Too embarassing to stay in a glass house?

Noreen Barr

If ever a holiday home was perfectly designed for Instagram loveliness, the new Glass Lodge on Cornwall's Clowance Estate must be it.

Twinkling in the sunlight, this ultra-modern dwelling in England's far southwest is entirely glass fronted. Trendily furnished inside, it boasts a secluded hot tub on the patio - and its setting is a gorgeous 4--hectare country estate, once owned by a powerful Cornish family, the St Aubyns, for more than 500 years.

With so many envy-inducing photo opportunities, it's little wonder the lodge is being marketed as "a must for fashionable families visiting the southwest".

Our family - fashionable or not - consisting of myself and husband Mark, tricky-to-impress Max, 14, and mess-creating Eve, 6, visited for a long-weekend.

I worried that it may be embarrassing to stay in a see-through house. Standing outside, you can see straight through the glass into the open-plan living and dining areas, and kitchen. But luckily, the Glass Lodge is strategically positioned on the edge of the estate, overlooking arable farmland, so there was no-one to see us in our pants or pyjamas - save for a beady-eyed robin perched on the patio.

The two ground-floor bedrooms - one with an ensuite shower room - and a bathroom with a free-standing tub are discreetly tucked away to the side and back of the house. The mezzanine child's bedroom above the kitchen is partly visible, but can be curtained off.

Everything in the house is pristine, and the child's bedroom is incredible. Designed as a miniature prehistoric cave, complete with wall paintings by a local artist, it's as cosy as a woolly mammoth.

The gleaming, streamlined kitchen has a touch-screen oven and trendily-angled work surface. A huge L-shaped sofa facing an enormous flat-screen TV is everything Max dreams of. And lounging in the hot tub as the evening mist rolls in is truly luxurious.

The Glass Lodge was completed in July last last year (it's one of two on the estate that has over 40 self-catering houses in all), yet shows no signs of wear. The ornaments - such as a wooden lighthouse and campervan, instantly pounced upon by Eve as toys - seem hardy, while the wooden flooring in the living area is practical.

Max's fears of being trapped in the countryside with only his family for company, vanish the moment he steps onto a Segway. He's instantly zooming along at the maximum speed of 20kmph. Soon, even us parents have mastered the basics, and we go off road, whizzing over the lawn to the lakeside, bumping up a woodland path and fording a stream. Later, we try an archery class, competing to hit a classic target, balloons and even a foam zombie.

We all love swimming in the warm, indoor pools (although there is no shallow end for little ones; both pools are mostly 1.6m deep). And one sunny afternoon, we row on the shimmering lake - mostly in circles, and followed by a bemused duck and her wake of baby ducklings.

On dry land, there's also free tennis, badminton, croquet, giant chess and draughts, and 'Frisbee golf' (where you aim a Frisbee towards metal baskets dotted about the grounds).

Behind the lake is a path into Bluebell Woods - a sea of blue flowers with white waves of pungent wild garlic flowers in the springtime. There's a real feeling of walking through history - the St Aubyn family were keen landscapers, and although Clowance was sold off in 1923, the grounds they planted still flourish.

How's the food?

For most meals, we shop locally - Camborne is about 6km away - and make use of our kitchen, relaxing in the hot tub as pots simmer. But we try the estate's Lakeside Restaurant one evening and the food is fabulous, particularly a pan-fried wild mushroom bruschetta starter.

Head 20km northwest from Clowance, and you'll find yourself in St Ives, a picturesque fishing town with a sweeping beach, arty atmosphere and the Tate gallery.

We drive 10km south, away from a misty north coast, to sun-drenched Porthleven. Passing swish boutiques and harbour-front restaurants, we reach a lovely beach of small pebbles, bordered by rocks that the children happily scramble up.