As I pulled up at The Royal Duchy Hotel in the new Audi E-Tron GT Quattro, I was splendidly greeted by the concierge James who showed me to my free electric charging parking space and immediately made me feel at home. He has worked at The Duchy for just under 40 years and is an expert on the hotel and the area. In fact, Mark, the manager and James are genuinely good company and skilled at predicting a guest’s every wish.
The first impression is the Victorian hotel is superbly located mere yards from the magnificent Falmouth seafront with a view of Pendennis Castle across the bay. It is a mythical, beguiling spot and instantly relaxing.
A cleansing sea breeze immediately blows the cobwebs away. You get the entire coast to yourself, whilst only a short five-minute walk from town and more bars and restaurants.
Palm trees abound, lining the middle of the roads, the coastline and the high streets. It is a few degrees hotter here than in London, and the light is positively tropical in hue. The locals glow with health, everyone smiles and laughs frequently, and the town is famously welcoming and relaxed. It has a definite Mediterranean feel about it. It reminds me of Cascais in Portugal, exuding the same breathtaking Atlantic atmosphere.
As you enter The Royal Duchy, reception is to the left and down a corridor to the right is a large indoor pool with a sauna for guests only, so you rarely have to share. The pool is long enough for laps and deep, up to your neck, with an adjoining child-safe pool. And the colourful heated ceramic beds are fabulously warming.
The Royal Duchy Hotel decor is luxury Cornish chic, relaxed and unpretentious. A palette of muted greys, soft velvet browns, cream and silver.
My room on the first floor was spacious with a breakfast table, a long working desk, wall-mounted TV, and two plush silver beige armchairs. The double bed was large and extremely comfortable and the sash windows look directly out over the bay, south facing so the light is magnificent. Tea, coffee, water and biscuits are provided in the room.
The bathroom is modern, tiled in a subtle green sandstone with a mighty power shower sporting a precise heat dial to select your ideal temperature easily.
There is a great variety of family-friendly superior and deluxe suites on offer, with over 45 rooms available. Plus lift access to all floors and level entrance to all the bars, restaurants and terraces.
After a lovely walk along the sandy beach, I had a quick drink in the cocktail lounge, one of two bars, and lounged in the attractive salon overlooking the beach-facing terrace.
The outdoor terrace is the perfect place to share cocktails with friends or read a good book as the sun arcs its way across the sky for your pleasure. Palm trees and soft golden light evoke the Caribbean or even the south of France, it is divine. Indulge in a Cornish pint, a cosmopolitan cocktail or a seedlip mocktail.
I was shown to my table by the window facing the bay. The 2 AA-rosette restaurant is a Cornish version of a French Brasserie with cosy tables, large banquettes scattered about and impressive chandeliers.
The service is impeccable, fast and attentive. First and foremost you are treated as a visiting family friend. The staff are clearly proud of the hotel, Falmouth and its unique ecosystem.
My starter of king prawn lasagna was subtle and soft. The main course of Cornish fish medley was rich and flavoursome, baked in oodles of butter and fennel.
This was paired with a lovely organic red Chapoutier and topped off with a soft creamy homemade vegan ice cream offering a great mouthfeel and a rich milk taste.
The family-owned Brand Hotels deservedly won AA Hotel Group of the Year in 2015-16 and to my mind, they have gotten even better.
Breakfast was delivered to my room in the morning, they have 24 hr room service, so I could appreciate the Caribbean view from my window as the sun rose over Pendennis castle to the west. Just the sound of the waves gently lapping at the seashore. Not a ripple or gust of wind disturbed the flat sea, perfect for a little water skiing. The Duchy lies on the border of heaven and overlooks perhaps the most tranquil unspoiled bay in England. A gem locked in time.
You’ll notice the word relax pops up frequently in this article because it is the defining word for this hotel. With its indoor pool, spa, sauna, fine dining, attentive service and sensational views you will be transported to a place of exquisite calm.
Falmouth is beautiful all year round and you could spend a delightful week just enjoying the walks, beaches, water sports, fine restaurants, dramatic landscapes and Cornish charm. The Helford River and South West Coastal Path are nearby and there are many swimming spots to choose from.
Nothing illustrates the innate style of Falmouth locals more than my attempt to photograph the Audi GT on the coast road. Every car and white van that I blocked, standing in the road to get my shot, failed to beep or even rush me in any way. Everyone smiled, unbothered by the wait. The total absence of anxiety, impatience and stress was writ large across their smiling faces. The further you get from London...
Set like a brilliant jewel in Falmouth Bay with a sincere, warm welcome in an area of outstanding beauty that offers many interesting things to do. The Duchy is the sort of place you’d like to keep a secret, just for you, friends and family. Paradise in Cornwall!
An unpretentious 4-star hotel with 5-star service, views and location, too informal to be 5-star. And all the better for it.