Sleepover: Fowey Hall, Cornwall

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The Independent Travel

Where is it?

In Cornwall, seven miles east of St Austell, overlooking the ancient harbour of Fowey, down the road from where the novelist Daphne du Maurier lived.

What's it like?

Grand, clifftop mansion and a model for Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame was a frequent visitor and the landscape was the inspiration for his book. The hall was built in 1899 by Charles Hanson, who returned to his home town after making a fortune in the Canadian timber trade. This social climber and Mayor of London assailed royalty with invitations to visit his glittering new pad but they politely declined.

What's its USP?

Baroque plasterwork, marble fireplaces and sea views to die for. Now a listed building and since 1998 part of the Luxury Family Hotels group where carry-cots and claret sit side-by-side.

Ambience?

Quiet, comfortable and clean - even children's screams and nappies fail to disrupt the stately calm. Outside, Atlantic winds tug at the wisteria and seagulls swoop and cry.

Service?

Staff young, smiling and helpful. There is a supervised nursery.

Rooms?

Twenty four, including 11 suites and three sets of interconnecting rooms. One-night stays based on two adults sharing, including early morning tea, newspaper and full English breakfast are from £155 to £270. Children sharing their parents' room stay for free and pay only for meals. Z-beds, cots and high chairs are provided.

Food and drink?

Head chef Tony Duce presents two concepts: the restaurant menu with daily dishes, and an à la carte menu with Cornish produce exhibiting modern British and Mediterranean influence. Lots of seafood. Jo had the spiced monkfish with coconut and lemon-grass risotto. I went for the fillet of beef with Provençale vegetables: both excellent: £29.50 for three courses. The Palm Court restaurant is simpler and less formal.

Clientele?

The mums and dads are Tony and Cherie Blair holidaying clones, determined to look relaxed and trendy in jeans. The occasional child-free couple like us (we took Jessie the dog instead) turns up for ozone-induced relaxation.

Things to do?

Indoor pool, aromatherapy, beauty therapy, table tennis, badminton, croquet, children's play area, bikes for hire. The Eden Project, the environmental biome extravaganza, is nearby, as is its older sister, The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Mevagissey.

Address?

Fowey Hall, Fowey, Cornwall PL23 1ET (01726 833866; fax: 01726 834100; www.foweyhall.com; email: info@foweyhall.com).

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