Soaking up lashings of winter style
T'S January. It's not beach weather. So let's pretend. Better still, let's do some holiday planning.
I'm thinking mid-summer, Cornwall, lolling about in the warm, therapeutic, relaxing effects of the sun. I'm fantasising about blue skies and sandy beaches lapped by azure water.
For research purposes only, you understand, I'm doing what thousands of people have done since the Thirties. I'm making a pilgrimage to that particularly beautiful stretch of the sunny North Cornwall coast where people go to escape the stresses of a busy life – only it's the bleak midwinter, of course, not the lazy, hazy long days of summer. Not to worry. I'm renowned for my over-active imagination.
At a first quick glance the art-deco St Moritz hotel, with its porthole windows, looks like an ocean liner. Perfect. I can't see the sea but we are perched on the headland so I know it's there. I'm feeling sun-kissed and tanned already. That is, apart from the constant wailing of the wind.
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My ground floor suite is absolutely stunning. In my mind's eye I'm ambling up from the beach after a lazy day spent stretched on the sands to while away a warm balmy evening in these large, light-drenched rooms. (We're not just talking bedroom here but a generous separate lounge, dining area and kitchen with every streamlined mod-com going). In summer, of course, I'd be throwing open these vast glass doors and soaking up the last rays of the day on the patio.
Instead, I open the doors a crack and listen to the biting Cornish wind. It's howling like a parliament of demented owls. How cosy I feel. How warm and cosseted.
Within minutes I'm drifting off in the king size bed which is ridiculously soft and satisfying. Perhaps I've gone to sweet-toothed heaven and I'm snoozing on a big marshmallow? (Note to self: buy one of these amazing mattress toppers for the bed at home).
Next day and off to discover the beach. Greenaway, I'm told, can be found at the foot of the hotel's garden. Lamentably, a malevolent dark cloud followed by a vicious downpour puts pay to any such sunlit fantasy. Before I even reach the path I'm soaked to the skin. Actually make that drenched to the drawers.
Okay I admit it, I wimp out. After wringing out what seems to be a small stream of rainwater from the smalls, I decide a morning spent flopping about in the warm hotel pool, before slumping in the sauna, beckons invitingly.
On to lunch. The hotel's Sea Side daytime restaurant, I'm sure, is stunning on a sweltering day. Huge conservatory-style windows take in a stretch of stunning vistas across the Atlantic. For the purpose of summer holiday research, I realise I should be sampling one of many fresh, light fish dishes, sourced daily from Port Isaac or Newlyn.
Instead, I greedily tuck in to the most gratifying winter warmer of roast fennel and pumpkin, offset with butternut puree. I also try a massively tasty open top sandwich. I top this with a seasonal autumn berry mess. Satisfying wintry food in a very stylish setting.
Now, if I admit to you the thickening clouds, rain lashing my skin and a rampant wind, are fast putting me off an exploration of local beaches, I hope you forgive me. A quick car journey reveals foamy, wind-whipped shores, brooding and moody.
Luckily, I know this area well enough to report that the river Camel looks positively tropical in summer, the Polzeath swell is ideal for surfing, and it can be marvellous fun to catch a ferry and bob over lapis lazuli coloured waves from Rock to Padstow.
As for me I've now cocooned myself in the gorgeous aroma of Cowshed massage oils, in the sensual heaven of the hotel spa. The sprung coils in my shoulders are quickly unwinding and any remaining coldness in the bones has thawed. It's quite simply the best massage I've ever had. Yes cosseting treatments in the Cowshed Spa come highly recommended.
Dinner is pretty pampering too. The kitchen is open and, while waiting for food, I play an inner game of Masterchef, betting which chef will make the most impressive-looking creation.
I have to admit everything that comes to the table is an architectural triumph. Such visually fancy food makes me feel very spoilt indeed. Not a case of style over substance though. There are some superb tastes served throughout the weekend, especially the puddings which are magnificent to look at and easy to devour.
Back to the suite. My balmy summer break research ends with me lighting all the candles, opening a bottle of wine, curling up on the sofa and watching the finale of The Killing (why did Lund have to go and do that?) while the wind whistles furiously across Daymer Bay. Snug, sheltered and spoilt.
To summarise, St Moritz is quite simply style-on-the-sea, an excellent destination and I'd recommend it, without a hint of hesitation – whatever the weather (and let's face even in summer, sun is not guaranteed).
Bookings and information: 01208 862242.
Where: St Moritz Hotel, Trebetherick, Wadebridge, Cornwall, PL27 6SD.
E-mail: stay@stmoritz hotel.co.uk
Website: www.stmoritz hotel.co.uk