Flying Boat Cottages

Tresco, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom Book from £228.57

A clutch of stylish beach houses with indoor pool, spa, bar and restaurant on the stunning island of Tresco (each sleeps 6-10)
Deserted white beaches, turquoise waters and exotic plants suggest the Caribbean. Better still, it's the island of Tresco in the Scilly Isles and you don't need to travel half way round the world to get here. The Flying Boat Club harks back to the days when seaplanes were stationed here a century ago. Far from old fashioned today, its 12 seafront cottages are seriously well kitted out with all mod cons, Designer's Guild fabrics and wonderful views west across to Bryher island and the Atlantic beyond. From your terrace you can step down onto the sand. Indoors, island owner Robert Dorien-Smith's passion for art is showcased throughout.

Stay and you get full club membership with access to bar, restaurant, tennis and all the perks. You'll even pray for a rainy day to enjoy their spa and swanky indoor pool. Tresco has no real roads save for a few well maintained trackways. So you roam around all day on bicycles past beaches, forests, moors and flower fields. Impossibly romantic for two, utterly magical for children. Easy to understate its charm; difficult to share with the world.

Highs

  • The Isles of Scilly are breathtakingly beautiful and unspoilt, plus they get more sunshine and less rain than the rest of the UK
  • Stylish, comfy cottages with top-notch kitchens and great sea views
  • Great for kids: almost traffic free, direct beach access, a magical sense of freedom
  • World-famous Abbey Garden is nearby (free entry for FBC guests)
  • Everything is close to the cottages: beach, restaurant, shop, office, bike hire, pub and spa with fab indoor heated pool
  • The island is owned by one family who have succeeded in preserving a unique sense of community

Lows

  • If you want the hustle and bustle of frantic modern life, the Isles of Scilly may not be for you
  • There's only one general store but we found it incredibly well stocked with lots of specialist and local produce
  • Getting there and back by twin-prop or ferry is part of the fun but travel plans can be scuppered by fog
  • High demand means getting a slot for the May school half term and August is near impossible (availability is better at their newer Sea Garden Cottages over by the Ruin Beach Cafe and sailing school)

Best time to go

Any time of year - though it gets very booked up in the school holidays. The best of the weather is in the spring and summer months but you can have beautiful weather at any time of year (as you can storms!).

Our top tips

You can get most essentials in Tresco Stores (including sun cream), but you might want to bring CDs/DVDs, bathrobes, beach towels (to save on luggage space we bring a sarong or hamamma) and toiletries (only soap is provided).

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach houses
  • 12 houses (each with 3-4 bedrooms)
  • Self-Catering with 2 restaurants and pub nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 1 Nov 2015 - 11 Mar 2016
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The Flying Boat Cottages comprise 12 beachfront houses each sleeping 6-10 people. Most have 3 bedrooms (1 master double, plus 2 twin rooms). Some have extra sofabeds and a couple have a 4th bedroom. All are fabulous and we think calling them cottages is a bit mean: there's plenty of space to swing a cat and they're far from cramped. We were completely sold on being able to wander down our steps and be on the beach in seconds. All face the bay and neighbouring island of Bryher. Half of them have cedar wood cladding with lofty "A" frame roofs which gives a New England appearance; the rest have rough cast exteriors, giving a more traditional look, and with lower ceilings a slightly cosier feel. See links at bottom for details of the different options.

Inside they're all of similar style: oak floors downstairs and cream and blue painted walls. Upstairs you'll tread on 40oz carpets and Designer's Guild cushions and curtains splash some vibrant colour (perhaps too much for some). Original paintings are showcased throughout courtesy of the Dorrien-Smith collection and many are by acclaimed contemporary artists renowned for capturing Cornwall and the Islands. The Master Bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning sea views, a plasma screen TV and plenty of cupboard space. The second and third smaller bedrooms face the back and each has twin beds that can be zipped together. Half of the houses have a downstairs snug/TV room with a sofabed for two; the rest have a separate dining room instead.

For summer there's a terrace with table and chairs and a small patch of lawn as well as folding doors that open to a balcony off the master bedroom. In cooler months there's a log burning fire to keep you warm and snug; there are also wall heaters which are charged according to usage. If you want to keep connected, each house has at least 3 flat screen digital/satellite TVs, and free WiFi too.

Bathrooms are more functional than designer: you won't get Philippe Starck fittings, but the baths are spotless and the showers strong. There are lots of fluffy white towels but you'll need to bring your own toiletries, bathrobe and beach towels.

