Room Service: Merchants Manor, Falmouth

Sample added fizz at the old Screw Top

Watch this space. There's an impressive and pleasing refurb taking place at the old-new hotel that is now Merchants Manor. It's adding to the buzz about Falmouth which, largely thanks to the town's redevised university and its redeveloped waterfront at Discovery Quay, has become one of the most vibrant places in Cornwall.

Set on a hill above the heart of Falmouth, the hotel rises above the bustle. You enter a tall hall that, complete with stained-glass window, retains an air of the genteel living for which the 1913 property was built. This gives in to other gracious public areas: there's a spacious sitting room attached to a quiet former library filled with light from a pretty octagonal window seat and a stylish restaurant that is steadily gaining much applause. Behind is a big conference and wedding space, while spread over two floors of the old building, and a later extension, there are 39 bedrooms.

The Edwardian mansion was built for the Carne family of merchants and brewers – they were to be early developers of the screw-cap bottle. As a result, the house was affectionately known as Screw Top Manor. In 1958, it became Green Lawns Hotel, which was quickly established as a smart family option. By 2012, however, Green Lawns had fallen on tired times.

That was when husband-and-wife team Nick Rudlin and Sioned Parry-Rudlin bought it. While some boutique hotels in Cornwall have been eagerly developed by enthusiasts new to the hospitality business, this is an experienced operation. The Rudlins have previously both worked for years in the hotel world – variously for Marriott and The Ritz.

Having renamed the property, signalling its new identity, they are refurbishing Merchants Manor a section at a time. To date, the main public areas and 15 of the bedrooms have been completed in soothing, mellow colours with occasional bright or quirky flourishes.

But revamped looks are only part of the makeover. The Rudlins are establishing the hotel as a gourmet destination. It was a smart move to bring chef Dale McIntosh on board. Formerly at The Riverbank in Truro and The Norway Inn in Perranarworthal, McIntosh has built up a great reputation for big flavours and for his use of local ingredients. A professional forager visits most weeks, bringing car boot loads of seasonal delights, such as wild mustard and horseradish leaves. Dishes range from zingingly fresh mackerel to six-hour braised Cornish lamb shank.

Local residents have started flocking here for the food. They also come for exercise. The old Green Lawns Hotel developed a sports annexe with a gym and indoor swimming pool that's open not only to guests, but also club members. The gym was revamped with state-of-the-art equipment earlier this year. The pool is perfectly serviceable and will no doubt be glammed up at a future date.

By welcoming local people, the Rudlins are cleverly positioning Merchants Manor as a Falmouth establishment (and indeed they are taking great care to employ local crafts people in the ongoing revival of the property). While the exclusivity of some upscale hotels can have the effect of making you feel disarmingly removed from the world around, here I was comfortably tuned in to south-coast Cornwall – and enjoyed live music from a local band the night of my visit.

Location

Merchants Manor is perched well above the sea, with distant ocean views from the dining room and some of the bedrooms. It is about a seven-minute walk northwards and downhill to pastel-shaded old Falmouth with its busy harbour, long parade of shops, cafés and art galleries, and the National Maritime Museum of Cornwall on Discovery Quay. The nearest stretch of sandy coast is Gyllyngvase Beach, about a seven-minute drive southwards and downhill.

Comfort

The new interiors have been devised by Helen Hughes, who won acclaim for her work on the Barbican Foodhall and Lounge in London. The aim has been to highlight features of the original house and to showcase Merchants Manor's collection of modern and restored furniture.

The bedrooms have pared-back maritime looks and walls hung with works by local artists. Added character is provided by the amenities, which include a jar of home-made biscuits, tea from the Cornish Tea Company, soaps from Halzephron Herb Farm (from St Keverne, south of Falmouth) and the specially created Merchant magazine which includes articles about the hotel and the vicinity (a welcome change from the dull list of room service facilities and local attractions supplied in most hotel rooms).

The public areas are both elegant and comfortably informal, with sink-into sofas and creative concepts such as lamps fashioned from old milk churns. The hotel's well-planted sub-tropical garden offers plenty of outdoor seating space.

Travel essentials

Merchants Manor, Western Terrace, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 4QJ (01326 312734; merchantsmanor.com)

Rooms ****

Value ****

Service ***

Doubles start at £110, including breakfast

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Casual Visitor Experience Assistants

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To work within the Visitor Experience Departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy