From Bude in the north to Porthcurno in the south, Cornwall has some of the UK’s most stunning coastal scenery. But you can’t really call it a hidden gem – the motorway queues in the school summer holidays are as legendary as its delicious pasties and cream teas. Which makes the off-season a great time to visit, when the prices are lower and the crowds have gone home. So when Stay in Cornwall invited me down to the region for a springtime long weekend, I jumped at the chance to explore more of the area’s coast, castles and gardens. Our base for the trip was the Sea Loft in Charlestown, on the south Cornish coast. Not your usual seaside cottage, the Sea Loft is a contemporary coastal escape in a loft-style apartment.
Read more: The Eden Project: Cornwall’s Garden of Eden
The apartment is set in a small development on the outskirts of the picturesque coastal village of Charlestown, a mile outside St Austell on Cornwall’s south coast. Charlestown started life as a Georgian port, built to ship local China Clay out across the world. And with its original buildings and a harbour still full of tall ships it hasn’t changed much. It’s been used as a filming location for films and TV series like Poldark. The village has a few pubs and places to eat, with more shops and a train station in St Austell. It’s a great base to get out and explore Cornwall – the Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan are only a few miles away. You’re also on the Southwest Coast Path with a beautiful (if slightly hilly) seven-mile walk along the coast from Charlestown to Mevagissy. Charlestown has a pebbly beach but if you’re looking for a stretch of sand then you can head to nearby Porthpean and Par Sands, both within a few miles.
The apartment is on the first floor, and you come into a big open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen. Large windows and pale colours make it feel light and airy. There’s a definite coastal theme – from the nautical cushions to the seagull sculptures and the tones of blue, white and sea green – but it’s all very stylishly done. The furniture mixes up classic oak pieces with some modern pieces like the dining chairs, and there are a few quirky touches like the feather-covered lampshade in the main bedroom. The lounge has a huge corner sofa as well as a reclining chair by the window so there’s plenty of room to spread out. The apartment has two bedrooms – one master bedroom with a king-sized bed and an en-suite shower room and one twin room. There’s also a separate bathroom which has a bath with a shower over it.
We arrived to find a bottle of fizz and fresh scones with jam and clotted cream to welcome us (that’s with jam before cream in proper Cornish style). The open-plan kitchen has everything you need to self-cater – hob, oven, fridge/freezer, microwave, dishwasher and washer/dryer – and you’re left with washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets to get you started. Charlestown doesn’t have a supermarket but St Austell has a big Tesco, Asda and Lidl. Or if you’re eating out Charlestown has a few options, with Wrecker’s and Charlie’s Boathouse café/restaurants and the Pier House Hotel, Rashleigh Arms and Harbourside Inn pubs. Real ale fans can try some of the brews from St Austell Brewery (where you can do a brewery tour if you want to find out more) or if you prefer wine then Cornwall’s Camel Valley Vineyard is only 30 minutes away.
The apartment doesn’t have any outside space, but there is a big window in the lounge which has double doors and a Juliet balcony so you can let the sea air in. There are some grassy areas around the apartment building too or it’s only five minutes’ walk down to the harbour and beach. If the weather’s not so good, the apartment is really cosy and you can curl up on the reclining chair with a book and a fluffy blanket. It comes with wifi, a TV with DVD player and a pile of DVDs you can borrow, as well as books and local information, and a stack of board games. There’s also an iPod docking station and TVs in both bedrooms.
- Guests are… there’s plenty of space for four people and it would work well for two couples or a family.
- Staff are… keys are left in a key box so you don’t need to worry about arranging a meeting, with an information pack on arrival and the owners’ contact details in case of any questions.
- Don’t forget… to bring shampoo, shower gel and soap as you’re not supplied with any toiletries.
- Useful to know… you can also bring your dog along for an extra cost of £20 a week.
Many thanks to Stay in Cornwall for hosting me for my stay. All views and opinions are, as always, my own.