“A quartet of lavish houses (sleeping 2-12) with fantastic concierge services and stunning views over the tranquil waters of St Mawes”
Best of all are lofty views over the jade-green waters and bobbing boats of St Mawes. One of south Cornwall's prettiest villages, it's compact enough to walk to 3 beaches, yet big enough for 2 pubs, a lovely deli, some stylish shops and an intriguing 16th-century castle. You can jump on a ferry to Falmouth's entertaining Maritime Museum or the rugged headland of St Anthony, charter a yacht or power boat, or stay in and sample some of Amanda's fantastic concierge services - sublime massages, art lessons, gourmet dinners - at the hands of wonderful locals. And that, we can't help feeling, is what gives these houses their final magic ingredient: soul.
- Expect the best: goosedown duvets in the bedrooms, drench showers and sleek tubs in the bathrooms, vast leather sofas in the sitting room, fab coffee machines in the kitchen
- And for children too: handpicked toys, dressing up boxes, dedicated TV/film rooms, charming babysitters, trampolines or ping pong tables in the larger houses
- A stream of indulgent extras - chilled champagne, fresh flowers, Cornish hampers, books and games galore - made us feel thoroughly spoiled throughout our stay
- We liked Amanda's calm, chic interiors, with cheerful flashes of colour on a white or cream canvas
- She has road-tested all the chefs, beauticians, therapists etc, so you can be sure they are the pick of Cornwall's crop (and, refreshingly, she does not mark up their rates)
- Ascetic types may feel baffled by the sheer quantity of scatter cushions, fluffy towels and flatscreen TVs
- The 2-bedroom house has a single open-plan living-dining space and no garden (but a sea-facing terrace)
- One of the 5-bedroom houses is more informal in style, but does boast the most stunning sea views of all
- The smaller 5-bedroom house only has parking for one car, and road access is steep and narrow
- The owners don't live locally, but they visit often and have chosen lovely caretakers
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Luxury house rentals
- 4 houses for 4-12
- Self-catering (chef available)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
- Concierge Service
- Pool Table
- Trampoline (2 houses only)
There are four houses in all: a 2-bedroom house for 4, a 5-bedroom house for 8-14, a 5-bedroom house for 10 (where we stayed), and a larger 5-bedroom house for 10-12. Most bedrooms are double (kingsize), but some can be set up as twins and others have space for a cot. Two houses have a family bedroom in case parents want to share with their little ones, one has a master bedroom with accompanying bunk room.
We saw the 3 larger houses and each has its own trump card: the crisp décor and cool lighting in ours, the extravagant gardens in the largest two. The smallest house is more compact, but still ample for a family on a week's break.
All bedrooms come with top-of-the-range Hypnos mattresses (we can vouch for them), goosedown duvets, Egyptian cotton sheets, an embarrassment of pillows and fluffy towels. The 4 of us slept long and deep. Ensuite bathrooms boast sleek double-ended tubs or wetrooms with drench shower heads; a few have both.
Each house has a generous sitting area with deep leather sofas, a vast TV/DVD, a separate sound system, a smattering of local art on the walls, and some arty touches (giant sea urchin shells in a jar, a driftwood sculpture, a crazy chandelier). The two 5-bedroom houses get a second sitting area, with its own TV in case you don't all share the same viewing habits; and a stylish woodburner for cosying up on cooler evenings. And all have sea-facing terraces or gardens for alfresco dining and daybed-lounging in summer.
But with so many books, board games, DVDs/FreeSat and kids' toys at your disposal, not to mention complimentary cakes and painterly views through floor-to-ceiling windows, these are the sort of houses you could come in any season or weather, and never feel short-changed.
- CD player
- Central heating
- Coffee maker
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Food blender
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Ipod dock
- Satellite TV
- Tumble dryer
- Washing machine
- Wood-burning stove (most houses)
Each house has a beautifully equipped, spacious kitchen and a choice of indoor or outdoor dining areas. We were frankly staggered by the level of equipment in ours: 2 fridge-freezers, a temperature-controlled wine-cooler, an ultra-sharp Sabatier knife set, food processor, silver napkin rings, and no fewer than 3 coffee outlets (Nespresso, plunger and built-in bean-to-cup machine).
It's enough to make you want to enlist the services of a professional chef and, as luck would have it, Amanda has 4 up her sleeve. We indulged on our first evening and were served some top-class culinary creations by Haydn Treneary and his delightful wife. Think seared scallops washed down with chilled champagne (a gift when you book through i-escape), herb-crusted rack of lamb on sweet potato purée with asparagus-prosciutto parcels, plus glorious mini-portions of lemon posset and chocolate brownie to finish. It was all as delicious as it sounds - our young son's menu too - and no more expensive (split four ways) than dining at Treneary's alma mater, the Tresanton.
