Escape London: The Idle Rocks Review & Cornwall in Autumn

The Idle Rocks in St Mawes Bay offers guests the opportunity to relax in style and to discover Cornwall’s wintery charm…

Photo: The Idle Rocks

Without the sunshine, surfing and bustling beaches, can Cornwall prove to be anything but a popular holiday destination?
As I cruised along the coastline to The Idle Rocks for my November sojourn, I was admittedly apprehensive on what to expect from the renowned summertime hotspot – would it retain its heavenly appeal in the chillier months?

Despite my reservations, St Mawes proved an enchanting autumn delight, hidden amongst breath-taking scenery with a tranquil atmosphere to rival the tourist summer obsession. 

Nestled in the heart of St Mawes Bay, the hotel is over 100 years old, built on the site of an old bakery in an area steeped in local history. Today, refurbished and transformed to its former glory under new owners Karen and David Richards in 2010, it is the epitome of coastal luxury. 

The Idle Rocks offers a stylish, yet intimate retreat that makes for a blissful escape from the city. You couldn’t dream of a better spot, with the hotel overlooking crystal-blue waters cosied between an array of quaint shops and pubs to dip into on lazy afternoons.

A peaceful retreat 
Modern-chic with a quirky flair, the hotel design has an upmarket feel whilst boasting serene comfort throughout. 

The smell of essential oils and seasonal-scented candles transcends the place into a haven of relaxation, secluded from the stresses of urban life. The hotel’s beauty therapy room offers massage and facial treatments to unwind.

With the crowds and sunshine replaced by crisp, sunset walks and snug evenings in bed with a book and a nightly hot water bottle, the autumnal appeal is abundantly clear. 

Guests can congregate across plush sofas in front of the fire on colder evenings for a cocktail before dinner. 

The fireplace nook is filled with books and nods to the Richards’ family history like Karen’s old ballet slippers, and other sweet finishing touches that make you feel at home. 

The hotel’s comforting feel is met with bright and informal colours to add a lively spark to its atmosphere. All children are welcome and accommodated for with a children’s playing room, babysitting facilities and special arrangements with the kitchen.

Coastal-inspired rooms with a modern twist 
Each of the 19 luxurious bedrooms embodies a traditional, coastal décor with a contemporary twist, designed by owner and designer Karen Richards to reflect the authentic beauty of the coastline.

Sea view rooms and freestanding baths create the perfect retreat to lie back and relax, listening to the waves meet the rocks below. 

Exquisite dining 
With an abundance of locally sourced produce across the menu, expectations were high. The culinary team is managed by executive head chef Dorian Janmaat, who previously spent eight years at Raymond Blanc’s 2-Michelin star hotel and restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. 

Dorian has centred his menu around a variety of fresh, local and seasonal Cornish produce to re-enforce the authentic, coastal experience for The Idle Rocks guests. 

From a classic ‘Cornish’ breakfast to a full seven-course meal in the evening, the menu caters to every kind of palette, whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a hearty meal after a day on the beach. 

The seven-course meal is a sensation for one’s tastebuds, taking guests on a thought-out journey of combined autumn flavours for an exceptional fine-dining experience. 

Beginning with freshly-baked reef-knot bread and miso butter to tender venison loin with blackberries and red wine essence, Dorian’s food is perfection in its simplest form. He curates classic dishes but accompanies them with unique and poignant flavours which transform the food into a haven of seasonal delights. 

The St Mawes Hotel, like its sister The Idle Rocks, also boasts impeccable food, with an array of carefully crafted appetisers and a host of scrumptious dishes to pair with their boutique wine list. The chilli and lime aioli scallops are sensational – the restaurant is a must-visit for seafood lovers.

What to do in Cornwall in winter 
Voted Seaside Destination of the Year 2020 by Which readers, St Mawes is a glorious spot that effortlessly welcomes you into a different world, with city-life quickly becoming a far-gone distant memory. If you  struggle to find a moment’s peace at the end of the day, you’ll find it in abundance at St Mawes.

The town’s breezy atmosphere invites you to enjoy hours of guilt-free, aimless strolls around its local shops and friendly pubs. 

And when you’re settled in and ready for some exploration, this line of the coast will not disappoint. Padstow, a traditional-style Cornish town that’s filled with pasty shops and art galleries and home to several Rick Stein restaurants, is just a short drive from St Mawes and is well worth the visit. 

If you have an activity in mind, like fishing or clay-pigeon shooting, the hotel is at your disposal to accommodate you in any way they can.

Coldwater swimming remains popular throughout winter on the St Mawes shore, so for those who are brave enough, paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing lessons are a mere few of the water activities available. 

Tregothnan Estate is a short drive away, where you can enjoy a picturesque tour of the UK’s only tea plantation and settle down for a tasting of some British-grown cup of tea in their reading room. 

For the wine-lovers, Trevibban Mill Vineyard is the perfect stop for a vineyard tour, finished off with a charcuterie-style lunch and a wine-tasting session of their locally grown and made wines and ciders. 

The luxury home cinema based in the St Mawes Hotel is ideal for enjoying some down-time with friends and family after a long day of exploring. It’s kitted out with a popcorn machine and ice cream fridge which you can enjoy whilst snuggled up in a blanket on the cinema’s padded leather chairs. 

Rates at The Idle Rocks start from £150. Visit idlerocks.com/ for more information. 

For more tourism information and to discover what you can get up to in Cornwall, go to  visitcornwall.com