A couple of weeks ago we packed our bags and headed off on a little mini-break to Cornwall. Not just any part of Cornwall though – oh no. We were on our way to a part of Cornwall that holds a special place in my heart: Falmouth.
I did my post-graduate degree down in Falmouth back in 2006 but, despite loving the place, I’ve never been back. Life, a career and a family just sort of got in the way. I’ve wanted to take the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine and Frog over to Falmouth for a while now, so jumped at the chance to review a holiday near my old stamping ground.
I’ll be honest, I was a bit cautious at the idea of staying in a hotel. I’m a big camping fan and our glamping holiday near Newquay last year seemed difficult to beat. I needn’t have worried though, as the Budock Vean Hotel proved exceptionally lovely.
Budock Vean is nestled away down a winding lane, set against stunning scenery, with its own private foreshore on the Helford River. It has everything you’d expect from an up-market country club: a golf course, spa, restaurant, bar, swimming pool and acres of beautiful gardens. But while the traditional decor and tranquil setting are a big draw for couples looking for some relaxation, there are loads of reasons why it makes a great place to stay as a family.
As soon as we arrived we were made to feel incredibly welcome – the warmth of the lady at the reception shone through as she chatted to our three year old, asking her name with a smile before checking us in. Any fears I’d had about a swanky, stuffy non-child friendly hotel completely disappeared.
A couple of hours later, gin and tonic in hand, I looked over the rolling gardens as I reclined on an easy chair on the terrace while my three year old did somersaults on the lawn. Dinner arrived and I knew we would be perfectly looked after here.
If you choose to eat at the hotel and you have kids under the age of seven, you’ll need to either eat with them early (around 5.30pm) or use the babysitting or listening device service while you eat in the main restaurant between 7pm and 9pm. We loved the food at the hotel, it was fresh, tasty and great quality and, for us, that made up for not being able to eat all together in the main restaurant in the evening.
On the first night, Frog scoffed down a three course meal of soup, chicken and chips and ice-cream, which she made pretty short work of and told me it was “delicious”. With our three year old happily fed and sleepy, we made our way back to our comfortable room overlooking the golf course and rang down for our four course meal to be brought up to us.
If you’re looking for flexibility and friendly staff then you’ll be happy at Budock Vean. Our food arrived at the door with a smile and a promise to deliver the next course soon – all whispered so as not to wake our sleeping tot. The NLM and I ate like royalty, from fresh crab starters to rich and creamy dauphinoise potatoes and succulent lamb, zingy soup and dangerously more-ish cheese and crackers, I could write two whole posts about the food alone.
The following night we all ate together as a family, on the terrace overlooking a clear sky. There wasn’t the option for the four course feast we’d devoured the night before, but the alternative made us pretty happy…
In terms of activities, there’s a wealth of things to do in the area. In fact, there’s so much to see and do that I’m going to write about places to visit nearby in a separate post. That said, you don’t actually need to leave the hotel if you want to have fun.
For families with slightly older kids (aged six and above), how about a spot of kayaking? Keen to make the most of the stunning scenery, the NLM spent a couple of hours on the river with Koru Kayaking, which he thoroughly enjoyed. We waved him off and then had our own adventure with a spot of swimming in the hotel pool before a game of hide and seek in the huge gardens.
After a morning gliding along the river, soaking up the setting, the NLM returned refreshed and ready for an afternoon seeking out the best pasty in Falmouth.
I didn’t deny him his relaxation on the river, because I had my very own zen-like experience in the hotel spa. I can thoroughly recommend the Head in Heaven treatment for some A-list pampering; a massage and facial that will leave you positively glowing with well-being.
Frog made the most of the swimming pool again in the afternoon, something we won major parent points for. Then, before tea, we went for a walk down to the private foreshore to throw pebbles in the water. There we found some children crabbing with a line and bucket off the little jetty – that’s the kind of thing you find hugely exciting when you’re three.
I’m off to dream about all that food…
A room at The Budock Vean Hotel during summer season costs from £130 per night, inclusive of a full English breakfast and four course dinner with coffee. For full rates check out The Budock Vean Hotel website.
The Frenchman’s Creek Adventure with Koru Kayaking costs £35 per person, with £7 added for wetsuit hire.
We were guests of The Budock Vean Hotel and Koru Kayaking, for the purpose of this review.