Harbourway is one of a collection of properties managed by Catch The Breeze Retreats, which is run by the Sykes family. They are no strangers to self-catering accommodation, having pioneereed the nationally-acclaimed Sykes Cottages. Using their knowledge of the industry, Catch The Breeze Retreats has been developed with a focus on truly special places to stay that enjoy the perfect balance between luxury and natural charm.
Tucked away in the traditional fishing village of Craster, where the North Sea meets the rugged coastal beauty of Northumbria, Harbourway is more than just a holiday cottage – this end-terrace is a luxury retreat where you can truly unwind and spend time with friends or family. This much overlooked corner of England has so much to offer the visitor and you’d be hard-pushed to find a better place on base yourself.
Since Harbourway is a self-catering property, we were able to check ourselves in, having been sent arrival instructions by email in advance. The email detailed other useful information about the property and the local area, as well as contact numbers should we require assistance at any point during our stay.
Harbourway has undergone quite a transformation since it was originally built as a fisherman’s cottage more than 200 years ago. On entering this luxurious holiday home, you are immediately struck by the wonderfully inviting ambience and how this is a very sociable property with plenty of shared living spaces. Taking centre stage is a large dining area; an artificial fire occupies a grand fireplace, above which two large oars are displayed.
This is an area with strong seafaring associations; most notable among them is the story of Grace Darling, a lighthouse keeper’s daughter who, along with her father, bravely rescued survivors from a shipwreck off the Farne Islands in 1838 – heroics that gained her national acclaim.
From this central space, there’s immediate access to three further rooms. The first is a living area, with three large sofas positioned around a second fireplace occupied by a wood burner. In the corner is a large TV which, I must admit, we rarely used throughout our stay.
The second room emanating from the dining area is the kitchen with a central island, a Professional+ Rangemaster stove and oven, a large American-style Samsung fridge freezer (in addition to a Lamona wine cooler), microwave oven, dishwasher and washer dryer. The kitchen is very well-equipped with everything you need – not just a kettle and toaster, but items that might be less expected such as a hand blender and electric whisk.
Also from the dining area is access to a conservatory where an abundance of light….
The conservatory leads out on to a patio within an enclosed garden from which you can dine al fresco, if the weather permits, with a sea view.
This luxury property can sleep up to 8 people across 4 bedrooms. On the ground floor is one easily-accessible bedroom, sumptuously furnished and with its own en suite.
Three further bedrooms can be found on the floor above (two double, both en suite, and one twin, with access to a shared bathroom). The bedrooms enjoy a contemporary, homely style with exposed beams, whilst the bathrooms are bright, modern and clean-cut.
Fixtures and fittings embody an unparalleled standard of quality, marrying simplicity with sophistication and seamlessly blending modern aesthetics with a respectful nod to tradition. The meticulous attention to detail ensures that every room epitomises contemporary luxury living.
We were without mobile signal when at the property (on the O2 network) but there is good WiFi throughout, meaning that we could still use services such as WhatsApp, so this did not present an issue for us. In fact, I’d actually argue that not being easily contactable by phone is a plus point!
The property is close enough to the sea and Craster harbour that you can hear the waves crashing on a windy day and the squaw of herring gulls. The village enjoys a captivating history, with fishermen casting their nets into the North Sea for generations, but really came to prosperity through the quarrying of hard-wearing basalt formed 295 million years ago (Craster Winstone). Just one mile to the north lies Dunstanburgh Castle, a medieval fortress dating back to the 14th century, which you can reach from Craster via a pleasant walk along the coast.
A quaint harbour, timeless appeal, the aroma of smoked kippers (make sure you buy some for breakfast) and the Jolly Fisherman pub, once an inn for fishermen, characterise the village. A visit to the latter for dinner is highly recommended for crab sandwiches at lunchtime or the clam chowder or mussels in the evening, but do book ahead.
During our stay, we ventured up the coast to Seahouses and Bamburgh, an area we have visited many times before, and also took a trip to Alnwick which is only 7 miles away, where we participated in The Pastures parkrun, but where you can also of course visit Alnwick Castle, of Harry Potter fame, and Alnwick Gardens. Lindisfarne and the Farne Islands are also nearby, the latter renowned for their diverse wildlife, including puffins, seals and seabirds.
Other nice touches
A number of local produce items were very throughfully left for us in the property, ready for our arrival, including tea, coffee, milk, bread, butter, eggs, jam and a rather delicious coffee and walnut cake.
Harbourway is dog friendly and a bag containing a blanket and ball was even left for our canine companion.
Board games such as Scrabble and Monopoly are available for guest use. And a great deal of thought had been put into the décor given that we were visiting just a few weeks before Christmas, with a number of very tasteful festive decorations on display.
All of these considerate additions were a further demonstration of the care and attention given towards guests staying at Harbourway.
Short stays (Monday-Friday or Friday-Monday) start from around £1,000 out of season.
A full week (Friday-Friday) in peak season is £2,600.
The best bit
It’s always a little tricky to pick out just one thing when when every aspect of our stay has been meticulously catered for. If pressed, though, I’d say that it is exceptionally cosy, whether it be the sofas around the fire in the living area, the homely soft furnishings throughout the property, the south-facing window seat looking out towards the harbour, or the delightfully comfortable beds. (OK… so I cheated a little and rolled a few things into one!)
The final verdict
The exceptional cosiness, inviting living spaces, tasteful décor and comfortable beds (the word ‘comfortable’ is used repeatedly in the guest book and for good reason!) combine to make Harbourway a compelling choice for a UK seaside escape. Add to this the location, friendliness of the local people, abundance of things to see and do, and relative solitude of the area compared to other parts of England, and you really don’t need to look anywhere else.
Dislcosure: Our stay was sponsored by Catch The Breeze Retreats.
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