From the world’s largest indoor rainforest to the world’s tastiest fudge to a chance encounter with the world’s greatest (Tom Jones), I couldn’t imagine having a better time than I did…
The Cornwall – full moniker: The Cornwall Hotel Spa & Estate – is all that its name would suggest and more. After a short taxi from the train station, I was welcomed to the property’s 43 acres of Victorian woodland through an impossibly green driveway and almost instanteously felt weight lift from my shoulders.
Though the property itself is large, they take very little away from their landscapes by containing 65 central hotel suites and rooms at the front and 21 contemporary woodland homes further back. My own room – a “Luxury” Room without luxury pricing – offered anything one could want from a country escape; every conceivable amenity, design-led aesthetics, a 7 foot cloud of a bed, a private balcony, rain shower, and even a few shortbread biscuits (kryptonite).
After a few minutes jumping on the bed and a few more minutes working on my balcony, I went downstairs to meet the girl gang at The Elephant Bar & Brasserie – The Cornwall’s new destination bar and restaurant.
Unlike the majority of all-day brasseries, The Elephant handles its offering with faultless sophistication. As an English Sunday would dictate, I opted for the roast sirloin of beef (Yorkshire pudding, roast parsnips, beef dripping roast potatoes, and a family style sharing platter of vegetables and cauliflower cheese) after an slightly unconventional starter of fried Cornish squid (presented to perfection with peanut satay and sesame bok choi) which were both so good I could have extended my stay an extra week to do it all over again.
Pre-desert, we wrapped our meal (can you hear my waistline rejoice?) so we had enough time to get to the Eden Project before Tom Jones took the stage. Naturally, we were starstruck to watch the man himself emerge from the lift as we waited for our taxi in the hotel’s lobby.
Shameless as ever, I introduced myself, had a brief chat, and spent the rest of the evening feeling more connected to the Welsh Dragon’s Eden performance than I ever expected.
Just not as much as the women holding a laundry line full of knickers in the air (as you can see in the bottom left of the photo, below).
Having committed to an early start the following morning, I met the ladies in the Elephant Bar for breakfast and refuelled on Eggs Benedict before setting off for my first real visit to the Eden Project.
Though the pillow-domed biomes took my breath away the night before, nothing could prepare me for the incredible beauty inside them.
Essentially, The Eden Project is a reclaimed Kaolinite pit turned environmental powerhouse. The descended complex plays home to a vast botanical garden, cross-park zipwire, land train, and multiple natural biomes; the main two containing a the Mediterranean environment and a Rainforest environment. The latter of which offers a 180-feet hike to the top of the biome for sensational treetop views of the nature below.
The attraction may have provided an economic boost to Cornwall, but it’s a boost with heart. They are committed to education – be it school trips or educational placards dotted around your biome perusal – and work hard to promote the issues that face our world today (for example, the fact that an area of primary forest the size of the Rainforest Biome is destroyed every 10 seconds)*.
After a couple of hours we returned to the hotel for perfectly-portioned tiers of afternoon tea; one (cucumber, smoked salmon, cheese & chutney sandwiches), two (macaron, brownie, truffles, fudge &
meringue), and tea (English Breakfast and the largest homemade scone I have ever laid lip on).
Having spent little time exploring, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in the spa (the lava shell massage is a must) before a swim, sauna, and scamper back to my room to knock a few hours of work out.
Before I knew it, my ‘ten minute dinner warning’ had popped up on my laptop (hooray for OCD) so I hopped under my room’s micro waterfall and booked it back down to The Elephant.
Still quite full from our late lunch, we were invited to relax with a glass of bubbly in the bar before daring to look at the menu. These small courtesies make all the difference to me. By the time I felt a tummy rumble, I had been awarded a leisurely chance to peruse the menu, ordered, and been taken through to the dining room in time for the food’s arrival. On this particular evening, I enjoyed micro crab cakes and a not-so-micro Cornish bass (with canara farm rainbow chard, brown shrimp, almond &
vanilla butter, et al) drenched by the evening light of the alfresco gardens.
It was a perfect meal and a perfect way to spend our final night in St Austell.
At sunrise, I set off for on a run around the property’s woodlands as I wanted to see as much of the aforementioned 43 acres as possible before my departure.
I got back to my room in the nick of time for the arrival of my in-room breakfast and enjoyed it on the balcony before one final luxurious work session in my Brobdingnagian bed.
As you’ll see in the video, this isn’t likely to be the end of The Cornwall and I…