It may be laidback, but Falmouth is also lively and a creative hub. Surrounded by world-class sailing waters and enshrouded by areas of natural beauty, this part of Cornwall is a must-visit destination if you are looking to escape the stresses of a hectic city life.
Luxurious Magazine’s Sabi Phagura did exactly that when she headed to Merchants Manor in Falmouth to shed the January blues.
Whatever the time of year, it’s good to breathe in the sea air. And that was the first thought that crossed my mind as I exited my car outside Merchants Manor after a four-hour drive. The air was crisp, but the sun was shining. It was bliss.
While most hotels offer a face-to-face check-in, Merchants Manor has a self-service counter where you can grab your card and head to your room. It’s great if you are not one for small talk, especially after a long journey. But if you do need help, it’s not hard to find a friendly staff member.
Occupying a prime position close to the beach in one direction and the town centre in the other, Merchants Manor offers guests a spacious and luxurious base for coastal adventures. This grand 100-year-old plus building (since 1913) offers comfy rooms of varying maritime-themed designs, such as mirrors shaped like a ship’s wheel.
The rooms come in varying sizes, from small single or double cosy rooms with enough space to mooch around to the high-end category master room with balconies.
Those who stay in the more distinctive Old House can enjoy four-poster beds and sunken roll-top baths complete with Temple Spa goodies. (available throughout the room categories.). And yes, there are tales of ghosts.
But if you’re looking for that something a little extra special place to hang out for a few days, I would highly recommend booking yourself into one of the two self-catering AA 5 Gold Star residences. Ideal for a romantic retreat getaway or as a family countryside hideaway, these two apartments, which have been an addition to the hotel since 2017, are a great place to immerse yourself.
The rustic apartments, with their timber frames, organic shapes and quirky features, are parallel with the rustic raw power of the Cornish countryside yet add plenty of luxury touches with modern-day conveniences.
The Landlubber on the ground floor is a real green haven that comes with a 30m private deck and jacuzzi edged by a sub-tropical garden. It’s inspired by Edwardian plant hunters who travelled far and wide to bring back exotic treasures.
The Lookout, in which we stayed, is the one with the coastal views and seamlessly combines inside-outside living at its best. Its private 22m glazed balcony with a hot tub and sun loungers will make you not want to go indoors. But you can still enjoy all of that coupled with the mind-blowing views from inside the apartment thanks to its floor-to-ceiling glass walls in every room in the apartment, including the two bathrooms.
Add the nautical-theme features inside, and you will get that coastal feel throughout the property whether you’re in or out. This is a true get-away-from-it-all Coastal bolthole.
The main kitchen diner living area has a fully equipped kitchen with a coffee machine, dishwasher, washing machine and plenty of utensils, pots and pans to whizz up a meal. Not in the mood for cooking? You can upgrade your stay to include a private chef and arrival meals.
The welcome hamper, brimming with fresh bread, muesli, milk, scones complete with jam and cream and a chilled bottle of bubbly, will keep you going while you wait. There’s also an option to have an in-room massage. As lovely as that sounded, I did whisk myself away to have a massage in one of the two treatment rooms. Nay, the therapist, who is also a yoga teacher, worked magic on my body.
The crisp fresh air didn’t deter us from getting into our swimming cosies and sitting in the hot tub. The sun was out, after all. Sinking back into the bubbles while listening to the sounds of nature all around us while simultaneously watching the bobbing boats as far as the eyes can see allowed us to kick start our stay in style.
Wellness was a key focus for owners Sioned and Nick Rudlin when they took over the hotel in 2012. When they set about reviving the building, they paid special attention to dedicated spaces offering rejuvenation and relaxation.
There are two-treatment rooms offering massages, a steam room, a barrel sauna, and a 13-metre heated indoor pool and hydrotherapy tub. For the adventurous, there is a gym equipped with Technogym facilities. If you want to up the ante, personal trainers can do that for you, while fitness classes are also available if you want to mingle with other guests.
As tempting as it was to spend the entire time in the apartment, we did enjoy exploring the rest of the hotel. The chic lounges, with their new and vintage furniture, wooden flooring and local designer pieces, are a great place to chill out.
I found the coffee table made from old bound magazine issues exceptionally cool, while the cushioned window “snug” became my place to head to each time I returned from a coastal or town venture. A hot beverage from the intimate bar and free cake completed this ritual.
You can expect to be well-fed at Merchants Manor. The focus at the three AA Rosettes Rastella restaurants is very much on locally sourced seasonal food.
With head chef Aiden Blakely-May at the helm, you can be assured you’ll be fed food supplied by local artisans to bring you Cornish bounty and original flavours.
He’s passionate about getting the best local meat, fish and forages, just like nature intended. Guests have the choice of two menus – the a la carte or the tasting menu.
Sadly, the latter wasn’t available during our visit (unavailable in January only), but the food we did eat was simply amazing. When you can ‘see the sea,’ eating seafood is my motto, so I tucked into plenty of that accompanied by vegetables.
All cooked just right with perfect seasoning. The result after tucking into the meals was ample energy for all the exploring I had planned during my stay. The breakfast offerings are just as good as a small and concise menu. We particularly liked the freshly squeezed juices from the buffet cart to sip on while we made our choices.
Waking up to a beautiful morning bird song after a peaceful night’s sleep is a sure way to put you in a good mood and feel energised for the day ahead. Falmouth is a maritime mecca and has miles of coastal paths to get your daily fresh air and step counts.
The estuary can be found to the north with its meandering creeks and bobbing boats, while the south boasts tons of greenery with its ancient woodlands. Add unspoiled beaches, and sandy beaches, including Gyllyngvase, Swanpool and Maenporth, interspersed with enchanting coves, and this part of the UK is nothing short of spectacular.
Like the coast, the Falmouth town centre is just a short 10-mute stroll away, where you’ll find the National Maritime Museum and Rick Stein’s Fish restaurant. Art lovers can rejoice in the knowledge that there is a plethora of galleries to spend hours in.
Rest comes easy at a place like Merchants Manor. The staff are exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable about the local area, the food is superb, and the accommodation is nothing short of country living by the sea at its best. I’m already in the process of planning my next visit.
Who knows, I may even enjoy a sea dip in one of the many secluded sandy coves. My January blues on this occasion were washed away just by being in this part of the world.
Merchants Manor – Where and How?
Merchants Manor can be found at 1 Western Terrace, Falmouth TR11 4QJ. The room rate for the residences is £300 per night, and a minimum of three nights is required. For more information, visit www.merchantsmanor.com.
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