Muddy & parent approved! Fowey Hall Hotel
Call me Lady Mary - I feel right at home at this massively family-friendly, manor house hotel overlooking the Fowey Estuary. Here's why I think you'll love it too...
We’ve just had one of the loveliest family weekends I can remember. In fact, I’m thinking a trip to Fowey Hall may have to be an annual thing.
This glamorous yet relaxed, family hotel offers sumptuous surroundings, great food, a picture-perfect Cornish village on your doorstep and kids activities on tap. Total bliss for parents and children, you’ll get plenty of fun kid-time as well as precious time to yourselves here, thanks to all the inspired, family-friendly touches. A fully kitted out and Ofsted approved creche, allowed us a long afternoon soak in the hot tub, while the in-room, baby listening service meant we could enjoy a candlelit dinner after the kids went to bed. Decadent, moi?
Plus, the mudlets were in raptures – they flew kites, swam in the pool, did crafts in the kids club, played table tennis, watched movies and ate endless pastries at breakfast.
I kind of miss it already!
Fowey Hall is thought to be the original inspiration for Toad Hall, in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. So what better place to bring the kids for a weekend of proper childhood magic?
Built in 1899 as a private home, the Victorian mansion is set in terraced gardens and perched above the Cornish sailing town of Fowey, with stonking views across the estuary.
It is a short but fairly steep walk down to the waterside or along the road to Readymoney Cove, if you can find the will to leave the hotel at all. We’d have been quite happy marooned here for weeks.
Think traditional with quirky modern touches. We loved the roaring fires, eclectic art work and cosy corners.
Glamorous yet really laidback, the furnishings are mansion-worthy but comfortable and inviting too, with squishy sofas that are crying out for a cup of tea and a good book.
And I got a bit carried away photographing all the elegant windows and doorways.
We stayed in the ‘William Hanson’ family suite, which was massive and again, really well thought out. The kids’ twin room was upstairs but there was a stair gate and waiting on their beds were two colourful stunt kites, perfect for flying in the garden. Downstairs is a giant bed that we all curled up in in the mornings.
The bathroom was immaculate, suitably stylish and came complete with luxe Elemis smellies.
This suite looks out over the gardens and out to sea. It felt quite private but was close enough to the dining room that we were comfortable with the baby listening arrangement, as we were never far away.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Fowey Hall does classic really well and that extends to the menu in its 2 AA Rosette restaurant. Chef James Parkinson heads up the kitchen and his signature dishes feature quality local produce, from fish landed in Fowey to meat from Cornish farms.
The atmosphere in the candlelit dining room is intimate and really in keeping with the manor house feel. It was mostly full of couples except one larger table of ladies on a spa weekend. Outfits ranged from jeans (I really should make more effort!) to a full-length gown and feather boa.
The wine list was extensive, with lots of interesting choices and if curling up beside the fire with a nightcap sounds appealing, there are lots of rums and whiskeys to try out too.
Afternoon tea comes highly recommended if you have room. These little cakes lasted ooh, about three minutes max.
You betcha! In fact I’ve rarely been anywhere so easy to be with children. Every detail has been considered – from the bottle warmers and spare wellies to appropriate meal times and exciting kids menu.
There is a brilliant, Ofsted registered creche, called The Den, which is in its own little courtyard with rabbits and more appealing toys (for every age) than you can shake a stick at. My son was offered two brand new Lego sets to build and barely noticed when we left. A two-hour session per day was part of the package.
Kids are welcome in the large, slightly less formal dining room and you can either eat with them or book them in for an early ‘kids tea’, so you can do the grown-up thing later.
Meal times can be a struggle in our house but colouring, jugs of juice, snacks for while you’re waiting and some great family food made it so easy at Fowey Hall. Chef James is a parent and it shows.
During the day, our kids loved exploring the gardens – kicking a football, bouncing on the trampoline, zooming through the air on the zip wire and playing hide and seek. If the weather’s bad, there are lots of things to keep them entertained in the hotel too, including a heated, indoor pool, games and cinema rooms and piles of board games and toys.
Like every other part of the hotel, the spa has a family-friendly ethos. That’s not to say you can’t escape to a quiet treatment room for a good massage but the pool welcomes kids and has a big box of toys for them to enjoy.
The outdoor hot tub was a particular highlight for us on account of this view. Despite the cold day, we sat watching the world until we turned into prunes.
The pretty town of Fowey is just down the hill and the traditional fishing village of Polruan is a ferry-ride across the water. Mooch through Fowey to watch the boats, grab a coffee or a pint and browse the indie boutiques and gift shops.
Readymoney Cove (a 20 minute walk from Fowey Hall) is the closest beach but nearby Polkerris and Polperro also have sheltered beaches and bags of quintessential Cornish charm.
Looe is another local village that’s well worth a visit, with its safe beaches, restaurants and walks. It also hosts both literature and music festivals as well as a big fancy dress New Year’s Eve celebration.
If you’re not from Cornwall and have a bit more time to spare, The Eden Project and The Lost Gardens of Heligan are fab family days out and always put on great events during school holidays. I was dying to do the Gribbin Head walk too but you should always save something for next time!
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Frazzled parents (particularly of young children) will love it. If you’re anything like us, juggling fit-to-bursting work and school schedules, a weekend here is the perfect way to slow down and reconnect as a family.
Not for: Anyone looking for a child-free escape — this hotel is all about family.
The damage: A night in the William Hanson suite costs from £220 and the winter break offer that was on when we visited was £309 for dinner, bed and breakfast. Expect to pay more during summer and school holidays.
Fowey Hall Hotel, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23 1ET. 01726 833 866. Foweyhallhotel.co.uk