This family-focused hotel may have been the original inspiration for Toad Hall in Wind in the Willows, but that’s far from the only thing Fowey Hall has to boast about. Commanding sweeping views of the river estuary, port and sea, the small hotel on the south coast of Cornwall has beds hand-carved by British artisans, oak-panelled detailing, subtle nods to local artists and framed Daphne du Maurier book-covers. Throw in the heated outdoor pool and salt-scrubbing spa, and you’ll soon realise that Grahame may have sought his muse for Toad’s turrets here, but semblance to his story certainly stops there.
11am. Earliest check-in, 3pm; both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £191.26, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include a Continental and à la carte breakfast, served in the Garden Room. There’s a two-night minimum stay on Saturdays during the school holidays, and a three-night minimum over Bank Holiday weekends.
There are two accessible rooms on the ground floor, and the common spaces have been adapted for those with reduced mobility. The hotel is also happy to cater for all dietary requirements.
At the hotel
Public beach nearby; spa; walled gardens with a zip line and playhouse; crèche; games room with vintage arcade-machines; library with board games and backgammon; cinema room; laundry service; free-to-use beach buckets, spades, fishing nets and wellies; and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, tea-making kit, and Bramley bath products.
Our favourite rooms
All these minimalist rooms are graced with leafy views, but for mesmerising mornings, we’d recommend the Polraun Suite for its private sea-facing balcony. Where other rooms have neutral tones and modern designs, the Rosaline Suite, set in the hotel’s Victorian mansion, boasts a quintessentially British style with restored wood floors, hand-carved mahogany desks and grand corniced ceilings.
Set on the terrace with sprawling sea views, the outdoor heated pool (open during the summer, from 9am to 5pm) is bordered by sunloungers and overlooks the manicured gardens below. There’s also a 12-metre pool inside at the spa, that’s open year-round.
Open from 10am to 6pm (5pm on Sundays), the spa has an indoor pool and four treatment rooms for facials and massages that use Bramley and Ishga natural oils.
Little Smiths of all ages are more than welcome here.
Fowey Hall has something for everyone, but under-eights are especially well taken care of.
The two-bedroom suites and the Rosalind Suite have bunk-beds for little Smiths, but all rooms (except the classics) can sleep two adults and two children.
The Ofsted-certified Four Bears Den has two 90-minute sessions every day (10am to 11.30am and 3pm to 4.30pm), which is filled with arts and crafts, dressing-up clothes and toys for under-eights. Each child staying has one free session a day, but the Den fills up quickly so we’d recommend pre-booking.
Over-eights are welcome to use the vintage arcade-machines in the games room, and during July and August the hotel hosts full family activity sessions on Tuesdays and Saturdays that include fire-lighting lessons and camp cooking classes. Each two-hour session runs from 10.30am to 12.30pm and is £20 a person (free for under-threes).
Little Smiths are welcome in both the spa and outdoor pool, at all times.
Bottles of milk can be heated day and night and delivered back to your room, and the hotel chef will happily provide puréed food between 7am and 9pm. The restaurant also serves an early dinner for children at 5pm (or they’re welcome to eat with the adults) and has an all-day kids’ menu with all sorts of sandwiches, mini burgers and fries, cod goujons, and sweet treats.
A babysitter can be organised for £25 an hour, the hotel just needs 48 hours’ notice. There are also free-to-use baby monitors and listening devices in all the bedrooms.
No need to pack
Anything, they’ve thought of it all.
Fowey Hall keeps things local by using food suppliers based in Cornwall, hiring from Fowey and sourcing furniture made by British artisans. Local artist Stephanie Tudor teaches interactive classes on the topic of plastic pollution for little Smiths. Waste, energy and single-use plastic are all kept to a minimum too.
You’re welcome to dine wherever you please here, but we’d recommend going alfresco during the summer, and heading in to huddle around the library’s roaring fire come winter.
Any green tweed, as an ode to Toad.
Cornish classics are at the core of Fowey Hall’s restaurant, where all ingredients are supplied by local fisherman and farmers. Menus change seasonally, but you can expect to start the day with bacon baps and smoked-salmon breakfasts in the Garden Room, before sampling fish and chips battered in local ales, cave-aged cheddar soufflés and buttered hake topped with a minted fennel stew at lunch and dinner. On Sundays, there’s a three-course roast dinner and the hotel also serves afternoon tea (with freshly baked scones) daily in the Green Room.
You’ll find the hotel’s boldly-designed bar opposite reception, with a menu of seasonal cocktails, Camel Valley wines and local ales from Fowey Brewery.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10am; lunch is noon to 5pm, and dinner is 5pm to 9pm. The bar also pours its final tipple at 9pm.
Fowey Hall is in its namesake fishing town, along the south Cornish coast, between Looe and Mevagissey.
Regular flights from London and Europe arrive into Newquay Airport, a 40-minute drive from Fowey Hall. Otherwise, London Heathrow is a little over a four-hour drive away, or one-hour flight. If you let the hotel know where you’re coming from, they’ll happily organise a taxi to collect you.
There’s a frequent train from London Paddington to Par (a 10-minute drive from the hotel) that takes around four-and-a-half hours. There are also trains to Par from Exeter, Bristol and Taunton.
If you’re planning on doing a coastal Cornish road trip, the hotel has free parking and there are plenty of rental booths at the airport.
Worth getting out of bed for
Surfers rejoice, you’re on the south Cornish coast after all. Head to Par Sands or Polkerris for the best waves, or if you’re a little less confident, Readymoney Cove has gentler waters that are ideal for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. 16th-century St Catherine’s Castle is worth the walk for its Henrician history, and in town, the Fowey Museum and River Gallery are ideal for chroniclers and creatives alike. Wander through the pastel-hued homes that line the Esplanade and stop in at Shrew Books to browse a curated collection of work from local authors. If you’re looking to spend a day on the water, there’s a frequent ferry to Polruan, or those missing their sea legs may be happier on the Land Train, which does guided tours of the region. Given you’re in Cornwall, exploring jungle or Mediterranean climes is easier than you might think: The Eden Project is only a short drive away and an immersive day-out for all ages.
As soon as summer hits, North Street Kitchen opens its doors; dine alfresco on grilled fish caught fresh from the adjacent estuary. Appleton’s Bar & Restaurant, helmed by foodie-duo Andy and Lyndsey Appleton, has you covered with an Italian menu amped up with local Cornish flavours. If you’re roaming the Esplanade and fancy a pit stop, laid-back Pintxo pairs small plates of tapas with traditional Spanish sherries.
Take your pick of pubs, the Galleon Inn and the Ship Inn are both set along the river, and serve Cornish ales with fully-fledged English fare.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this harbourside hotel in Fowey and unpacked their tubs of clotted cream and pasties, a full account of their beachy break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Fowey Hall in Cornwall…
It’s not often family-friendly stays and serene spas are used together, but Fowey Hall manages to do both (and more) impeccably well. Set along the south Cornish coast and designed with a bespoke British style, this humble hotel has revamped its original form with an additional array of cream-coloured rooms, and primed its gardens for summer screenings and marshmallow-toastings. And, while little Smiths are playing pretend at the Four Bears Den, salty scrubs and moisturising massages await the adults at the spa.