“Stylish beach cottages (sleeping 2-10) on idyllic island of Tresco with restaurant, sailing school and indoor pool”
Built on the site of the original Island Hotel, the Sea Garden Cottages deliver solid comfort and style in the form of their one bedroom cottages available by the night, or larger cottages, sleeping 6-10, rented by the week. Large picture windows give spectacular sea views and a dreamy sense of space. Empty stunning beaches are on your doorstep. It's only a skip to the Ruin Beach Cafe with its wood burning oven, tennis or indoor pool, but you'll want to hop on your cycle to explore the rest of the island. It's a magical place for children to have adventures but fear not, adults won’t go short on the finer things of life: serious pampering at the spa and a thoroughly decent deli are just a few minutes ride away. How fun and easy is that. Oh for an island life!
- The Isles of Scilly are spectacularly beautiful and unspoilt with more sunshine and less rain than the rest of the UK
- Stylish, comfortable and well-equipped cottages with fabulous views of wild seascapes and rocky outcrops
- Great for kids: almost traffic free, easy beach access, a magical sense of freedom biking round the isle
- The one-bedroom cottages are ideal for couples wanting a short escape
- Conveniently close to the beach restaurant, sailing centre (July and August), pool and tennis, plus free entry into Abbey Gardens
- The entire island is owned by the Dorrien-Smith family who have succeeded in preserving a unique sense of community
- If you want the hustle and bustle of frantic modern life, the Isles of Scilly may not be for you
- Getting there and back by twin-prop or ferry is part of the fun but travel plans can be scuppered by fog or high winds
- For bike hire, spa treatments and provisions you'll need to head over to the other side of the island, but it's only a 20 minute walk (less by bicycle) and they'll deliver groceries to your cottage
- Families return year after year so May half term and August can be booked up more than six months in advance. Also see the Flying Boat Cottages
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique cottages
- 11 cottages (with 1-3 bedrooms)
- Self-Catering with 2 restaurants and pub nearby
- All ages welcome
- Closed: 31 October - 13 March
- Indoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
- Tennis Court
- Bicycles Available
- Laundry Service
- Daily maid service for 1-bed cottages
All cottages face the sea and are a short stroll away from the Ruin Beach Cafe, indoor pool and gym. The 1-bedroom cottages are more like hotel suites with maid service and breakfast included in the daily rate (no minimum stay), and the larger 3 and 4 bedroom cottages are available for weekly stays on a self-catering basis.
Interior styling strikes a balance between contemporary and traditional in soothing shades of blue, coral and cream. Expect Oka furniture, Lloyd Loom wicker chairs, oak floors, New England style wood panelling and fine contemporary paintings (the Dorrien-Smiths are great patrons of the arts). Cosy, comfortable and high spec, they work well for all generations, from babies to grandparents. Kitchen equipment is a cut above the norm; WiFi, iPod docks, TV/DVDs and underfloor heating come as standard. The only disappointment was no washing machine but they run a concierge service which can help with luggage and laundry.
The 1-bedroom cottages are all on 2 storeys with similar layouts. Upstairs, there's the double bedroom with balcony. We slept well on their beds and were mesmerized by the early morning vista. Bathrooms come with Ren toiletries, fluffy robes and decent showers (some have bathtubs too). Downstairs, you have an open-plan living area with a compact kitchen, small table and sofabed, leading out to a terrace and garden area. The only difference between them is that Compass, Gimble, Cockle and Cowrie face east (so catch the morning sun) and are right by the water's edge, have more dramatic views of craggy rocks and feel a bit more private. The others (Spindrift, Scallop, Crab, Clam and Shrimp) face south, with sunnier flower-filled gardens and distant views of sandy beaches. Interconnecting doors can pair most of the 1-bedroom cottages but for weeklong stays we'd recommend the larger houses for families.
