation gears one (well, me) up to find it annoying before arrival. Did I mention that I argue for sport?
But first impressions impress. A Greek-style passage and stone staircase lead to a raised sun deck that is set into the cliff face and dotted with old steamer chairs that recall The Talented Mr Ripley. Sadly, I do not resemble Jude, nor my girlfriend Gwyneth. Nonetheless, hazy visions of sun-drenched cocktails help me unwind, and any residual rant evaporates in the face of the hotel’s fantastic old porter – a man well worth tipping – who proves a fountain of local knowledge. Realisations that there is no need to talk a) so fast, or b) so much rubbish follow as I slip into gear for the weekend.
The hotel is situated on Cornwall’s often overlooked southern coast, between picturesque St Mawes and the rolling fields spliced with public footpaths leading to Falmouth. A former yachting club, Hotel Tresanton was built from a cluster of old houses in the Fifties, hence its higgledy-piggledy levels and port-town setting. St Mawes and Tresanton have been a preserve of the sailing set for years, but it is only since the 1999 reopening, after an extensive refurbishment to bring it up to the standard expected by owner Olga Polizzi and her chi-chi A-list clientele that it has achieved its Halkin-on-sea tag.
The decor is posh, eclectic and relaxed. It’s also eco-friendly; ash floors, fired-earth tiles, organic paint and local granite work surfaces feature throughout. The laid-back drawing room probably best illustrates Polizzi’s grab-bag taste, combining slouchy sofas (ideal for reading, and Tresanton’s wicked afternoon teas) with Greek busts, Chinese chequers, a huge log fire, and French windows leading to a sprawling sundeck.
There are 29 rooms in the hotel. Ours was cosy yellow with crisp Egyptian cotton bedlinen, a tasteful seaside feel and log pillows great for lazy daytime reads in bad weather or intriguing evening pursuits. A magnificent harbour view makes me momentarily forget what hit me when I first entered the room… namely, it was small. (My argue-mentor John McEnroe’s voice starts ringing through my head. ‘£250? You cannot be serious!’) I twitch for an argument.
The girlfriend finds my argumentative disorder an embarrassment; as a release mechanism, I have learnt to ‘sneak argue’ – she doesn’t get annoyed, I get my fix. I say something like ‘I need to get my cigarettes from the car’, then trail off, following the vein pulsing like an anaconda in my forehead, and return 20 minutes later, happy, but unpopular among hotel staff. After this particular episode, I can vouch that Tresanton’s staff are more than polite – calming and motherly, even – and that there are bigger rooms, only you have to know what you are asking for. Hell, even Tony Blair was recently knocked back owing to a full house. At least I get a room. Z-list paranoia disperses.
The bar, situated on the lower floor, is Tresanton’s greatest asset (in no small part because I am an aspiring alcoholic): cute mini armchairs, chocolate and tan pepper Amtico flooring, clotted-cream walls and clever lighting that could make even Dot Cotton look unravaged, nay, sexy. Candles at night light an enchanting trail to the buzzy conservatory restaurant whose Mod Med food is definitely worth sampling. Local pubs are also worth a look. We skipped the more expensive places; a cursory glance at the menus showed that most followed Tresanton’s lead rather too faithfully. (We started to wonder whether there are underground tunnels from Olga Polizzi’s kitchen.)
As weather was good the following day, we opted to try the Padstow-Bodmin camel trail. Driving there in the PS2 substitute, we found a brisk walk along the path was exertion enough to give us a glow without making us wheeze. Back at the Tresanton for a farewell drink, I fall into a weird half sleep in my girlfriend’s arms listening to the sea and dreaming of Grand Theft Auto. Forget eastern mysticism: when my girlfriend, the game and guest-house blurred together, I knew true happiness.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Hotel Tresanton’s Guestbook below.
We loved the sea views, the size of the room, the epic cooked breakfast and the classy feel of the hotel.
We were surprised not to have a mini bar in the room and no tea or coffee making facilities. We had to pay for additional tea in the afternoons which we thought was quite poor for the price of the room. We were also staying in room 31 which has a private garden; however, there is no lock to the garden which means it could be accessed by anyone from the road. Again, we thought this was poor for a hotel of this standard. We raised it with reception who said they would look into it.
Stayed on 27 Jun 2019
The views and the wonderfully helpful staff. So relaxing.
Stayed on 3 May 2019
The room was perfect, the staff well trained and professional. Loved sitting by the fire in the lounges while the storm raged.
Stayed on 12 Oct 2018
The view from the room was simply beautiful and the bed was probably the most comfortable I have ever slept in. The staff are all very welcoming and friendly and went out of their way to be helpful, and we loved breakfasts on the terrace, afternoon tea on the terrace and cocktails on the terrace - we were fortunate with the weather! The Beach Club is a great new addition too, though you may need to be quick to bag a lounger. And the bathrobes come in very handy for keeping warm when taking early morning dips in the sea.
Stayed on 7 Aug 2018
The service was wonderful - despite a baby and a dog to cater for, nothing was too much trouble. When they didnt have chicken handy (the pooch is a picky eater), a porter was dispatched to get some! And the views were amazing.
Lively nightlife, which suited us fine.
Stayed on 9 Jul 2018
The position of the hotel and the tranquility. Superb service and excellent food. The Watch House for dinner.
Stayed on 8 Jun 2018
The decor and location. Beach club, good restaurant. I stayed in a room in 'Upper Tresanton' which is behind the main hotel, higher up the hill. There are a lot of steps to climb. However, I had my own private and spacious deck complete with deck chairs and table/chair. The room was very large and there was a lovely big bathtub. I would not have had to leave the room if I didn't want to! The hotel has a sailboat which I did not engage as I was on my own but I would recommend. Take the ferry to Place and then walk around St Anthony's head. Fabulous views. You can also ferry to Falmouth, a much larger town with a lot of retail, galleries. After May 28, there's a direct ferry service up Fal River which I did not use but would have. Excellent fish and chips at Watch House.
Night life, bustling retail. St Mawes is for a laid back holiday and enjoyment of the sun and sea.
Stayed on 16 May 2018
The staff were really very helpful even before we arrived as our dog was ill and we nearly didn't make it. We had a great time there and were able to use the hotel as a base to explore the area.