Voted the UK’s best coastal resort in 2020 by Which? the sedate fishing village of St Mawes is an idyllic weekend escape in South Cornwall. Two days is all it takes to savour its unrivalled scenery, explore nearby Falmouth and sample the best in Cornish cuisine. Come rain or shine, here’s how to spend a seaside getaway on the sublime Roseland peninsula.
Near Portscatho, along the coastal path (a 15-minute drive from St Mawes) you’ll find this hidden gem, serving up homestyle cooking typical of the south Cornish coast. Sink your teeth into one of the freshly-baked steak pasties, or warm your cockles with the creamy smoked haddock, bacon and corn chowder. The spinach and chickpea dhal is a favourite too, packed with fresh vegetables and a comforting medley of spices. You can’t leave without trying one of their cakes – or the handmade clotted ice cream. There’s no indoor seating, so the shack’s scrumptious offerings are to be enjoyed al fresco, in the crisp sea air overlooking the peninsula in all its natural beauty. Work off your lunch with a stroll along the golden sands of Porthcurnick Beach (or a splash in the ocean if you get lucky with the weather). This place can get pretty packed, especially in the summer months, so try and avoid peak times, as despite being called the Hidden Hut it’s possibly Cornwall’s worst-kept secret…
There are plenty of day trips from St Mawes – by sea or land – to nearby Falmouth, Truro and St Anthony Head; scenic places well worth a visit. The St Mawes Ferry takes you on a pleasant 20-minute trip to the Prince of Wales Pier in Falmouth, where you can while away several hours perusing quaint shops and independent galleries, followed by a drink at one of the characterful local pubs. If you’re looking to stretch your legs, scale the 111 granite steps of Jacob’s Ladder for sweeping views of the harbour and estuary – it’s worth the slog. For something more leisurely, saunter along Gyllyngvase Beach’s wide crescent of golden sand: a foolproof way to experience the best that Falmouth has to offer.
Top pick for a tapas or Italian-style lunch is Idle Rocks’ funkier and more affordable sister property the St Mawes Hotel, at the end of the harbourside parade. After a morning of coastal hiking, this boutique hangout’s pizza and pasta dishes are a tasty midday energy booster, and the team at St Mawes aren’t afraid to get experimental – think salami, fennel and capers on a tomato base pizza, or hay semifreddo, blackberries, and a tonka bean biscuit for dessert. For something lighter, the restaurant offers sharing and grazing plates which showcase the best locally-sourced Cornish ingredients. The upper dining deck has brilliant sea views (without compromising your comfort and warmth) and its shabby-chic Soho House decor with pastel inflections and a cosy vibe make it a magical spot for a rustic lunch.
For the ultimate private movie night, look no further than the St Mawes Hotel’s state-of-the-art cinema. Showing mainstream and independent films, sporting events and special screenings, this secret spot can seat 25 people and tickets start at £10 per person, including popcorn. Take luxury movie-watching to the next level with reclining leather chairs, cosy blankets and a fully licensed bar.
Showcasing the crème de la crème of Cornish cuisine, Idle Rocks’ award-winning restaurant is one to write home about. Head Chef Dorian Janmaat spent eight years under the direction of Raymond Blanc and now blends the flavours of local, seasonal produce to create tasty and imaginative plates. Begin your meal with a perfectly salty pretzel, warm from the oven, served with a tangy whipped miso butter. The impeccably-presented desserts include a caramelized apple mille-feuille – the taste of slightly burnt apple with the toasted flavour of the almond ice cream is out of this world. The three-course dinner is £60 per person, and you can expect class every step of the way, in the linen-clad, sea-facing tables and the refined, attentive service. The laidback lounge is the perfect post-dinner retreat for an aperitif or Cornish wine. Settle down by the open fire, or on a warm summer evening head out to the terrace overlooking the harbour. The food here is indisputably the best in St Mawes, so book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.