Anthea Gerrie follows Boris and Biden to Bluebell Cottage in an off-the-radar seaside hamlet which makes a perfect base for visiting arty St Ives.
A posh blender is a rare piece of equipment to find in a rental cottage when the desire strikes for a smoothie and Villeroy & Both crockery off which to eat the rest of your breakfast an even greater rarity. But Bluebell Cottage and its neighbours in the creatively landscaped grounds of Carbis Bay’s Gonwin Manor are a class act, one of the jewels in the crown of Cornwall Hideaways, a letting agency boasting the cream of the crop in this sought-after corner of the English south-west.
Carbis Bay, sitting two miles above the arty resort of St Ives, with which it shares a gorgeous shoreline, was somewhat off the radar until a G7 summit shone a spotlight on a resort posh enough to boast Adam Handling’s sustainable Ugly Butterfly restaurant, which has a Michelin presence, and a beach good enough to tempt First Lady Jill Biden into a barefoot paddle. The estate with a Blue Flag beach which housed world leaders gave the clue that Carbis Bay was an elegant place to stay, but the summit came 15 years after the owners of Gonwin Manor had already converted old farm buildings on their estate into seven very smart cottages.
Clad in Cornish stone and set in the heart of a semi-circle around a beautifully landscaped Japanese garden built around its own standing stones, Bluebell Cottage proved a welcoming retreat for three adults and a dog. It can actually accommodate four in bedrooms sitting either side of a very luxurious bathroom along a long corridor. Top-class linens and underfloor heating made bedtime inviting every night after a busy day walking the beaches, galleries and many inviting little shops of St. Ives.
While it has a wood-burning stove to amplify a sense of cosiness within a cottage already plenty warm enough from the underfloor heating, Bluebell is rustic only on the outside, and thoroughly chic within, down to the dining table which appears to be made from a hollowed-out tree trunk supporting a glass top. This sits in one corner of a living room furnished in clean, contemporary style with squashy upholstery, and in front of French doors which open dining up to the patio when it’s not quite warm enough to eat outside in the well-furnished front garden.
The bathroom, awash in beige porcelain and boasting a large tub as well as shower, is reminiscent of a boutique hotel, and unlike so many of such hotels, had some very welcome shelves on which to stash toiletries. Also useful for this purpose was the deep shelf beneath the window of the bedroom overlooking the garden.
We found fault only with the very long galley kitchen, which despite being beautifully equipped was surprisingly short of countertop space for food prep and had too much of its elegant crockery stored on high shelves only a six-foot man could reach. Still, all was forgiven with the discovery of the blender, elegant egg cups and the proper stemmed wine glasses not always found in rentals, plus a block full of decent knives, plentiful saucepans, and a set of colour-coded chopping boards. Beyond the working expanse of the kitchen was a useful cloakroom space to hang coats, sit a large dog bed and store suitcases out of sight once they had been unpacked.
One of the most attractive features of Gonwin Manor is the landscaped grounds behind the cottage complex overlooking the Carbis Bay seashore and a lake with a pontoon on which sundowners can be enjoyed as the sky turns from blue to golden; Porthkidney Beach is within walking distance for those who like to feel the sand between their toes. There is a Tesco just a mile down the road for provisions, although for decent scones it’s worth holding out for the fabulous fresh-baked ones on offer with perhaps the best sourdough loaves in England at the St Ives bakery a mile further on in the seaside resort itself.
Add a branch of the Tate, Barbara Hepworth’s garden and the sophisticated fare of the famed Porthminster Beach Cafe as well as the Ugly Butterfly on the doorstep, and in Gonwin Manor you have a stylish dog-friendly base for St. Ives, a resort made for foodies and art addicts as well as the bucket and spade brigade..
Tell Me More About Renting Bluebell Cottage, Carbis Bay
Cornwall Hideaways offers short breaks from £959 include a starter pack including tea, coffee, milk, sugar, condiments, biscuits, fudge, dishwasher tablets and other household supplies.
T: 44 + 1872 888094