Fowey (rhymes with ‘boy’) is a charming harbour town on the Cornish Riviera, where writer Daphne du Maurier once lived. It’s now home to actress Dawn French, who jokes about her ‘ghastly’ life from her Italianate mansion overlooking the pretty beach at Readymoney Cove. With great shops, restaurants and a castle, no wonder Fowey’s bustling even late in the year.
Fowey Hall, a magnificent mellow-stone Victorian building, sits above the estuary with stunning vistas. The mansion was the inspiration for Toad Hall and is, as Kenneth Grahame wrote of Toad’s residence, ‘a handsome, dignified old house’. The usual word for a 36-bedroom pile like this is ‘imposing’, but the hotel has a homely atmosphere, helped by cheerful staff who welcome us and our bouncy dog.
If she were a child, she’d already be whizzing down the zipwire in the Wind In The Willows play area, or perusing the library’s 800 children’s books. This kids’ haven also features ping-pong and pool tables, vintage computer games and a cinema room.
Elegance with style: Fowey Hall was the inspiration for Toad Hall and is, as Kenneth Grahame wrote of Toad’s residence, ‘a handsome, dignified old house’, writes Vicki
It’s grand for grown-ups too. A recent refurbishment kept many original features, with parquet floors in the lobby and lounges and wood panelling, while a fresh, coastal-inspired palette, interesting lighting combos (chandeliers, modern lampstands) and sink-in sofas bring it up to date.
Our Deluxe View Room in the Garden Wing has cool grey, mustard and white tones and a modern bathroom. We admire the lawns and estuary through the French windows but needs must, so it’s off to the spa for an invigorating massage. The 12m indoor pool and sea-view hot tub are inviting… and so is dinner.
The informal main restaurant has a light, dual-aspect area with large windows alongside a darker, more atmospheric zone. The bar doubles as a morning room, with a touch of ‘palm court’ about it, with Lloyd Loom chairs and botanical wallpaper. We eat here (dogs allowed): Thai beef salad; bass, spinach and scallion-mash; and banana creme brulee.
The hotel shop is a treasure trove, as you’d expect from the trained eye of a former Vogue editor, Fiona Golfar, who has a home nearby and curates the shop. Credit cards at the ready!
The USP: A beautiful building with spot-on amenities for families and great distractions for couples.
The rooms: Thirty-six modern-meets-luxe rooms in the main house, garden wing and courtyard include 12 family rooms and interconnecting options. Some have bunk beds and contemporary four-posters. All of them have dreamily comfy mattresses – a White Company collaboration.
The food: Flexible, all-day dining focuses on fresh, seasonal plates with seafood landed locally and beef from Cornish farms.
B&B from £249 per night (luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk).