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At a glance

  • You'll love

    Fresh Cornish produce

    Sea-view rooms

    Video monitoring

  • Kids will love

    Children’s playroom

    Beach right outside

    Tasty kids’ tea

  • Don’t expect

    Extensive childcare

    Sprawling grounds

    A white-sand beach


With a terrace right on the harbour, a rugged beach on its doorstep and a sea-facing restaurant, family-friendly hotel The Idle Rocks has all the hallmarks of a classic Cornish stay. Inside, a scattering of bold stripes, pretty patterns and weathered wood keeps things fresh and interesting; outside, St Mawes’ coastal delights await.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Idle Rocks with us:

A Cornish cream tea for the family on one afternoon with scones, jams, clotted cream and a soft drink for kids


‘It may not be an all-singing, all-dancing family resort, but the hotel has thought of all the little touches that make staying with young ones a doddle.’

Smith & Family


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The Idle Rocks – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Need To Know




11.30am. Earliest check-in, 3pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability.


Double rooms from £150.00, including tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include full English breakfasts, dishes such as eggs benedict, pancakes and omelettes, and Idle Marys, the hotel’s take on the perfect morning tipple. Children Under-2s stay in cots (£10 a night); under-16s can sleep on sofa beds (£30) in some rooms.


There’s no smoking in or around the hotel. The hotel’s public areas are wheelchair-friendly (the main building has a disabled toilet); Grand Sea View Room 17 has a ramped entrance. Buggies aren’t allowed in the hotel’s public areas (including the terrace) but there’s a storage area just by reception.

Hotel closed

The hotel will be closed for its annual winter maintenance 8–19 January 2017.

At the hotel

Restaurant, bar, playroom, lounge with fireplace, restaurant, bar, DVD library, free WiFi throughout.

In your room

Flatscreen TV, Roberts radio, minibar, tea- and coffee- making facilities, bathrobes, Aromatherapy Associates toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Rooms flaunt a luxe take on nautical chic, with plenty of options for families (most have space for a cot). Perfect for older children, Village Room 11 has adorable white iron twin beds with checked red and white bedding. The Seaview Family Room has a separate bedroom for parents and a beautiful bathroom with a freestanding bath leading into a separate bunk bedroom for the kids, which even has its own TV. Grand Seaview Rooms are the biggest, with separate baths and showers, and a cosy window seat from which to take in the harbour; two of them are equipped with a sofa bed.


The hotel can arrange in-room aromatherapy massages (£85 an hour); it’s best to book a day in advance, though last-minute pampering sessions are sometimes available.


Don't forget your jelly shoes: the rocky beach can be a bit ouchy on little feet.

Book ahead

It’s best to book babysitting five days in advance, particularly during school holidays. The hotel can usually arrange massages with a day’s notice.

Food and drink

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The Idle Rocks – Cornwall – United Kingdom


Flanked by a long bar on one side and a sea-view terrace on the other, the Idle Rocks Restaurant has the laid-back feel of a foodie friend’s kitchen – a friend with impeccable taste in light fittings, whitewashed dressers and nautical knick-knacks, that is. Chef Mark Apsey uses local, seasonal produce; Cornish crab, crispy breaded oysters and the freshest John Dory feature prominently alongside all manners of asparagus, squid ink farfalle and salt-baked celeriac. Idle Sundays are a local institution: grab a stack of papers and make your leisurely way through kedgerees, roast beef, birch-syrup pancakes and other brunchy delights.

Family fare

Children are welcome in the restaurant and bar until 7pm; high chairs are available at lunchtime and a special high tea is served for them around the chef’s table from 5.30pm. They can pick from home-made kid-pleasing staples such as chicken burgers, fish goujons or pasta with fresh tomato sauce; if they’re feeling adventurous, they can hand over their catch of the day for the chef to cook up. The Idle Rocks’ clever iPad video monitoring lets parents tuck the children up in bed before heading down to the restaurant for a leisurely dinner for two.

Hotel Bar

The sleek bar, which links the lounge to the restaurant, is adults-only after 7pm. Perch yourself at the counter or take your tipple to the terrace: zingy cocktails and local beers are best sipped to the sound of waves lapping against the harbour wall.

Last orders

Breakfast is served 8am–10.30am; lunch 12 noon–2.30pm; dinner 7pm–9.30pm. A kid’s high tea is served at 5.30pm.

