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Our History

The journey of Falmouth’s oldest hotel…

The Greenbank Hotel has been perched overlooking the Carrick Roads for almost four centuries, making it one of the most historic places in Falmouth to stay. Our hotel on the water has been witness to truly remarkable moments in Cornish history, sitting proudly in the heart of our maritime town. We have enough of the puzzle pieces to put together The Greenbank’s unique journey, but like all the best stories, hidden surprises, anecdotes, and artefacts are always being discovered along the way.

Where it all started

Dating back to 1640, a time when horse-drawn carriages were the norm, and King Charles I ruled the country, our beautiful building has always been a place for gatherings and a restful night’s sleep. Back then, The Greenbank was better known as The Ship Inn, used as a drop off and collection point for the Flushing Ferry (a route that can still be taken today, from the Prince of Wales Pier). 

In those days, the ferries would be operated by the innkeeper themselves. An interesting arrangement that could provide great custom at the bar, but an unreliable service – and potentially bumpy ride for the passengers onboard!

Famous faces

In 1907, The Greenbank welcomed one of its most famous guests to stay. During the final few years of her life at age 87, Florence Nightingale checked in and stayed with us. Visitors today can find her name handwritten in the guest book, currently on display in our reception. This small artefact later led to the naming of our most beautiful room in the hotel, The Florence Suite. 

1907 was a popular year for famous visitors, as The Greenbank also hosted Kenneth Grahame, who stayed at the hotel between the spring and autumn of 1907. During his time with us, surrounded by the coastal surroundings and inspiring ocean vistas, he began to write a series of letters to his son. These letters would later form the stories for his most well-known piece of literature, and an English classic – The Wind in the Willows.

A sailor’s rest

In June 1785, the pages of the Sherbourne Mercury newspaper carried an advertisement stating that “a commodious dwelling house” was up for sale in Falmouth. The building fell into the hands of new proprietor Thomas Selley, and later became known as The Kings Arms Inn – a gentleman’s residence for the Packet Ship captains to rest their heads. 

Thomas Selley sadly passed away in 1841, and the keys were passed down to his family until 1888. During this time, the inn established an important stop for coaches leaving for the big cities – Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol, and London. The building became known as the “Commercial Packet Hotel, Greenbank”.

The twenty-first century

The present owners of The Greenbank took the reins in November 1999, as the world entered a new millennium – a suitable time for a fresh chapter, and the starting point for many successful years to follow. From humble beginnings to award-winning hospitality.

From handwritten guest books to a world of Instagram and TripAdvisor reviews. Through all the revolutions, political movements, monarchies, and technological advancements. One thing at The Greenbank has remained consistent… great Cornish hospitality by the water’s edge.

The heartbeat of our hotel

Meet the team

Giving back, the Greenbank way

Our good deeds

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