Tucked away on the south west coast of Cornwall, St Mawes has long had its admirers.
Home to a trio of high-end hotels, it has been named one of the UK’s hippest communities by the website TravelSupermarket.
Former F1 team owner Frank Williams has a home there and the place is a favorite of royalty and politicians.
Hotspot: The average house in St Mawes on the Roseland Peninsula is £994,000
As if that weren’t enough, this small community of 800 people is now Britain’s real estate hot spot, where house prices have risen by as much as 48 percent in a year, according to the Halifax Index.
This makes it one of the UK’s most expensive areas, alongside Sandbanks in Dorset and Salcombe’s second home in Devon.
Not hard to see why. Firstly, it is in a beautiful stretch of Cornwall on the Roseland Peninsula, separated from much of the rest of the county by the River Fal.
The rolling countryside, sheltered coves and beautiful beaches contrast sharply with the steep coastline of North Cornwall.
And as it’s a whopping six hours’ drive from London or the Midlands, it exudes a sense of isolation and tranquility.
St Mawes is located on the Roseland Peninsula, separated from the rest of the county by the River Fal
Second, the village itself is understated and charming. The 19-room Idle Rocks hotel, owned by another ex-F1 team owner – David Richards and his wife Karen – is an elegant building on the seafront.
Walk up the hill – past the vintage Shell petrol pumps preserved outside a former garage, and past the St Mawes Hotel, also owned by the Richards – and you reach the pristine whitewashed Hotel Tresanton.
It is run by Olga Polizzi, daughter of catering magnate Lord Forte; it’s a favorite of Prince Charles and Tony Blair.
Then there are the houses of St Mawes. They are not cheap, with an average price of £994,000 according to Zoopla.
It’s not just the postcard location that makes them valuable: they are also often much larger than those in most ports in Cornwall.
Instead of converted fishermen’s houses, you will find a mix of old and new houses, often detached on large plots.
But the most striking thing about St Mawes is that it has little of the tourist frenzy found in Cornwall’s honeypots such as St Ives, Padstow, Newquay or Truro.
Instead it is generally quiet with a few tourist galleries, a butcher shop and a Co-op. And there is a real chic continental atmosphere.
‘Since the first lockdown, there has been a trend for second home owners to move, often permanently.
“There are actually fewer vacation homes here than there were a year ago. Many who own them now live here full-time, or at least most of the time,” said Mark Wilson, director of real estate agency H. Tiddy, which has a penny of market share of sales in the United States. the village.
He says he has sold around £40 million worth of homes across the entire Roseland Peninsula this year alone.
But not everyone is happy. There are campaigns across Cornwall to limit the number of second homes and cut back on Airbnb short-lets to reserve the maximum number of homes for locals.
‘St Mawes in summer is like the south of France’, says a local
Peter Green, one of the fishermen in the recent BBC Two series This Fishing Life, says of his birthplace: ‘St Mawes in summer is like the south of France.
Come here in winter and see the contrast, see the empty houses, see the dark roads where there is no light anywhere.’
Meanwhile, some workers in the village’s pubs and restaurants are complaining that they have to live in Falmouth (a 40-minute scooter ride away) in order to find affordable rental housing.
Will the end of the stamp duty maximum holiday and the easing of Covid restrictions change the picture?
‘I am approached every day by potential buyers, unafraid of the end of the main service holiday and wanting to work from here rather than London,’ says Mark Wilson. St Mawes seems to be firmly on the map, for better or for worse.
On the market… Pricey tufts