24-Hour Room Service: The Cornwall Hotel, Spa and Estate, St Austell, Cornwall

Old meets new in this Cornish retreat

Let's start with the name. It's a lot to live up to, that name. "The Cornwall" it says in big letters on the logo, with "Hotel, Spa & Estate" rendered in smaller type just below. Note the use of the definite article, and the implied annexation of an entire county's accommodation options. A Cornwall would probably be underplaying things somewhat, but The Cornwall? That's a big ask.

The Cornwall of Cornwall officially opened on 8 March, when The Countess of Wessex (someone who presumably knows a thing or two about definite articles) did the ribbon-cutting honours. A plaque commemorates the occasion in the slim foyer, which also marks the physical boundary between The Cornwall's past life as a grand manor house and the contemporary architecture of much of its current incarnation.

You see, the "hotel" part of The Cornwall is divided in two. At the front, lording it over the "estate" part, is an impressive Victorian building, crisp white, rising from the Parkland Terrace, where visitors devour cream teas. Nine bedrooms and suites lie in the upper storey, making good use of period features such as sash windows and vintage fireplaces, while spoiling guests with neat contemporary touches including modern wrought-iron four-poster beds and lime-green bathrooms.

Behind the main structure, a long corridor provides a slightly awkward link between the new-build foyer (where a curving staircase dominates) and a set of pod-like two-storey units set up on the hillside behind. Contained within these are a total of 56 "Woodland Rooms", with balcony views of the grounds. The juxtaposition is careful: from the front the reassuring gravitas of the main building draws the eye, while the modern annexe does its best to blend into the scenery, with curving roofs and plenty of wood and glass in evidence.

Then there's the Clearing Spa, artfully crafted from a 19th-century stable block beyond the main building. The centrepiece here is a stunning infinity pool with double doors opening on to a walled garden. There's also a gym and, above, five treatment rooms where candles flicker, music tinkles and essential oils are massaged purposefully into surprised limbs.

Location

The hotel is south of St Austell, just off the B3273, a picturesque route which runs past caravan parks and campsites to the fishing village of Mevagissey. In comparison to the accommodation provided by its neighbours, The Cornwall offers high-end glitter an attempt to combat the comparatively staid (as opposed to surfy) ambience of south Cornwall and, in the words of general manager James Harding, "bring the north coast market here".

Cornwall's grandest outdoor attractions should help pull in the punters he's after: the big-hitting Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan are within easy reach. However, the outdoor attraction of The Cornwall itself is still a work in progress. If you squint a bit you'll get a sense of Harding's goal: 43 acres of woodland walks, areas for children to play and picnic grounds. Just at the moment, though, the estate is in a state the harsh winter put paid to much of the new planting.

However, once Mother Nature has done her work the complex of 22 two- and three-bedroom holiday homes that are being offered for rental or sale (from 318,500 each) alongside the hotel should get the views their neat slate-and-shingle exteriors deserve.

Comfort

My Woodland Room scored highly for comfort: Egyptian cotton sheets covered the pleasantly firm bed, Aromatherapy Associates unguents loitered in the bathroom and sliding glass doors opened on to a private balcony. But aside from its vivid wallpaper, the furnishings were too plain to be memorable: more office-space chic than boutique.

If it's quirky you're after, book yourself one of those rooms in the main building. Here, the public spaces are full of neutral tones and tasteful experiments in texture: walls are clad in leather or woven fabric, cross-cut logs of wood are stacked into pillars, and exposed stone roughs it alongside high-gloss finishes. The lampshades are large, the bar back-lit, the armchairs velvety but there's still enough period charm to mean that a meal in the fine-dining Arboretum Restaurant is a comforting treat. The 50-a-head menu is described in refreshingly no-nonsense terms: "scallops, celeriac, truffle" was my starter, followed by "duck breast, fondant potatoes, Swiss chard, sauce soubise"; all tasted exquisite.

For relaxed family dining there's the Acorns brasserie, a smartly functional room set around a small chef's kitchen. In culinary terms, it's less successful than the Arboretum: the DIY pizzas for children (5) are a great idea, but my grilled leg of lamb steak (14.50) was seriously overcooked.

Nevertheless, The Cornwall certainly has the potential to be the definite article one day. A fellow guest said while checking out that "we booked because of the spa, but the weather was so nice we didn't bother with it in the end". A good point, but it's also worth remembering that there's nothing like a nice warm infinity pool when it's chucking it down outside. This is definitively Cornwall, after all.

The Cornwall Hotel, Spa&Estate Pentewan Road, Tregorrick, St Austell, Cornwall PL26 7AA(01726 874050; thecornwall.com ).

Rooms 4 stars
Value 4 stars
Service 4 stars

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee