Essex Cottage (self-contained self-catering cottage)
Situated just 50m from the main house, Essex Cottage is a charming wooden detached cottage available for rental throughout the year on non-serviced self-catering terms. The cottage can be rented as either a one or two bedroom unit. The second bedroom is located beneath the cottage and has independent access.
The cottage is comfortably spacious (54m2/ 580ft2). Even when rented as a two-bedroom unit, it should prove adequate for parties or families of up to four adults. The cottage consists of a single large room with a half-height wall forming two distinct areas. The larger of these two areas is the main living area and leads off onto a stunning covered porch. The other area contains the bedroom and bathroom.
The most striking feature of this charming cottage is that two adjacent walls are almost entirely made up of unglazed windows. Each window is fitted with a pair of tall wooden shutters. These can be folded back, concertina style. Fully opened up, the cottage offers the most amazing feeling of light, space and openness. Because of the way that the cottage is built into the side of a steep gorge, you truly feel that you are in a treehouse. Not only do you benefit from the cooling breezes, but whether lying in bed or preparing a meal in the kitchen you can enjoy a wonderful 180° panoramic view of the valley and out to sea. And, what stunning views they are!
In keeping with the nature of the cottage, the furnishings are simple, but practical. A large and efficient fridge-freezer ensures that trips to the supermarkets are kept to the minimum. A four-ring bottled gas stove, microwave oven, electric kettle, toaster and coffee filter machine take care of the essentials and are supplemented by a reasonable selection of cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery. The double-basin kitchen sink is plumbed for both hot and cold water – not a factor to be automatically assumed with self-catering units in Tobago.
Adjacent to the kitchen, the dining area is furnished with two small wooden tables and four matching chairs. Other furnishings include a pair of padded armchairs and a floor-standing electric fan. The fan was largely surplus to requirement during our stay.
A delightful covered balcony, with open wooden balustrade, leads off the living area. The balcony is furnished with four wide and comfortable padded all-weather armchairs and a table. An overhead ceiling fan supplements the sea breezes. The table and chairs can be moved aside and a fabulous Amerindian hammock slung across the balcony. The balcony is undoubtedly where most visitors will spend much of their time when not out exploring the island. It is shaded from the sun for all but the last few hours of the day. As somewhere ‘to chill out’, it is a hard place to beat. Even the occasional noisy car or truck passing seldom attract attention for more than a second or two. Visitors unfamiliar with Tobago need have no concerns about the cottage being so close to the main north coast road. The peak daytime traffic flow is probably no more than one vehicle a minute.
The bedroom area is dominated by a high wooden double bed with a framed net. Each side of the bed benefits from a nightstand and lamp. I am not a great fan of mosquito nets and, in truth, seldom use them. However, framed nets like this are effective and easy to use and the large ceiling fan ideally located above the bed certainly avoided any stuffiness.
The bathroom leads off the bedroom and offers a washbasin inset into a vanity unit, with lots of storage space for toiletries, plus a toilet and walk-in shower. The showerhead was slightly past its best, but I’m delighted to report that this was changed only a few weeks after our visit. Water pressure was good that there were no shortages of hot water.
There is also a tap and concrete shower tray on the exterior of the cottage – a very useful facility that avoids bringing sand into the cottage when returning from the beach.
When renting Essex Cottage as a two-bedroom unit, the lower floor is brought into action. Parents with young children should note that there is no internal access between the lower bedroom and the main cottage. Access is via external steps located at the side of the cottage.
The lower bedroom comprises of a single 7.6 x 2.9m room with two single beds and a spacious en-suite bathroom with walk-in shower. Although the lower room has large net-covered windows, it does not have quite the same open feel as the upper floor.
Needless to say, the cottage is not air-conditioned. Installing it would destroy the very nature of the property. We kept the window open throughout the day and never found the cottage too warm. In fact, during the nights we needed to avail ourselves of the extra blankets provided as a supplement to the normal top sheet.
In keeping with the ethos of Essex Cottage, there is no TV or telephone and the house does not benefit from Internet access. Some computer devices may be able to connect to the house Wi-Fi from the cottage porch, but all these services will be available to guests through the simple expedient of walking down to the main house.
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