Helen Warwick rents a Cornish Stores & Supplies Apartment from Sykes Cottages
Bodmin may not always spring to mind when you’re planning a Cornish escape – but this inland town makes for a fantastic base when you want to seek out some of Cornwall’s wilder expanses. The eerie and atmospheric Bodmin Moor is perhaps its most famous spot, often hung in a veil of mist, where tales of the infamous and panther-like Beast of Bodmin were conjured.
Smothered in heather and bisected by the A30, the moor draws walkers with the promise of a wilder, quieter Cornwall, where huge granite rock boulders rise from the earth and legends of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake swirl about its enchanting sprawls – the antithesis of the county’s colourful fishing towns and honey-coloured beaches.
Holiday cottages are ten-a-penny in Cornwall, so it takes something pretty special to turn heads. But that’s what I found with Stores & Supplies Apartment from Sykes Cottages – a perfectly turned-out apartment. It sits within a resplendent residential area, up a flight of stairs in a spruced-up building – formerly an extension of the notorious Cornwall County Asylum.
The forbidding hospital – which at one time, housed up to 1,200 patients – was awash with reports of horrendous conditions and in one excerpt from a former employee, was described as a place where no one ever smiles.
Today though, its latest incarnation shows no signs of its grim and sinister past and the owners have dreamt up a space that’s about as far removed from an asylum as you can imagine. Interiors are calm and serene with an aesthetic that’s classic and cosy, with plenty of crisp white, cosseting beds and high-spec bathrooms. Art prints are dotted about the space by Devon-based artist Becky Bettesworth and the owners have fitted out the place with hotel-level curation but with practical frills too – a utility room with space for wellies and boots, all the kitchen knick-knacks and a stair gate.
But it’s the soaring bleached-out wooden beams that give the space real character. Although you’re surrounded by touches of luxury and style, it’s these architectural quirks that make you feel like you’re in the eaves of a building with a story to tell.
The boys bedded down in one bedroom in twin beds and loved the fact they had their own space to spread out their magazines and football stickers and lounge on their beds with their ipads. We slept in the huge master bedroom, and eight-month-old Mia in a travel cot in one corner, and there were all the little details that make a stay seamless – plugholes besides the bed for chargers, black out blinds on the sloping ceiling, a long mirror and a dressing table.
Beyond this, there’s the main living area – ridiculously cosy sofas, TV with Netflix and a dining table – which then merges into the open kitchen, where the owners had left fresh scones, jam and clotted cream for our arrival.
During our first evening, we walked into town and to Flory’s, a tucked-away restaurant plucking the best ingredients from across the county, from Looe’s daily hauls of fish, to meat from James Kittow at Kilhallon, an award-winning Cornish butcher. The menu isn’t overly fussy, but is seasonally led and refined. Start with the scallops, scooped from the waters around Fowey and paired with a vibrant mango salsa, or the prawns sizzling in garlic and cream, before ordering the ribeye for main – which arrives pink and charred and salty in all the right places.
We mixed up days on the north and the south, from the pounding surf of Fistral Beach to the cool and clear waters of Pentewan. And as evening approached, we’d hunker down in the apartment, cooking meals in the kitchen, cosying on the sofas and watching Hook with the boys whilst Mia snoozed.
Stores & Supplies Apartment from Sykes Cottages has a sort of light, natural and minimal vibe that immediately sets a scene of calm and indulgence. Even if your days are spent cycling the nearby 12-mile Camel Trail Cycle Route or staggering up Brown Willy, Cornwall’s highest point on the eerie and enchanting Moor, the apartment will suck you back into its pampering warmth, all ready for a whole new adventure the following day.
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Entire Stores & Supplies Apartment from Sykes Cottages £442 for three nights.