Andrew Pierce finds hotel heaven in a five-star Cornish gem

Driven to a blissful state: ANDREW PIERCE finds hotel heaven in a five-star Cornish gem owned by a motorsport legend

  • The Idle Rocks is in St Mawes, which sits in a bay on Cornwall’s glorious Roseland Peninsula 
  • It is owned by David Richards, a former world rally champion, who was principal of two Formula One teams 
  • He bought the hotel with his wife in 2010 and it reopened with 19 bedrooms in 2013 
  • Idle Rocks headhunted chef Dorian Janmaat from two-Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat‘Saisons 

As one of the leading figures in British motor racing, I was intrigued to know what car David Richards would send to pick me up to take me to his Idle Rocks hotel on Cornwall’s glorious Roseland Peninsula.

He did not disappoint.

I had my first ride in an electric Tesla car, which glided through the Cornish countryside from Truro railway station to the hotel in St Mawes, which was voted the seaside resort of 2020. It had even been charged by wind turbines earlier that morning.

The Idle Rocks is owned by David Richards, a former world rally champion, who was principal of two Formula One teams and ran classic sports car company Aston Martin

The Idle Rocks is in St Mawes, pictured, which sits in a bay on Cornwall’s glorious Roseland Peninsula

Andrew writes: ‘Drinking a gin cocktail on the sun terrace in the early evening, as the waves crashed on the rocks, I wondered why I’d spent so many years holidaying in over-priced Mykonos and Santorini’

Richards – a former world rally champion, who was principal of two Formula One teams and ran classic sports car company Aston Martin – bought the hotel, which was dowdy, depressing, and in serious decline, with his interior designer wife Karen in 2010.

The 19-bedroom whitewash-and-slate waterfront hotel reopened three years later.

St Mawes sits amid green rolling hills, secluded beaches and is surrounded on three sides by water, producing a mild year-round microclimate.

St Mawes is surrounded on three sides by water – and guests can watch the comings and goings of the local boats in comfort

Rooms at The Idle Rocks are ‘individually designed; classic luxury meets seaside chic’, says the hotel’s website

Your Christian names are chalked on the door of your room,’ writes Andrew, ‘which is fine as long as you’re not there with your mistress or someone else’s husband’

Drinking a gin cocktail on the sun terrace, shaded with white parasols, in the early evening, as the waves crashed on the rocks, I wondered why I’d spent so many years holidaying in over-priced Mykonos and Santorini, with two days of each holiday lost in airports.

As the second gin arrived, I was still leafing through the dinner menu, and was undecided. I realised I was taking a lot longer to choose than in my last hotel, on a clifftop in Santorini. After all, no one goes to Greece for the food or especially the retsina, which as wine writer Oz Clarke famously said ‘tastes of turpentine’.

The reason I was so immersed in what to eat was the fact that Idle Rocks headhunted Dorian Janmaat after eight years at Raymond Blanc’s two-Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat‘Saisons – the final three of which he spent as head chef. Blanc was his mentor.

The interior is decorated with a theme of nautical blue, antiques vie with contemporary art, and curtains that could have come straight out of a Homes & Garden set, writes Andrew

The ground floor of the five-star hotel is an extended sea-facing room with a roaring log fire at one end and the dining room, pictured, at the other

The chef explains why my charred mackerel starter, with avocado, followed by the ‘best end of lamb’, all locally produced, added up to just about the best meal I’ve had in a hotel. Ever.

The ground floor of the five-star hotel is an extended sea-facing room with a roaring log fire at one end and the dining room at the other. The interior is decorated with a theme of nautical blue, antiques vie with contemporary art, and curtains that could have come straight out of a Homes & Garden set.

Your Christian names are chalked on the door of your room, which is fine as long as you’re not there with your mistress or someone else’s husband. You can almost touch the water from the full height bedroom windows.

Andrew tells of the joy of falling asleep to the sound of water rippling gently over rocks below

Idle Rocks’ supremely talented head chef, Dorian Janmaat

There is something reassuring about drifting off to sleep, after a relaxing spa treatment, listening to the water rippling gently over the rocks below.

David and Karen, who have lived in the fishing village for years, are discreet but hands-on proprietors who have brought in a great team.

Next time I visit I might ask David, who is chairman of Motorsport UK and was inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame in 2017, to pick me up in his Aston Martin Rapide S.

I’ll do my bit for the environment, I promise, by returning to the railway station in the Tesla.

TRAVEL FACTS 

The Idle Rocks, Harbourside, Tredenham Rd, St Mawes, Truro, TR2 5AN. Call 01326 270270 or visit idlerocks.com for more information. Rooms are priced between £150 and £475. 

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