Not for nothing is Cornwall one of the UK's most popular holiday destinations. We discover how to enjoy its rugged coastline and golden sandy beaches while avoiding the tourist traps – by staying in a rather astonishing B&B
It’s the second weekend in May, and it’s set to be the hottest weekend of the year so far. What better excuse do I need to abandon the muggy smog of the city and head for the breezy coastal climes of Cornwall’s west coast?
Probably I should have checked the weather forecast before spontaneously deciding to take Friday off work and join the optimistic queues of traffic determinedly crawling towards the seaside. Turns out, 27°C and sunny in London doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be the same in St Ives, where I’m headed to. Far from it, in fact – while my friends plan to sunbathe in humid Hyde Park, BBC Weather tells me to wrap up for 16°C, strong winds and (you guessed it) rain.
Still, Cornwall is famous for having some of the most breathtakingly rugged coastal landscapes around, made all the more dramatic by inclement weather, so I’m not too concerned as my other half and I trundle peacefully down the A30.
Cornwall is famous for having some of the most breathtakingly rugged coastal landscapes around
Arriving Friday evening in St Ives, we make our way to Trevose Harbour House, our home for the weekend. Nestled amongst the other whitewashed cottages just off the main harbour front, this B&B is the brainchild of owners Angela and Olivier. Stepping into the lobby-cum-dining room, it’s immediately apparent why Trevose is widely regarded as the most luxurious holiday accommodation in town.
The interiors are a cheerful combination of crisp white and bright blues – your traditional seaside favourites. The décor has been put together by Angela herself, collecting ‘50s and ‘60s furniture which has been repurposed (and reupholstered) to create a fascinating time-warp of vintage charm and modern touches. The theme continues in our room, where soft white linens make the large bed look particularly inviting – but it’s the little touches that help us understand why Trevose is a TripAdvisor favourite; hot water bottles in the cupboard for colder nights, a luscious rain shower and full-size Neals Yard toiletries in the bathroom and a special blue & white china-patterned kettle that’s obviously been chosen with great care.
Some might say that waking up to the bracingly fresh coastal air breezing in through the open window, causing the curtains to flutter gently in the morning light, is the best wake-up call. Clearly, these people haven’t been treated to breakfast at Trevose Harbour House. It is, quite simply, magnificent.
There’s a small buffet table laid with fresh pastries, yoghurt, muesli and a range of healthy toppings that wouldn’t seem out of place on Gwyneth Paltrow’s breakfast table. But the real treats are the hot specials, prepared by Olivier himself.
Each morning of our stay we’re treated with a different ‘amuse bouche’ – each as creative as the last – followed by the main event. From the Instagram-friendly avocado on toast with poached eggs to the traditional full English (made with locally sourced produce, of course) the breakfast is mouth-watering. I’m nominating Olivier for the next season of Masterchef. Never have I had a B&B breakfast that’s this good.
Taking on board a series of tips from the Trevose team, we head out on a sort of mini Cornwall road trip, following the winding coastal roads on a ‘grand tour’ of the local hotspots. It’s a busy day, but we manage to cram in visits to the dramatic Levant Mines (fans of Poldark will recognise this area), Cape Cornwall (a more scenic alternative to the gimmicky Land’s End), the famous Minack Theatre and Marazion, from where we take in the view over St Michael’s Mount.
Despite the rain (or perhaps because of it) it’s a day of sightseeing that just keeps getting more and more staggering. The coastal views are enough to make this city dweller itch to turn her back on the London Underground forever.
Despite the rain (or perhaps because of it) it’s a day of sightseeing that just keeps getting more and more staggering
Returning to St Ives in time for dinner, we opt to try another spot-on recommendation by the Trevose team – the Porthmeor Beach Café. Just a short walk from the B&B, we’re assured this is one of the best spots in St Ives from which to watch the sunset (if there is one). We didn’t catch the show (thanks again, British weather) but we did thoroughly enjoy the tapas-style menu.
After another sound night’s sleep, it’s time for the moment we’ve been dreading – check out. Thankfully, Angela and Olivier have one more thing up their sleeves to delay our departure – a visit to their new studio property on the other side of the harbour. Sands Studio, as it’s now called, is a restoration project the duo have been working on – a one-bedroom apartment with sea views, decorated in their signature style. Where Trevose Harbour House is all cool blue hues, Sands Studio seamlessly blends shades of yellow for a vibrant and cheerful décor. We’re touring just as the studio prepares to launch – and we wouldn’t lose our money betting that this is going to be a hugely popular holiday location for those looking to escape the rat race.
At Sands Studio, you get all the best bits of Trevose Harbour House (you can even pop across for breakfast, should you wish) but in absolute privacy. Olivier tells us that his team can be as involved as the guests like; they can do a daily turn-down service – and even stock your fridge with goodies before you arrive – or they can leave you in peace. Your call.
Whether you choose the friendly B&B experience at Trevose Harbour House or opt for a little slice of your own personal heaven at Sands Studio, I guarantee you won’t regret a visit to St Ives with Angela and Olivier to captain your holiday ship. I’m already planning my next visit.