Photo of St Mawes

About St Mawes

It’s hard to say which delightful Cornish fishing villages have been spoiled by their spectacular beauty, their traditional Cornish charm and appeal, but there are a fair few folk in the know who’re saying St Mawes is yet to be spoiled by too much attention. Yes, it, and the surrounding countryside, have appeared in several series of Poldark, and it’s got a number of excellent restaurants, and it’s becoming a very popular pick for well-off retirees, and those who can afford a Cornish holiday let, but it’s still home to a living seafaring community, and plenty of local sailing vessels in the harbour, so if you’re looking for a ‘proper’ Cornish experience you could do a lot worse than opting for one of the best places to stay in St Mawes. Some of the best places to stay in St Mawes are still imagined, owned and operated by local folk, from the warm and welcoming B&Bs to St Mawes impressive restaurants with rooms.

St Mawes is blessed with a picturesque view: across the mouth of the River Fal to Falmouth on one side, and out to sea or across the estuary from the others. 16th century built St Mawes Castle overlooks the coast on the opposite side of the river to Falmouth. It’s one of St Mawes’ main attractions, a fine example of Tudor military architecture in three huge, circular bastions with gun ports and impressive defensive walls.

We may have inadvertently made St Mawes out to be just as chi-chi as Padstow or St. Ives, but its two very good beaches are very family friendly and unfussy, and the local tennis courts and sailing club can easily be accessed by non-members – and families with kids. The ferry across to Falmouth, and the National Maritime Museum, definitely places the best places to stay in St Mawes on the list for parents looking for a blend of beach-life and Cornish entertainments. Falmouth is a chirpy Cornish centre, with a rather dated, but friendly and lively set of shops, cafes and bars, including plenty of places worth poking your nose into on a damp day. St Mawes is also a ferry trip from the famous St. Anthony’s lighthouse, on the eastern entrance of Falmouth Harbour, and an excellent base out of which to explore the pretty villages and hamlets of the Roseland Peninsula.

The Best Places to Stay in St Mawes

For the Perfect Beach Break

  • The Hotel Tresanton is a traditional looking seaside hotel, with a white facade, a huge rear deck looking out to sea, and a relaxed, but stylish atmosphere. The 33 rooms and suites are large, light, airy and individually decorated - with family suites decorated with unfussy details, but plenty of style - no room would be out of place in an interiors magazine. The communal spaces, including several lounges and the terrace, are friendly and comfortable, and there’s a childrens’ playroom, a well-stocked bar, and a popular restaurant with seasonally changing menu that reflects local farming conditions. The hotel also has a private yacht and a fleet of motor boats.
  • The St Mawes Hotel is a chic, nautical inspired hotel, its seven rooms, cosy communal spaces, and popular Cornish seafood restaurant offering plenty of seaside-y charm and style, using stripes, pale wood furniture, contemporary art, huge windows and plenty of blue and white. Our Gurus appreciated the unusual touches, like the 25 seater cinema, take-away pizza option, and easy access to private dining. They also very much appreciated the sea views and few minutes it took to get to the ocean. Two of the rooms are dog friendly, and more are family-friendly.

For a Romantic Escape

  • The Driftwood Hotel is an intimate choice, set in private grounds overlooking Gerrans Bay and Porthbean Beach, but with its own perfect crescent of sand at the bottom of its cliff. It has just 14 rooms and suites, all stylishly decorated with a nod to the nautical, offering the perfect blend of comfort and luxury. The restaurant is similarly balanced, relaxed, but with 3 AA Rosettes, and an impressive wine list. About halfway between the hotel and the beach there’s a private cabin – perfect for romantics, and close to that is a pavilion where they will serve a private lunch, or an aromatherapy massage.

For Water Views

  • The Idle Rocks is a 20 room hotel right on the harbour wall in St Mawes - a location difficult to top for sea views. The terrace gets best access, then the popular ground floor restaurant, with its award-winning, Asian-twist-on-Cornish-classics-menu, and then the ocean view rooms on the first floor - some which have French windows onto private, sea-view balconies. The decor feels fresh and on trend, with plenty of wide, white stripes, walk-in showers and fluffy towels. Our Gurus enjoyed the people-watching and elegant restaurant. Stylish simplicity, with great family-sized options.

Best B&Bs

  • Nearwater is a warm and welcoming B&B on the opposite side of St Mawes to Falmouth. Converted from a home, the B&B has three lovely guestrooms, plus a self-catering annex, decorated with just the ‘right’ amount of nautical charm, and a cosy, but stylish, shared lounge with a fireplace. Our Gurus enjoyed the garden too. Small enough to book out in its entirety if you’re travelling as an extended family.

Prefer a Private Apartment or Cottage?

