Enjoying the history, scenery, and hospitality of Cornwall, journalist and spa expert, Kath Hudson enjoys a winter weekend escape to Fowey Hall!
As the inspiration for Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows, it’s no surprise that Fowey Hall has a touch of magic about it. The 36-room hotel is set in five acres, perched above Fowey, with a fantastic view of the estuary and the houses of Polruan on the other side. If you come during Fowey Regatta, it’s a great spot from which to watch to the Red Arrows. Fowey is one of Cornwall’s prettiest villages and Readymoney beach is walking distance from the hotel.
At the main entrance, you walk past lines of wellies, straight into a large lounge which is all roaring fires, chandeliers, original floor boards, Persian rugs, crushed velvet sofas and antique furniture … It’s slouchily elegant and very inviting.
The spa is a relatively recent add on, so you have to nip across the car park and down some steps to get to it (you might want to bring suitable footwear for this). The advantage of this is that it’s built for the purpose, rather than shoe-horned into a corner of an old building which doesn’t lend itself. There are four treatment rooms, or three and a relaxation room during off season, a 12-metre swimming pool, a sun deck and a hot tub. The pool is very warm, which is great if you’re bobbing about looking after children, not so if you’re wanting to do serious lanes. As it’s 1.2m all the way along, it’s kid friendly. The hot tub, overlooking the estuary and Polruan, is proper hot tub temperature, so you can enjoy it even on a winter’s day. It felt almost alpine.
There’s a line of beanbags in the floor to ceiling window of the pool, so it’s a comfy, warm place to hang out and enjoy the view, or a book, or a snooze.
I opted for the Bootcamp for Butts, a Mama Mio treatment, as it sounded intriguing. Despite the claims of it lifting my butt within one hour, I was a bit dubious, but thought it worth a try. I would best describe it as a facial for the bum and thighs. The benefits come from the fact that it aims to get rid of retained water. Eight potions and lotions were applied: cleansers, toning serum, moisturisers, a couple of exfoliants, a seaweed mask. There was lots of vigorous rubbing to get the blood circulating and the lymph moving. All quite Turkish hammam. One of the exfoliants felt like I’d fallen into a patch of stinging nettles. I had to put my hands under my belly to stop myself itching and it was only the therapist’s assurances that it would be worth it that stopped me from screaming at her to get it off. Luckily she distracted me slightly with a beautiful calf massage. Just when the sensation was starting to subside, she removed it with warm mitts. Heavenly. The hour-long treatment was finished off with a zingy moisturiser, which left my legs tingling. Not surprisingly, this treatment works best if you have more than one. I didn’t notice that my bum had lifted at all, but my skin was wonderfully smooth afterwards and my thighs didn’t look dimpled, so I’m pretty sure it did help with water retention. And that was even after I broke the rules by drinking alcohol and having a shower.
There are two restaurants, or you can eat outside in the summer. One is fine dining, the other is more relaxed. After a G&T by one of the fires, we ate in the posh restaurant, while the kids were watching a film in the cinema room (they had eaten from the large kids menu earlier). Everyone was happy. The food was gorgeous, lots of it locally sourced. I had beetroot cured sea trout with pickles, followed by sea bass on crab lasagne, with a seafood reduction, and then the cheese board. It was all faultless.
This is an excellent choice for families. With interconnecting rooms, a zipwire, trampoline, chickens, a crèche, books and DVDs to borrow, table football, table tennis and a cinema room, the kids will be as well entertained as you, so hours of treatments can be enjoyed guilt free. The spa menu caters well for pregnancy and post-partum treatments, so it’s ideal for a post baby break. Don’t let the family friendliness put you off if you don’t have any children, but in that case it might be best to go off season or mid-week.
– If it’s still on the menu, go for the cinnamon parfait and figs. Even though I loved my cheese board, I had serious order envy about this. It was delicious.
– Nip into the hot tub at dusk, or dawn, and watch the lights of Polruan twinkle and enjoy the peace of the estuary, where Daphne Du Maurier found inspiration.
– Based on my experience of the Butt Bootcamp, I’d recommend the Bikini Bootcamp treatment, where they add in belly, boobs and bingo wings too. OK, it might be slightly weird to have your boobs manipulated, but if the end result is that they’re back on top, then it has to be worth it! If you’re staying overnight, book the treatment for the following day, so you can enjoy the wine list guilt free first. Also, you’re meant to leave the oils on for a day, so make sure you have a swim and a shower before the treatment.
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