Set minutes from the surf and sand at pretty Widemouth Bay in the Devon/Cornwall border, 'Beach Break' (sleeps 9) is owned by one of Elle Decoration Magazine's top interiors stylists and has cool interiors to prove it. Fortunately for BFB users, Amanda is also a mum to two young boys and has give the house a laidback, effortlessly chic feel that is as practical as it is stylish. Funky beanbags and wooden toys sit alongside Robin Day/Erco and lovely Designer's Guild sofa. The kitchen-diner and conservatory are perfectly set up for family life and the living/dining room, with its sofas, large flat screen TV and log burner, is ideal for romantic evenings when the offspring are safely tucked up in bed. Best of all, the large garden has been transformed into a verdant entertaining space for grown ups and little ones alike with a trampoline, train track, sand pit, toys and a brilliant pizza oven offering hours of fun.
Amanda and husband Nick treated 'Beach Break' to a major renovation in summer 2008 and have cleverly converted what was once an unassuming early 20th century bungalow, although reputedly the former beach house of the Bishop of Cornwall, into a quintessential 21st century family beach bolthole. Other than the attic bedroom and a short (gated) flight of steps into the conservatory, it is all one level with a family-friendly open-plan living, dining, cooking space. Each of the ground floor bedrooms opens out on to its own deck or garden space, whilst the mature, quarter acre walled garden itself is heaven for mini guests and grown-ups with its brilliant train track, wood-fired pizza oven, in-built sandpit, table tennis table, and collection of outdoor toys.
The kids may be magnetically drawn to the toys, DVD and books, but parents will appreciate the muted Farrow and Ball colours throughout, funky furniture pieces, well equipped kitchen (huge range cooker, dishwasher, washer/dryer, blender and coffee machine), king-size beds with luxurious White Company linens and bathrooms featuring powerful contemporary showers and, in one, a deep and indulgent free-standing bath. The lounge has a large log burner, flatscreen TV, DVD and HiFi with iPod dock and the conservatory is the perfect family room with comfy chairs overlooking the garden and sandpit.
Outside on the decked BBQ area there's a wood fire pizza oven which proves a big hit with mini guests and grown ups alike as they experiment to create the perfect pizza.
Beachbreak sleeps up to nine in four bedrooms. There is one superking with en-suite with access to garden, a second king with access to patio and secluded rear decked garden , a wood panelled attic room with a double and a single with fab sea views and a fourth bedroom with bunk beds and porthole window, popular with little ones.
Beach Break is approx 2hrs south of Bristol on M4 & A361. The owners advise that they can do the trip from West London in 4 hours there and 3.5 hours back in the evening whilst their little ones sleep.
Along with its stylish and family-friendly interiors, Beach Break's other major plus is of course the proximity to the beach (approx 300m), village shop/post office/fish shop selling locally caught fresh fish and lobster, and the fabulous Bay View Inn (500m) which has great food, a kids menu, lovely views from its outdoor seating and, the holy grail of all family pubs, a bouncy castle. It’s just as well suited to a family lunch as a child-free evening meal, although if babysitting is booked, it would be a shame not to catch the ferry from Rock to Padstow and sample Rick Stein's finest, or head over to Watergate Bay to Jamie Oliver's Fifteen - be sure to request a window seat and witness one of the World's best restaurant sunset views!
Just a short walk or bike ride away, Bude is a reasonably quaint Cornish seaside town with a few half decent restaurants, some good local produce suppliers (inc organic) and three well stocked major supermarkets. The ‘Life’s a Beach’ Café bar overlooking Summerleaze beach in Bude comes highly recommended for its beach-side location, stunning views and rare combination of good food, a drinks licence and a kids menu – even if it is fish fingers and chips etc.! The lido beneath it is ideal for safe splashing around and is patrolled by life guards in the main season. If less than perfect weather forces you indoors, the nearby Trethorne leisure park, Milky Way and Big Sheep are good distractions. Each of them has special zones for babies and toddlers with ball pools, soft play and ride on tractors.
- Beach Break is approx 2hrs south of Bristol on M4 & A361. The owners advise that they regularly do the trip from West London in 3.5hrs.