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
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before