Every cottage has an extremely well kitted out kitchen - every pot, pan and gadget imaginable from garlic crusher, cake-making tins and weighing scales to electric tin opener, designer crockery and calculator. For evening cocktails we found the large fridge's crushed ice maker invaluable. We also thought the bin with its inbuilt colour coded recycling compartments clever and very practical.

Your choice of house may depend on the changeover day which varies (see below).

Accommodation Details

Wood-clad Beach Houses for 6 (changeover day)
Seaflower (Friday)
Garland (Friday)
Friendship (Thursday)
Fearless (Tuesday)
Phoenix (Tuesday)
Pegasus (Wednesday)
Click here for more details and photos

Rough Cast Beach Cottages for 6-8 (changeover day)
Flora (Monday)
Sophie (Monday)
Gem (Saturday)
Sunbeam (Saturday)
Click here for more details and photos

Larger FBC Cottages for 8+ (changeover day)
Endeavour (8-9) (Wednesday)
Colossus (8-10) (Thursday)
Click here for more details and photos

For more cottages on Tresco with a Saturday changeover day see the Sea Garden Cottages on the other side of the island.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Cd player
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Fireplace
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Wall heaters
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Eating in: if you plan to eat at home, don't worry about not being able to carry enough provisions with you (flights have strict baggage limits), the Tresco Stores has an excellent selection of essentials as well as a deli, lots of local produce (including Tresco beef) and a decent selection of wines and beers. Think mini "Wholefoods Market" rather than your local Spar. Naturally, being so cut off, prices will be a little dearer than the mainland but not excessively so and foodies will be impressed with the range of unusual ingredients. Ring up before and they'll stock your fridge prior to your arrival.

Your kitchen is amazingly well equipped with a range-style cooker, microwave, big fridge-freezer, dishwasher, stylish Sophie Conran Portmerion crockery and lots of pots and pans, as well as cleaning pack and barbecue. The array of baking equipment might just bring out the 'Nigella' in you. Order fresh lobster or crab from the local fishermen and you'll even find special stick forks for eating them. And there's plenty of room to eat either in the dining room or on the terrace.

Eating Out: it may be self-catering, but you don't have to do any cooking: the Flying Boat Restaurant and Bar is next door and open from February to mid November (closed Sunday evenings), plus Christmas/New Year. The atmosphere is laid-back and comfortable with red and blue Lloyd Loom chairs, daily papers, original paintings throughout and views across New Grimsby harbour. There's an outdoor terrace with tables resembling a ship's bough and indoors a log fire for winter. Pop in for coffee or a tasty bowl of boullabaise with fresh sourdough at lunch. With Glen Gatland (formerly Hell Bay) now at the helm, the emphasis is firmly on showcasing the region's best seafood. The dinner menu offers a mix and match approach (similar to Nathan Outlaw's Seafood Grill in Rock) where you select your fish, lobster or steak, followed by the sauce or dressing, then side orders, allowing you to explore different combinations.

Further afield: the menu at the new Ruin Beach Cafe on the other side of the island (25 min walk, less if you cycle) has more of a Mediterranean focus, including delicious wood-fired pizzas, and a stunning seaside location. Packed with locals and nautical memorabilia, the New Inn (5 minute walk, open all year round) serves fine ales and good pub grub. Or take a 5-10 minute boat ride to Bryher island and head for the hotel restaurant at Hell Bay (open end March - end October) - for a light lunch or fine dining in the evening (special dinner boats go across a couple of evenings a week). All are under the same ownership as the FBC.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Meal delivery service
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

Car-free Tresco is just 2 miles long by 1 mile wide but has an extremely diverse landscape with rugged cliffs and wild moorland in the north and lush farmland, manicured gardens and palms in the south.

