How does the idea of a sleek seaside paradise, complete with private cave, grab you? We thought so. Then consider getting away from it all at a very special property in St Ives…
We’re all for the staycation – the only hesitation ever lying, inevitably, in what kind of wildcard the English weather might see fit to fling onto the table. Of course, one way to combat this variable is to book accommodation so ruddy gorgeous that you couldn’t care a jot if Zeus himself swooped down and conjured a meteorological horror show before your eyes.
Enter Beachspoke and their boutique boltholes in beautiful British locations; namely Cornwall and the Cotswolds. Mighty impressed by the imagery online, we arrange a two-night stay at the sleek-sounding Black Moon – a one-bedroom bayside apartment in St Ives, promising close-up sea views and its own private cave, no less.
The parking reserved for guests, a few steps down the road, is a godsend we realise, as we negotiate – snail-like – the tiny, twisting, beach-town roads that make up the final part of our journey from Bristol. Every bit the noisy tourists with our shiny cases rumbling down the street, we pass quaintly named cottages nodding to their harbourside heritage as we wend our way to the seafront, where our accommodation is enviably positioned. But it’s the smell of incense, rather than catch-of-the-day, that first drifts up our noses as we pass the pottery shops, galleries and other crafty outlets very much at home in their uber-arty town, known historically for enticing creatives like Barbara Hepworth and Virginia Woolfe – one of whose novels was inspired by the view of Godrevy Lighthouse from here.
Not far from a little residence selling houseleeks on its garden wall, we spot the door to our place – set in a charming, unassuming frontage. Yet, a turn of the key later, when the apartment comes into view, it’s a different story. Because while ‘sexy’ isn’t necessarily the first word we’d think to pair with a British seaside scene, Black Moon’s open-plan interior – with big glass doors framing the ocean and opening straight out to it, bar the stretch of sandy beach a few metres below us – is. Seriously so.
Think textured granite walls illuminated by subtle spotlighting; contemporary art works in chic mono; gorgeous handcrafted silver and earthenware in the kitchen; carved stone candlesticks ostensibly teleported from the boudoir of an ancient goddess. The elegant seaside vibe of the lounge – pristine white sofa with cotton throws and fat velvet cushions in oceanic blues and greens; coffee table chiselled from rock into a seashell design and decorated with ornaments in various other organic materials – blends surprisingly well with the decadent Eastern influence of the bedroom, which makes the place really stand out. We fall instantly for the super-kingsize custom-made bed featuring oriental scenes etched on its dark wooden frame – and gleefully fall onto it to admire a nearby ornate chest and huge antique mirror in distressed gold.
Sitting on the lounge floor – doors wide open, legs pendulous above the rocks, and nothing between us and our corner of the sea, aside from the mugs of tea resting in our laps – we find ourselves switching off more swiftly than ever before.
Soon enough, rumbling stomachs interrupt the reverie, reminding us it’s dinner time, and in record time we find ourselves a feed, thanks to Cornish Catch. Naturally, our first hankering is for traditional fish and chips; but then we see the menu on the little truck set up beside the sea wall, featuring crab linguini and fresh mackerel salad. It’s best devoured, we find, where the surf hits the shore, and already restaurant-quality just a month after being launched by tanned, twinkly-eyed young chefs Rob Newsome and Christian Perry.
After a little Netflix and chill (see original definition) back at home, we descend the steps leading down from the trapdoor in the lounge, to make-believe we’re smugglers in our cave. Lighting up the bejewelled candlesticks – smugglers’ treasure, mind – and curling up on the sprawling, furry throws softening the rocky surfaces, we crack on with a cosy game of cards before the complimentary bubbly kicks in and the vibe turns to ‘gentle cave rave a deux’. Nothing brings the outside in here quite as much as this inspired feature – rusty boat chains, driftwood and all – designed to offer unique and memorable moments of relaxation.
Usually ‘sea sounds: eight hours’ is our go-to YouTube search when having trouble sleeping but, come bedtime, there’s no need with the real thing right outside – the sound of the inbound tide proving wonderfully soothing, especially with the sliding bedroom mirror-door kept open so we can see out across the water when we wake.
Tearing ourselves away from said view when morning breaks, we collect a couple of fresh almond croissants from the grocer’s a few minutes’ walk away, and opt for a stroll around the reopened Tate Gallery – weaving through the alleys en route with an ice cream is a challenge worthy of Tom Cruise, due to sharp-eyed gulls with frighteningly evolved strategems. We seek a meal uninterrupted at the Rum and Crab Shack – enjoying a 1960s soundtrack, friendly service and sensational fresh crab tacos, washed down with cocktails in an alcove overlooking the harbour, where youngsters race down to the water in their wetsuits.
Heading back along the beach, to allow for a splash about in the crystal blue-green waters, and an encounter with some tiny terriers, Teddy, Bob, Lily and Ruby – forget people watching, we’re all about the pup-perving – we decide that catching a boat to Seal Island is the best use of our afternoon. While they aren’t basking on the rocks in their hundreds, as our friendly driver informs us they often can be, we spot plenty bobbing their heads up and down in the water and looking blankly at us in answer to daft requests for a rendition of Kiss From a Rose.
Invigorated after all that sea air, it’s back to Black Moon for a hot, decadent bath – surrounded by all that granite and gold, and an artistic ensemble of shining sea shells dangling prettily from the ceiling – to take note of precisely how relaxed we feel before we head back to the city and undo it all.
Exceptionally elegant and well thought-out, with plenty of personality and one of the loveliest locations you could wish for, Black Moon is, hands down, the best place we’ve stayed in Cornwall. Bally good job, Beachspoke.
Words by Amanda Nicholls