The Cottages Charlestown

Charlestown, Cornwall, United Kingdom Book from £130

Reviewed by Kate Parsons
Exquisite tiny-house rentals in a seaside Cornish village, ideal for a small family or romantic break (sleeps 2-5)
Charlestown is a tiny harbour village with a big reputation; you may recognise its historic harbour from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland or The Eagle has Landed. Tucked in a Georgian terrace 300 yards inland, the diminutive Grade II Cottage has a lawned garden out front, a courtyard at the back, and a snug two-up-two-down inside. It's a charming bolthole for a couple (with or without a child), and perfect for a year-round break.

Since we first visited, the collection has grown to include some gorgeous siblings: Olivia's Cottage (sleeps 4), on the upper harbour-facing row of houses, neighbouring Blossom Cottage (sleeps 5), and the snuggly Cabin (sleeps 2), tucked in secluded gardens behind the Marine Villa. All are equally spoiling, with antique furnishings, arty knick knacks and lots of little luxuries. Antonia has cleverly incorporated 21st-century mod cons into a compact 19th-century fabric: Bosch dishwashers hidden in understairs cupboards, power showers in sky-lit bathrooms. Small but superbly equipped kitchens come with underfloor heating, ancient beams, hand-picked local produce, and the very best of gadgets. Living-dining rooms are decked with retro shop signs, restored trestle tables and cosy wood-burning stoves. After a day on the beach, the maritime bedrooms will be just the ticket to coax a child to bed, whilst you enjoy a cosy dinner a deux (Antonia can deliver homemade dishes if you're feeling lazy). Pure English seaside style.

Highs

  • The Cottage is perfect for a couple with 2 children; Olivias and Blossom suit families of 4-5, while the Cabin is a blissful hideaway for 2
  • Antonia provides a wealth of baby kit, so you don't need to lug all the paraphernalia with you; and there are DVDs, digi TV and cast-iron bath tubs for a spoiling soak
  • Charlestown is laid-back and lovely, with shingly coves and fascinating rockpools, a couple of eateries and ice creameries, and tall ships moored in the harbour
  • You're well placed for Cornwall's loveliest beaches (coast paths lead to 2 of them), Rick Stein's restaurants, the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan
  • All cottages have beautifully planted gardens offering total privacy and sheltered al fresco eating areas, too

Lows

  • Deservedly popular - you'll need to book well in advance
  • These are compact cottages, with cosily-sized rooms and the odd low beam - but they are very cleverly arranged too
  • The cottages are not right on the harbour front: some are set just above it, while the original Cottage is 5 mins' walk up the Charlestown Road (set back from the road)
  • The Cottage's raised cabin-style bed won't suit toddlers, while Olivia's set-up means children may have to share a double bed
  • Strictly a 7-night minimum stay (changeover day is Friday) during July and August.
  • Strict cancellation policy

Best time to go

The cottage is open year-round. High Season is May-Sept, and the busiest months are July and August (school holidays), but each season will have its charms. A winter stay would be very cosy, holed up in the snug sitting room, with cobweb-banishing walks along the coast path by day.

Our top tips

At low tide, head rightwards along the rocky coast to a small cove beneath pointy sea-washed rocks (great scrambling); from there a gap in the rocks brings you out on sandy Duporth beach - but remember to return before the tide does!

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Cottages (sleeping 2-4)
  • 3
  • Self-catering
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

You enter THE COTTAGE through a door flanked by brass ship lanterns - a nautical theme runs throughout - and find yourself in a small kitchen with luxurious underfloor heating and top quality equipment for self-catering. Next door is an oak-floored sitting room with a tiny sofa and a wood-burning stove. The TV has a built-in DVD player, and there's a stack of DVDs to keep you entertained in the evenings. Stairs lead up to a peaceful master bedroom at the front, with an oak-framed king, and a tiny second kids bedroom at the rear, whose raised cabin-style bed is in honesty too small for a couple, but would suit an older child perfectly. Luxurious beds feature high on our holiday wishlist, and these get full marks, with top-quality bed linen, and hypo-allergenic pillows and duvets on request. As with all of Antonia's properties, there's lots of lovely detail in both bedrooms - hand carved lamps, antique drawers, fresh flowers, seagrass flooring - and there's an overriding feeling of calm and peace, so you'll sleep deeply. We loved the spoiling bathroom, with its cast-iron tub, or an overhead shower if you prefer. Organic soaps are provided.

OLIVIA'S COTTAGE is slightly more spacious and perhaps a tad lower in spec, but otherwise bears all of Antonia's hallmarks: clean fresh design, funky vintage finds, and extremely intelligent use of space. Downstairs is a compact kitchen, an L-shaped bathroom with tub and wetroom, and a good-sized sitting room. Upstairs you get 2 double bedrooms, one with a harbour-facing window and kingsize bed, the other a small double. Outside is a small suntrap garden, which somehow manages to harvest the Cornish sun but not its wind.

BLOSSOM COTTAGE, next to Olivia’s, shares a similar layout, although it has a third single bedroom suitable for a child.

Couples wanting a snuggly hideaway will love THE CABIN, tucked in leafy gardens behind Marine Villa. It's actually 2 small cabins - one glass-fronted living area with L-shaped sofas, bar-style seating and a diminutive kitchen, and one sleeping cabin with a cosy, yacht-like double berth and a slate-floored shower room - which are linked with a sail-canopied patio for al fresco dining. This, and the very private lawned gardens, make it a gorgeous summer option, though it does come with woodburner, radiators and goosedown duvets for winter stays.

