After a long scenic trip on the train we arrived at our destination, the humble little station of St Austell. Everything moves slower in Cornwall, a modest, calm and beautiful part of the country that provides the ideal getaway from frantic London. Our taxi ride to the Llawnroc Hotel was a good twenty minutes and yet we only got charged a mere £12, a fraction of a London cab price.
The Llawnroc is an attractive, boutique hotel and the staff could not have been more welcoming as we stepped inside dragging our heavy bags behind us. Recently refurbished, the interior looks polished and divine from top to bottom.
The hotel has 18 comfortable and stylish rooms. Each is kitted out luxuriously with a huge fluffy bed, big TV and a fully equipped gorgeous en-suite bathroom with sweet smelling Voga organic toiletries. We enjoyed using our spacious living area: an inviting soft sofa, a Playstation (this took a while to understand!) and fancy Ipod dock to provide your own in house entertainment. Some rooms also feature a little balcony for a breath of fresh air and a sea view.
After trying out all the gadgets we had worked up quite an appetite and wandered down for supper early, peckish and excited. The hotel restaurant, the Gwineas, is a carefully conceived bistro to suit all customers, a relaxed and charming environment to enjoy a leisurely evening meal.
A selection of fresh breads, soft cheese and olives were delivered to our table, perfect to nibble on while we made our way through a delicious cold bottle of white wine and considered the menu.
There is extensive choice to suit all palates and preferences. Both desperate to try the Crispy venison with root vegetable slaw and rhubarb chilli compote, we decided to share this dish and another: 24 hour braised lamb with goat’s cheese, pear, green shisi and capers. After trying both it was obvious that the lamb was the clear winner… an original combination of ingredients that worked particularly well, the sweet lamb and acidic soft cheese were a lovely match. The venison was a little dry, and I wondered if the breadcrumb coating was a good idea.
For mains the 10 oz rib-eye steak with mustard butter, mushrooms and watercress was juicy and perfectly seasoned, a fine cut of meat. I found the accompanying peppercorn sauce was not quite to my taste, it was more of a dressing than a creamy spicy sauce that I would prefer. They excelled on the homemade fries though, chunky soft chips that had an unusual spicy flavour and a orange colour… perhaps Cajun spices were used as a coating. My guest chose the freshly caught Pan-fried seabass with crab chilli linguine and fennel salad. It looked lovely, a bowl of vibrant colours and delicate tastes.
Feeling full and sleepy after our filling meal, pudding was a challenge but after spying white chocolate and praline cheesecake with mojito sorbet (an inventive and rather successful invention), I managed to find room! The mix of flavours, though initially odd, worked really well, refreshing fruity sorbet with extra sweet mousse-like cheesecake.
Before bed I had an indulgent bath, a luxury I rarely have time for at home. Getting into the huge bed, I felt like the princess and the pea, and watched the Sex and the City film before falling into a deep sleep.
Breakfast was the best bit, and quite frankly worth visiting the hotel for alone. Served in the more intimate private dining room, it felt much quieter and smarter than the meal the previous night. After perusing the continental display: soft plump croissants and fresh fruit, we ordered from the indulgent main breakfast menu.
I tried the homemade warm Cornish griddle cakes with crème fraiche, maple syrup and seasonal compote… I can’t rave about it enough, it was the best breakfast I have ever eaten! The griddle cakes were a cross between pancake and muffin, marbled inside with fresh blueberries, sweet and soft with a crispy caramelised edge. Topped with fresh tangy compote and a dribble of maple syrup, then finished with a spoonful of crème fraiche, so creamy I was sure it was clotted cream! It was quite simply heaven on a plate. My friend, envious of my dish, ordered the wonderfully presented Eggs Arlington – poached eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise on a toasted English muffin.
I didn’t want to leave the comforting new home that we found at the Llawnroc, it is a special hotel in a beautiful setting.
More information and to book visit the Llawnroc website here.
I travelled courtesy of First Great Western trains.
All information about First Great Western train fares and timings here.