Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall

A businessman built Hotel Tresanton in the 1940s as a clubhouse for himself and his sailing friends in St Mawes. Soon after, the sailing club became a very popular hotel in the 1950s. In 1997, Olga Polizzi purchased Tresanton. The well-known interior designer and design director of the Rocco Forte Hotel Group, which she built together with her brother Rocco Forte, says of Tresanton that buying her own hotel was the best decision of her entire professional life. Here she can realize her personal style. And it shows, because similar to her second hotel, Endsleigh in Devon, all the rooms are very individually decorated and exude a special charm. Lots of art on the walls, antiques and found objects with a maritime theme. Fabrics and cushions in harmonious color schemes. A wonderful mixture, which seems quite harmonious in itself. Tresanton is a nested hotel, built over several levels and buildings into the hillside. Here a corner, there a room. Many terraces and places to linger. A cozy salon with a large fireplace, a sun terrace with lounge furniture, a beautiful restaurant with mosaic floors and sea views. All rooms have a view of St. Mawes Bay. Some also have their own terrace.

Wiederkehrendes Muster: Die Mosaikfliesen im Eingangsbereich von Tresanton finden sich auch im Licht durchfluteten Restaurant wieder / © Foto: Georg Berg
Recurring pattern: The mosaic tiles in the entrance area of Tresanton are also found in the light-flooded restaurant / © Photo: Georg Berg

Tresanton is kid-friendly, with a playhouse for children. The family suites have children’s bedrooms in cabin form. But dog owners have also been thought of. Although there is no overnight accommodation in the house for the four-legged friends, there is a common place to stop in the Dogs Bar, which is located directly at the lower entrance at the level of the coastal road.

Wenn Hund-Frauchen/Herrchen unzertrennlich sind, dann ist die Dogs-Bar der richtige Ort. Hier wird auf Wunsch auch das Essen aus dem Restaurant serviert / © Foto: Georg Berg
If dog-woman/master are inseparable, then the Dogs-Bar is the right place. Food from the restaurant is also served here on request / © Photo: Georg Berg.

Olga Polizzi says that Tresanton is in constant change. This is also due to her passion for interior design. Rooms are constantly being redesigned by her and staged with new finds from antique markets. 2017 is currently all about the new terrace.

Luftaufnahme von Tresanton mit den in den Hang gebauten Gebäuden und dem neuen Beach Club im Bau / © Foto: Georg Berg
Aerial view of Tresanton with the buildings built into the hillside and the new beach club under construction / © Photo: Georg Berg.

It will be the first and only hotel in the area to open a beach terrace in summer 2017. Below the hotel, and below the narrow coastal road that runs through St Mawes, the Beach Club will then invite guests to linger on three levels.

Pittoreske Ausblicke bieten sich aus vielen Fenstern des Hotel Tresanton. Hier ein Blick Richtung Ortszentrum von St. Mawes / © Foto: Georg Berg
Picturesque views are offered from many windows of the Hotel Tresanton. Here a view towards the center of St. Mawes / © Photo: Georg Berg

There are fantastic walks to be had along the Cornish coast. In the village of St Mawes there are nice restaurants and boutiques. A passenger ferry departs from the small harbor and takes passengers to St Anthony in Roseland every half hour. The old lighthouse is the symbol and namesake of Tresanton.

Der gegenüber des Hotels Tresanton gelegene Leuchtturm St. Anthony mit der Fähre von St. Mawes erreichbar / © Foto: Georg Berg
The St. Anthony lighthouse, located opposite Hotel Tresanton, can be reached by ferry from St. Mawes / © Photo: Georg Berg

Leaving Hotel Tresanton to the right up the road, a beautiful walk along the coast begins. Passing St. Mawes Castle, built by Henry VIII in 1542, it takes a good two hours to walk there and back. Depending on the length of stay at the destination, of course. Because a surprise awaits you there.

Die Burg von St. Mawes, gebaut von Heinrich VIII als Bollwerk gegen die Kreuzritter des Papstes / © Foto: Georg Berg
St. Mawes Castle, built by Henry VIII as a bulwark against the Pope’s crusaders / © Photo: Georg Berg

Cemetery under palm trees

At the end of the coastal walk, a cemetery awaits. Not an appealing destination? Oh yes it is, because you can hardly believe your eyes when you sneak past the small harbor dock and approach a cemetery on a well-trodden path, as you can hardly imagine it more beautiful. The church of St. Just dates back to the 14th century, is located directly on a bay and is surrounded by ancient graves, palm trees, magnolias and camellias. What a place for a wedding!

