Antonia's Pearls

Charlestown, Cornwall, United Kingdom Book from

Exquisite cottage & house rentals in a seaside Cornish village, ideal for a family or a romantic break (each sleeps 2-6)
Charlestown is a tiny Cornish village with a big heritage. Its historic harbour was featured in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and The Eagle has Landed; and you may well spot a pair of handsomely restored tall ships, sails flapping in the breeze, waiting for their next shoot. Spread across the village, in a mixture of terraced fishermen's cottages and a grand Georgian townhouse (plus a snuggly garden Cabin) are half a dozen gorgeous holiday homes. They range in size from a cosy couple's hideaway to a generous family home, but all have been impeccably restored by ex-fashion-designer (and bundle of energy) Antonia, with help from her hands-on carpenter husband David. Think gleaming white floorboards, antique dressers, clawfoot tubs, fluffy feather duvets, great kitchens and small suntrap gardens.

Pride of place goes to 3-bedroom Marine Villa, which looks straight onto the harbour and has plenty of space for all, thanks to a kids' room - and an add-on studio if you need it. In leafy gardens behind is the romantic Cabin: a diminutive but ingeniously laid out 1-bedroom hideaway. A short walk from the seafront you'll find the cosy Cottage (perfect for a couple with a child), Olivia's Cottage (sleeps 4 in 2 doubles), and its neighbour Blossom Cottage (sleeps 5 in 2 doubles and a small single). 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 delicious homemade dishes if you're feeling lazy, or arrange spa treatments in your own home. Pure English seaside style.

Highs

  • It's very well placed: the Eden Project and St. Austell (shops and mainline station) are 10 mins' drive, Mevagissey and the Lost Gardens of Heligan about 15
  • Charlestown has a sheltered, shingly beach one side and rock pools the other; sandy Duporth beach is a short walk or drive away
  • Antonia provides a wealth of baby and child kit, so you don't need to lug all the paraphernalia with you
  • All cottages have small but beautifully planted gardens offering privacy and sheltered al fresco eating areas
  • On rainy days, we loved holing up in our cosy living room, with woodburner, digital TV, books and artfully retro decor

Lows

  • The cottages and cabin are compact, with cosily-sized rooms and the odd low beam - but they are very cleverly arranged too
  • Some of the cottages are not right on the harbour front: Olivia's and Blossom are just above it, while the Cottage is 3 mins' walk inland
  • 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
  • Strict cancellation policy

Best time to go

The houses are 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. We've stayed in January, April and October, and after cobweb-banishing walks along the coast path, we loved putting the log-burners on and cosying up. We've also visited in summer, when the secluded gardens catch the afternoon sun and the beaches are at their best; the leafy Cabin, in particular, is at its best in warmer weather, when you can enjoy its sail-covered outdoor sitting area.

Our top tips

Bring shampoo, and any spices or condiments you need; other than that, Antonia has thought of everything! There are torches, alarm clocks, maps, board games, books, beautifully sharpened pencils, and a full range of kids stuff.

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!

If you visit the Eden Project, go early, avoid weekends, dress lightly, and take water.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 6 cottages (sleeping 2-6)
  • 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

MARINE VILLA (sleeps 4-6) has 2 light and spacious double bedrooms, with sea-facing windows and a fresh, all-white decor. You get super-kingsize beds (no twins), antique chests and - as in all houses - top-quality White Company linens, with hypo-allergenic bedding on request. Both ensuite bathrooms feature a roll top bath with shower - either overhead or separate. Attached to one bedroom is a small study / kids' room which can be set up with one or two tiny beds for children up to 5 ft (1.5m), or one bed plus one cot. We came with parents-in-law and our young son, and the set-up was perfect. Downstairs there's a bright, art-filled sitting room with 2 sofas, a lovely hearth for winter fires and a digi TV-DVD (plus a second in the dining room). Opposite are the kitchen and dining room.

THE STUDIO (sleeps 2) is available as an add-on if you need more space. Reached via either a connecting door or its own entrance, it's a lovely, airy, open-plan suite with a kingsize bed, shower, kitchenette and sofa; the most stylish little granny flat imaginable!

