Found on one of Cornwall’s best-loved beaches, this new collection of beach houses is elevating the self-catered homestay to chic new heights
Words: Angelina Villa-Clarke
Early morning on Gwithian Beach, north Cornwall, and the light is hazy and golden with the promise of a sun-drenched day ahead. Sea grasses in the dunes are swaying in the breeze and, on the shell-scattered sand, gelatinous jelly-fish sit like glass paper-weights washed up from the waves.
Apart from a handful of dog walkers, the wide expanse of beach – stretching three miles in length – is practically deserted, the only sound is of the waves gently lapping. It’s a blissful place to be and it is still a couple of hours yet to when the scene will be transformed. Come mid-morning and this is a place buzzing with surfers trying to catch a break, children crabbing in the rock pools and families setting up their windbreaks for the day.
Found down a winding lane, bordered by the Upton Towans sand dune reserve, alive with wild flowers, butterflies and skylarks, Gwithian Beach is quite possibly one of Cornwall’s loveliest spots. It is also the location for the destination’s latest and most stylish new opening: Three Mile Beach.
Unlike other rental properties – often too twee or chintzy in this part of the world – these wood-clad homes are contemporary and unique. Each omits a joyful holiday vibe with brightly painted exteriors – sky blue, bubble-gum pink, mint green – and their names giving nods to famous pop songs – Purple Rain, for instance, or Careless Whisper.
Inside, whitewashed walls are adorned with vibrant little nods to Burkinshaw’s travel background – vintage Indian tin signs, African woven baskets and French posters. Thick Moroccan Berber rugs warm up the living space, while on the beds, pretty pastel-hued throws also give pops of colour. The laid-back luxury feel is further enhanced with every comfort you can think of: crisp linens in the bedrooms, Smeg kitchen appliances, Fatboy garden accessories and Land & Water toiletries.
Opened by Craig Burkinshaw, the founder of bespoke travel specialist Audley Travel, the collection of 15 beach houses are a joyful addition to the home-rental scene. The project aims to capture the magical essence of travel yet also sets out to champion the coastal charm of Cornwall.
Whether you opt for a two, three or four bedroom home, each house has its own character and charm – think: children’s beds tucked away on mezzanine levels and a silver stand-alone tub in the master bedroom. This attention to detail elevates each home into boutique-hotel status – whether it’s a surfboard as artwork in the kitchen, Samsung The Frame TV in the lounge, or the library of recent bestsellers for guests to read. The interior design – overseen by Joanne Le Bon, Craig’s partner – has been intended, she says, to evoke the carefree days of childhood seaside holidays.
With their Scandi-style wrap-around terraces, with sunken hot tubs and barrel saunas, it’s easy to stay put in the homes, traipsing to Gwithian if you fancy a dip in the sea or a spot of paddle-boarding. But – as well as welcome boxes of locally-sourced treats – the couple are passionate about Cornwall as a destination. Special books have been printed on the local area – detailing what to do, the best beaches and where to eat – as well as a walking guide outlining ten of the best trails to follow, designed by local photographer and naturalist David Chapman.
As self-catering homes, the kitchens are a joy to cook in – with an induction cooker, Cornish crockery and pretty glassware to use. A short drive away, Trevaskis Farm Shop stocks everything you need, such as just-baked loaves, fresh eggs, and local meat – ideal for easily assembled meals.
Luckily, for those who want a complete break, there are also plenty of choices so you can down tools. On site, is a unique food truck serving inventive salads, fresh fish dishes and street-food style snacks. You can also book one of the private chefs – such as Rob Michael from nearby Flavour and Wine – who will cook you up a Cornish feast, or arrange for an Ooni pizza oven to be delivered (it comes with dough and a box of ingredients so you can whip up your own home-made pizzas). For sundowners, overlooking Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance, grab an artisan gin from the mobile bar.
While glorious in the summer, the homes are open year round and will also make the perfect wintery retreat. You can light the Swedish log-burner and hunker down to the sound of high winds and the Atlantic rolling in. There’s the South West Coast Path to explore and yoga classes on the beach to keep you moving. It’s perfect for our times.
Prices start from £1,150 per week for a three-bedroom house (up to six-seven guests) including welcome hamper in low season, and from £3,100 in high season. To book, visit threemilebeach.co.uk