After a month traveling thought the UK, all the way from Scotland to Cornwall, my husband and I felt the need to take a break from sightseeing and rather enjoy each other’s company just before moving forward to hectic London.
The moment the taxi dropped us at the doorstep of Lower Barns, we instantly knew we had made the right choice. This secluded, award-winning boutique retreat with merely 6 suites, is located in the heart of the Cornish countryside, a mere mile away from the Lost Gardens of Heligan, two miles away from the sea and a short drive from Eden Project.
It is a magical place that won the accolade of ‘England’s Guest Accommodation of the Year’ among others and we found it to be a tiny corner of paradise, just perfect for a bit of romance away from the maddening crowds.
Lower Barns is the brain child of Mike and Janie Cooksley. They live on the premises together with their teenage son, but their beautiful adventure started 22 years ago when they bought the property. For the first 6 years they lived onsite in a caravan, while Mike restored and renovated the building. Nevertheless, Mike’s restless hands and Janie’s intriguing imagination keep pouring new life into the site, with two new suites, ‘Nook’ and ‘Cranny’, being inaugurated on Valentine’s Day 2014.
Lower Barns is all about romance. Inspired by their extensive travels through South America, Janie and Mark decorated their B&B in strong hues and a very tasteful manner.
The two of us stayed at Nook, one of the eye-grabbing designed suites with a private walled garden. Needless to say we fell in love with it from the very first moment we crossed the threshold.
Entering the suite we found a quirky and fun decor, with colourful pillows, temptingly touchable textiles, a comfy sofa, and a Smeg fridge stocked with milk and water.
The generous bedroom is accessed though green double doors. A tin wardrobe topped with an old suitcases, hanging hats and a fancy chandelier come together into an unexpected combination. There are Lindor chocolates on the pillow and the bed throw covers the bed in an surprising way.
The bathroom is accessed through another set of green doors. More colours, fluffy towels, soft bath robes, handmade scented soap and a great array of bath and shower toiletries to satisfy all preferences, plus designer sink and bathtub make this one of the prettiest bathrooms we’ve ever seen.
The kitchen is a marvel in itself. All the cute and retro objects, delicious cake waiting for us on the counter upon arrival, the vintage, pink radio, colourful dishes, fresh cut flowers and funny tin signs decorating the walls and shelves, make for a uniquely romantic space.
It is clear Janie poured her own soul into this place, as every corner of Lower Barns is the result of her beautiful mind. She is the kind of person you instantly know you want to make friends with, a free spirit and an amazingly resourceful and happy person that would bring sunshine to your breakfast table even on a stormy day.
Speaking of which… Breakfast is served in the main building, and guests have the chance to meet each other and switch tips for the day.
We simply loved the whimsical centrepiece made out of a mesmerising swirl of branches with colourful hanging hearts and inspirational messages.
As well as the delicious full English breakfast cooked to order and locally sourced, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a fine selection of fruits, cereals and yogurts. A wide variety of cooked breakfast is available on request, including smoked salmon and creamy omelettes.
Dinner is served in ‘The Shack’, overlooking the lush green gardens. Home-cooked gourmet meals complement the romantic atmosphere with an open fire, candles, colourful pillows and light strings.
Lower Barns has a no corkage policy, but it has a secluded hot-tub where guest can relax under the stars and therapeutic treatments available for the ultimate romantic getaway.
One of the quirkiest additions is however Woody, the resident owl. Not particularly the friendliest guy, he hissed at me from the top of an old wrecked boat while I was photographing him. Nevertheless, he did not move a single feather and if it weren’t for the cat like hissing I would have said he was the most zen guy around.
The lawned garden has all kind of cute details, flowers and sun lounges for the enjoyment of the guests and it is a pleasure to explore.
We also had a sneak peek inside three of the other suites. Uniquely decorated and equally romantic, you can’t go wrong no matter which one you pick. They are characterful and inspiring and full of pleasant surprises. One could easily organise a treasure hunt through the suites, as the wealth of details is precious indeed.
Janie and Mark were the friendliest of hosts, and they went out of their way to make us feel spoiled and comfortable while staying at their peaceful retreat in the middle of nature. Lower Barns is the perfect place to rekindle a romance while also getting some interesting design ideas for your own house.
We personally felt inspired to be more adventurous with colours in our lives and Janie’s words ‘Relax, you’re in Cornwall’ sticked with us as a mantra. All the positive energy we charged ourselves with while staying at Lower Barns still lasts weeks after our visit and we know our lives are a bit transformed by our stay here. This is paradise, believe me!
For more information on The Lower Barns B&B or to book a room, please see their website.