Tim Firmager checks into the St Moritz Hotel near the coastal towns of Polzeath, Trebetherick and Rock, for a relaxing break in north Cornwall.
Nearby to Rock (the home of Sharp’s Brewery including Doombar beer) and Padstow (put on the food map by Rick Stein), is the St Moritz Hotel, ideally located for a foodie break in Cornwall. The hotel’s Head Chef, David Williams, has previous Michelin star experience. So with the allure of delicious dishes, and a serving (or two) of local clotted cream for good measure, we at Vada jetted down to the north Cornish coast to uncover what is on offer.
Located in Trebetherick, with views across the stunning Camel Estuary and Atlantic Ocean, The St Moritz is within five minutes of the beaches at Daymer Bay and Polzeath, therefore well situated for a relaxing beach stay, spa break or get-together.
On arrival for check-in we were greeted by a troop of twinks, who checked us out before helping us to check-in and confirm our schedule of dining activities and water-sports, and take us to our room. The main building housing reception, the restaurants and the Cowshed spa is separate to the accommodation blocks. This is something to bear in mind when you’re heading from room to spa in speedos and a dressing gown and a gust of wind instigates a loosening of clothing whilst hail simultaneously begins to fall.
The St Moritz has a stylish selection of accommodation to choose from including rooms, suites, penthouses, and self-catering apartments and villas – all a short stroll from the shore. They are all also a short distance to the main building, and you will find the accommodation very secure, with the majority of rooms with a sea view.
Unfortunately our smaller twin room (101B) had no such view; however it did come with our own beach hut (within the hotel grounds near the outdoor pool), which will definitely be a useful and unique feature during the summer months. Despite it’s size, the room was well-appointed, comfortable and housed a selection of board games – enough to arouse the geek in all of us.
The bathroom included a selection of Cowshed products, and had a powerful shower ideal for blasting sand from the beach out of all the nooks and crannies.
As previously mentioned, the array of food offerings on the North Cornish coast is a definite attraction of this location. Hoping on the ferry to Padstow (or a 30 minute drive around the estuary), you’ll discover Rick Stein’s abundant restaurants, cafes and bars. Equally heading north of the St Moritz Hotel, Port Isaac is home to the two Michelin-starred Restaurant Nathan Outlaw and the one Michelin-starred Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen. Both highlight the finest sustainable seafood caught locally, and each dish celebrates the amazing seafood that is caught daily and cooked fresh to order.
Back at the St. Moritz Hotel, David Williams’ kitchen offers breakfast, Afternoon Tea and an à la carte restaurant for dinner. Breakfast was a slow affair, with a 5 – 10 minute wait for a table (the hotel being more populous than it appears), but a good buffet selection of hot and cold dishes and eggs available to order as you please, once seated.
Afternoon Tea must be booked in advance, ideally with at least 24 hours notice. Thinking on our stomachs, we planned ahead and were pleasantly surprised. The three tiers consist of the usual savoury, scone and pastry selection, with a standard selection of teas available. The sandwiches were tasty, but lacked the inventiveness you would find in venues in the Capital. Being in Cornwall, what you’re here for though is the scones laden with clotted cream oozing with jam to produce an orgy of oral sensation.
The vast array of desserts may leave you staring with your mouth slightly ajar. This situation can leave a diner at risk of drool, so if this occurs, try some of the carrot cake first. Topped with a mini marzipan carrot, it was charming in edible form. Equally indulgent were the blackcurrant macaron with caramel filling, deluxe chocolate cake, and mini caramel crumble with cream and pear.
Dinner at the a la carte restaurant was pleasantly refreshing. David Williams’ menu draws on local ingredients and flavours, mixed with modern and traditional technique to produce a well-executed menu. Starters we tried the Porthilly muscles (£7.95) with Provencal sauce and the Cornish Mackerel (£8.95) with salt-baked celeriac, remoulade and cornflake monkfish were just that.
Whilst there are chef-y flourishes throughout the menu, the focus of each dish is apparent and maintains the diner’s focus, such as with the Westcountry Ribeye steak (£28) with rosti potato, wild mushrooms and butternut squash. Equally the tender meat of Roast corn-fed chicken (£21.95) and king prawns with roast chorizo were delicious – the saffron-Israeli couscous supporting these flavours, rather than detracting from their centre stage.
Unembarrassed being seen oinking, we sampled three desserts (all priced at £6.95). A rich Treacle Tart is made even more appealing served with Earl Grey Tea poached prunes as well as vanilla ice-cream. The Chocolate Delice and chocolate sorbet was a delight, and the carrot cake, presented with a modern twist and served on chocolate soil with clotted cream ice-cream, elevated this cake from a standard tea-time tradition.
Within The St Moritz Hotel is a Cowshed Spa, which along with treatment rooms, has an indoor and outdoor pool, a gym and sauna area. Being only early March in the UK, the outdoor pool was closed for good reason – water that cold is never a good combination to those wearing budgie smugglers.
Whilst the gym was well equipped for either a good workout (both cardio, yoga and plenty of machines and weights for strength training) and the sauna and steam rooms ideal, we were a little disappointed at the indoor pool. Being a family friendly hotel, there are specific adult-only hours, this we thought was a good balance; however the interior itself was tired and warn.
As well as the main facilities, we opted for treatments in the Cowshed Spa (in the form of a 30 minute massage, £50). Our masseuses were thorough and well experienced, kneading out all the knots from our earlier back and shoulder workout at the gym. We found the Cowshed Spa brand shampoo and conditioner in our room rather drying on our hair; however the products used in the spa restored some faith in this brand. We were able to choose an aromatherapy scent based on our mood and focus on the massage, which was an appreciated personal touch.
Service from the reception and spa staff at the St Moritz was surprisingly professional and hotel’s flexibility to meet our needs continued to impress throughout. We also need to mention the Land Rover service, a complimentary car that will chauffeur guests to and form spots in the local area.
The St Moritz Hotel is an ideal destination for those wanting to relax or explore the food offerings of north Cornwall. The hotel offers relative luxury and fabulous food at reasonable prices. Whilst all accommodation is well-appointed, we suggest a suite over a king or cosy room, which are rather small in our opinion. Similarly the pool could do with a face lift, but the facilities are available and we enjoyed them for a relaxing break. If service is an important factor to your, this is where the St Moritz will stand out. Well trained staff were always on hand and happy to assist, in a professional and police manner. We therefore rate the St Moritz Hotel 4 out of 5.
The St Moritz Hotel is located at Trebetherick, Wadebridge, PL27 6SD
Room rates start at £130 for bed and breakfast. For more information and to book, visit stmoritzhotel.co.uk.