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Review: Little White Alice

Lisa Stephens

31st May, 2012

The perfect country escape, Cornwall's Little White Alice is a green retreat that combines style and sustainability, says Lisa Stephens

I arrived at Little White Alice feeling flustered, exhausted and well in need of a rest after a few hectic weeks at work. Meandering up the lane, in what looked like the middle of nowhere, I instantly felt like I was escaping the pressures and pollution of city life. A black Labrador called Marley came bounding towards us, swifly followed by co-owner Rosie, who introduced us to The Oak House. On entering the cottage, my fiancé and I breathed a sigh of relief. Light, spacious and a long way from London, the Oak House was just what we’d been hoping for.

Inside, we found a huge open plan hallway and dining area with an integrated south-facing conservatory, which sits either side of an oak and glass staircase. Through to the left was a country cottage sitting room with plump inviting sofas, big French doors leading to a patio, a full bookcase, ambient lamps scattered around the room and a built in double sided wood burning stove. To the right was a kitchen dominated by black granite and oak worktops, a full range of eco kitchen appliances and, to our delight, on the quirky island unit, a tin of freshly baked chocolate muffins in among the information sheets. Beside them was a basket of complimentary locally produced goodies including honey, butter, Cornish sea salt, home-baked bread, eggs from the resident chickens and Fairtrade tea and coffee. Upstairs, we found four bedrooms but chose the master bedroom for our stay. A spacious room with a high-beamed ceiling, Juliette balcony, emperor sized bed with windows above (star gazing at its best) and an en-suite bathroom, it was simply luxurious.

The private garden is ideal for alfresco dining with BBQ facilities and large wooden table and chairs next to the herb garden. Just as I thought it was getting a bit chilly, I came across some rolled up fluffy blankets in the utility room – allowing another couple of hours of taking in the view from the garden sunlounger. The highlight for us was the natural swimming pool, set among a variety of green herbs and plants and overlooking a wildlife haven. The chemical-free pool is filtered using a reed bed system and is as popular with the local swallow population as it is with the guests. We loved wallowing in the wood burning hot tub, with a fire pit and the pool on one side, and sloping fields on the other. We could hear the howling evening winds but were well sheltered by the surrounding granite walls.

Little White Alice has won numerous green travel awards. Owners, Rosie and Simon, designed it to be one the greenest holiday destinations in the country. The buildings have built-in insulation in the walls and roof using recycled paper and under floor heating comes from ground source heat pumps. The big triple glazed windows and doors are situated to give maximum solar gain.  And you can forget about bottled water: Little White Alice's supply is pumped up from their spring, filtered and treated with ultraviolet light. Hot water is supplied to each property by solar panels and Rosie and Simon harvest their own wood for the burners and outdoor fire pit.

Little White Alice has absolutely everything you need for a green getaway. We turned up with a change of clothes and a bottle of red wine and needed nothing more. Rosie and Simon have succeeded in achieving the perfect balance of ozone-conscious and ultra luxe. The blend was impeccable: It was immaculate but homely, quirky but minimalist and traditional yet contemporary. I left Little White Alice feeling calm, reinvigorated and looking forward to next time.

In the area:
On our first evening, we took Rosie's advice and strolled through the countryside to the local pub, The Golden Lion, which specialises in hearty fare made from locally sourced produce. We ate in the oak beamed bar before heading into the award winning gardens, overlooking the lake, for coffee and cake. The next day, we decided to get to grips with Cornwall’s wildlife. If you don't want to travel far, you can spend a happy hour wandering around Little White Alice's Nature Reserve – 12 acres of untouched wilderness home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. A fan of the sea, I ventured 10 miles to Falmouth to experience the Orca Sea Safari. The Cornish coastline boasts some of the richest marine species in the country, including basking sharks, porpoises, whales, seals and dolphins, and the county's Wildlife Trust has conservation projects in place to protect them. The two-hour safari, on a 12-seater rib, was exhilarating and a offered a different perspective of the quaint Cornish towns and coves from the sea. Despite perfect conditions, I didn't manage to spot a basking shark during my trip, but I did see plenty of birds.

Orca Sea Safaris start at £24 for adults and £16 for children for a one hour coastal tour. For more information, see: www.orcaseasafaris.co.uk

Need to know:
Little White Alice has six cottages in total, sleeping between two and eight people. Prices start at £302 per week for a two person cottage, £336 per week for a four person cottage and £577 per week for an eight person cottage, with Premier Cottages. See www.premiercottages.co.uk for more information. The nearest train station is five miles away in Redruth, which has connecting train and bus routes to and from Truro. First Great Western operates a regular service from Paddington to Penzance, which calls at Truro.

Little White Alice,
Carnmenellis,
Cornwall
TR16 6PL
Tel: 01209 861000
www.littlewhitealice.co.uk and www.premiercottages.co.uk

 

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