Flechtenbewachsene Gräber in der Abendsonne. Der kleine Friedhof von St. Just / © Foto: Georg Berg
Lichen-covered graves in the evening sun. The small cemetery of St. Just / © Photo: Georg Berg

Chef Paul Wadham – A kitchen talk

In addition to a brilliant breakfast for hotel guests, the house also offers a lunch menu and is often fully booked for dinner in the evening. Paul Wadham and his team are correspondingly busy, and we meet for a kitchen talk.

Es gibt viel zu dirigieren, daher unterhalten wir uns am besten in der Küche von Tresanton / © Foto: Georg Berg
There’s a lot to direct, so it’s best we talk in the kitchen at Tresanton / © Photo: Georg Berg

Paul Wadham has been head chef at Tresanton since 2001. He comes from the Isle of Wight and, after a few years of wandering, settled with his family in a neighboring village to St. Mawes. Paul began his training in London in 1986. The son of a baker, he says he loved being a chef from the start. He then works in Geneva in a French-influenced kitchen brigade. Before returning to England, he learns about Italian cuisine. Actually, Paul says, he still learns by simply eating out.

Paul Wadham bei den Vorbereitungen für den Mittagstisch / © Foto: Georg Berg
Paul Wadham preparing for lunch / © Photo: Georg Berg

Hotel owner Olga Polizzi gives him a free hand and plenty of creative freedom, which Paul Wadham appreciates. His boss’s preference for fresh dishes prepared “a la minute” is then perfectly implemented in each course of our menu.

Paul legt Wert auf die Zusammenarbeit mit lokalen Anbietern. Das gilt für Gemüse ebenso wie für Fleisch, Fisch und Meerestiere / © Foto: Georg Berg
Paul attaches great importance to working with local suppliers. This applies to vegetables as well as meat, fish and seafood / © Photo: Georg Berg

It’s not that simple!

The food at Tresanton was advertised to us as impressively fresh, yet simple and unfussy. But Paul Wadham’s dishes are not simple. They look extremely appealing.

Even the first appetizer is an example of the kitchen’s credo. Light and fresh the burratta with Parma ham and radicchio. Sommelière Priscilla has chosen a Lustau Dry Olorosso, Don Nuno for this. A sherry completes the dish perfectly.

The starters: light and perfectly matched

Parmaschinken mit Burratta und Radicchio / © Foto: Georg Berg
Parma ham with burratta and radicchio / © Photo: Georg Berg

The second appetizer is also a well-balanced spring greeting. Beet with rhubarb, pecorino and chicory. The beautiful composition serves all tastes and the rosé from Serafini & Vidotto in Venice supports the dish with its freshness.

Ein Frühlingsgruß: Rote Bete mit Rhabarber, Pecorino und Chicoree / © Foto: Georg Berg
A spring greeting: beet with rhubarb, pecorino and chicory / © Photo: Georg Berg
Kabeljau-Krokette mit Sauce Vierge / © Foto: Georg Berg
Cod croquette with sauce vierge / © Photo: Georg Berg

The main courses: from land and water

Filet vom Longhorn-Rind mit Spargel, Jerusalem Artischocke und Nußbutter / © Foto: Georg Berg
Fillet of longhorn beef with asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke and nut butter / © Photo: Georg Berg
Meeresfrüchtesalat mit Hummer, Barsch und Seeteufel / © Foto: Georg Berg
Seafood salad with lobster, perch and monkfish / © Photo: Georg Berg

The desserts: perfect harmony between sweet conclusion and wine accompaniment

Schokoladentorte mit Erdnussbutter-Eiscreme / © Foto: Georg Berg
Chocolate cake with peanut butter ice cream / © Photo: Georg Berg
Vanille-Panacotta mit Grappa, Erdbeeren und Baiser. Die Panacotta hat ein sehr intensives Vanille-Aroma. Orangenzesten sorgen für eine leichte und angenehme Bitternote und im Knusperchips sorgt Mohn für den richtigen Crunch / © Foto: Georg Berg
Vanilla panacotta with grappa, strawberries and meringue. The panacotta has a very intense vanilla flavor. Orange zest provides a light and pleasant bitter note and in the crispy chips poppy seeds provide the right crunch / © Photo: Georg Berg

Waking up in Hotel Tresanton

The seagulls are screeching, the sun is shining and you can hear the wind rhythmically beating the flags against the mast. Time to get up. Breakfast is waiting in the now light-flooded restaurant. If you wish, the daily newspaper is already hanging on the room door.

Gute Nachrichten? Man weiss es noch nicht – aber sie hängen auf Wunsch morgens an der Zimmertür / © Foto: Georg Berg
Gute Nachrichten? Man weiss es noch nicht – aber sie hängen auf Wunsch morgens an der Zimmertür / © Foto: Georg Berg

Have breakfast like an emperor!

