The Idle Rocks conjures up images of a charming hotel perched perfectly on the rocks in a home away from home for a much needed UK staycation. Our dream journey to a different way of life for a few days became a happy reality.
As a Londoner, one always argues as to whether to travel by car or by train to Cornwall. We even joked about taking a helicopter, turns out you can! (The hotel is more than happy to help you arrange this.) We finally decided on a train, leaving concrete Paddington to Truro. Comfortable in our seats we dozed off and dreamt of our getaway from the big city to St Mawes, voted the best seaside town in the UK in 2020.
After a picturesque train journey with rambling hills, seaside villages and several cows, we arrived feeling refreshed in Truro. We easily found a taxi to take us to St Mawes which is roughly a 40-minute drive to the hotel – the staff are there to help you with this also, a theme that continued during our stay – accommodating to your every need at the drop of a hat.
The Idle Rocks Welcome
We were greeted with genuinely warm smiles by charming staff. Immediately we felt relaxed and as if at a good friend’s place – we exhaled and soaked up the comfort of our surroundings, already eyeing up the softly glowing fire that we would soon be enjoying. Check in was fast and smooth, each room has their guests name written on a slate on the door, these personal touches are the essence of The Idle Rocks’ philosophy.
Purchased in 2010 by Karen and David Richards – leading entrepreneur in the motor racing world and former chairman of Aston Martin – The Idle Rocks has been designed to give guests a home-from-home experience with its light and simple contemporary style mixed with traditional coastal décor. The couple have had a house in the village for over ten years and you can feel the love and familiarity spill into the hotel. With a passion for art and sculpture – Karen herself chooses and places each unique piece of art in its rightful place, amongst joyful family photos.
You can choose from 18 rooms, including four suites in an adjoining cottage. Our personal haven was Room 15 – if you can book this room then snap it up! On entering – the light and brilliance of the sea was abundant – I don’t think you could get any closer to the water unless you were in it. Two large windows framed the view which changed beautifully during the day as if a personal painted intimate landscape just for us to enjoy.
A bottle of Cornish sparkling wine greeted us which we later enjoyed in the sumptuous bath that faced the windows overlooking the sea – this is a room for romance. A huge bed with embracing cotton sheets and fluffy pillows called you in for a great night’s sleep.
Our room also had a separate study to sit and get ready in, my companion even had a quick zoom call in there. Once again it was the small details that make this hotel so special – bubble bath next to the bed, still and sparkling water topped up every day in the fridge, artisan teas, non-alcoholic tea cocktails to sample, some local fudge to nibble on, a dim light that automatically comes on in the bathroom at night and much more. This room begs for you to snuggle up with your loved one under one of its tasteful rugs, drift off and listen to the waves gently caress your window.
Dining at The Idle Rocks
Dining is a gastronomic adventure and occasion here. Before dinner, may I recommend sampling one of the expertly balanced cocktails from the menu, using seasonal and local ingredients – I particularly enjoyed a long drink with pea shoots. Relax and peruse the menu, choosing from the a la carte or seven course tasting menu, carefully crafted by head chef Dorian Janmaat.
The dining room is transformed to a softly lit oasis, great for unwinding and sipping on local wines such as the Merope Still White which compliments the fresh seafood of the area. Chef Dorian continues the hotel’s ethos of re-engaging with the simple pleasures in life and works with local famers and fishermen and famers for the freshest of ingredients.
The seaweed butter with the bread was a taste bud winner. I devoured delicately presented, creamy and crispy sweetbreads and sublime followed by rich and flaky turbot, my companion enjoyed an outstanding truffle risotto. Possibly the only slight negative of our entire stay which was faultless was the lack of many vegetarian options on the menu.
We had our dessert by the charming fire that greeted us on arrival. Textures of silky pana cotta, a fine crumble and juicy winter fruits washed down by a fine port and I had reached nirvana – thoughts of a calmer life living by the seaside took over. Nothing is too much trouble here, the staff really do want you to enjoy yourself as much as possible so we had our cheese course in our room, did we want to sample the ice wine? Oh yes, we did!
We were very much looking forward to our dining experience during our stay – previously voted by The Times as one of the Top 20 places to eat by the sea, we certainly were not disappointed. Breakfast is a light filled delight as you sit looking at the vast sea scape in front of you, in the summer months the terrace is open, the perfect place for a sundowner. A feast for the eyes and stomach, a lavish table spread of continental treats is on offer. There are some modern and healthy twists too – freshly prepared kale smoothies and homemade granola. The star of the show and something my companion and I are still raving about was the brûlée grapefruit – pure genius. A full a la carte cooked breakfast menu allows you to enjoy a Full English Breakfast or perhaps some poached eggs on avocado – the execution is of such a high standard.
The Reef Knot Retreat
The luxurious sense of tranquillity continues with a visit to the on-site treatment room. (If you’re with children you can safely leave them in the beautifully adorned kid’s playroom, so nice we wanted to stay a while in there ourselves.) The charming and kind therapist led me into her cave of serenity where even the smell was enough to relax my tired urbanite muscles. The epitome of professionalism – any health or allergy concerns I may have had were addressed before I lay on one of the most comfortable massage tables I’ve ever encountered.
An hour melted away as my pressure points were caressed and the tension of life disappeared, I had a mini facial where I came out looking almost sixteen again – using all organic products. What was most enchanting was how my therapist clearly enjoyed her job – a brief chat led me to find out that Karen, the owner actually created the spa after realising one of her staff was a trained and talented massage therapist and wanted to give her and the hotel the opportunity to expand its offering – the feeling of family and care for their staff runs deep here which is ultimately felt by the customer which brings an added element of uniqueness to The Idle Rocks.
Things to do and the Local Area
One can’t visit the seaside without going for a walk, and thus we did. St Mawes isn’t big, but my goodness it’s pretty. The staff were sure to warn us about the incoming storm and offered to pick us up if we got stranded anywhere. We had a brisk walk to one of Henry VIII’s fortresses, my friend bought a small metal sculpture of a crab at the local art gallery, I bought a beautiful rug in another boutique. We stopped for a drink at the St Mawes Hotel, their sister property – smaller and with equally fantastic views – they also offer movie nights in their 25 seat private cinema – another example of how Karen and David are modernising and boosting the local economy. After having a pint in each of the two pubs in town, were we now Cornish?
It is at this point that having a car would have been useful – in nearby Truro we could have visited Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm, or the Tregothnan Estate. The beautiful and therapeutic beaches of St Agnes are a must as is a visit to Callestick Ice Cream Parlour. Our stay was two nights, but we really didn’t feel the need to venture further out, we wanted to enjoy everything The Idle Rocks has to offer for as long as we possibly could.
In a nutshell
Leaving was hard – much like saying goodbye to an old friend, always hurts a tad. I can honestly say I hadn’t felt so relaxed in months, all thanks to the understated luxurious surroundings, delectable meals and drinks and truly outstanding service from the staff – Karen and David have created something unique and stunning here. Come here for a romantic getaway, treat a dear friend, and enjoy the time to properly catch up, even take your mother.
As our train pulled away, I popped a piece of the fudge that we had been gifted into my mouth, a huge smile came on my face, a bit of Cornwall and The Idle Rocks was coming home with me.
To discover more, visit: idlerocks.com
All imagery courtesy of The Idle Rocks unless otherwise stated.
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