Shiver me timbers! Michael Edwards visits The Balcony Studio, a classy St. Ives waterfront escape.
A centuries-old harbour-side cottage in St Ives now named The Balcony Studio, has been imaginatively restored to become a design-led waterside retreat. For landlubbers it’s like being afloat: with portholes in the bathroom, rope-wrapped bannisters and octopi-inspired bedside table lamps.
Appropriately, Shiver Me Timbers is the local company that sourced the wood for a two-year damp course to roof renovation: completed as recently as the summer of 2022. Over the centuries the blue-washed cottage has transitioned from seafarer’s home to artist’s residence to a cool escape.
It’s a transformation that has converted the basement into probably the largest bathroom in St Ives. Continuing the Cornish textures theme, the huge William Alvius spa bath is made of tin. Then the St Ives Soap Company bar introduces an aroma of seaweed lemongrass and lime.
Up on the balcony, there is a map pointing out distances to the world’s best surfing beaches. Bondi 10,780 miles, Waiki 7,213 miles. And Porthmeor which is just a half-mile away. So, the bathroom provides wetsuit drying facilities too.
Above a well-equipped kitchen sits The Balcony Studio’s star attraction, a bedroom with panoramic views across St Ives Bay. Waking, you can reach from the four-poster bed for the remote control to open the curtains.
Beginning from Godrevy Lighthouse to the east, the monument that gave Virginia Woolf her To The Lighthouse title, views stretch across low-tide sands towards the horizon. At high tide, boats bob in the harbour. Throughout the day boats head out in search of seals while fishermen return with their catch of fish and shellfish for St Ives’ thriving foodie scene.
Unusually, it is the balcony hanging out over sea wall which is Grade 2 listed. During the 1950s, Patrick Heron CBE, whose work hangs in the Tate St Ives, used the light of the seascape to inspire his abstract work.
Later, Captain Phil Moran who wrote the nautically themed children’s books Soggy the Bear, used to sit on the balcony and chat to passers-by – until called away for a lifeboat rescue. Annually, in Moran’s honour, the Balcony Studio’s owners donate to the RNLI. There is a collection of Soggy Bear first editions on the Studio’s shelf. Then, up another flight of stairs, a cosy lounge has a sofa and television. Quirkily, there is a loo too. A surprising three flights of stairs away from the bathroom.
You are unlikely to starve at the Balcony Studio. There is a welcome pack of butter, cheese, milk, and wine in the fridge as well as coffee capsules for the Nespresso machine, cheese biscuits and chocolate buttons. In one of Cornwall’s foodie hubs, it is a mere 10 yards to a Belgian-inspired cafe opposite and less than 20 yards to Coasters serving world-class crab sandwiches.
Though, perhaps, art takes the lead as St Ives biggest draw. Even the short stroll to the Tate St Ives takes you past many a gallery. Overlooking Porthmeor Beach, the Tate tells the story of the St Ives School of Art. Work hung in the galleries demonstrates how artists established an internationally renowned movement.
Until January 14th, 2024, the Tate St Ives is hosting an exhibition on the Casablanca School of Art. Moroccan’ artists responded with a barrage of colour and creativity when Moroccan independence was established. The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculptural Garden is St Ives’ other major artistic attraction.
Aspiring artists visiting St Ives can take lessons to develop their own painting skills. In fact, it is a town for education. Learn to surf off Porthmeor Beach. Or book into Tarquins for instruction in designing and distilling your own gin from a range of 70 botanicals.
Above all The Balcony Studio is a destination for all seasons. The owners leave a welcome card showing a startling image. A huge wave totally obscures the Balcony Studio as it crashes over the cottage into the street beyond. Winter storm watching is yet another attraction of this unique property.
Tell Me More About The Balcony Studio, St Ives
The Balcony Studio, 3 St. Andrews Street
St. Ives, Cornwall TR26 1AH
A two-night minimum stay starts at £250 per night.