Nothing beats St Ives on a sunny day, sitting at one of the many excellent cafes overlooking clear turquoise sea - except perhaps a stormy day, when Atlantic breakers roll in and the surfers hit the beaches. Winter in Cornwall is one of the best places to see migrating birds with the possibility of dramatic seas and warm sunny days. Even in January, St Ives is very much open for business, buzzing with more locals as well as visitors.
Leo's Cottage has arguably the best sea views in town, and is in the heart of Downalong, the old fishing quarter - a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, artists studios and cafes. A quiet No Through Road and sea wall are all that separate the house from Bamaluz beach - a small cove with year round, unrestricted access for dog walkers and a golden, sandy beach at low tide.
Built around 1840, the house has been fixed up and redecorated since 2013's record-breakingly wet and windy winter. You'll find upgraded WiFi, plus the same comfy mattresses, vintage furniture, Egyptian cotton bed linen and other home comforts.
Walls are painted in shades of chalky white and grey to reflect St Ives wonderful light. Floors are wooden or tiled, making it practical for pets and families with children.
- The South West Coastal path goes right past the door.
- A few seconds to the right is the harbour with its cafes, shops, pubs and pale gold sandy beach.
- Five minutes to the left: Porthgwidden beach, with its wonderful cafe and views to Godrevy lighthouse. Great for swimming.
- Well-equipped kitchen, cosy breakfast room, seats eight
- Porch with stable doors facing the quiet street outside and the sea
- Tide clock: half past low or quarter to high?
Living room: Views across St Ives Bay to make the most jaded heart sing. Facing east-west, this room gets wonderful light, morning and afternoon. Furnished with art from local galleries, the room runs the length of the second floor.
You might spot dolphins and seals, along with cormorants, kittiwakes, turnstones and other seabird from the window.
Two sofas, two armchairs, window seat and space for children to play, plus:
- Books, DVDs, Plasma screen TV/DVD player with Freeview channels and iPod dock, board games, cards.
- Double sofa bed, proper sprung mattress
- Small sofa
- Small bureau
- Throws for afternoon snoozes
Sea-facing area with dark blue sofa bed can be curtained off for privacy.
West-facing rear window overlooks a small patio, a very quiet road and other cottages.
- Multicoloured slate floors, white suite, limestone walls
- Bath with over bath power shower
- Shaver sockets
- Mirrored cabinets
- Heated towel rail
- Master bedroom - wonderful sea views, window seat; ensuite (walk in shower, basin, loo, shaver socket); wardrobe
- Smaller double, and small single room - both with views of the slate roofs and quaint streets of Downalong
- All have pretty mirrors, under bed storage, hanging space and chests of drawers.
- Landing cupboard with space to hang clothes
At the front of the house:
- A hose to wash down boards and sandy feet
- A porch to store wellies, coats and beach gear
- Stable doors open on to the quiet road outside.
To the rear
A small courtyard with a clothes line. The steps up to what was once the front door catch the afternoon sun.