St Mawes Hotel in Cornwall is a beachside British bolthole at the edge of a handsome harbour. This cosily classic stay has a cinema room (rainy days: sorted), sea-facing restaurant and a lively bar that’s popular with locals. There are only seven rooms, each simple yet stylish, and some with views of the water.
11am, but flexible, on request. Earliest check-in, 3pm, also flexible.
Double rooms from £195.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include breakfast.
Look out for screening nights at the ‘Hidden Cinema’, which seats 25.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, live music on Thursday evenings, cinema. In rooms: TV with Sky Sports, free bottled water, tea and coffee kit, beach bags and sun hats, adaptor plugs, Roberts Radio and Aromatherapy Associates bath products.
Our favourite rooms
If you want to channel Captain Birdseye and constantly stare out to sea, be sure to book one of the rooms with a Channel-showcasing perch. Dogs and bath lovers will enjoy the Village Rooms, which are pet-friendly and have roomy, egg-shaped tubs.
There’s no spa, but the hotel's sister property – the Idle Rocks – offers treatments just round the corner.
Battle the elements in windbreakers and wellies, but don’t forget your bucket and spade.
The Lower Deck bar is accessible for wheelchair users, but none of the rooms have been specially adapted.
Dogs are welcome for £30 a night; pets can stay in the Village Room and are welcome in the Lower Deck bar only. The hotel will also provide dog bowls, beds and treats. See more pet-friendly hotels in Cornwall.
All ages are welcome. The Falmouth View Family Room sleeps four, and kids are welcome in the restaurant at all times.
Vegetables are grown down the road in the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the fish served in the restaurant will have been caught in local waters; and, the hotel has banished single-use plastic such as straws.
Get up close and personal with the windows: you didn’t come all this way to miss out on the coastal views.
The boat-channelling Upper Deck serves up plenty of sea views – along with some hearty modern British fare. Local farmers and fishermen are championed, so you can expect to have travelled further than most of what’s on your plate. Do your best to stick around for the Sunday roast. Breakfast (granola, fruit, pastries, plus food cooked to order) is served here, along with afternoon teas. You’re encouraged to pop next door to the Hidden Cinema to catch a postprandial flick – and other entertainment includes live music no Thursday evenings.
The Lower Deck has another helping of harbour views, and serves local ales, organic Cornish wines, and locally made gins.
Breakfast is served from 8am until 11am. Lunch hours are noon to 3pm and dinner is between 6pm and 9pm.
A children’s menu and the restaurant’s dinner menu can be served in-room if required.
The St Mawes Hotel is in the namesake coastal Cornish village, on a peninsula south of Truro.
The airport in Newquay is about 45 minutes away by car. Exeter’s airport is a two-hour drive from the hotel. From London Heathrow, it’s a hefty four and a half hours behind the wheel.
The station in Truro is the most convenient – the drive should take around 40 minutes. From here, Great Western runs services across the country, including to and from London, Exeter, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.
The closest big town is Truro, a 40-minute drive north. It’s worth coming by car if you want to see more of the Cornish riviera. Parking at the hotel costs £8 a day – it’s 200 yards down the road, so you may want to offload your luggage first.
St Mawes harbour is the docking point for the passenger ferry from Falmouth and the car ferry from Truro. Private jets can touch down at Newquay’s airport.
Worth getting out of bed for
Once you’ve watched a film in the hotel’s hidden screening room, gone fishing and taken to the water (sailing, paddleboarding), the delights of the Cornish coast awaits (and it’s not all cream teas). Green-fingered sorts will love discovering the seat of the Tremayne family and their Lost Gardens of Heligan – which were literally mislaid for decades thanks to some pesky overgrowth – and the totally tropical taste of the Lamorran Gardens. For arty types, there’s the Atlantic-facing Tate and Barbara Hepworth Museum in St Ives, and the Falmouth Art Gallery. There are sandy shores on your doorstep, too. Check out one of Henry VIII’s finest coastal fortresses with by cruising up to St Mawes Castle.
The Hidden Hut on the Roseland Peninsula is a simple, seasonal shack with food so good, it now has its own cookbook – time your visit to join in on one of the feast nights to indulge in specialities such as wood-fired paella, slow-roasted lamb or lobster and chips. For all the best fruits of the sea, try The Watch House in St Mawes, where the oysters come topped with samphire and the salmon is smoked locally. Or pop along the harbour to the restaurant at sister hotel the Idle Rocks, for afternoon tea, sundowners on the seafront or dishes curated by in-house chef Dorian Janmaat.
