In Review

The St Mawes Hotel review: Mediterranean vibes in Cornwall’s midwinter

This pretty hotel has character and charm in abundance

Sunshine, swimming, dolphins in the bay and vast skies of every imaginable colour. Just a week before storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin blew into the UK, the small, peaceful village of St Mawes on the Roseland Peninsula on Cornwall’s southern coast has a positively Mediterranean feel to it. The village sits in a uniquely beautiful part of the country – so much so that once again, I am torn as to whether to write about it at all, or rather keep it a selfish secret. 

Located right on the waterfront, the pretty St Mawes Hotel is an excellent place to base yourself in the village. It has a slightly more laid back, casual feel to it than its sophisticated big sister, The Idle Rocks, which is down the street, just a stone’s throw away. There is no reception to speak of at The St Mawes – the bar doubles up as such, and the hotel has just seven rooms, giving it a real homely feel. 

There’s just seven rooms at The St Mawes Hotel

There are just seven rooms at The St Mawes Hotel

About the hotel 

In fact, it’s easy to feel as though you are staying in someone’s beautiful Cornish home, rather than a huge, soulless establishment. Rather, the boutique St Mawes has character and charm in abundance. Creeping down the stairs and out for an early morning swim, the hotel still feels half asleep – just the odd cheerful staff member starting the fires and laying out the breakfast buffet, ready for when we get back.

The hotel has really mastered and nurtured its homely, welcoming atmosphere, with roaring fires in autumn and winter, sumptuous sofas, board games and books in its upstairs lounge, and beautifully eclectic objects and works of art at every turn. 

Downstairs resembles a cosy Cornish pub, where locals come to listen to live music and dogs curl up by the fire. Upstairs, huge windows open wide in spring and summer to overlook the harbour. 

The three rooms at the front of the hotel all have windows facing the ocean, and waking up to the sound of lapping water never gets old. Neither does watching the sun rise or the hustle and bustle of harbour life with a cup of coffee or tea in bed. All the rooms are individually decorated to a high standard. They’re modern, bright and fitted with Nespresso coffee machines, Roberts radios and TVs. Our bathroom has no bath, but it is beautifully spacious, with a large drench shower and big bottles of luxurious Aromatherapy Associates toiletries. 

The local scallops at The St Mawes Hotel are gorgeously soft and full of flavour

The local scallops are gorgeously soft and full of flavour

The St Mawes Hotel/Twitter

The food 

The food here is excellent – although perhaps slightly less glamorous than The Idle Rocks, which is no bad thing if you want something a bit more down to earth than the incredible, dizzying gastronomical heights Dorian Janmaat and his team are reaching every night over there (and certainly not to be missed when staying in the village for a special night out). 

On our first night at The St Mawes we opt for local scallops, which are gorgeously huge, plump, soft and full of flavour, followed by hearty bowls steaming with mussels and crispy chips, and rounded off with a thick, square slab of sticky toffee pudding. There are also steaks, pork chops, pizzas and lots of other tasty, well-cooked and beautifully assembled plates on offer. 

Breakfast is also a real delight – the hotel manages to make an occasion out of even the most standard of daily rituals – with warm pastries, toast slathered in Cornish butter, and full Cornish breakfasts and eggs from the cooked menu. All this, of course, is served with a view over the water and friendly, local service from staff who seem genuinely happy to be working there.

Enjoy a film night at The St Mawes Hotel’s own cinema room

You can enjoy a film night at the hotel’s own cinema

Out and about 

There’s plenty to do in St Mawes itself, whether that’s making the most of the hotel’s own 25-seater cinema, strolling along to St Mawes Castle, or paying a visit to the National Trust’s Trelissick House and Gardens. Hop on the ferry to Falmouth for coffees and window shopping – the bright pink Espressini on Killigrew Street, Stones Bakery and Beacon Brothers both on High Street, all serve excellent coffee and great food, and there are lots of shops to pop into and have a poke around. If you’re lucky, the ferry will pause for a moment as a pod of dolphins playfully emerge from the water. 

The Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall

The Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall

Back in St Mawes, there are plenty of cosy pubs and small art shops to visit, as well as a fudge shop which shouldn’t be missed. From the hotel itself, The Idle Rocks has its own treatment room if you fancy a massage, there are options for a whole range of watersports, and the exquisite and unique church of St Just at Roseland is a great circular walk you can commence from the village.

The St Mawes Hotel, Harbourside, St Mawes, Cornwall. Prices start from £170 per night for two adults sharing a Village Room on a B&B basis; stmaweshotel.com

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