Travel

Is this Cornwall spot the ultimate in coastal luxury?

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Polly Knight
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Stylist’s fashion editor Polly Knight finds the perfect mix of country and seaside chic at Merchants Manor Hotel in Falmouth

There are weekends when you need the luxurious comfort of a country manor house with window snugs and plump sofas; then there are weekends when you’re after the fresh appeal of a coastal hotel with bare floorboards and sea views. Thankfully, the design gods came together at Merchants Manor Hotel & Spa on the south Cornwall coast.

Slowly escaping the city (read: a longer than anticipated five-and-a-half-hour car journey from London to Falmouth), I feel the stress in my shoulders dissolve as we travel through lush green countryside to the pebbled drive of Merchants Manor. The exterior looks like a classic seaside hotel but inside is a stylish mix of country house chic with a contemporary twist: chandeliers, a grand sweeping staircase and an open fireplace offset with bare floorboards and simple furnishings.

We are bedding down in Landlubber, one of two newly installed, eco-friendly, self-catering cabins. Reclaimed wood adorns the interior walls, the bathroom is herringbone-tiled and light floods in from the floor-to-ceiling windows, revealing a calming view of the Falmouth coastline in the distance. Outside is our own 30 metre-long private terrace complete with hot tub, which we jump straight in to, accompanied by a bottle of deliciously dry local fizz. 

Polly made a beeline for Landlubber’s hot tub.

Rastella, the restaurant at Merchants Manor which boasts three AA Rosettes, is a Falmouth hotspot. Chef-patron Hylton Espey forages for ingredients in the local area to create innovative dishes like my surf and turf main, which beautifully combines Cornish lamb and crab with hedgerow herbs and sea vegetables.

Ready to explore, we start the following morning in Falmouth town centre, a short walk from the hotel, where the historic Pendennis Castle and ramparts built by Henry VIII sit at the end of the peninsular, flanked by beautiful beaches. We meander along the coastal path starting at Gylly Beach, a long stretch of pebbles and sand still busy despite the moody grey sky. After a brief attempt at a swim in the freezing water, we head to Hooked On The Rocks – where we tuck into a kilo of mussels à la marinière with freshly baked bread and whipped Trewithen butter – before walking a little less energetically back around the headland.

A rosé pitstop at Hooked on the Rocks on Swanpool beach.     

The foodie standards stay high when we have dinner at Oliver’s  later that evening. The menu is short and constantly changes with the seasons, but if you ever get the chance to try the hake with roasted scallops, take it.

We spend our final morning at the hotel’s spa. The Linen Rooms are two beautifully kitted out treatment rooms with a wide ‘palm to sole’ range of body therapies – I opt for a thoroughly relaxing back massage. One last swim in the sizeable indoor heated pool and it’s time to head home, happy to know we’ll never need to choose between country and seaside getaways again.

Cabins at Merchants Manor from £300 per night (minimum three-night stay); merchantsmanor.com

Images: Courtesy of venue