British Travel Journal
FOWEY HALL HOTEL
Perched up high on the hillside we stand together for a moment, bags down by our sides, in awe of the sweeping views, beautiful sounds from the harbour, the glistening blue river and the small fishing village of Polruan on the opposite bank. We'd arrived at our luxury home-from-home getaway for the weekend, the majestic Fowey Hall Hotel, South Cornwall.
The original inspiration for Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows, this luxurious country-house hotel is one of the Luxury Family Hotels' five stunning hotels, renowned for their individual character and exceptional family-focused hospitality. And, as almost every parent with young children will know, it really is the small details and finer touches that can make or break your holiday experience.
Complimentary childcare, baby monitoring services and a morning breakfast club can be a godsend for exhausted parents in need of some extra shut-eye on a Sunday morning. Take the opportunity for some additional precious couple's time, a guiltfree pamper in the spa or to simply enjoy the sea views over a glass of locally-made Camel Valley wine.
And it's far from a half-hearted ‘family-friendly' approach, we discover that at Fowey being family-focused is at the heart of ‘everything' they do. The warmth and friendliness from the staff meant there were big smiles all around. The fully-fledged games room, cinema room, children's library, and Wind in the Willowsinspired outdoor play area with a zip line help to keep those smiles in place throughout the stay.
For guests with babies in tow, heated bottles and fresh morning and evening milk can be brought up to your room
(free of charge) - and the chef is able to make puréed food from morning to evening. There is an all-day welcome hours policy for babies and children at the swimming pool, and lots of places to relax quietly without the feeling of being on top of other guests.
The hotel's recent multi-million-pound refurbishment has highlighted many of the hotel's impressive original features, to include feature fireplaces and a beautiful parquet floor dating back to 1899 when Fowey Hall was built as a private house by local businessman Sir Charles Hanson.
Inside the hotel's historic lobby, you are welcomed by a roaring log fire, and antique white walls lit by an eye-catching Jamb globe chandelier on the ceiling. Sofas have been upholstered in a combination of British heritage-inspired luxury fabrics including tweeds, hounds tooth, and herringbone with velvet and leather accents and striped canvas and rustic reclaimed stools add a playful twist.
Everywhere you look there's something interesting to catch your eye, from handmade smoked oak coffee tables to creative wallpapers and beautiful artwork by local artists taking inspiration from the surrounding landscape. My daughters especially enjoyed seeing the charcoal prints of characterful dogs by Cornish artist Justine Osbourne, an ode to the dogfriendly ethos of the hotel.
Our Family Room was located in the Mansion House, one of 16 bedrooms that have been refurbished featuring oak wooden floors painted in soft grey, vintage pieces of furniture, oversized wool rugs, and bespoke handmade turned oak beds made by Cornwall furniture and homeware designer-maker Headandhaft.
There was ample space, even an additional play room, which would be the ideal setting for reading a bedtime story. My girls are a bit too old for that now, but still young enough
to adore the ‘softhead' dogs in top hat and glasses displayed on the walls, which we also enjoyed spotting elsewhere around the hotel. The bathroom was designed in an authentic Victorian style finished in two-tone crackle glaze tiles - and I was delighted to find Elemis shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
There are 36 rooms in total, 12 family rooms and plenty of interconnecting bedrooms, to include the Garden Wing and separate Coach House, around a minute's walk from the hotel. Bedrooms in the two-storey Garden Wing have a more modern feel, designer furnishings and a deep rust coloured freestanding bath to enjoy a long, relaxing soak. While the hotel's rustic Coach House bedrooms feature four-poster beds and a mix of new and antique furniture.
Over in the restaurant, Head Chef Wesley Pratt and his team have certainly got to know their local suppliers. Seafood is sourced from a small family business, Fish For Thought, while their eggs are laid by free-range hens at Colin Carter's Eggs, near Truro.
Their award-winning artisan ice cream comes from Treleavens, churned at Tretoil Farm in the north Cornish countryside. Not to mention the finest Cornish tipples such as Fowey Brewery ales and Tarquin's gin, distilled in the southwest.
(Rooms from £249, bed and breakfast).
After another leisurely morning at the hotel, today's main adventure is a two-hour kayaking river safari adventure with Fowey River Hire. On our wander down to meet Ben, our tour guide, we stumble across a blue telephone box transformed into what must be one of the UK's smallest libraries.
We also pass the magnificent St Fimbarras church, rebuilt in 1460 by the Earl of Warwick after being destroyed by French marauders -and don't miss The Ship Inn, Fowey's oldest pub, also known as ‘The Old Lady of Fowey'.
We arrive at our meeting base, the Caffa Mill car park where we meet Ben and his daughter, keen to share their passion for the Fowey Estuary with us right from the get-go.
It's high tide, so we head up river towards Golant, admiring the views, paddling around the river, spotting the birdlife, while looking out for seals or dolphins.
Ben and his daughter guide us under a bridge to see what must be Cornwall's most unusual waterside property, The
Old Sawmills in its own private inlet with no road access, surrounded by woodland. The
hidden creek, known as Bodmin Pill, was used by merchants in medieval times, as a landing point to avoid paying landing dues upriver at Lostwithiel (the ancient county capital). In the 1970s, owner Dennis Smith, a music-industry mentor transformed the 3,135sq ft main building into one of the UK's first-ever residential recording studios! We were floating outside the legendary studio, where bands such as The Stone Roses, Oasis, The Verve, Supergrass and Muse worked by day and partied by night, and where Oasis recorded their breakout album, Definitely, Maybe in 1990.
We stop in at Ruby's, Fowey's newest ice cream parlour before heading home; I chose a limited edition Tarquin's gin and berry sorbet - and I don't want the moment to end.
It's no wonder the location has already had so much fame, inspiring authors, songwriters, and comedians, and leaving a special mark on all who visit. As far as an enjoyable family staycation goes, Fowey Hall comes out on top - an ultra-stylish and luxurious hotel, located in one of the most quaint and relaxing seaside settings in the British Isles”.
“As far as an enjoyable family staycation goes, Fowey Hall comes out on top - an ultra-stylish and luxurious hotel, located in one of the most quaint and relaxing seaside settings in the British Isles”