Words by Lydia Paleschi
The beautiful town of Falmouth, located on the south coast of Cornwall, has long been a desirable destination for tourists wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Steeped in a rich maritime history with ties to the water running through its veins, The Greenbank Hotel is a well-known part of the town’s heritage.
Situated on the banks of the River Fal, the hotel has been standing in some form since the seventeenth century; originally an inn for the ferryman and passengers travelling from Flushing on the other side of the river. Since then, The Greenbank Hotel has undergone significant expansions in the Georgian and Victorian periods and, following a refurbishment in 2015, offers the best of Cornish coastal living and the finest in contemporary comfort.
Upon arrival, my guest and I were greeted by exceptionally friendly staff and because we were visiting in December, the stylish yet comfortable decor was complemented by tasteful and elegant Christmas decorations. Undoubtedly, it was a warm welcome.
We were shown to our room for the night, the Florence suite, aptly named after Florence Nightingale who stayed there in 1907; her name can still be seen in the guestbook on display by reception. Among the hotel’s other revered guests is Kenneth Grahame, also a visitor in 1907. It is here that he wrote a string of letters to his son, later to be amalgamated to form the Wind in the Willows stories.
Upon entering the Florence suite we were taken aback by the ample space, further accentuated by French doors opening out onto our own private balcony and offering panoramic views of the River Fal, Flushing, Falmouth Harbour and Docks. This was the perfect viewing platform for the comings and goings of various vessels, including the sailing yachts for which Falmouth is well-known and the gig rowing club training for their next regatta. We were even able to see a Royal Navy ship stationed at the docks for repairs.
The room’s decor was elegant, stylish and comfortable with the chosen palette of turquoise and mustard offering a nod to the coastal location. Among our favourite features were the huge king sized bed and the roll top bath, for which a tantalising selection of locally sourced Living Sea Therapy toiletries were offered. Other amenities included an extra large shower, television, plenty of storage and a refreshments tray laden with loose leaf tea and coffee. The white cotton bathrobes and slippers were also a welcome touch. For those wanting to spend a bit more time in the room (and who could blame them) there was also a cosy lounge area.
Included as part of our stay, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a three-course meal at the hotel’s restaurant, The Water’s Edge. A two-AA rosette-awarded restaurant, it offers relaxed fine dining, focusing on simple food with a twist. Executive chef Nick Hodges worked with the renowned Keith Floyd and Jean Christophe Novelli before joining The Water’s Edge in 2017. He and head chef Bobby Southworth are both Falmouth locals with the knowledge of how to get the most from high-quality locally-sourced produce; this includes seafood caught just outside of the hotel from the River Fal.
Much like the rest of the hotel, the restaurant staff were excellent. The customer service was faultless and they were more than accommodating for making alterations to our chosen dishes for dietary requirements. The food was exquisite, offering a menu of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes that were all so tempting it was hard to choose from. After enjoying the food we were able to relax in the Water’s Edge Bar for a coffee and a nightcap.
Breakfast the next morning was also a hit, consisting of a variety of cooked options, a delicious full English breakfast and a delightful continental selection (I would recommend trying the granola and fruit compote).
For those wishing to kick back in a more casual atmosphere, The Greenbank Hotel’s pub, The Working Boat, offers laid back dining in a more traditional setting. Situated underneath the hotel, it laps up the same exquisite views as The Water’s Edge and hosts a number of events throughout the year, including a gin festival and beer festival, and is part of Falmouth’s renowned Fal River Festival and Sea Shanty Festival. A piece of Falmouth’s history in its own right, there has been a pub on the site of The Working Boat for over 300 years. Originally built as the inn’s tap room, traditionally it has been a place to find locals, workers and oystermen. Today, it maintains this tradition and is regularly frequented by members of Falmouth’s Working Boat Association. To get a taste of the real Falmouth it’s definitely worth a visit.
While The Greenbank offers a relaxed setting in a quiet part of the town it is no more than a five minute walk from the bustling high-street. From here you can explore many a quaint shop, enjoy an impressive range of restaurants and catch the ferry from the Prince of Wales Pier to Flushing or St Mawes. Other attractions include Henry VIII’s Pendennis Castle and Falmouth Maritime Museum, or, for the more adventurous, try your hand at paddleboarding or coasteering at Gyllyngvase Beach.
Rooms can be booked from £89 pppn.
Address: Harbourside, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 2SR
Phone: +44 1326 312440