Flying Boat Cottages

Tresco, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom Book from Book from £240 per night

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, Better yet, they have wonderful views west across to Bryher island and the Atlantic beyond. From your terrace garden you can step down onto the sand. Indoors, island owner Robert Dorien-Smith's passion for local art is showcased throughout.

Stay and you get full club membership with access to the spa, swimming pools, restaurant, tennis courts and all the perks. Tresco has no real roads, just 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
  • Comfy cottages with top-notch kitchens, outside space and great sea views
  • Great for kids: almost traffic free, no crime, direct beach access, a magical sense of freedom
  • World-famous Tresco Abbey Gardens is nearby (free entry for FBC guests)
  • Everything is moments from 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
  • Food on the island is pricey and there's only one general store, but it's very well stocked with 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 (alternatively, consider 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!).

Changeover days
Monday: Flora, Sophie
Tuesday: Fearless, Phoenix
Wednesday: Pegasus, Endeavour
Thursday: Colossus, Friendship
Friday: Seaflower, Garland
Saturday: Gem, Sunbeam

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) and toiletries (only soap is provided).

Car-free Tresco is just 1.15 square miles but it has an extremely diverse landscape, with rugged cliffs and wild moorland in the north and lush farmland, manicured gardens and palms in the south. Bring your hiking boots, these islands are built for walking.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • Beach houses
  • 12 houses (each with 3-4 bedrooms)
  • Self-Catering with 2 restaurants and pub nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • 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 (sleeping 6-10); most have 3 bedrooms. All are fabulous and we think calling them cottages is a bit mean: they're far from cramped. All face the bay and neighbouring island of Bryher. We were completely sold on being able to wander down our steps and be on the beach in seconds. 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: extremely well-equipped kitchens and oak floors downstairs. 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 glass doors opening to a balcony with stunning sea views. The second and third smaller bedrooms face inland; each has twin beds that can be zipped together. Some 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 dining terrace and a small patch of lawn. In cooler months there's a log burning fire to keep you warm and snug (plus wall heaters which are charged according to usage). If you want to keep connected, each house has flat screen digital/satellite TVs and free WiFi.

Bathrooms are more functional than designer: spotless bathtubs, strong showers and lots of fluffy white towels. You'll need to bring your own toiletries, bathrobes and beach towels.
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:

  • Barbecue
  • CD player
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • DVD player
  • Fireplace
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob or stove
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Wall heaters
  • WiFi

Eating

Self-catering: 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. For evening cocktails we found the large fridge's crushed ice maker invaluable. And there's plenty of room to eat either in the dining room or on the terrace.

Food shopping: Don't worry about not being able to carry enough provisions with you, 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. Being so cut off, prices will be a little dearer than the mainland, but not excessively so. Ring up before and they'll stock your fridge prior to your arrival.

Eating out: it may be self-catering, but you don't have to do any cooking: the laid-back and comfortable Flying Boat Club Bar & Bistro is next door; open February to mid-November (closed Sunday evenings), plus Christmas/New Year. 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 bouillabaisse with fresh sourdough at lunch. The emphasis is firmly on showcasing the region's best seafood. Packed with locals and nautical memorabilia, The New Inn (5-minute walk, open all year round) serves fine ales and good pub grub. On the other side of the island, Ruin Beach Cafe has more of a Mediterranean focus, including delicious wood-fired pizzas, and a stunning seaside location (15-minute walk or 5-minute cycle ride).

Further afield: Take a 5-10 minute boat ride to neighbouring Bryher island. The hotel restaurant at Hell Bay (open late-March to October) is great for a light lunch or evening fine dining (special dinner boats go across a couple of evenings a week). All are under the same ownership as the FBC.

Features include:

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

Activities

  • Hire a bike and cycle around the island (there's a hire shop just beside Tresco Stores). 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
  • Visit the Abbey Garden Valhalla exhibition the best collection of ships' figureheads in the world, mostly taken from wrecks found in the Scilly Isles dating back centuries
  • Walk the coastal path north to Cromwell's 17th-century castle (built to guard anchorage between Bryher and Tresco). Further up the hill, you’ll find King Charles Castle and fabulous view
  • Unwind at the Flying Boat Club's Spa: enjoy the indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna (free of charge) or book a treatment (additional charge)
  • 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
  • Play tennis at the astro-turf courts beside the spa (balls and rackets can be provided), check out who's showing at the Gallery Tresco or birdwatch from the hide overlooking the Great Pool (in October, migratory birds visit the islands)
  • Explore the 5 other inhabited Scilly islands: St Mary's (the main island), Bryher, St Martin's and St Agnes. There are also over 100 uninhabited islands (many are just small rocks) - some are home to seal and seabird sanctuaries. Boat trips run daily or you can hire a private launch
  • 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
  • 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...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
9/10
Service
8/10
Value
9/10
Overall

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Rates for Flying Boat Cottages