showcasing the best of the south west

The Best Holiday Houses in the South West?

Main picture: The Fish Store in Mousehole

The West Country has always been known as a holiday haven from Jane Austen types taking the waters in Bath to the thundering Sloanes who descend upon Rock in North Cornwall year after year. It's not surprising - this part of the world has beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, history seeping from every pore and enough cream teas to bring on a cardiac arrest. Now with the recession-friendly staycation factor it's more popular than ever. From blow your budget beach houses to the cosy but chic here's our pick of the best holiday houses in the West.

The Fish Store in the ridiculously pretty Cornish fishing village of Mousehole ticks all our holiday boxes. A pilchard packing factory in its former life, this historical house has been owned by the same family for 70 years and has recently had a major revamp giving it that all important luxe factor. We do love a salty seadog feel to our holiday houses and this one has it in spades. Eat breakfast looking out at the sea, swim at nearby Porthcurno, one of our favourite beaches,  catch an opera at the open air Minack Theatre and Mousehole's famous Old Coastguard Hotel (stunning views of St Michael's Mount from the garden) is under new trendy ownership so you've got a gastro pub within stumbling distance. Very much doubt you'll want to leave The Fish Store though and you certainly won't want to go home.

On the other side of Cornwall we've fallen in love with Parc Behan Cottage in Veryan, one of the prettiest villages on the Roseland Peninsula. This ancient valley of woodlands, beaches and steep, winding villages is imbued with mystery and romanticism - there's nowhere else in Cornwall like it. Parc Behan, which sleeps four, has everything going for it - wonderful, cosy bedrooms which beg for a quiet hour with a novel, a chic interior and its own swimming pool. If you can tear yourself away from this bijou cottage the laidback luxury of the Lugger Hotel is close by or there's the  option of cocktails and dinner at the Driftwood, recently awarded a michelin star and with its own beach. Of course there's St Mawes too, a picture-postcard pretty fishing village with the elegant Tresanton Hotel and beach wise, trust us, you simply can't beat Pendower, Porthbeor or Hemmick. Yep it's all going on here.

Both The Fish Store and Parc Behan are available through Unique Home Stays 01637 881942

Of course we couldn't bypass the surfing haven of North Coast of Cornwall and we think you'll agree that Cheyney on Constantine Bay has got everything going for it. This contemporary pad sleeps 12 so ship in another family and fire yourself up for an action-packed holiday of surfing/sand-dune sliding at Constantine Bay, golf at Trevose Golf Club and eatathons at Padstow, home of serial Rick Stein joints from fish n chips to the wallet stretching Seafood Restaurant. We're loving the  vibe of Cheyney - rinse away the day's sand under your power shower, kick back with a G&T and show off your cooking skills in your theatre kitchen. By the way you're just a minute's stroll from the beach here.


Details from Raintree House Holidays

Dartmoor now to the cool and cosy confines of Great Burrow Cottage. This is the kind of place to cloister yourself away and lock the door (not that there's any need in somewhere this remote). An old linhay which is chocolate box pretty on the outside with a contemporary interior - kids will love the winding staircase up to their three bed dorm, adults have the luxed up bedroom downstairs. Everything is here: a hammock for lounging and taking in the jaw-dropping views of Yves Tor on Dartmoor,  a fire pit from slow roasting in the style of Jamie and Hugh, great walking and riding. Talking of riding, you can even bring your own horses, Great Burrow offers stabling and use of a paddock. Somewhere to get away from it all.


Contact Great Burrow Cottage for details

Seaspray in Eype, a tiny seaside village just five minutes outside Bridport, has the vibe of a luxed up fisherman's shack. It's nailed that whole blue and white coastal theme and combines comfort with stunning views of the surrounding cliffs. Nowhere better for a proper buckets and spade holiday and then the sophistication of Bridport - and our favourite hotel/pub The Bull is just down the road. And talking of great pubs you'll want to check out The Three Horseshoes in Powerstock which serves Heston Blumenthal style food at a fraction of the price (our recent review here).

Contact Symondsbury Estate Holidays for details

Middlewick Holiday Cottages is something completely different. A 16th century farmstead converted into a complex of holiday houses, there's something here for every budget from one night stays to large parties. It's a stunning spot right in the shadow of the Glastonbury Tor and on our favourite stretch of Somerset. When you've tired of the indoor pool, cycling, fishing and riding (and yes you can bring your own horses, stabling costs a fiver) there's bird watching at Somerset Levels, Glastonbury with its famous abbey and hippy credentials, the ancient and mystical Chalice Wells and in high summer Middlewick has Friday night pop up supper clubs hosted by local chefs. We're tempted by the extremely boutique shepherd's hut pictured below.

Contact Middlewick Holiday Cottages for details

And finally we're giving you the heads up on this designer baby which is so brand new it hasn''t even been built yet. Yes Little Polgarron is owned by moneysupermarket.com founder Simon Nixon who has a clutch of lavish properties built to his own exacting standards for the millionaire holidaymaker. Little Polgarron is in a stellar position overlooking Booby's Bay in North Cornwall, has five bedrooms with balconies affording staggering sea views and a 'coastal hip' interior designed by Rick's ex-wife Jill Stein - all limestone, steel and glass apparently. Bookings from August 2012 - unpack and inhale the cool scent of money; a week in September 2012 will set you back £5,841. Reassuringly expensive.

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