“Stylish beach cottages (sleeping 2-10) on idyllic island of Tresco with restaurant, sailing school and indoor pool”
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)
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. Ring up before and they'll stock your fridge prior to your arrival. Chef-prepared dishes like cottage pie or Thai chicken curry can also be delivered to 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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