hotel on a harbour

The Idle Rocks boutique hotel sits on the edge of St Mawes harbour in Cornwall

Located on the harbour’s edge of Cornish fishing village St Mawes, The Idle Rocks is a coastal-meets-contemporary hotel and locavore hotspot. Ella Johnson checks-in for a weekend of fine dining and relaxation

At 19 rooms, The Idle Rocks is an intimate hotel. Mementos of the owning family, which bought the hotel in 2013, are dotted about the place: photographs and well-read books populate the shelves; a pair of child’s red ballet pumps, un-pristine, sit poised beneath a bell jar. Soft furnishings are in exuberant and mismatched fabrics. The wall art – all by the same local artist – offers colourful, child-like iterations of the surrounding landscape. Signature scented candles and a log fire burn all day and night; shell-shaped light fixtures bathe the communal spaces in glow. Yet there is no music or forced ambience here: only the sound of the sea just outside the window.

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The Idle Rocks is located on the harbour’s edge of St Mawes, a small fishing village on the Roseland Peninsula. Described by The Times in the 1940s as ‘a kind of British edition of St. Tropez’, a mild climate means that St Mawes is attractive year-round, and some prefer coming here away from the hectic summer months when crowds of ‘staycationers’ from across the UK fill the county’s narrow lanes and surfing beaches.

luxury hotel bedroom

One of the hotel’s grand seaview rooms

You can hear the waves wherever you happen to find yourself in the hotel: bath, breakfast, bed, or otherwise. We took the corner room with the two Juliet balconies overlooking the harbour and slept with the doors open for maximum effect (the complimentary night-time hot water bottle meant there was no risk of getting cold). In the daytime, the room is light-filled; Breton-striped curtains, raffia rugs and a travel trunk nod to the nautical while letting the view do the talking.

Head to the fireside when it is time for aperitifs and plan a culinary trip around the peninsula. Of chef Dorian Janmaat’s seven-course seasonal tasting menu, our favourite course was the venison loin with celeriac, cavolo nero, and blackberries, washed down with a glass of Black Ram Cornish red from the local Trevibban Mill Vineyard.

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Seafood lovers will also enjoy the lemon sole with braised salsify, cep, Cornish caviar and verjus, or the Cornish monkfish with roasted chicory. (We tried both: with the water’s edge just metres away, it would have been rude not to).

hotel lounge

The lounge area with colourful artworks by local artists

If you book out the whole hotel for exclusive use, you get the keys to the Idle Rocks-branded Land Rover thrown in. Take it out for a day of shooting or beach walking with friends, stopping off at noon at the Hidden Hut in Portscatho to warm your bones with a bowl of fish chowder on the beach.

When we returned to the hotel, we booked in for a massage in the hotel’s treatment room. While the Aromatherapy elixirs were a tonic after a day braving the Cornish elements, none was so therapeutic as lazing about in our own private cinema afterwards. The Secret Cinema is located at The Idle Rocks’ sister establishment, the St Mawes Hotel, just across the road, and is a good alternative for those looking for something a little more laid-back.

Rates: From £230 incl. breakfast (approx. €250/ $300)

Book your stay: idlerocks.com