Smith Insider

  • Top table

    Draped in white linen, tables for two are turned towards the sea, but if you’re having lunch en famille pick the circular booth dressed in bright blue and stripes at the back of room.

  • Room service

    As well as drinks and afternoon tea, a selection of dishes from the restaurant menu is available in-room round the clock. If your little ones get peckish, staff will happily warm milk or baby food for you.


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The Idle Rocks – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Parent approved

‘It may not be an all-singing, all-dancing family resort, but the hotel has thought of all the little touches that make staying with young ones a doddle.’

Smith & Family


Local qualified babysitters are available for £10 an hour (minimum three hours); book five days in advance.


The Idle Rocks offers a baby-listening service that extends throughout the hotel. Staff can also set up a camera in your room so you can enjoy child-free evenings while keeping an eye on your sleeping tots from your iPhone or iPad, which you can also borrow from the hotel.

What's there already?

For babies

• Highchairs • Travel cot • Cot bedlinen • iPad baby monitors • CBeebies

For toddlers

• Highchairs • Cot beds • Cot bedlinen • Toddler-proof toys • Crayons/pens • Craft materials • Buckets and spades • DVDs

For older children

• Crab lines and nets • Toys • DVDs


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The Idle Rocks – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Things to do

With a playroom and video monitoring on site, older children can happily be left to their own devices while you relax in the lounge or on the terrace. But with a fine stretch of Cornish coast right on your doorstep, far better to don your sun hats or sou’westers for a good old-fashioned bracing walk on the beach. The concierge Sid can arrange a fishing trip from St Mawes or a jaunt on a boat or kayak; dolphins, seals and even basking sharks have been known to frequent the crystal-clear waters.

Sunny days

There’s no pool, but the hotel is within steps of a tidal beach. Rocky areas make it ideal for crabbing and rock-pool exploring, and there’s a sandy stretch for swimming, too. Rent paddle-boards or kayaks to meander up St Mawes’ rivers and creeks; if you’re after a more energetic workout, Sid can book you a spot on the local tennis courts. Ask him for a map and his pick of the Roseland Peninsula’s best walks, which stretch along the coast or loop inland through private woods.

Rainy days

In the Sixties, the hotel bolstered its claim as the warmest spot in England with free stays in case of fog or snow. These days, its outlook is somewhat more realistic: the children’s playroom upstairs, with its toys, large flatscreen TV and saloon-themed toilet, makes the perfect snug to hide away from bad weather.

And there's more…

There’s an art to catching crabs: borrow a line and net from the hotel, pick your spot on the harbour and dangle some bacon into the water. With a bit of patience, you’ll have pinched a friend in no time.

Local Guide

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The Idle Rocks – Cornwall – United Kingdom
Smith tip

Locals head to Café Chandlers (+44 (0)1326 270998) for serious coffee, scrumptious cakes and cream teas. There’s also a well-stocked deli, perfect for picnic supplies.

Don't miss…

The Eden’s Project indoor rainforest (+4 (0)1726 811911). It’s the largest in the world, with steamy jungles and waterfalls, an ice rink in the winter and year-round treetop walks.

St Mawes’s harbourside is perfect for leisurely family outings. At the National Maritime Museum (+44 (0)1326 313388), salty young sea dogs can take part in interactive exhibits such as a smuggler’s trail or a climb aboard a search and rescue helicopter. With its crenelatted towers, ship-sinking guns and Civil War cannonball, St Mawes Castle (+44 (0)870 333 1181) is like a child’s drawing castle come to life. Rock up to the takeaway window at The Watch House (+44 (0)1326 270038) for piping hot fish and chips right on the harbour.

Take a boat trip or set out on foot to explore this grassy, breezy stretch of Cornish coast. Summer’s beach and Tavern beach are just a short walk away, but for show-stopping sandy bays drive or cycle to Porthcurnick and Carne. It’s worth the half-mile walk to The Hidden Hut café on Porthcurnick beach: seafood barbecues, gigantic paellas and fresh Cornish pasties on a stretch of golden sands and turquoise waters will be your reward.