THE COTTAGE (sleeps 2-3 + baby) is 5 mins' walk from the harbour. You enter through the kitchen to reach a snug, oak-floored sitting room with a tiny sofa, TV, retro shop signs and a wood-burning stove. Stairs lead up to a peaceful master bedroom at the front, with an oak-framed king, and a tiny 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. The spoiling bathroom has a cast-iron tub with overhead shower. Again, there's lots of lovely detail - hand carved lamps, fresh flowers, seagrass flooring - and a peaceful calm through which we slept deeply.

OLIVIA'S COTTAGE (sleeps 4) 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 shower, 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 (sleeps 4-5), next to Olivia’s, shares a similar layout, with the addition of a single bedroom suitable for a child.

THE CABIN (sleeps 2) is ideal for couples wanting a snuggly hideaway. Tucked in leafy gardens behind Marine Villa, it's actually 2 converted grad-II listed outhouses - 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 wetroom - linked via a sail-canopied patio for al fresco dining. This, and the very private lawned gardens, make it a gorgeous summer option, though we last visited in winter and loved the cosiness of the woodburner, radiator and goosedown duvets.

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Digital radio
  • Digital TV
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Toaster
  • WiFi

Eating

All the cottages have fantastically equipped kitchens, some quite compact, but with all the goodies you could expect; and a suitably sized dining area. Expect top brand appliances - Bosch or Smeg cooker, microwave, fridge/freezer and dishwasher, Dualit toaster, Magimix kettle, Joseph Joseph chopping boards, AGA pans and Cornish crockery. There are mixing bowls, a whisk, grater, plus a steriliser and handheld blender for those with little ones. All houses have a washing machine, dryer, iron and ironing board, either in a small laundry room or in an outbuilding.

Organic tea, coffee, sugar and milk are provided, as are eco cleaning products and dishwasher tablets, but you’ll need to bring the rest. There are several supermarkets within a short 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.

In terms of dining spaces, MARINE VILLA has a lovely dining room with ample space for 6+, and sheltered al fresco dining space outside too. The COTTAGE has a narrow table for 4 in the sitting room, warmed by a wood burner in winter, plus a small garden for summer meals or a Pimms as the sun goes down. The CABIN's diminutive dining area is open-plan with the kitchen, but you do get a sail-covered patio for outdoor dining in the warmer months. The STUDIO has galley kitchen and a table for 2.

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. You can pre-order a 'brilliant breakfast box' for your first morning, too. We ordered this on a cold January morning and it was totally worth it. Antonia’s homemade granola with organic yoghurt, jam and honey was the perfect starter before our local Atlantic salmon with eggs.

If you'd prefer to eat out, there are a couple of places in Charlestown for crab sandwiches, ales and sea views. In the evening, we tried out The Longstore on Antonia’s recommendation. It has a trendy hipster vibe with filament lightbulbs and rustic tables. We had a tasty Portobello mushroom burger with a fried macaroni cheese fritter and truffle and Dijon aioli - delicious and reasonably priced.

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...

  • 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 (10 minutes away)
  • 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

There's plenty to do with kids in Cornwall, even if it's raining, and Antonia's larger cottages and house make superb family bases, with lots of baby- and toddler equipment, plus family-friendly bed set-ups. In Charlestown our kids loved rock pooling, crabbing off the harbour wall, eating superb ice creams and walking just round the coast to sandy Duporth beach. Further afield, the options are endless...

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Children are warmly welcomed at Marine Villa, The Cottage, Olivia's and Blossom, kids under 5 are also welcome at The Cabin. See Rooms for bed arrangements.

Babysitting:

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

Baby listening:

Baby monitors can be supplied

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.

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 Gardens of Heligan (10 min drive)

Families Should Know:

Do take care of the furnishings and knick-knacks - a lot of care has been put into the decor. Charlestown is a real Georgian harbour so there are some unprotected drops. There's a mobile signal everywhere. 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

Distances:

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

Our guests' ratings...

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

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