  • Bicycle around the island (there's a hire shop just beside Tresco Stores with bikes of all sizes). No need to fret about locking your bike up - no-one will steal it here
  • Wander along the beaches - there's half a dozen to choose from and usually these are empty with white sand, pretty shells and crystal clear water. Pentle Bay is considered one of the best beaches in the UK. We also love the one just below the Blockhouse
  • Visit the famous Tresco Abbey Garden - created in 1834 it features a unique collection of sub-tropical plants from around the world. Entrance is free to Flying Boat Club members and it's open every day from 10.00-16.00 hrs
  • Visit the Valhalla exhibition (located within Abbey Garden) - the best collection of ships' figureheads in the world, mostly taken from wrecks found in the Scilly Isles dating back centuries
  • Walking is relatively easy going around Tresco. Follow the coastal path along to Cromwell's 17th century castle on the island's north west promontory (built to guard anchorage between Bryher and Tresco). A short hike up the hill behind leads you to King Charles Castle and fabulous view of the islands
  • Play tennis - there are a couple of astro-turf courts beside the spa (balls and rackets can be provided)
  • Visit for the annual ale festival or art week
  • All members of the Flying Boat Club are entitled to play golf at The Isles of Scilly Golf Club on St Mary's for free
  • Take some sailing, kayaking or windsurfing lessons at the sailing club on the other side of the island (July and August). The main local spectator sport is gig-racing
  • Unwind at the Flying Boat Club's Spa: enjoy some treatments or use its jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. The new indoor swimming pool is one of the best we've seen anywhere.
  • The Scillies are a haven for birdwatchers, particularly in October when migratory birds visit the islands. The hide overlooking the Great Pool on Tresco is an excellent spot
  • Check out who's showing at the Gallery Tresco - they regularly feature some of Cornwall's most acclaimed contemporary artists
  • Explore the other islands: apart from Tresco the other inhabited islands are St Mary's (the main island), Bryher, St Martin's and St Agnes, plus there are over 100 uninhabited islands (though many are just small rocks), some of which are home to seal and seabird sanctuaries. Boat trips run daily or you can hire a private launch
  • Hole up at home with a DVD - you can rent the latest films from the Tresco Stores and watch on large flat screen TVs
  • Watch the sunset from your terrace

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing

Kids


i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2013
Winner: Island Adventure category

Say hello to freedom! With no cars and plenty of places to explore, this is heaven for kids. Hire children's bikes and helmets from the bike shop and let them go. Older kids can join the sailing club in summer and island hop in small yachts, and if it's raining, the heated indoor pool is ideal.

The island's sole shop Tresco Stores is just behind the cottages and stocks baby and toddler essentials (nappies, wipes, Calpol, suncream, buckets and spades, balls, baby food), though you might want to check in advance about preferred brands of formula.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Take your pick - they're all good. Most houses have 3 double/twin bedrooms, some also have a sofabed in a small TV room which would be good for children. Larger families opt for Colossus (sleeps 8-10) or Endeavour (sleeps 8-9), each with 4 double/twin rooms and a sofa bed. See Rooms.

Babysitting:

Available with prior notice

Baby listening:

Bring your own monitor. They should work from Colossus, Friendship or Fearless to the restaurant/clubhouse and maybe more

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • High chairs
  • Bath mats
  • Stair gates
  • Children's plates, bowls and cutlery (on request)
  • Pushchairs can be hired from Tresco's Estates Office

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Children's menus are available at the FBC restaurant (closed in winter and Sundays throughout the year) and kids love the pizzas at the Ruin Beach Cafe and icecreams at the New Inn. The kitchens are well stocked and have microwaves; you'll find everything you need at the local store

Kids Activities on site:

  • Heated indoor swimming pool with wide steps (good for toddlers)
  • On rainy days: afternoon film screenings, craft workshops
  • Sandy beach on your doorstep, others to discover, some with pretty shells and rockpools
  • Crabbing off the jetties (lines available in the shop)
  • Sailing Centre on Tresco (July and August) offers sailing, kayaking and windsurfing for all levels
  • Bike hire (for all ages, including stabilizers, tag alongs and toddler seats)
  • Tennis (2 astro-turf courts, racquets of all sizes and balls provided)
  • Hidden treehouses and swinging ropes (no clues, you'll have to find them yourself!)
  • Children's playground up at the island's school
  • Walking, including long pushchair-friendly walks from your door around most of the island (bring a baby carrier if you want to walk up to the castles)
  • For rainy days, there is a DVD player (rent DVDs from Tresco Stores), cake baking equipment and usually a jigsaw and board game in each of the houses

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Boat trips to the other islands, including bird and seal spotting
  • Ruined castles waiting to be explored
  • The Abbey Garden has subtropical vegetation, grottos and figureheads recovered from shipwrecks

Families Should Know:

Children under 14 years must be accompanied by an adult in the FBC restaurant and bar and the swimming pool. Houses don't have washing machines but service washes are available at an extra cost

Distances:

  • Airport: 20 minutes away on St Mary's
  • Helipad: on Tresco
  • Doctor: trained first aiders on Tresco. St Mary's has a small hospital, 2 GPs and ambulance boat (also emergency helicopter service to the mainland)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
8/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Flying Boat Cottages