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Set sail for a stirring culinary voyage at St Mawes’ iconic waterfront hotel, suggests Selena Young

What’s the draw?

A stylish coastal setting that invigorates the spirit, warm hospitality that makes guests feel at ease and first-rate dining that never disappoints: The Idle Rocks feeds the soul in a way all hotels should but only the finest do.

Hugging the harbourside in scenic St Mawes, the Relais & Châteaux hotel blesses visitors with captivating views of boats gliding across the water and the therapeutic sound of waves washing over the rocks on which it stands.

Sensory pleasures aren’t just reserved for the outdoors, however. Its distinctive interior design also entertains the eye, with a cascade of bright and playful fabrics sweeping the rooms and vibrant artwork dotting the walls. The chic lounge is just the spot for lazing with the papers and a morning coffee, or luxuriating with a glass of Lazy Lady (The Idle Rocks’ own wine from Padstow) and appetisers as the day draws in.

It’s worth putting aside an hour or two to soak up the scenery from the sea-view rooms, whether that’s bathing in a standalone tub or lounging on the faux-fur-draped windowseat.

The Idle Rocks' lounge

Who’s cooking?

Matthew Haggath is the latest in a long line of talented head chefs to step up to the pass of The Idle Rocks kitchen. Under his lead, the restaurant recently gained three AA rosettes and continues to secure Higher Membership in the Trencherman’s Guide. Much like the hotel’s aesthetic, Matthew’s cooking is considered and exquisite.

What to order?

On the signature tasting menu, the chef takes guests on a culinary voyage across the county via a sequence of dishes celebrating Cornish farmers, fishermen and producers.

Warm pretzel rolls paired with a mushroom and truffle butter coaxed us into our evening dining experience, the springy bread providing a perfect landing pad for generous layers of the light-butluxe whipped butter.

After an amuse bouche of supple blushing-pink duck, we found citrusy refreshment in our first fish course of the evening: a svelte fillet of Boscastle trout with pickled tomato, cucumber relish and lemon gel.

A second fish dish of pan-seared sea bass yielded silky flesh under its crisp pearlescent skin. The beautifully cooked fish was paired with Provençal new potatoes, piquillo pepper puree and a herbaceous basil chimichurri.

One of our favourite junctures of the tasting journey was a juicy cut of braised pork belly, married with sweet apple gel, lightly spiced fennel puree and Tenderstem broccoli.

A duo of desserts demonstrated two extremes of the sweetness scale. The raspberry fool was zappingly sharp while a decadent chocolate bavarois left us swooning.

Rounding off the meal were petits fours of tongue-twistingly zesty lemon macarons and hand-painted chocolate truffles.

Food’s tip

Follow supper with a film at The Hidden Cinema, located at The Idle Rocks’ nearby sister venue St Mawes Hotel.

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