St Michaels Resort in Falmouth reopened last year following a multi-million development relaunching them as one of the leading spa hotels in Cornwall. Enhancing their accommodation offering with a brand new Beach House with 32 deluxe rooms, many with private terraces and sea view rooms, the decor is appealing, stylish and bright, with a Farrow and Ball colour palette of blue and white, nautical art and headboards made from reclaimed wood. Our en-suite wet room was luxuriously designed, featuring a discreet window looking into the bedroom, and stocked with Elemis toiletries to compliment a host of spa treatments.
With inspiration drawn from the ravishing coastline on which they are situated, the spa features the world’s only Cornish sea salt steam room by Living Sea Therapy, infusing local sea salt into the steam air, thereby reducing toxins and clearing the lungs. If that wasn’t impressive enough, St Michaels also house the largest hydrotherapy pool in the south west, with 21 purpose-made stations to target different muscle groups and alleviate aches and pains. The glamorous 56-ft swimming pool area has sliding French doors opening onto a south-facing sun terrace complete with loungers and a red cedar hot tub, while a Finnish barrel sauna offering sea views is a striking addition to the lush, tropical-looking spa garden. They just need to offer waiter service and snacks and I would be there all day, every day.
For more energetic pursuits, St Michaels boasts a tennis court and sprawling health club where you’ll find a dedicated Gig Rowing Studio with rowing classes enhanced by the sound of ocean music. An extensive fitness class timetable includes sunrise yoga, aqua aerobics and evening barre, so you might be hard pressed to make it to the beach. Fortunately Falmouth’s Blue Flag Gyllyngvase Beach is only a flip-flop away and there’s plenty to lure you. Gylly Beach Adventures, who partner with the hotel, run kayak shipwreck and cave tours, offering a unique perspective of this beautiful setting, while WeSUP offer paddle boarding hire and taster, full and private lessons to ensure you find your sea legs in no time.
When you’ve worked up an appetite head to the hip, Gylly Beach Cafe for fresh fish and seafood; the relaxed, surfer-vibe making you almost relish having sand in your shoes and unmentionable places – or at least helps you to forget as you tuck into a sticky salmon taco. Falmouth itself offers a buzzing food scene including an outpost of Rick Stein and the popular casual fish eatery, The Shack seafood restaurant, both located in the bustling Event’s Square.
St Michaels offers dining experiences to suit every mood meanwhile, from the popular daytime hangout The Garden Kitchen, with its stylish sky light filling the space with natural daylight, while the seating opens onto a decking area for alfresco dining. With a varied menu of stone-baked pizza, salads and sharing boards, along with cold pressed juices and smoothies, it caters for guests looking to indulge or detox, while the sea-facing Brasserie on the Bay, with its cool nautical-inspired interior and views, highlights local produce from land, coast and farm.
The Brasserie on the Bay’s simpler dishes proved the most successful; a starter of picked white crab with a pea and apple pannacotta, topped with an elderflower sorbet was alas far too sweet, while resembling a dessert due to being presented in a retro ice-cream bowl along with a brown crab tuile. This was a failure of palate rather than skill on the chef’s part, however, for the fish cookery exhibited on the main courses – Newlyn cod with pea puree, garlic mash, confit shallot and a smoked bacon dressing, and my hake with a mussel cream sauce and braised baby gem – showed a deftness of touch. It was unfortunate that the West Country mussels, which promised to be a key element of my dish, were forgotten, nor did anyone apologise when they arrived separately some time later. Better late than never.
Desserts were unquestionably the best course of the evening and redeemed some of the earlier faults and oversights. Given the sweetness of the starter, it didn’t surprise me that the pastry section possessed a more succinct style. A warm treacle tart with a vivid apple sorbet and decadent Cornish clotted cream was well balanced, with a welcome kick of ginger contrasting with the treacle, while my husband lapped up the deconstructed (something that wasn’t specified on the menu) Lizard wild honey and lavender cheesecake with Cornish fairing, orange gel and blood orange sorbet.
It’s a little odd, given that St Michaels is a health resort and boasts the Trump-esque tagline ‘Feel Good Again’, that we were told that there wasn’t a soft drink or mocktail menu in the Brasserie (something I have just been informed was an error); the virgin mojitos suggested by the waiter following a sarcastic offer of water were well made. It would be good to see them ramping up their offering in this department, for surely it makes sense for wellness establishments to provide something exciting for mindful drinkers on vacation, or those aiming to make sunrise yoga?
Due to our sea-view room overlooking a building site (nothing to do with the hotel), we certainly didn’t need a wake-up call. A benefit of rising early was visiting the nearby Trebah Gardens, rated as one of the top 80 in the world. With 26-acres of exotic and sub-tropical gardens featuring 100-year-old rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias and fern glades, along with a recently redesigned Water Garden, you’ll also find a private beach, Polgwidden Cove, where you can enjoy a Cornish ice cream and watch the sailing boats in the distance. Trebah’s breathtaking beauty is one of Falmouth’s many gems. With plenty to do on and off the water, palm trees lining the streets and sunshine aplenty, Falmouth makes for the perfect UK-staycation. Better dig out your bucket and spade.
St Michaels Resort, Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 4NB. Beach House rooms start from £75 per person including breakfast. For more information and reservations please visit the website.