THE WEEKEND: With its hundreds of beaches and picturesque fishing towns, Cornwall more than earns its reputation as the “English Riviera.” Taking the train from Paddington to Falmouth takes just over five hours, the journey, with its rush of green and sudden glimpses of the unspoilt coastline, adds to the delicious sense of embarking on a home-turf adventure. A fifteen minute cab ride from Falmouth town, Hotel Meudon is an elegant blend of modern amenities and old English charm set deep in the Helford Valley.
WHERE: Presiding over a lush subtropical garden, which in late Spring can be found bursting with flowering rhododendrons and camellias, and fuschias and hydrangeas in summer, the Helford Valley is a calming oasis from the stresses of ordinary life. Following one of the many winding garden paths shaded by wild, and often gigantic, tropical plants will lead you down to Bream Cove, the hotel’s own private beach. It feels perfectly secluded, but has the perk of having a small shack that sells a broad range of ice creams and beverages. The hotel is proudly dog-friendly, too.
THE STAY: The bedrooms are mostly located in the modern extension. Each room is well-appointed, and decorated in a way that marries a traditional Cornish aesthetic with modern freshness. Some of the rooms have balconies that are perfect for watching the sun rising and setting, and for having in-room breakfast. And there are many other places to relax within the hotel: an oak-panelled lounge filled with velvet armchairs, modern art and an open fireplace beside which you can enjoy a generous afternoon tea. You may want to imbibe a pre-prandial drink at Freddie’s, a speakeasy-style bar in the adjoining room that boasts an impressive cocktail selection (I had a rosemary-spiked negroni, a good primer for dinner).
THE FOOD: Of course, given the location there’s an emphasis on seafood, but don’t
expect the usual coastal offerings of whitebait or fish & chips (I’d reserve an evening in Falmouth for this sort of grub). Instead Meudon’s restaurant serves French influenced “nouvelle cuisine”, featuring ingredients like gurnard, plaice, pork, crab and scallops. The desserts are a particular triumph, hits including the crème brulee, and the blueberry soufflé, a wonderfully light, tangy cloud of desert, accompanied with a miniature saucepan of melted white chocolate. It’s a real showstopper. The hotel keeps things hyperlocal: a Cornwall-based Dutch family provides the Gouda; the gin is hand-delivered from the brewery up the road, infused with Bream Cove seaweed; all meat and vegetables are procured from nearby fields. Breakfast and dinner are served in the hotel’s beautiful dining room, with beclothed tables situated in the glass extension beneath a ceiling decorated with trailing grapevines, from which you can enjoy views over the garden. One breakfast was animated by the sight of a peacock preening itself on the hotel’s roof.
NEED TO KNOW: Rooms cost from £129 per night, based on two people sharing, including breakfast. For more information and to book, visit meudon.co.uk