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Muddy Reviews: High Tea, Merchants Manor, Falmouth

Afternoon date? Want to kick back with a girlfriend? You won't be stuck for conversation during High Tea - a slow-burning, unique afternoon tea. CBD is a sure-fire budding industry (sorry!).

We tried out Merchants Manor’s new take on afternoon tea – their CBD infused High Tea and spa day which they say is a nutritious, detoxifying and relaxing alternative to more traditional offerings.

THE LOWDOWN

Merchants Manor is an adults only hotel in Falmouth, built by a chap descended from a long line of shipping merchants, wine distillers and beer brewers. Sat on the hill between the beaches and town, it’s an impressive building dating from the turn of the 20th century which owners Sioned and Nick have been returning to its roots since they took over the place in 2012.

THE VIBE

They have lovingly refurbished the building creating a classic feel which is sympathetic to both the old manor building and the newer extensions, developed Rastella, their restuarant which holds three AA rosettes, and created the Linen Rooms wellness spa (which won best Muddy day spa award in 2016, only six months after opening).

The hotel itself is dark and dramatic with large lounge areas and a bar, as well as sub-tropical gardens and 37 bedrooms in addition to the spa, pool and restaurant.

SPA

The Spa was fully refurbished in 2016 with the lead architect on the project saying that she “took inspiration from the stonework at the Victoria & Albert Museum that features monolithic marble slabs” to recreate the classic aesthetics of traditional Roman spas.

As is often the ways with hotels, the indoor swimming pool, steam room, outdoor sauna and changing areas are away from the treatment rooms. We started off spending time in the pool area, which did indeed feel reminiscent of a Roman spa, if such spas had included spaces for hairdryers (and a gym, which I have to be honest I didn’t set foot in).

Day members are welcome at the gym and swimming pool, all 12 metres of it, rather square with just about room of sorts for lengths if you’re so inclined, but no lanes marked off.  The jacuzzi part of the pool seemed to be part of the pool itself, so not warmer just more bubbly.

My guest was taken with the infra-red sauna (my own personal preference being to swim) but after then randomly running into another friend – who is a day member – who also waxed lyrical about the benefits of the sauna, I duly headed outside to see what the fuss was about.

I often find saunas too hot, but infra-red ones heat your body not the air, so operate at a cooler level. Benefits apparently include better sleep, detoxification, weight loss, relief from sore muscles and joint pain and improved skin and circulation. Nothing to report back after one use, but my friend who visits weekly says she can definitely feel a difference.

Sauna-ed, showered and back into our gowns we then headed upstairs for our treatments, which we took in turn. The Linen Rooms are a bijou two room day-spa and decorated as beautifully as the rest of the hotel. Using Temple spa products, the back massage was intense, relaxing and at 30 minutes as part of the spa/tea package, over too soon. I will just have to return for a longer treatment…

SCOFF AND QUAFF

All that swimming and spa time obviously makes you hungry and to fill that gap, the team at Merchants Manor have launched a new take on afternoon tea. It’s a low-carb, low-alcohol healing and relaxing ‘high’ tea using CBD Oil (Cannabidiol, one of 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants – and no, it doesn’t makes you high, and it’s not psychoactive – that’s TCH which is a different cannabinoid).

We’ve all surely got friends who rave about this stuff, but gotta be honest, this was my first time – thankfully, the team at the hotel put us at ease that we could drink the low-alcohol cocktail even with the CBD Oil added and legally still drive. Phew! (The oil came in the form of bitters in a pipette so you could add as much or as little as you fancied – and my word, it was bitter)

We started with a sparkling tea (which didn’t come with any CBD oil) and then with a choice of cocktail – either the low alcohol CBTiki (pineapple, banana flavours etc) or a regular old Cornish g&t – both of which came with the pipettes for self-administrating.

And then came the food, three courses of hemp/cannabis inspired dishes from head chef Hylton Espey, taking us from savoury vietnamese inspired summer rolls right the way through beetroot and sweet potato brownies to the smoking-hot finale of what appears to be two joints in a cloche.

Someone has done some research in how to trick the old olfactory system using nothing more than good ol’ garden herbs as the waft was intriguingly realistic, turning a few heads. Thankfully the resulting crunch of the chocolate and pistachio left us sated rather than with a particularly urgent desire for salty snacks.

Hylton, their surfer-chef came out for a chat and it was clear he’d been enjoying playing with hemp and cannabidiol flavours, and was amused by the concept of being “420 friendly” by serving High Tea between 3 & 5 – and we visited in February, not April, so if you do manage to time it right and go in April, that’s another pun you can roll out.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Afternoon tea lovers, those who fancy something a bit different and perfect for an afternoon date.

Not for: It’s all totally legal but it’s not for you if you don’t fancy trying something new – it’s a pretty unique experience.

The damage: £16pp for High Tea, from £49pp for the Spa Day package (includes pool, steam & sauna, use of robes and slippers plus a 30 min treatment)

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