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Review: Old Lanvean Cottage, St. Mawgan, Near Newquay, Cornwall, UK

Way out West, Cornwall is Britain’s California. A rugged landscape where the ocean washes white sand beaches and the Gulf Stream warms palm trees. But it’s a peninsula that sometimes hankers after independence with its distinctive black-and-white flag, own language and unofficial “national anthem”. On the fringe of Britain this is an ancient Celtic region where Arthurian legends, most notably at Tintagel’s castle. are just part of the mythic folklore.

At St. Mawgan, an idyllic Cornish village, the thatched 18th century Old Lanvean is the quintessential country cottage. So picture perfect that it could be on a chocolate box. Ticking all the boxes for a tranquil escape from the 21st century.

The story goes that Irish pilgrim, St. Mawgan brought Christianity to Cornwall. Turning to the cottage name, Lan usually means holy place in Cornish but “Vean” is lost in the mists of time. Local history suggests that the site of the cottage was once a Christian hospice.

Today this cosy countryside cottage is a mere five-minutes drive from the nearest big surfing beach at Mawgan Porth. It is also a dog friendly beach for easy access from a dog-friendly cottage.

The welcome

E-mails with directions, the number for a key box and notification that the cleaners have departed ahead of schedule, all make for a stress-free arrival.

The cottage

The Airbnb super-host’s country chic decor brings out the cottage’s character. It’s a time warp of sloping white-washed walls, ancient timbers and undulating floors.

Although the kitchen has all the mod-cons you need, including a dishwasher and microwave, unlike many a holiday home you don’t need a techie PhD to operate the hob and toaster.

Adjacent to the cute kitchen is a solidly substantial wooden table for six. Sat at that table, next to the router, is the optimum spot for working from holiday. On the quietest of roads, the only distraction will be the rooks and wood pigeon.

In the lounge, a hefty, timber beam tops an exposed stone fireplace with built-in bread oven. With radiators keeping the whole cottage toasty, that cavernous fireplace now displays dried flower arrangements.

As the light bathroom, featuring a shower over the bath, is on the ground floor, the first floor is devoted to two large double bedrooms. Both look out over Spring swathes of blue forget-me-nots in the wrap around garden. The master bedroom has a super kingsize double bed and the bedrooms have plenty of dark wood storage space.

In the garden, tall thick hedges create a patio sun-trap for al fresco meals at the table.

The location

Initially, St. Mawgan seems like the quintessential Cornish village: 13th century parish church, friendly pub, tea room, craft shop and a ford for crossing the River Menahyl. Then you come across the Japanese Garden and it’s 20,000 bonsai trees. A little Zen island of wind chimes, rock sculptures and moss gardens in deepest Cornwall.

But most guests journey to this shipwreck-and-smugglers coastline for beaches that shimmer as the tide rolls out, for the ultimate Atlantic roller. It is a dramatic coastline for kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing and swimming.

A drive of less than fifteen minutes takes you to surf schools at Mawgan Porth, Newquay or Watergate Bay. Remember that Fistral Beach is renowned globally as one of the world’s great surfing beaches.

The National Trust provides parking and Tea Shop for a visit to Bedruthan Steps. Take a walk through splashes of purple and yellow clifftop flowers to look out over the rock stacks.

So spectacular are the coastline views that most visitors are tempted to add on a few miles of the South West Coast Path. Some even think of devoting a couple of months of their life to walk all 630 miles around the South West peninsula from Minehead to Poole.

Additionally, Cornwall is renowned for its gardens and it’s around 40 minutes to both the futuristic Eden Project and the more retro Lost Gardens of Heligan that looks back to the era of the grand country house estate.

Other nice touches

Old Lanvean is a place to wind down for families and friends. There’s a whole cupboard packed with board games and DVDs.

Just to make sure that know you are in Cornwall mode, the welcome pack includes scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam for a DIY cream tea. Cornish gingerbread, Cornish tea and Cornish drinking chocolate hammer home the location.

The cost

Prices begin from £700 per week with two night stays available in low season. A few weeks are still available for Summer 2024 and the online calendar is now available for booking for 2025.

The best bit

You don’t have to self-cater. A five-minute walk down a quiet private road takes you to Hawkey’s Cafe, where the cheerful owner cooks breakfasts from 8 am and serves snacks throughout the day. Come noon, the excellent Falcon Inn is open for home cooked lunches and dinners everyday except Monday.

Down at Watergate Bay Hotel, overlooking a two-mile long beach, Zacry’s on the Sea Wall provides horizon-view fine-dining. Whilst The Beach Hut, virtually on the beach, has a more casual menu.

Up above, The Living Space merges deck-chairs on the terrace, bar stools at the bar, sofas and tables, enabling visitors to slip from coffee to lunch to drinks to dinner.

The final verdict

Selected for The Times 2023 collection of “40 Cool cottages for Spring”, Old Lanvean was quite rightly recognised for its ability to preserve thatched period charm with design savvy contemporary comfort.

Old Lanvean is a cottage for all seasons. Beyond peak season it is a cosy base for exploring Cornwall’s charms once the crowds have departed: days when you have beaches and miles of clifftop to yourself.

Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Old Lanvean Cottage.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. Cornwall’s great, the only problem is that it can be full on and in your face during the school holidays. It must be great to escape from the crowds to chill out in the countryside. As we’re getting older and becoming empty nesters off season is becoming more and more attractive.

  2. As a child we used to have wonderful family holidays in Cornwall. Then when I had my own family we used to fly off somewhere. This lovely post makes me think that my kids might be missing out on something.

  3. Interesting that you say that Cornwall is England’s California as it does seem like another country, then again, do you get a cottage any more English than this?

  4. It’s a sad fact of life that you can’t escape work nowadays even when you are on holiday. Red-hot wi-fi is always on my check-list when looking at places to stay. There can’t be a more idyllic place to work than this.

  5. That’s a part of the Cornwall coast that I haven’t explored. St Mawgan looks well worth a visit.

  6. The Lost Gardens of Heligan is definitely worth a visit. When you get down into the valley it’s getting tropical. There’s an amazing sense of a lost way of life.

    It’s good in the Eden Project Domes but it can all feel a bit as if you’re on a school trip. If I had one free ticket to go back I’d choose Heligan.

  7. There’s plenty of competition in Devon and Cornwall when it comes to self-catering accommodation, plenty of choice. This cottage looks to have the edge. Could be worth investigating.

  8. I’ve got this vision of having a Cornish Cream tea around that table in the garden.

    We often go on holiday with another couple and I think they would love this cottage and the cream tea too.

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