Sleepover: A night in Cornwall

Hotel Tresanton

On a series of terraces facing a beautiful coastline on the edge of the picturesque village of St Mawes, at the southernmost tip of Roseland peninsula. This is a great base for walking, but driving around here (particularly in summer) is a nightmare.

Where is it?

On a series of terraces facing a beautiful coastline on the edge of the picturesque village of St Mawes, at the southernmost tip of Roseland peninsula. This is a great base for walking, but driving around here (particularly in summer) is a nightmare.

What's it like?

The hotel was originally a yacht club and is made up of a cluster of buildings on different levels which form the dining room, bars, lounges and terraces. It's all part of the charm, but there are a lot of steps. The views from all the rooms are great, and some have their own terrace.

What's its USP?

Think St Tropez meets Babington House. The designer Olga Polizzi took the place over in 1997 and has spent millions making it a stylish and chic resort. It is expensive but good on every level. Rooms range from £160 in low season to £365 in high season.

Ambience?

The clientele in hotel dining rooms can often seem intimidating, but not here: the atmosphere is very relaxed and you certainly don't need to dress up. It's surprisingly unpretentious and the staff are young and anxious to please. The lounge, with magazines, board games and jigsaw puzzles, has the atmosphere of a comfortable country house. The lower bar is a good place to escape other guests.

Service?

Good, but a bit dotty when it comes to room service. Mind you, would you want to carry a breakfast tray up and down at least 50 steps? Staff are good at recommending things to do and see in the area, making lunch reservations elsewhere and so on. Good information pack in the rooms about local attractions and walks.

Rooms?

There are only 26, and the best are at the top with sitting rooms and terraces. All have sea views and are decorated in a thoroughly chic way with pretty, nautical bathroom tiling and a lighthouse motif. I could fault nothing – from the sea-grass flooring to the crunchy bed linen to the blue curtains. Lots of towels and swanky bathrobes. Mineral water, both still and sparkling, is provided.

Food?

Breakfast, once I had got over the row with the waiter who wanted everyone to sit close together at one end of the room "so they could lay the tables for lunch", was delicious. Good home-made fruit salad, great kippers and black pudding and field mushrooms. At dinner, the wine list isn't cheap but the chef uses local produce such as fish and organic meat.

Clientele?

Relentlessly middle class, plus boat people of the yachting kind and pop stars. The Blairs came for lunch twice during their brief West Country holiday.

Things to do?

Lots of beautiful gardens nearby, including the lost gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project. The hotel can rent water craft from windsurfers to launches and arrange fishing trips. I enjoyed the walking as this stretch of Cornish coast is rugged and challenging. Gourmets can take a trip to Rick Stein's in Padstow for lunch or visit the Tate St Ives.

Address

Hotel Tresanton, Lower Castle Road, St Mawes, Cornwall TR2 5DR (01326 270055; fax: 01326 270053; email: info@tresanton.com).

Janet Street-Porter

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