After a long day slogging away at sandcastles, peckish pirates will love the jumbo sausage tortilla wraps and big, juicy burgers at the Basking Shak, a low-key café on the edge of Pendower Beach, just a short drive from the hotel. Pop into the harbour-side St Mawes Bakery (+44 (0)1326 270292) for hot-from-the-oven pasties and saffron buns. For a grown-up dinner affair, dive into the Driftwood's Michelin-starred fare (+44 (0)1872 580644). Blessed with a rooftop terrace, The Victory Inn (+44 (0)1326 270324) serves up fresh seafood in a relaxed, family-friendly environment (you can even bring the pooch along). Grab a table on the rooftop terrace for the best harbour views. In the summer, bring the brood for a Sunday lunch barbecue at The Tresanton Hotel (+44 (0)1326 270055). Feast on char-grilled duck burgers, squid and spare ribs, but leave some room for the fluffy pavlova piled high with strawberries and cream. Little Smiths’ meals are half-price, so let them work up an appetite at the kids club first.

+ Enlarge
The Idle Rocks
Harbourside, St. Mawes, Cornwall TR2 5AN, United Kingdom
Hotel setting

Rockpooler’s heaven

Getting There

So close to the harbour walls you can hear the water lapping from its terrace, the Idle Rocks is right in the middle of the picturesque village of St Mawes, opposite Falmouth on the eastern shore of the Carrick Roads.


Newquay airport is a 45-minute drive away, offering year-round flights to London Gatwick and Manchester, as well as other UK cities plus one or two destinations in Europe from May to August.


Frequent First Great Western trains from London Paddington call at St Austell, 20 miles away; they take over four hours. A connection to Falmouth will add another hour to the journey, but from there you can hop on the foot ferry and get to St Mawes in about 20 minutes.


The King Harry car ferry runs every day from Truro and Falmouth; the crossing takes about 10 minutes. From St Austell, follow the A390, B3287 and A3078 to St Mawes; the drive should take about 35 minutes. When you reach the village, turn right and follow signs for the castle. Stop by the hotel to drop off your bags and pick up a permit for the car park, a minute’s walk away.


The St Mawes Ferry runs classic wooden boats all year round to Falmouth. The Place Ferry zips across to Place Creek on the Roseland Peninsula between April and October. The hotel can also organise helicopter landings in the village nearby; it’s best to arrange this when booking.

Parent travel tip

Cornwall’s a school-holiday hot spot and traffic can get heavy. Break up your journey with a night in Exeter or Hampshire and avoid Fridays and Saturdays if possible; consider a tablet for in-car entertainment.


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The Idle Rocks – Cornwall – United Kingdom

Smith & Family  Parent Panel reviews

Every property featured in the Smith & Family collection – including the Idle Rocks – has been selected and approved by parents.

What does Cornwall put in that bracing, briny sea air? There’s something about the sound of waves lapping at a harbour wall, or of barefoot children gaily splashing in the shallows, that gets even the most die-hard of urbanites rolling up their trouser legs to wade out into the waters. On the Roseland Peninsula, the Idle Rocks hotel milks the Cornish claim to warm weather for all it’s worth, with generous lashings of classic seaside pleasures: think idyllic days spent splashing on the beach, scrabbling around the rock pools or dangling lines into the water, waiting patiently for crabs to bite. But it’s also established itself as the luxurious pad to crash in after a day on the coast, with harbour-view rooms, sumptuous bathrooms and a healthy dose of up-to-the-minute nautical style. Pick your favourite and it’ll soon feel like home: rooms are sound-proofed so your little Smiths can bounce on the beds to their heart’s content and you’ll even find your name chalked on the slate by the door. It may not be an all-singing all-dancing family resort, but the hotel has thought of all the little touches that make staying with young ones a doddle: a fantastic playroom for rainy days, a children’s tea served early at the chef’s table, free baby-listening and handy iPads that cleverly allow you to monitor your sleeping tots while you enjoy a grown-up feast of sea-fresh Cornish produce. Oh, how we do like to be beside the seaside.

Smith & Family

‘Oh just leave the car outside; we’ll take care of it.’ This, considering that St Mawes is a cliff-tumbling labyrinth of insurance claims in waiting, is such a relief to hear that the usual terror of letting a stranger inside the car after a biscuit-mashing six-hour family journey barely gives a moment’s pause. That’s the great thing about the staff at the Idle Rocks hotel – not only are they supremely helpful, but they don’t judge you either.

They don’t bat an eyelid when you when you ask to change rooms after 10 minutes because you’re anxious that the unlockable low-slung window above the beach may prove too tempting for a clambering two-year-old. They don’t get tense when your child redecorates the beautiful ocean-edge terrace with spaghetti. And they don’t even judge you when, within half an hour of arrival, the view from said terrace becomes dominated by the sight of your four-year-old spontaneously stripping off and gleefully making buttock-prints on the sand. 

