Room Service: The Idle Rocks, Cornwall

St Mawes has a new port of call

When Olga Polizzi, daughter of hospitality tycoon Lord Forte, turned a tatty yacht club in St Mawes into the chic Hotel Tresanton, guests who flocked there included Prince Charles, the Blairs and Kate Winslet. A quiet, end-of-the-road Cornish fishing village of the sort your mother used to visit as a kid in the Sixties (well, mine did) became a bolt-hole for holidaymakers and second-homers. The Tresanton was the place to stay. But, 15 years after she shook things up, Olga has a rival.

David Richards, a motor-racing supremo turned chairman of Aston Martin, pulled in here 10 years ago with his wife, Karen. For years they walked along the waterfront with (grand) designs on The Idle Rocks, an imposing, moth-eaten hotel established by the new owner of “real-life Fawlty Towers”, the Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay. Eventually, big money changed hands and, in June, it was re-opened after a total transformation.

It's clear as you drive into St Mawes why the Richards wanted the place to sing. The Idle Rocks has the best spot in the village, bang on the harbour where fishermen land their morning catches; in fact my double-aspect room felt at times as if it were at the prow of a very well-appointed yacht.

The informal reception – a desk with a giant iMac, no more – sets the low-key, high-class tone (think young weekend-breakers from London clutching Mulberry holdalls) and leads to a vast space running the length of the ground floor, each section opening out on to one long terrace with tables overlooking the water. A cosy sitting room with open fire and superior textiles leads to the bar, with its recessed oyster station. The dining room beyond is terraced to give every table a sea view, and decor introduces the luxe-nautical theme, dropping anchor well short of cliché (salvaged rope and shells are used sparingly). The food is more inspired by the outside; delicious mussels and mackerel abound on a pricey, if not extortionate menu, that, with its smears and foams, could perhaps do with relaxing a bit.

Apart from 20 bedrooms and a charming children's room to which locally sourced babysitters can be dispatched during dinner, that's it. No spa, no frills. And that's good. Who needs a poky steam room when there is the sea and miles of Cornish countryside to be walked over before a cup of tea (or a “Cornish” mojito) by the fire?

The dining room at The Idle Rocks The dining room at The Idle Rocks Location

Teeny St Mawes sits at the head of the Roseland Peninsula on Cornwall's south coast, about a 45-minute drive from both St Austell railway station and Newquay's airport. Recent changes aside, it remains out-of-the-way enough to have been spared the braying Jack Wills deck-shoe army that has conquered so many other seaside outposts in the region. Quaint galleries and Fudge & Moore, a fine ice cream and fudge shop, still do the best trade on the harbour road.

Eat a pasty at the ferry landing before getting a boat across the Fal (falriver.co.uk) to Falmouth for fish and chips and antique hunting, or catch the Place ferry for a walk around St Anthony Head. Upriver, boats head to Truro via Trelissick (01872 862090; nationaltrust.org.uk/trelissick- garden), one of several delightful gardens here.

For a walk, head along the harbour to the 16th-century St Mawes Castle (01326 270526; english-heritage.org.uk), stopping at the Tresanton (01326 270055; tresanton.com) for a crab salad on its stunning terrace. Keep going up the Fal to the creekside church at St Just in Roseland, with its yard described by Sir John Betjeman as the most beautiful in the world. Back in St Mawes, don't leave without having a meal at the understated Watch House – and hope the fish pie is on the menu (01326 270038; watchhousestmawes.co.uk).

And if fish is your thing, ask Sid, concierge at The Idle Rocks, to get you out with a local fisherman. The hotel's chef will happily cook your catch.

Comfort

Individually decorated rooms, with unbelievably comfortable Hypnos beds, start with a canvas of brilliant white and then spare no expense. “Village” rooms are the most basic, relatively, with jaunty gingham bedspreads, while some of the pricier “sea” suites incorporate in-room tubs and space to swing a robe in. It's worth investing in a sea view and, if it's available, snap up my delightful corner room (No 8).

Travel Essentials

The Idle Rocks, Harbourside, St Mawes, Cornwall TR2 5AN (01326 270 270; idlerocks.com).

Rooms ****

Value ****

Service *****

Doubles start at £180, including breakfast.

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
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
  • Get to the point
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: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living