We explore the beautiful seaside town of Falmouth, Cornwall.
Just a 45 minute flight from Gatwick will transport you to the foodie hotspot of Falmouth, boasting the UK’s largest tea plantation, fabulous beaches and a cosy hotel from which to explore it all.
From the moment you step inside newly refurbished Merchants Manor, you’ll feel its warm embrace. We felt like we’d come home (if home happens to be a destination boutique hotel located just minutes from the quayside, complete with spa of course).
Rooms vary so as to retain individuality but ours had a huge bed which we spent most of the weekend snuggled up in. It’s worth tearing yourself away and nabbing a spot by the roaring fire though – glass of Cornish sparkling wine in hand.
If you’re visiting from London like we were, we suggest booking into the Linen Rooms, the on-site spa, for a facial or massage – we left GLOWING – and it definitely got us into the pace of the place. Experienced therapists use Inlight products, all of which are 100% organic and formulated by local skincare guru, Dr Mariano Spiezia.
If you’re feeling more active, the gym looks out onto the indoor pool, but we spent way more time relaxing in the outside wooden Nordic barrel sauna.
However, the REALLY exciting part of Merchants Manor is the dream team in the kitchen.
Surfing Chef Patron Hylton Espey has flown over from South Africa, with his young family to team up with Head Chef Daniel Kerr, formerly of Gordon Ramsey and Jason Atherton kitchens. The dynamic duo have only been working together for a handful of weeks but are already creating extraordinary dishes through a shared love of all things local and seasonal.
Menus are kept curiously vague in order to ensure the chefs have the freedom to use the very best ingredients they can find. Catch of the day may be local lobster, caught fresh that morning, or it could be a bunch of new season asparagus. These guys are creating dishes for the love of food and don’t need the formal constraints of a monotonous menu.
They are working with THE best producers around, and that often means local. Expect to find a selection of local gins, sparkling wines, salad indigenous to the area (Lizard Leaf, created by the Willy Wonka of veg farmers) and tea from the nearby Tregothnan plantation. All of which is only used, because it’s the best of the best. On a blind taste test the sparkling wines really held their own against the more establish champagne houses we’re more used to seeing.
We had the pleasure of going out foraging with the team and came back with an exciting loot of a variety of seaweeds. These then went into their signature dish of Cornish Rock Pool, and our starter that evening. Who knew there were that many ways to eat seaweed? With the help of their new toy Bertha (the so-hot-right-now wood fire stove you’ll find in all the best restaurants) we ate crisp, smoked seaweed, seaweed made to look like spaghetti, and nutrient rich kelp, alongside a fresh oyster served in the shell and a couple of mussels thrown in for good measure. It was nothing if not impressive.
A delicate amuse bouche beforehand was stunning, the quality of the fresh crabmeat allowed to shine. Hake was given a whole new lease of life with truffle shavings, asparagus and samphire – the epitome of spring, surely? Whilst dessert continued the first class showcase with a deconstructed strawberry Eton mess of sorts, complete with a sipping shot of strawberry juice on the side. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Other highlights from the weekend include our lobster lunch! Freshly caught, just moments from the hotel, the half lobster had been cooked to perfection and returned to its shell for us. Served on a light fennel salad, with a shock of that Lizard Leaf, and a generous dollop of homemade garlic butter that was good enough to eat by the spoon. Homemade bread scooped it all up.
With so much excitement pumping through the kitchen, private dining is the perfect excuse to let them get creative. The Library is a beautiful setting for a special gathering, intimate, yet decadent – we’d suggest leaving it in the teams capable hands to create something special for you.
With such incredible food on offer we’d recommend throwing on a pair of local Seasalt wellies (move over Hunter, these were SO comfy!) and walking it off with a stroll down to the town & Swanpool Beach. There you’ll find the most outrageous ice-cream stall selling cones of vanilla ice-cream, topped with clotted cream and then coated in every sweet under the sun. Our favourite was the Hedgehog, with honey roasted hazelnuts, and so big you deserve a medal if you finish it.
While you’re there be sure to pop into new local shop Cream. We picked up a gorgeous hot pink wool rug, and avoided the hipster tax of Hackney. If we weren’t going back to our tiny 1 bed flat, we’d have picked up a lot more. The lobster platters and cushions would make a great reminder of your foodie stay.
Reluctantly we said goodbye to foodie Falmouth and Merchants Manor, but we are keen to return in Autumn to see how the team treat the new season.
Find more photos of our stay here.