The 3-bedroom cottages (sleeping 6-8), are similarly styled to the 1-bedroom cottages but on a grander scale. With more rooms they're geared for groups to stay for longer: much larger living-dining-kitchen area (plus big fridge) as well as having en suite baths and separate shower room and TV room.
The 4-bedroom cottages include Sunfish (sleeping 8-10), which has the prime corner position with fine uninterrupted views to the east and south and direct access to a large lawned area.
Note Changeover days:
SATURDAYS: Lobster and Oyster are in at 1.00pm and out at 9.30am
All the one bed cottages are in at 3.00pm and out at 10.30am, Monday to Saturday (no check-in/outs on Sundays)
- CD player
- Central heating
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Ipod dock
- Satellite TV
Eating in: kitchens are very well equipped and spotless. Expect cooker, microwave, fridge (big fridge-freezer in larger houses), dishwasher, stylish Sophie Conran Portmerion crockery and lots of pots, pans, baking equipment, even Tupperware for picnics. Order fresh lobster or crab from the local fishermen and you'll find special stick forks for eating them. Note that those staying in the 1-bedroom cottage get breakfast included in the rates.
Don't worry about not being able to carry enough provisions with you (flights have strict baggage limits), the Tresco Stores on the west of the island has an excellent selection of essentials as well as a deli, lots of local produce and a decent range of Champagne, wines and beers. Think mini "Wholefoods Market" rather than your local Spar. Foodies will be impressed with the range of unusual ingredients. If you’re arriving late in the day, you can pre-order groceries to be waiting for you in your cottage.
Eating Out: the Ruin Beach Cafe is the main focus of this side of the island and is yards from your cottage. Open daily (from mid March - early November) for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, it has a friendly laid back atmosphere, original art work, pretty shell mosaics, and a large terrace with plenty of tables for when its dry. Overlooking the beach and shallow azure waters towards St Martins, this must be one of the UK's most idyllic lunch spots. The menu has a Mediterranean focus: typical dishes include wood-fired pizzas, fresh crab on toasted sourdough, and beef sirloin with crushed potatoes and gremolata. The offering remained the same during our stay but daily specials expand the choice in the evenings. We thought the spaghetti with lobster was exceptional. Service is friendly but can be slow at peak times.
Further afield on the other side of the island is the more traditional New Inn (open all year) which serves fine ales and good pub grub, and the Flying Boat Restaurant and Bar (open February to mid November, except Sunday evenings) where the emphasis is firmly on showcasing the region's best seafood.
It's worth also taking a 10-minute boat ride to Hell Bay (open end March - end October) on neighbouring Bryher island for a light lunch or fine dining in the evening. It's under the same ownership and special dinner boats go across a couple of evenings a week.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Meal delivery service
- Restaurants nearby
- Shopping service
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 UK's finest. Our favourite picnic spot is beneath 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 those staying in the Sea Garden Cottages 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 to discover 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
- Visit for the annual ale festival or art week
- Play tennis - there is a hard surface court behind the cottages and another two astro-turf courts on the other side of the island near the Island office (you may need to book in advance with the concierge)
- Play golf at The Isles of Scilly Golf Club on St Mary's - it's free to those staying at the Sea Garden Cottages
- Learn to sail at the on site sailing school (July and August only). Kayaks and windsurfs can also be hired. The main local spectator sport is weekly island gig-racing
- Swim in the indoor pool or unwind at the lovely Flying Boat Club's Spa: book a relaxing treatment or use its jacuzzi, steam room and sauna
- 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 in your cottage with a DVD - you can rent the latest films from the Tresco Stores and watch on large flat screen TVs
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Plantlife / flora
With no cars, beaches on your doorstep 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 on the west of the island 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.