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Digital radio
  • Digital TV
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Toaster
  • Tumble dryer
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet
  • Woodburner stove

Eating

The Cottage's lovely kitchen is small but fantastically kitted out. There's a Smeg range cooker with a ceramic hob and gas oven, Bosch microwave, Dualit toaster, Magimix kettle, Bosch dishwasher and small fridge/freezer. Cornish crockery sits in the cupboard along with Joseph Joseph chopping boards and bread bin, AGA pans, casserole dishes, mixing bowls, even a whisk. A steriliser and handheld blender are supplied for those with little ones. In the old laundry - one of 2 outbuildings - you'll find a Bosch washing machine and dryer, overhead airer, Belfast sink, iron and ironing board. There's a narrow table for 4 in the sitting room, plus outdoor furniture. Have a Pimms in the flowered garden out front as the sun goes down; move inside and dine by candelight, warmed by the wood burner.

It's a similar set-up in Olivia's Cottage and Blossom Cottage, while The Cabin's small kitchen is open-plan with the living area, but you do get a sail-covered patio for outdoor dining in the warmer months. Organic tea, coffee, sugar, milk and eco cleaning products are provided on arrival. For further supplies, head to St Austell's supermarkets (a few minutes' drive; Sainsbury's and Tesco can deliver, too). Or seek out some of Cornwall's many artisan food producers, from simple farm shops to extraordinary cheesemakers, fish straight from the boats and heavenly charcuterie.

If you're feeling lazy, Antonia can deliver her own 'great grub' fresh from her kitchen, much of it organic. In summer, try local lobster in garlic butter; in winter, she makes a rich, slow-cooked beef stew with mashed potato and leeks. Round it off with gooey chocolate tart or homemade lemon ice cream, all washed down with carefully selected wines which are left for you on an honesty basis.

If you'd prefer to eat out, Antonia has plenty of top tips, including - in Charlestown - Charlie’s for its chunky doorstep sandwiches, soups and mouthwatering cakes; and The Pier House on the quay for crab sandwiches, ales and sea views. It's only a 3-minute drive to 2-rosette Austell's above Carlyon Bay; and if you're prepared to drive a little further, you're truly spoiled for choice thanks to Padstow, Rock and Watergate Bay's offerings.

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Meal delivery service
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity: Olivias Cottage

Activities

Antonia provides a useful selection of her top recommendations in the area, but to give you a few ideas...

  • Relax with a book in your peaceful garden, or sit and paint in the Harbourmaster's office (Antonia has the keys)
  • Hike along the coastal path, admire the tall ships in the harbour, visit the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre with its great collection of all things nautical, or play on the shingle beach
  • Visit the Eden Project, only 10 minutes' drive away. It's a top garden and eco-education centre, with regular music and arts events, and an ice rink in winter; very popular with families
  • The Pandora Inn near Falmouth is one of the best pubs in Cornwall and is well worth a visit. Hire a kayak from Loe Beach Watersports and paddle over for lunch
  • Thanks to its microclimate, Cornwall has some stunning gardens including the National Trust's Trellissick near Falmouth, and the famous Lost Gardens of Heligan outside charming Mevagissey
  • Take surfing lessons at Constantine Bay, windsurfing lessons at Polkerris, or try waterskiing at Rock
  • Drive to beautiful beaches for sailing, kayaking or just swimming and sunbathing; it gets surprisingly hot in summer. Porthpean is a busy family beach with sand and rock pools
  • Golfers can tee off at St Endoc, St Mellion or Trevose; arty types will love the Tate at St Ives, or the many galleries in Padstow - stop for a Rick Stein's fish and chip lunch while you're there
  • Antonia can arrange for a beauty therapist to come and give massages and treatments

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being

Kids

Children are warmly welcomed at The Cottage, Olivia's and Blossom. There's plenty to do with kids in Cornwall, even if it's raining, and it's a fantastic place to visit time and again. Among the small selection of things we love about the place is rock pooling at Charlestown, crabbing off the harbour wall while eating ice creams and kayaking at Lostwithiel. Just down the road there's a great toy shop for buying a souvenir.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting by qualified CRB-checked teaching assistants (who are also mums) can be arranged.

Baby listening:

The baby monitors in the properties works everywhere in the building.

Baby equipment:

  • Steriliser
  • Stair gates
  • Changing mat
  • Playmat
  • Travel cot
  • Highchair
  • Maclaren buggy
  • Socket covers
  • Baby bath
  • Potty
  • Blackout blinds
  • Baby seat

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

Children's meals:

Baby-friendly meal facilities include a food processor, microwave and baby crockery and cutlery. Mum-friendly arrangements include the option of a visiting chef, takeaways nearby and cafés and restaurants that are child-friendly close by too.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Children's DVDs

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The Shipwreck Centre (1 min walk)
  • Eden Project (10 min drive)
  • The Tortoise Garden (10 min drive)
  • Summer maize mazes near Padstow and Saltash
  • Treasure hunts in Newquay and St Ives
  • The Lost Garden of Heligan

Families Should Know:

Do take care of the furnishings and knick-knacks - a lot of care has been put into this place's decor. Be aware that Charlestown harbour has lots of unprotected drops. There's a mobile signal everywhere.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Doctor: 5 minutes
  • Shop: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
10/
Overall

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