What: I always find flying within in the UK rather strange, you get off the plane expecting a different time zone, odd loos and supermarkets which always look a bit knockoff, but then you see a Tesco and find out your taxi driver use to live on the same road as you. With England revelling in a heatwave I decided to make the most of it, escaping London, getting on a 35-minute plane over to Newquay and heading to the Merchants Manor, a hotel in Falmouth for 36 hours in the Cornish sun.
New: Six years ago, Sioned and Nick Rudlin took over the building, changing the name from the twee, Green Lawns and giving it, its current name, Merchants Manor. It was at the start of this year though, that they launched two boutique self-catering apartments, the Lookout and the Landlubber.
The Setting: Sat at the top of a hill, giving guests in top rooms glorious sea views, Merchants Manor is in the pretty university town of Falmouth. It’s a ten-minute walk to Gylly beach, fifteen-minute walk to the smaller cover of Swanpool and a ten-minute stroll into the town centre. On rainy days, you’ve got the National Maritime Museum nearby and Pendennis Castle is about a mile and a half away. Of course, if you really don’t want to leave the hotel then you’ve got the garden, a real suntrap, to laze around in.
The Look: Sioned and Nick refreshed the look of the hotel so that it has town house, country estate feel but still with coastal and maritime influence to it. High ceilings are matched with calming greys, teals and bespoke furniture in the bar and snug area (come here in the afternoon as there is homemade cake to help yourself too) whilst elsewhere whites, navy and oatmeal provided a light, airy feel. It’s stylish without being imposing, cosy without being stuffy.
The Apartment: The new additions to the hotel are the two boutique apartments, the Landlubber and Lookout. Set in the grounds of the hotel, the self-catering apartments both sleep four and come with their own terraces and most importantly, private hot tubs. Designed by award winning interior designer Helen Hughes, both of the apartments have their own unique personalities. Landlubber is a celebration of tropical plants, inspired by the botanists who travelled far and wide to bring exotic plants back to Cornwall. We, however, were staying in the Lookout, the upstairs apartment which has the most glorious terrace with sea views. Inspired by the Falmouth coastline, the apartment is clad in wooden panels and has tones of blues and bright corals. Along with a flat screen TV, coffee machine, Nest appliances and digital radios you’ll also find vintage mirrors acquired at auction and antique hooks recovered from the private quarters of Queen Mary when she sailed around India and Asia. In the living area you’ll find a fully equipped black concrete kitchen, sofa and arm chairs ideal for curling up on with a book when it rains and a long wooden table with industrial metal chairs for dining. The space is light and airy in the summer thanks to the floor to ceiling windows but also I can imagine it would be very snug in the winter. The two bedrooms can either be a twin and double or king and double, with both rooms leading straight out onto the terrace. Is there a better way to wake up than stepping straight from your bedroom out onto the terrace and into the hot tub? I think not. Each has its own elegant, tiled bathroom with large rain head showers from Bert & May and Temple Spa products. After a day of hot tubbing and swimming we sank into the cosy beds and both slept better than we had in a long time.
The Restaurant: The hotel is home to the award-winning 2AA Rosette restaurant, Rastella. Headed up by Chef Patron Hylton Espey, the restaurant champions local produce, check out the back of the menu where a map will show you just where your oysters, duck and lamb came from. The menu is succinct with just a handful of starters and a few mains. There’s an excellent starter of smoked corn veloute, lobster and golden corn bread and don’t be put off by the phrase herb custard, TR11 is a dish of warm savoury custard and foraged greens. For a main course, steaks are a safe choice, full of flavour and beautifully tender, meat is from Philip Warren butchers in north Cornwall and is fired in the wood oven, Bertha. There’s also a take on the surf’n’turf – lamb, crab and B.O.F.G.A, a burnt onion and fermented garlic aioli. It might sound like an interesting combination of ingredients, but it works, the lightness of the crab and the lamb wrapped up in the sauce which is akin to umami but with hints of sweetness from the burnt onion. Inspiration for the dish came from the pastures that the lambs grazed on at the Cornish Lamb Co in Trewithick. The pastures sloped down to the sea where the crabs lived tying the two together. For pudding Sevi and Leti (strawberries and clotted cream) is given a twist with a pine nut meringue and toasted pine nuts or for a taste of nostalgia go for the cookies and cream. A panna cotta is sandwiched between two cookies and served with a slightly salty butterscotch sauce. Rastella is working towards its 3 AA Rosettes and it surely can’t be long before they are awarded it.
The Spa: For those looking for a little pampering, then head to the Linen Rooms. Home to two treatment rooms, the Merchants Manor is one of the only spa hotels in Falmouth. Using exclusively Temple Spa products the spa offers a range of treatments including the Go Figure, a firming, toning and tightening body detox treatment and My Kinda Skin, a bespoke prescription facial. They also have a number of spa days, spa stays and spa nights. We went for the hour-long Drift Away, a full body and scalp massage. And it did indeed have me drifting away, I’m yet to not fall asleep in a massage. Kelly, my therapist was wonderful, not only at really removing all the knots and tension in my back and working out the tightness in my muscles, but also just being friendly and putting me at ease.
The Gym and Pool: If you’re don’t want to break up your gym routine then you can head down to the Technogym, the sizeable space features a good range of equipment including a Kinesis Wall and plenty of weights. The swimming pool isn’t your average pool either, flooded with light from the floor to ceiling glass windows, it features a hydrotherapy pool and a jet lane. We were unfortunately unable to use the steam room but we did venture into the Nordic barrel sauna, which was hot. Very hot. We lasted two minutes before we jumped in the pool.
Go With: Billed as a hotel for grown-ups, this is somewhere you want to go for your girls’ getaway, your mini-break with your Mum or a couple’s holiday. Next time I’ll be bringing my sisters and cousins and we’ll hole up in the Lookout for a snug weekend in January, only leaving for a couple of blustery walks and of course, the hot tub.
Where: Merchants Manor, 1 Western Terrace, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 4QJ www.merchantsmanor.com
Final Word: If you’re looking for a coastal break which is stylish but still homely then look no further than Merchants Manor. Service is impeccable and personable, the apartments are fabulous and the restaurant, in our view, is worthy of its third AA rosette. We came away rejuvenated and already planning our next visit.