Loved Rebecca? Head to Fowey Harbour Hotel and experience the romance of a Du Maurier novel

The clifftop hotel boasts incredible views of the sea

Did you watch Rebecca, starring Lily James, on Netflix and find yourself obsessing over the location? Read on to find out how to experience it firsthand for your next UK holiday.

I’m racing across the waves in a powerboat, past coves and inlets and the house where Daphne du Maurier spent her final idyllic years, and as we reach the majestic Fowey Harbour Hotel where I’m staying, I get a sudden glimpse into why the author so loved this corner of Cornwall.

Forget the fact it’s raining. These rocks and cliffs and ghostly watery inlets give you a sense of the adventure and romance in old-fashioned Fowey.

This is where, walking in woods in 1926, Du Maurier discovered the overgrown but spectacular (and still sadly private) Menabilly country house, which became the inspiration for Manderley in her classic novel Rebecca – where the ghostly presence of a deceased wife haunts her widower’s new bride.

Now, with the release of the film starring Lily James, this spectacular setting is fresh in our minds (although James herself is being haunted by pictures rather than spirits).

Lily James stars in the 2020 film adaptation of Rebecca (Picture: Kerry Brown / Netflix)

So if you’ve seen the latest movie, read the book or fancy a romantic getaway as a couple (ahem), there’s no better place to go than Fowey, where the ultimate gothic romance first began.

Here, in decidedly happier circumstances, my romantic other and I have set out on a boat trip armed with a tartan blanket and pristinely packed picnic hamper provided by our hosts at the hotel.

As we speed across the waves, skipper Dan tells us about local legends of pirates and wartime secrets with the relish of a true historian. Seriously – this man should be on the Discovery Channel.

The hotel is just the place to flop into after a wet two-hour sea trip. Along the entire back of this gorgeous, cliff-hugging Victorian pile is a colonial-style bar and striking open-plan restaurant complete with 1920s-style ceiling fans, jungle-inspired wall art and turquoise theme.

Their massive windows overlooking gardens and the sea beyond will inspire you to head outdoors. Good news: there’s a balcony ripe for sipping a locally distilled gin and tonic.

With a calming blue colour scheme and sea views, the rooms in this hotel are simply luxurious

There are more epic sea views from our superior double, which we’ve been slowly eased up to via the building’s original Victorian lift. Elsewhere, White Company toiletries and Hunter wellies available for guest use are just some of the other little luxuries here.

Food is not overly fussy but tantalising: locals clearly like it here. Our griddled scallops, pea purée and crispy bacon (£11.50) and cod with crab and herb crust £21.50) are classily executed.

Has Covid spoilt the fun? Not at all – there’s the usual air of friendliness and calm from the ever-cheerful staff, despite social-distancing measures.

It’s taken us just six hours to drive from London – and approximately six minutes to decide that we never want to leave. Plenty of time to dream about the ghosts of Mandeley here.

What you need to know about Fowey Harbour Hotel

What’s great about Fowey?

The hotel’s colonial style is Instagram-worthy at every corner yet nobody is taking selfies. They’re all watching the boats go by instead.

Who goes there?

There’s all ages, bonded by an appreciation of the unique setting.

What is there to do in Fowey?

A short stroll into town unveils history at every turn. You’ll walk past the stairs where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert alighted from their boat, greeted by cheering locals.

For a more moving slice of history, drive for 30 minutes to the Lost Gardens of Heligan – 200 acres of historical gardens once forgotten after the workforce went off World War I but now restored to their former glory (, £16 adults, £8 for children up to 17).

Standard doubles start at £145 B&B. Other experiences including gin tasting, yoga, fishing and hidden beaches can be booked via

A powerboat trip with Fowey Maritime Centre costs £300 for a half-day charter or £25 per person for a one-hour Rib trip, with an additional hotel picnic priced at £25pp

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