More cocktails than cream tea, more eggs Royale than Full English (and yet the kind of place you can get either, whenever you like), this Cornish hotspot is bang on the azure waters of the Fal estuary in stylish St Mawes. A youthful vibe permeates the whole place, from the chilled music on the wave-lapped terrace to the chic rooms and the deliciously adventurous food created by the 20-something chef.
The Idle Rocks really is in a plum location: St Mawes is a pretty village with a busy little harbour, several beaches (including one right next door at low tide), some lovely boutiques and galleries, and a 16th-century castle with cannons and fortified sea walls. Little ferries can whisk you off to rugged headlands for coastal hikes, or to bustling Falmouth for Stein fish’n’chips.
Rooms: The rooms are styled in an understated nautical theme, with a dove-grey and sky-blue palette offset by bright accents in the throws and bedheads. Half of the 20 rooms look out onto the harbour, and some have balconettes where you can drink in the views. Our favourite is second-floor #15 with its grand sea vista and open tub. Harbour Room #2 has a generous bathroom with both a tub and a shower, and even the smallest (#10) is fine for a weekend without much luggage. Families should opt for the attic twin, which connects to a Harbour Room to make a lovely family suite. Those looking for more tranquillity should request one of the more cottagey annexe rooms.
Food: A couple of early evening cocktails on the terrace set us up perfectly for dinner at our sea-facing linen-clad table. There are plenty of seafood options on the menu, like light and delicious foam of mussel soup and razor clams with aioli, as well as meaty favourites such as rack of lamb with petit pois, steamed wild garlic, pancetta and shallots in a white wine jus. Our dessert of white-choc cheesecake with zesty raspberry ice cream hit the spot perfectly. At breakfast (included in the rates), we helped ourselves to a buffet (including delicious yog-strawberry-granola in small kilner jars) and ordered hot options from a great selection (porridge, kippers, thick pancakes with syrup, eggs cooked to perfection).
Author’s tip: Pick up a picnic from the deli opposite the harbour, and drive or walk 2 miles to St. Just in Roseland to bask in the idyllic, magnolia-filled gardens of its church. It’s set above a secluded inlet and was justly (ho-ho) hailed by Sir John Betjeman as the most beautiful in England.
Press review: “The vibe at The Idle Rocks is cool but friendly. The ground floor is one large, open space, and the terrace is the place to be in the summer. The 20 bedrooms are vibrant and contemporary. It’s worth paying for a grand sea-view room: number 15 is so close to the water you can indulge private-yacht fantasies while you lie in the free-standing bath. Little details count: sailor’s hats in the kids’ playroom, and gorgeous flower arrangements that blend in with the objets d’art and furniture sourced from Paris.” Conde Nast Traveller, August 2014
i-escape gift: complimentary room upgrade (or if not available, a Cornish cream tea on one afternoon)