What could be more romantic for this mother-of-a two-year-old Mrs Smith than to be told by Mr Smith: ‘Take a weekend off, go to Cornwall with a friend! I’ll take care of everything here.’
And so it was that Ms Smith – an old friend from university – and I hopped on the train bound for the sleepy fishing village of St Mawes and its cosiest of boltholes, the St Mawes hotel.
Into our hire car at St Austell station and off to the Hidden Hut we went. We ate pasties and drank hot toddies in the outside restaurant famous for its delicious food served from a shed just above the pristine Porthcurnick beach. Families played and dogs ran on the beach below us as we gulped in the fresh sea air.
Windswept and sandy from paddling in the sea we headed onwards to the hotel, right in the middle of the picturesque village, just opposite the harbour – supposedly the third largest harbour in the world. We opened its sea-front doors and found ourselves in a cosy bar with a roaring fire, all the newspapers you could need, and a drink in our hands. It was heaven.
Restored and checked-in, we headed out to see where we’d landed. We bought fudge, postcards and a ‘St Mawes Crabbing Crew’ jumper for my toddler in Fudge & Moore and bought cosy cardigans in Grace & Favour boutique. We strolled onwards past the Idle Rocks (St Mawes hotel’s sister hotel) and clambered down to the beach where we found a big swing and took turns soaring above the beach, looking over the fishing village.
A little hungry we headed to our St Mawes home for supper, served in the downstairs bar (often with live music) or, if you wish, upstairs in a beautiful room with nautical striped cushions, wooden tables and French windows that open out to the sea. We chose the upstairs room and sat fireside on stripy sofas, sharing crab on crumpets with seaweed – buttery, salty, warm and delicious. Then I had the whole fish of the day and Ms Smith a warming fish pie.
Full, we stepped into the hotel’s private cinema where we picked a rom-com we fancied, ordered a hot chocolate fondant each, wrapped ourselves in blankets and reclined our seats. After two years of movie deprivation – c/o toddler bedtime – this was my idea of a perfect evening.
After the film we hopped into our twin beds with the softest sheets and lots of pillows, closed the curtains on sleepy St Mawes, and happily fell asleep listening to the sounds of the sea.
The next morning Ms Smith leapt out of bed early. I went down to the little beach along from the hotel and went for a sunrise swim and, as the sky turned a peachy pink, a seal popped up to say hello! Ms Smith, it turned out, had gone to watch the grand prix in the hotel’s private cinema…
We breakfasted on fruit, cereal and croissants and ordered from the menu – delicious eggs benedict and avocado on toast to fortify us for a walk across the cliffs to St Just, the most beautiful church on earth. The churchyard is filled with lush plants from semi-tropical climes and has a tree covered with visitor’s wishes written on cards, as well as a gorgeous view across the creek filled with bobbing boats. (I also discovered there is an app called the St Just in Roseland Organ app, which lets you play the sounds of the organ inside the church on any keyboard, should you wish.)
The afternoon took us to Pendower beach, a huge stretch of sand, rock pools and sea that made the perfect spot for a crab sandwich picnic bought from a delicious deli called Mr Scorse in St Mawes. As we twirled around on the beach, the wind in our hair, a huge rainbow smiled across the sky.
We popped into Hotel Tresanton for a cream tea on their verandah which looks out over the sea and a beautiful white lighthouse. It was utterly delicious and spoiling so we thought, why not just go for it totally and booked in for a dreamy massage each at the Idle Rocks. The therapist was brilliant and she used Aromatherapy Associates oils, which I love. The whole thing was so relaxing I slept through it all!
We floated back to our hotel room and watched boats bobbing around out of our window with a cup of tea from the room’s plentiful stash before deciding to join a group of people sitting on the harbour wall eating fish and chips bought from Watch Out, a tiny takeaway window in the middle of the village. We fed the occasional seagull with our chips thrown high into the air as we watched the ferry bringing people back from Falmouth while the sun set and the lighthouse across the bay’s searching beam lit up. The only thing between us and bed was a wonderful fireside drink and chat listening to a local band playing in the bar at our new home-from-home.
The next morning, brilliantly breakfasted, we left our St Mawes idyll and headed for home via a whistle-stop walk around the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The rhododendrons – all 350 species they grow – were in bloom so we lucked out. We stocked up on Cornish treats at their farm shop and off we went, on the train back to London, full of sea air, rested and happy (and me, over excited to see my babe again). Thank you St Mawes hotel, you were just what was needed.