Family friendly accommodation:
Small families with one child could opt for a 1-bedroom cottage with the bedroom upstairs and sitting room with sofa bed downstairs (two young children would be ok but a bit of a squeeze). Some of these smaller cottages have shower only, so if a bathtub is important to you, please request at time of booking. Larger families coming for a short break could book two connecting 1-bedroom cottages (Cockle+Cowrie, Compass+Gimble, or Shrimp+Spindrift), but staying a week or more, it's cheaper to book one of the larger 3-bedroom cottages, which have bigger living areas and beds for up to 8 (using a sofa bed in the TV snug). All beds at the Sea Garden Cottages are zip linked so can be made into doubles or twins
Available with prior notice
- 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
The nearby Ruin Beach Cafe has a relaxed atmosphere where parents can enjoy a chilled glass of rose and a wood-fired pizza on the terrace while their kids play just yards away on the sandy beach. A children's menu is available and our 6-year old daughter still claims the "spag bol" to be the best ever. See Eating. If you prefer to whip up snacks in your cottage, the kitchens are well equipped and have microwaves; you'll find everything you need at the local store. Head to the New Inn for delicious ice-cream
Kids Activities on site:
- Heated indoor swimming pool with tiled steps (good for toddlers)
- 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 school 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, rackets of all sizes and balls provided)
- Hidden treehouses and swinging ropes (no clues, you'll have to find them yourself!)
- Ruined castles waiting to be explored
- 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
- The Abbey Garden has subtropical vegetation, grottos and figureheads recovered from shipwrecks
Families Should Know:
Children under 14 years must be supervised in the swimming pool. Cottages don't have washing machines but service washes are available at an extra cost. Since the helicopter service stopped in 2012, the only way back to the mainland is by boat ride to St Mary's followed by fixed wing flight or ferry. In case of an emergency the staff at the island's office are brilliant - on our last visit we needed to get our daughter back to the mainland quickly and we were literally swept off our feet via tractor, boat and plane at lightning speed
- 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, usually to Treliske Hospital in Truro)
The Isles of Scilly are located 28 miles south west off the tip of Cornwall. Getting here is part of the fun! The most popular route is by air (from Exeter, Newquay or Lands End) or ferry from Penzance, which is about 5 1/2 hours by train from London. Please note there are no flights or ferry crossings to the islands on Sundays.
Tresco is car-free and most people get around the island on foot or by bicycle. Tractors and trailers transport luggage and the less mobile can hire a golf cart for the duration of their stay.
By Air - Fixed-wing or helicopter:
There are regular fixed-wing Skybus flights from Newquay, Exeter and Land's End. It's a fun flight with great views over the Cornish coastline (unless you get bad weather) but as the planes only seat 8 or 16 take note that baggage space is limited (eg. hand luggage is limited to a small handbag/camera etc). A new helicopter service is also due to start operating in spring 2020 from Penzance, which will fly to St Mary's but also direct to Tresco - see Penzance Heliport for more information. From St Mary's airport there's a taxi-bus shuttle service down to the quay, where Tresco Estate will arrange a boat transfer to the island of Tresco which takes 15-20 minutes. Once on Tresco, a tractor with trailer will take your luggage to your cottage. At every stage of the journey on the islands, guests will be assisted by Tresco Estate staff or contractors.
Note flights can be delayed or cancelled due to fog or high winds. If all flights are cancelled on one day you can either spend an extra night on the islands and fly the next day (subject to availability) or they can transfer your ticket to the ferry for the same day. We recommend that you keep your travel times flexible (ie. don't arrange an important meeting on the day of your return!).
Sailings on the Scillionian III depart Penzance mostly in the mornings to the main island of St Mary's - it usually takes 2 hrs 40 minutes. See Isles of Scilly Travel for sail times and online booking. Tresco Estate can arrange a boat transfer from St Mary's to the island of Tresco which takes 15-20 minutes. Once on Tresco, a tractor with trailer will take your luggage to your cottage.
More on getting to the UK and getting around
- St Marys 4.0 km ISC
- Beach 0.1 km
- Shops 0.1 km
- Restaurant 0.1 km