  • If you'd prefer the privacy of a self-catering option then browse through the wide variety available online with our partner,

Travel Information

  • The closest airport to St Mawes is Cornwall Airport Newquay, which is about 50minutes away by car or taxi, or about four hours by public transport. Exeter and Bristol Airport are some the other local alternatives, Exeter is about two hours away by road, or about four hours by public transport, and Bristol Airport is about three hours away by car or taxi, or seven hours by public transport. If you’re travelling via London trains leave from Paddington, then travel to Truro and then on to Falmouth, taking around five hours. From there it’s a ferry trip, or a taxi to St Mawes, which adds another 30 to 40minutes. Making London’s airports comparatively convenient too.
  • If you want to hire a car we recommend you visit our online partner, Rentalcars.
  • St Mawes is busiest in the summer, when many families beat a school-holiday path towards a beautiful swimming beach within driving distance – especially one so close to the Maritime Museum of Cornwall. But the charms of St Mawes last beyond the summer holidays, with good restaurants, galleries, and attractive shops appealing to ocean-loving visitors at all times of year. The Castle, and Lamorran House Garden, plus the ferry tri to Falmouth, mean there’s plenty to do in St Mawes year round, and the balance of sunshine and rain errs on the side of sunshine every month, so there’s a great chance you’ll be visiting on a sunny day even if you visit in the dead of winter. Our Gurus do remind you never to travel anywhere in the UK without wet weather gear, though.

Still not sure where to stay?


Monthly Weather in St Mawes

Best Hotels in St Mawes

  • Hotel Tresanton St Mawes (Cornwall) 30 rooms from £270

    Total relaxation  -  Indulge in pampering massages, strolls along the beach, or simply sit and listen to the gentle lap of the ocean- heaven!
    Romantic Break  -  With atmospheric suites, private balconies, gourmet meals, and the beach nearby this is ideal for a romantic hideaway
    Beach Life  -  Blissful beach life- rockpooling, shrimping, habour walks, surfing, sailing and feasting on fish and chips
    Families  -  Family suites, a games room, a wendy house, and a wide range of activities make this very family friendly
    Air conditioningRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenPet friendlyViewsParking
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Frommers, Kiwi Collection, I Escape

    A stylish, laid back hotel set in St Mawes with views of the sea. Rooms and suites are individually styled and feel at once homely yet luxurious. With a restaurant that uses seasonal produce, a private sailing boat, and endless activities, this is as suitable for couples as it is for families. See More

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  • Nearwater St Mawes (Cornwall) 4 rooms from £110

    Self catering to rent  -  A charming annex complete with a kitchen, patio, and living room is ideal for those looking for an independent stay
    Groups  -  With three rooms in the main building plus an annex, this is a good option to rent out in its entirety
    Restrictions on children  -  Children over 10 and babies upto 6 months are welcomed. Small children are allowed if the whole place is taken
    Sailing  -  There is a local sailing school Roseland Paddle and Sail where lessons can be booked
    GardenPet friendlyParking

    A luxurious bed and breakfast set in St Mawes just a stone's throw from the beach. Three well-designed rooms have a nautical feel & a cosy lounge area with a fireplace. There is also a separate annexe for self-catering. An intimate choice with friendly and helpful hosts. A quiet Cornish hideaway. See More

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  • Driftwood Hotel St Mawes (Cornwall) 14 rooms from £220

    Romantic Break  -  Perfect for a romantic retreat — think sunset strolls on the beach, candlelight dinners, and a private cabin with a terrace
    Foodies  -  Chef Olly Pierrepoint creates stunning dishes in this highly regarded 3AA Rosette restaurant
    Great walks  -  Grab a hotel picnic and head out through the private estate right down to the coast and explore the beautiful beaches
    Fishing  -  Right on the coast, there are plenty of fishing boats to rent for the day with equippment and guides if necessary
    TennisRestaurantGardenViewsParkingNo pets
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Sawdays

    Set in scenic private grounds, this chic and intimate hotel overlooks stunning Gerrans Bay. Light, marine inspired rooms are the perfect example of comfort meets luxury. Fabulous food at the restaurant makes dining a spoiling yet casual affair, matched by a fine wine list. A dream Cornish location. See More

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  • St Mawes Hotel St Mawes 7 rooms from £223

    Boutique  -  Fun touches like a 25-seater cinema, takeaway pizzas, and private dinners make this a standout boutique choice
    Beach Life  -  A lovely beach-chic coastal property only a few minutes from the beach with an excellent seafood restaurant
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Cornwall castles such as St Mawes Castle and Pendennis Castle, both within two miles
    Restaurant  -  The restaurant serves modern Cornish dishes and pizzas are available too
    RestaurantPet friendlyViews
    Recommended by  -  Great Small Hotels , Sawdays

    A chic boutique hotel set in St Mawes and packed full of character. Stylish rooms are designed with a fresh take on traditional style. Think sash windows, pale wood furniture, and modern fabrics. With a popular seafood restaurant and even its own cinema, this small property packs a punch. See More

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  • The Idle Rocks St Mawes, Cornwall 20 rooms from £362

    Foodies  -  The award-winning restaurant serves British menus with an Asian influence using the best of local and seasonal produce
    Families  -  A spacious family suite, a private cinema, and a wide choice of activities make this perfect family holiday material
    Surfing  -  Cornwall is renowned for its surf beaches and there are several schoold nearby that offer lessons
    Kayaking  -  Explore the picturesque creeks and hidden beaches of the Roseland peninsula on a kayak

    A boutique seaside hotel well positioned right on the harbour wall in St Mawes. Rooms are designed with a fresh take on traditional design. Expect sea views, plush beds, and modern fabrics. The popular restaurant serves a well-executed British menu with an Asian twist. A chic coastal stay. See More

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