The Idle Rocks, therefore, may be the ideal Cornish coastal getaway for this family foursome: all the parent-pleasing boxes ticked (unbeatable address bang on the beach, chic decor, wizardly way with seafood and an endless pot of patience when dealing with toddlers), and plenty to delight smaller Smiths, too. We could have left ours in the toy-packed playroom (which more cynical hoteliers might have turned into another bedroom) for most of the weekend and they’d have been as happy as piglets in filth. Plus, of course, there’s that lovely patch of sand at your doorstep, perfect for paddlers, rock-poolers, shell-collectors – and naturists.

Anonymously reviewed by Anthony Leyton

The Guestbook  Smith member reviews

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith & Family hotel, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what real-life family guests had to say about The Idle Rocks in the Guestbook below.


Stayed on

We loved

the room was lovely, clean and tastefully decorated with a large bathroom. Bedroom and bathroom overlooked the sea and harbour. the breakfast was fantastic and the dinner was gourmet but not snobby. the staff were really welcoming and helpful. A smashing, restful break. We would definitely go there again. The free Cornish cream tea, courtesy of Mr and Mrs Smith was a nice touch and absolutely delicious with home made scones and jam. All food is made in house or sourced locally and really tasty.


Nearby, the Watch House restaurant was amazing, the best seafood we have had in a long time, the seafood pasta is awesome as is the salted caramel pave. A must try. Bakery on the harbour wall does lovely homemade pasties. St Mawes is a lovely, welcoming quiet little harbour but I would think it gets really busy in peak season (we went second week in June and it was nice and quiet but notices said things were opening up starting 17th June and, as we left, we noticed a lot more people arriving). We actually stayed 4 days but booking reference header only shows the last add on day we booked later.

Don’t expect

Noise, nightlife and partying. No tea making facilities in room.

Rating: 10/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

Location aspect. Eight out of 10.

Don’t expect

Attention to detail from the staff. Staff were polite friendly but lacked the personal touch which was frustrating. Strong wifi connection

Rating: 8/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

The fantastic new décor, ambience, the very. very helpful; friendly staff, especially in the dining room, and the cuisine. Spectacular views of St Mawes harbour and beyond.

Don’t expect

Health clubs, gyms etc.

Rating: 10/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

The location of the hotel and the food. There isn't a better spot in St. Mawes

Don’t expect

Quick service in the restaurant.

Rating: 10/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

A new phenomenon - 'Relaxed Efficiency' coupled with luxurious comfort.

Don’t expect


Rating: 10/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

The sea-front terrace, the staff, the breakfasts, the ambience, right in the heart of the village. Ten out of 10.

Don’t expect

Peace and quiet!

Rating: 10/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

The atmosphere. When we asked to move rooms, the hotel was helpful. Room 11 is very nice.

Don’t expect

Room 5 is not to everyone's taste. Multi coloured painting all over the walls was not relaxing to me, personally. 

Rating: 6/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

The Idle Rocks is a delight... Truly. From Sid, to Natalie, to Hannah (who'd barely been there a week but you'd never know it) plus the amazing cocktail maker at the bar (sorry I didn't get her name) and the lovely lad who took care of us at breakfast and bothered to write out the ingredients on how to create their apple plum martini for me, to Mary who handed me a blanket when it got a little breezy one night. The rooms were warm, comfortable, lovely bathroom with rain shower and decent sized bath. Beautiful views from our window. We had breakfast everyday and even when we were late down (breakfast is served between 7 and 10), no one batted an eyelid and Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup and scrambled eggs appeared just as quickly as if it was normal allocated breakfast times. They have a great breakfast menu, a beautifully set up table for continental including a marvellous veggie box and fruit box so you can choose what you want and make your own personal smoothie.. Mine was wonderful. Staff again were helpful and the only time I saw them frustrated was our last night when they were busy and understaffed for that particular evening. It didn't stop any of them being courteous, caring and apologetic when things took slightly longer to arrive than normal. Food in the restaurant was of extremely high standard (pigs cheek starter was delicious as was the steak... The true marvel was the rainbow trout risotto... OMG it was wonderful)... So great attention to detail, decor, comfort, views, food, cocktail and staff... A winner in our book and thank you to all the staff who made us feel so welcome and to Sid who actually brought down our car for us the day of departure...

Don’t expect

Spa treatments - no spa available although you can book in room massages.

Rating: 9/10 stars