This is possible in Tresanton. The breakfast buffet also focuses on freshness. Freshly squeezed juices and fruit. Homemade granola from Chef Paul Wadham, variations of nuts and good yogurt are the basis for the perfect start to the day. From the breakfast menu, guests can still order hot dishes from the kitchen.

Auch beim Frühstück wird die FRISCHE großgeschrieben! Perfekter Start in den Tag am Meer / © Foto: Georg Berg
Also at breakfast the FRESH is capitalized! Perfect start to the day by the sea / © Photo: Georg Berg
Protein-Booster am Morgen: Avocado mit pochiertem Ei auf Sauerteigbrot / © Foto: Georg Berg
Protein booster in the morning: avocado with poached egg on sourdough bread / © Photo: Georg Berg

“It’s a man’s world” – James Brown and the wild oysters.

Austernfischer James Brown ist ein echter Typ / © Foto: Georg Berg
Oyster fisherman James Brown is a real guy / © Photo: Georg Berg

There aren’t many men left on the Cornish coast who want to do this tough job. James Brown – that’s his real name – is an oyster fisherman. Harvesting the wild, native oysters in their natural environment using ancient fishing methods, that’s his job. James Brown’s fishing ground stretches along the steep and rugged shores of the mouth of the River Fal. Here, the salty tidal waters of the Atlantic meet the mineral-rich fresh waters of the Fals. It gives the oysters their sweet and slightly metallic taste.

The competition never sleeps

Chef Paul Wadham told us James is the prime example of his principle of freshness and proximity. We want to know where exactly the wild oysters come from that Tresanton has on the menu during oyster season, and we meet James at his 120-year-old sailboat. “Ada” has just finished the season. The catch of wild oysters is strictly regulated by law and the fishing season is between October and the end of March. Wild oysters are a specialty. Oyster fishermen like James Brown try to protect the native species. But danger looms from a Pacific invader. The large Pacific oyster is a farm-raised oyster. But over the years, quite a few have managed to escape into the open sea. As a result, they are spreading into native oyster waters as well. Because they are bigger and grow faster, Pacific oysters are displacing the “cornish wild oysters” more and more.

Diesem Segelboot sieht man nicht sofort an, dass es zum Austernfischen verwendet wird / © Foto: Georg Berg
This sailboat does not immediately show that it is used for oyster fishing / © Photo: Georg Berg

The work on board requires a lot of muscle power. As was the case 500 years ago, only rowboats or sailboats are used in the protected waters. The wild oysters grow on rocks, on other shellfish and on their own kind. That’s what makes harvesting so difficult. James works with a special catching basket pulled across the seabed and a diving knife. In the beginning, oysters are microscopic. Many are eaten by snails. They are not harvested until they are Grade 1, which are 60 to 80 gram oysters. Grade 2 oysters weigh up to 100 g and grade 3 over 100 g.

Dieser Fangkorb wird hinter dem Segelboot hergezogen und löst die Austern von ihrem Untergrund / © Foto: Georg Berg
This catching basket is pulled behind the sailboat and detaches the oysters from their substrate / © Photo: Georg Berg

To reach 100 g, a wild oyster must be 4 to 5 years old. James checks each oyster with a ring. If the oyster still fits through the measure, it is too small and is thrown back into the water.

Austern, die durch den Ring passen, sind zu klein und dürfen zurück ins Meer / © Foto: Georg Berg
Oysters that fit through the ring are too small and are allowed back into the sea / © Photo: Georg Berg

The catch is put into a 600-liter saltwater tank for two days for rinsing. Only then do the oysters go on sale. James delivers them to the Tresanton kitchen himself.

Unfortunately, the last wild oysters were eaten days before our arrival, because the oyster fishery rests from April to October. So we had to switch to the elongated Pacific oyster, which is always available. James Brown also needs an alternative until the season starts again with the big Falmouth Oyster Festival in October. During the summer months, he takes tourists out to sea. This is physically less strenuous, but can also be nerve-wracking, says James with a twinkle in his eye.

After a visit to Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton, we continue our journey towards Brittany and, after a stay at the Hotel Endsleigh, drive on to Plymouth to the ferry port of Brittany Ferries.

Click here for the report about the Hotel Endsleigh
Click here for the report about the ferry connection with Brittany Ferries

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The cost of half board was not charged by the hotel

Food topics on Tellerrand-Stories

Our mode of operation is characterized by self-experienced, well-researched text work and professional, vivid photography. For all stories, travel impressions and photos are created in the same place. Thus, the photos complement and support what is read and carry it further.

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