Should decadence spill over to the morning, Amanda can arrange a local lady to rustle up full cooked breakfasts, using eggs from her own farm and bacon from a neighbour's. But we were happy to raid the Cornish welcome hamper, topped up with fresh pastries from the deli and excellent lemon curd from the castle's gift shop. Amanda is happy to arrange pre-arrival shopping, including locally prepared frozen dishes.
The village also has a couple of small supermarkets, 2 pubs, a simple fish and chip shop and 2 prestigious hotel restaurants. Alternatively, head out to The Driftwood (9km) for Michelin-starred cuisine, or to quirky Melinsey Mill (12km) for home-fired pizzas, light lunches and cream teas. If you're in Falmouth for lunch, we can recommend the fish'n'chips at Harbour Lights - or Rick Stein's if you're feeling flush.
- Chef on request
- Children's meals
- Coffee maker
- Dinner by arrangement
- Food blender
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Lunch by arrangement
- Meal delivery service
- Restaurants nearby
- Shopping service
- Welcome hamper
- St Mawes has 3 small tidal beaches, perfect for crabbing among rock pools or dipping into the shallows (this part of the estuary is very sheltered)
- Strolling around the harbour, you'll find a few cafés, galleries and boutiques, including the très-chic Onda at Hotel Tresanton ("it's hard to leave empty-handed", I'm told)
- On the edge of town is an intriguing circular castle from the 16th century, with salvaged cannons and fortified sea walls; beyond that the coastal path heads off along the Fal estuary towards St Just in Roseland, whose churchyard John Betjeman rated "the most beautiful on earth"
- The other way (using the seasonal ferry), you can explore the rugged headland and lighthouse of St. Anthony, or hike on to Porthcurnick beach
- Factor in a day trip to bustling Falmouth (a little ferry plies to and fro every hour or so), with its naval port and highly entertaining Maritime Museum (the radio controlled yachts and smuggling exhibition were highlights for our son); plus a mirror image Henry-VIII castle on its own headland
- Garden lovers will need no introduction to the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Tregony (30 mins' drive), open all year from 10-5pm, and especially magical in early/late summer; or the world famous Eden Project with its rampant jungles housed in giant bubble domes (45 min's drive)
- Whatever you do, leave some time for some of Amanda's excellent concierge services: our reflexology and Lomi Lomi massages were expertly delivered, and there are art lessons, beauty treatments, sailing excursions and power boats on tap too
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Archery lessons
- Art classes
- Boat trips
- Cooking classes
- Garden visits
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Pool table
- Power boat charter
- Private guided tours
i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2014
Winner: Best For Families Large and Small
All the houses are great with kids, especially the larger ones; with 4 or 5 bedrooms, they lend themselves to larger families or multi-generational groups. We stayed with young, middle and older generations in a 5-bedroom house, and it worked a treat - there's plenty of space for all to do their own thing, and the gardens are a godsend in good weather. Cots and high-quality blow-up beds are available in all houses for free.
Family friendly accommodation:
The 2 largest houses each have one family room (with a double bed and 2 singles/bunks) if parents want to share with their little ones. They also have the largest gardens, with lots of shrubbery dens in the 4-bedroom house. Apart from those family rooms, all bedrooms are double (kingsize/superking) or twin; some have space for a cot.
Amanda can arrange local CRB-checked babysitters, including those with their own children (and therefore lots of experience!).
- Bottle warming
- Night light
- Stair gates
- High chair
- Pushchair to borrow
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The private chefs are only too happy to create special menus for little ones.
Kids Activities on site:
All houses have plenty of games, puzzles, toys and kids' DVDs, as well as a dressing-up box (our son unexpectedly emerged for dinner as Spiderman one evening). The 2 largest houses have a trampoline in the garden.
Kids Activities nearby:
There's a playground in the village, a castle to explore, and 3 tidal beaches - perfect for crabbing or beachcombing expeditions (bucket, spade and nets are provided). Older children might enjoy sailing, kayaking or paddle-boarding with the local watersports teacher, Bob.
Families Should Know:
The gardens in the 4-bedroom house are sloping. The beaches facing the Channel can have a swell, but the waters around St. Mawes are quite sheltered.
- Airport: 30 miles / 50 minutes' drive (Newquay)
- Hospital: 45 minutes' drive (St. Austell / Truro)
- Shops: 5 minutes' walk (St Mawes)