St Mawes Retreats review
Gorgeous self catering with treatments in Cornwall
The Quick Read: St Mawes Retreats is a collection of five delectable self-catering properties with drop dead gorgeous sea views in the romantic seaside village of St Mawes in Cornwall. They make wonderful places for Do It Yourself retreats alone or with friends – have treatments, book an art class, enjoy private yoga or fitness sessions, go hiking or SUP (Stand Up Paddle) boarding – practically anything you want can be arranged. Each property has dreamy, easy-to-be-in interiors featuring brightly coloured Designer Guild fabrics, Hypnos beds and decent toiletries. Hunker down off season to watch the weather from large windows with a cup of hot chocolate or enjoy walks and local beaches on glorious sunny days.
More on the properties: There are five properties scattered across the village – Moonrakers (main picture above, sleeps up to 12), Stargazers (sleeps 10), Dreamcatchers (left, sleeps 8), Sunseekers (sleeps 6) and the cute and compact smallest property, Shellseekers (below, sleeps 1-2 ideally, or up to 4 if you have two small children). Moonrakers, Stargazers and Dreamcatchers have private gardens where friends or family can hang out – the 14 foot trampolines in the gardens of Moonrakers and Stargazers are great for working out or for the kids. Read a word from the queen on her stay.
All have dreamy, easy-to-be-in interiors featuring brightly coloured Designer Guild fabrics, inspirational art on the walls by local artists such as Sophie Harding, Hypnos beds, toxin-free REN toiletries and some free standing baths with wonderful views out to sea. Spacious sitting and dining areas have massive High Definition TVs, fireplaces and plenty of books, games and other media to keep yourselves (and any children) entertained on rainy days. Our favourite property is Dreamcatchers, for its feeling of space and the particularly inspiring quotes on the walls (Such as? ‘Sometimes on your way to a dream you get lost and find a better one’).
More on the wellbeing activities: There are lots of lovely coastal walks from St Mawes around the Roseland Peninsular taking in constantly gorgeous views. To help you get fit and tone up, the team can organise anything you choose – personal fitness training, guided hikes, Stand Up Paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing, pilates and yoga sessions – you name it. To calm you down, wander the pretty Italianate Lamorran House Gardens, a few minutes walk away – you can have tea here too (they are open on Wednesdays and Fridays). The Eden Project and The Lost Gardens of Heligan are not too far away. Babysitting can be arranged with a reliable, CRB-checked team.
More on the spa treatments: St Mawes Retreats has its own spa menu with 15 different treatments including holistic massage, reflexology, Thai massage, aromatherapy and body scrubs, all using 100% organic, plant-based Inlight products hand-made nearby in Cornwall. Book local therapists therapists Alex Holbrooke or Sarah Greenhalgh in advance, and have the treatments in your room (they bring good massage tables with them).
There are also rituals on offer: the Polynesian Apollo Awakening treatment features both therapists working in a seamless wave-like flow, while The Star Luxury treatment (£120 for 2 hours) begins with an exfoliating face mask with a choice of either Spirulina Super food, Indulgent Chocolate and Himalayan rose pink crystal salt for the body – you then enjoy a reﬂexology treatment with a little crystal healing to reignite energy levels.
More on St Mawes: The village is a lovely place to amble around, full of cute and beautiful houses with flowers growing everywhere and boutique shops where you can pick up interesting, arty finds. Find something pretty at Hotel Tresanton’s shop in the village, Onda, or from Grace and Favour, or hunt through The Square Gallery for something by a local artist. St Mawes’ beaches are pebbly (bring cushions) but no one seems to mind and it keeps them from getting too busy – alternatively, drive to glorious sandy beaches in the area. Have picnics, paddle in rock pools, go crabbing, swim in the sea (there’s a rather cool pontoon you can swim out to).
Food & drink: They can do your shopping online and unpack it for you before you arrive – from any supermarket online, and you can also ask for organic and other healthy alternatives and they’ll go into Truro to source things for you if need be.
All the houses are fully equipped with everything you might need, including steamers, juicers and good coffee making machines. Cooking lessons can be arranged (learn about fish cookery on the Helford river, for example). If you’re here just to relax and indulge, ask for a picnic hamper for lunch, or for a boat trip with a Cornish cream tea with champagne.
If you want to make life easy on yourself you can hire a private chef for a special meal, or indeed for all your meals – give them a healthy brief if you so choose. A highlight of our stay was having a few meals cooked for us by local private chef, William Marsden of Pencoose Pantry. A friendly, straight-forward family man who is easy to be around, William cooks delicious, uncomplicated meals using seasonal, local sourced ingredients that are organic wherever possible.
There are also plenty of places to eat out locally, including The Watch House, 13th century Pandora Inn (take a water taxi) and Hotel Tresanton, which is an easy 10 minute walk away and a great place for morning tea or a special lunch or dinner too.
Costs: Shellseekers is the smallest property, sleeping up to 4 guests; it costs from £399 for a 3 night weekend stay or 4 night midweek stay, up to £599 for one week. The largest property, Moonrakers, sleeps up to 12 guests and costs from £1395 for a 3 night weekend or 4 nights mid week, up to £1990 for a week.
What’s lowly: On our first visit St Mawes Retreats weren’t using eco-friendly cleaning products or making it easy to recycle, though by our second visit that had changed. Some things are shared between properties – so, for example, if your little one particularly wanted a dressing up costume from last year it may have been nabbed by another property. With each year, these tiny gripes are sorted.
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
© Queen of Retreats
Arty rural hotel & spa on Ibiza