Review: The Royal Duchy Hotel
PUBLISHED: 11:29 08 May 2018
Su Carroll takes a peek inside the Royal Duchy Hotel in Falmouth
There is a wonderfully old¬ fashioned welcome when you arrive at the Royal Duchy Hotel in Falmouth. As you approach the door of the four star hotel with its magnificent view of the sea, James steps forward in all his fine livery to help you.
No ¬one really knows how long James has been here but he is a fine ambassador for the Royal Duchy and the town of Falmouth. It’s fair to say that he hasn’t been here quite as long as the hotel which was established in July 1883, one of the first hotels in Falmouth, but he does have a lot of local information to share.
The hotel benefitted from the Victorian and Edwardian tourists who arrived on the new Cornwall railway, drawn by the mild climate and the therapeutic benefits of sea bathing – in fact, it was once called the Hydro Hotel.
In some ways, very little has changed. Visitors still arrive to soak up the sea air and embrace the relaxing spa atmosphere, although a heated pool and a sauna offer added luxury to today’s guests. The architecture is imposing and the hotel has spacious terraces which offer uninterrupted views of Falmouth Bay with Pendennis Castle perched on the headland.
Everything about the Royal Duchy Hotel oozes charm and sophistication – staff are smartly dressed, the public areas are elegant yet relaxed and there’s a quiet grace about the place. In the cocktail bar the Victorian grandfather clock ticks gently away, its presence assured due to a condition of sale when Brend Hotels bought the business in 1977 that it would stay put.
Being a Georgian building, the public rooms and the bedrooms are beautifully proportioned – high ceilings, massive picture windows and a classic interior which is timeless. The bedrooms are elegant but comfortable. They would seem very familiar to the Victorian time traveller – the view towards the sea has been untouched in a century – but they have everything the modern visitor expects.
They know a thing or two about keeping guests happy at the Royal Duchy. They arrange trips, they have special breaks to experience what Cornwall has to offer and there’s a spa with sauna and heated swimming pool and a range of beauty treatments.
It’s very relaxing and the friendly staff make you feel pampered and looked after, whether you’re enjoying a drink on the terrace or in the bar, having afternoon tea or dining in the AA rosette awarded Pendennis Restaurant.
So far, all is as you would expect. Except… hotels like the Royal Duchy can’t rest on their laurels and expect visitors to just keep returning through the door. In very subtle ways it has changed to meet the demands of the modern guest.
Look around the dining room and you will see a nod to modern design – a splash of vivid colour, liberal use of large mirrors, subtle soft furnishings, clever mood lighting and cosy banquettes. The menu offers traditional favourites – roast pork, sirloin of beef – alongside hot favourite ingredients like pigeon, beetroot cured salmon and wild mushroom polenta.
They also play a clever balancing act with their guests. In the winter they play to their strengths offering a traditional stay to older guests. In the summer they become a haven for families with some clever touches that give added value to a family holiday.
There are teddy bears and colouring packs in the room on arrival, outdoor play areas and a programme of activities. There’s also a family room with board games, books and DVDs. If the weather’s good, borrow a bucket and spade or a fishing net and walk to Gyllyngvase Beach in front of the hotel.
Falmouth has plenty to offer all the year round, including the magnificent National Maritime Museum Cornwall and some wonderful gardens which, even in winter, are lush and fertile in the mild Cornish climate.
And if you need advice, just ask James… you can’t miss him.
Visit royalduchy.co.uk for up-¬to-¬date seasonal offers. The hotel welcomes non-residents.