Cavernously cosy on the Cornish coast

Cavernously cosy Barford comes packed to the rafters with mystery and merriment, with a boat in the garden and Cornish sand between its toes. Sizzle in the sauna, escape for a capercaillie from the cocktail bar, and catch flicks in the cinema room and crabs on the beach. End the day with a sunset dip in the hot tub.

Mystery and merriment right to the rafters

Family or grown-up group fun begins at Barford. Cedar-clad and built into the hillside with a boat in the garden and sand between its toes, Barford sits high above a private North-Cornish bay. This is a beach bolthole straight from the pages of children’s fiction, packed to the rafters with mystery and merriment.

Kids will head straight to the secret Narnia cupboard. Yes, honestly. You can sizzle in the sauna then cool down with the cold bucket drop. The Dutch hot tub comes with sea views.

Barford is cavernously cosy. The vaulted atrium with suspended staircase and sparkling chandelier with its Paris Metro lamps raises expectations that are never dashed. Barford is a warren, with means of escape plentiful and playful. Regroup in the vast living area with floor-to-ceiling sea views and logs to light of an evening.

Catch late-night flicks in the cinema room and make masterpieces on the Aga, with the simmering oven for melt-in-the-mouth meat feats. Six bedrooms come full of quirky coastal comfort, but you’ll battle over the mind-blowing master with its dual-aspect terraces, private cocktail bar, lounge, woodburner and walk-in wet room.

Garden, grounds and hot tub

There are grounds for celebration here. The wide terrace comes with permanently marooned boat to remind you of what lies beyond. Swing through the gate and head down to Wanson Mouth Beach. Let the tide recede then rummage in the rock pools for crabs, shrimps, snails and anemones.

Back from the beach and with the sun setting over the rolling Atlantic breakers, you should take a dip in the wood-fired hot tub. Clink your glasses and toast another stunning day high up atop the North Cornish headlands. Dry off and chillax with dressing gowns around the covered seating. Warm the air with the woodburner.

Pristine lawns pan out towards the beach. Delay your trip to the sands with games of giant Jenga, cricket and croquet.

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Living spaces

Living spaces here are grand and gorgeous, full of luxurious detail and quirky beauty. Barford’s rooms are high-class yet homely; special but never precious. In the main living area, squishy sofas made for mythical giants invite you to remove your socks and wiggle your toes in front of the logburner.

Make yourself at home in the colossal cosiness between the copper-lined walls. Get together and fire up Netflix, BBCiPlayer, Now TV and Amazon. Close the sliding barn doors and dig out the cards and books, or the backgammon or Balderdash. For livelier times, set your soundtrack on the boombox and make it a night to remember.

Delve further into Barford’s wondrous warren to find more intriguing spaces. Pick a flick and kick back in the cinema room. Or find the rabbit hole to invade the secret bunker clubroom for cocktails, state-of-the-art sound, Starwars pinball, arcade machine and pool. Be warned: leaving is impossible.

If you do tear yourself away, life could be worse. Find the sauna with the view of the bay, twist the dial and leave to simmer for 15 minutes or so. Cool down with the cold bucket drop.

Cooking and dining

Professional options are good here on the North Cornish coast. Food lovers will love Outlaws, Nathan Outlaw’s outpost for two-Michelin-starred foodie goodness and a menu dictated by the sea, fishermen and the day’s best catch. Or tuck into great British classics with the vibe and flavours of continental dining at The Deck.

There’s tapas at The Bank, pizza and pasta with a side order of stunning sunset at Elements, or crab and squid at Life’s a Beach, a venue that transforms into an ice-cream parlour, beach shop and café during the day. Or tuck into Boscastle crab, Wickett’s chicken and local fish at Olive Tree, beside Bude’s picturesque canal.

Back at base, you can relax with a glass while we ship in our chefs for a special celebration or fully catered break. But if you want to do it yourself, the kitchen comes with piping-hot Aga complete with simmering oven that’ll make every cut melt-in-the-mouth tender. A baking oven is great for cakes, biscuits and bread.

Eat inside in the dramatic copper-clad kitchen/diner around the 18th-century Persian-oak dining table or outside with the woodburner roaring and the sound of the waves beating at the shore. Stock up on meat at Philip Warren Butchers in Launceston. If only seaside fish and chips will do, drop in at Rick Stein’s place in Padstow.

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Bedrooms

The issue here is who gets the master suite. Decadently delicious, it’s possibly the largest you’ll ever see. Complete with its own cocktail bar, lounge with woodburner and private terrace, it threatens to make an art form out of late rising. Refresh in the walk-in wet room with rainfall showers and huge William Holland brass bath.

But the other five bedrooms also carry off the rough-luxe look to perfection. Another four feature dramatic floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that open onto breezy, sunny sea-view terraces. Unique design quirks make each room a study in coastal chic and two of the bedrooms feature bunk or loft beds that kids will squabble over.

Barford sleeps 16 in six en-suite bedrooms. Beyond the 50-square-metre master, bedroom two is a superking with a high level mezzanine superking size bed good maybe for two older children who will be safe with climbing. Bedrooms four, five and six are superkings that can zip and link into twins. while bedroom six also has two full size bunkbeds.

For larger parties, the curveball here is the new vintage Airstream motorhome, available on request. Baths are brass or silver bateau, views are transfixing, and the sounds are of the sea and of gentle snoring in the oceanside air.

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What people say

What people say

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Shrimping, swimming and surfing

Drop in on the adventure-centre neighbours for rock climbing or coasteering, go shrimping down on Wanson Mouth Beach, or swim outdoors at Bude Sea Pool. Grown-ups can walk the coast, surf with Outdoor Adventure, learn stand-up paddleboarding, or just stay upright at the bar at wonderful Widemouth Manor Pub.

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