Essex Cottage - Reader Reports & Opinion
Alan Purintun from U.S.A. visited in January 2013 and awarded
I spent three nights at Gloucester Place at the end of January 2013 and can recommend it highly. In stayed in the 'Concord' room, which has gorgeous views over the Caribbean through its two large screened windows and from the adjacent, large and mostly private terrace. The room and bath are spacious and more than adequately functional, though not luxurious. I didn't need the air conditioning during my stay, but its presence was reassuring and would likely make a return visit in April or May more enjoyable. I spent many hours contemplating the sea view over morning coffee, midday Caribs and sunset rum-tonics on the mostly-shaded terrace. The pool is lovely, though in late January did not receive sufficient direct sun to be truly warm; it felt great after a forest trek or the ascent from the beach, however.
Bea and Win are extremely gracious and welcoming hosts; I felt very much at home sharing their kitchen and viewful, covered verandah (a welcome shelter during rain showers that occasionally chased me from the uncovered terrace and poolside). Breakfast (included) was delicious; one evening I was also invited to share dinner of fresh mahi mahi and local vegetables ($20 US) with Bea, Win and two other guests.
The location of Gloucester Place is probably near ideal for a first visit to Tobago: sufficiently removed (around 40-50 minutes' drive) from the bustle and not terribly attractive development around the airport and SW end of the island, but not too far into the beautiful and much less built up NE. Exploring by car around the NE is easy as the roads are both good and, at least during my stay, nearly deserted. There are several worthwhile excursions, taking in breathtakingly beautiful forest and sea views and interesting, relatively untouristed small towns, within a 20-40 minute drive. This part of Tobago is some of the most lushly forested terrain I have seen anywhere in the Caribbean; Bea and Win know several guides who can be hired for more adventurous hikes and birding expeditions.
A number of good, inexpensive restaurants and not terribly well stocked food/beverage shops are within 10-15 minutes' drive. (I stopped near the airport on my way in for beer, rum, tonic water and other essentials.) Good, casual meals are served at the Boat House in Castara, Eula's on the beach at Englishman's Bay and Sunshine in Bloody Bay. It is possible to walk to one of the nicer beaches (at Parlatuvier; deserted both times I went), two nearby waterfalls, two or three restaurants and at least one minimal shop.
I was slightly disappointed with the beaches in this part of Tobago, which tend to be a bit steep and somewhat rocky. However, they are attractive enough for walking, lounging, and at least minimal swimming; moreover, I suspect their imperfection helps keep the throngs away, which is a great positive. When I return to Gloucester Place, I will do so anticipating more forests, birds and waterfalls than sugar-white sand and gin-clear water - a different but equally compelling Caribbean experience.
Malcolm Burson from U.S.A. visited in January 2013 and awarded
Gloucester Place is entirely unique in our experience. Bea and Win Sargent have created a welcoming, comfortable social environment something like a continuing house party with a constantly changing guest list. In addition to being in Parletuvier (unspoiled; you might be the only tourists in town) with its quick walk to a lovely waterfall, the location allows you access to great birding, excellent snorkeling, and lovely quiet beaches. But it's the house and the hospitality that make all the difference. Accommodations are perfect; Win and Bea will provide dinner on request (delicious!), and the invitation for guests to enjoy one another's company makes this special: we felt like we were staying with long-lost friends, and making new ones for life. Can't recommend too highly.
Richard Foord from U.K. visited in December 2012 and awarded
We stayed in Essex Cottage over the Christmas period. The tree house property is just fantastic with stunning views.The open plan living and kitchen area with the spacious verandah and shutters that open the entire length of the property gives the feeling of absolute freedom.The owners of the property Bea and Win are wonderful people and extremely helpful.It was a treat having Wonder Dog to accompany us on the beautiful local walks, a real friend with a lot of character.The location is superb to sample and discover the real Tobago, yet still in easy reach of splendid beaches and local villages.We found everyone in the villages very friendly and very helpful.What a pleasure to order such thinks as banana bread and pumpkin bread from someones home and then go back later to collect it when its still warm and fresh.If you fancy going to Tobago and sample the real way of life go and stay with Bea and Win you will have treasured memories forever.Thank you so mucn for your friendship and kindness, we WILL return.
Jecca Barry from U.S.A. visited in December 2012 and awarded
We arrived at Gloucester Place late in the evening, having rented a car and navigated our way (driving on the left side of the road with immense caution) through the island in the dark. Not an easy drive in the dark. To say we arrived feeling somewhat fragile would be an understatement. But Bea and Win, the incredible, gracious owners of Gloucester Place greeted us with beers and food and open arms. We stayed the first two nights in the main house of the B&B, our room was spacious and airy, as is the whole house. One of the best features of the house is the amazing balcony, that juts out over the hillside and overlooks the infinity pool and and the ocean below. The house itself is open and lovely.
After the first two nights, we moved into the cabin, 20 yards up the driveway away from the main house. This was the best bit of our stay. We loved the self sufficiency of the full, open kitchen, the wall of windows that opens onto a beautiful hillside covered with trees & flowers. And the cabin itself is simple, spacious, open-plan and elegant. Off the kitchen is a porch where we spent hours lounging, watching local birds come and go from the feeders hanging above. A bonus was Wonder, Bea & Win's dog, who befriended us and would come up every now again to check up on us and hang out. Don't be turned off by his initial barking. He's a lovely, sweet (and intelligent) dog.
The place down the street is a local bar/dance place with an irregular, strange schedule of being open/closed. But if you're looking for a close restaurant meal or bar, that's the place to go and Bea & Win know the owner.
If you want to explore the island or go into town for a meal, having a car is essential. But we found that relatively inexpensive and there is parking at Gloucester Place. We were looking for somewhere off the beaten path with a feeling of both remoteness and self-sufficiency and Gloucester Place definitely ticked those boxes.
The locals at every place we went to were warm. We never felt out of place.
The island is lovely, the diving was great, but the real gem (and the reason we would go back), is for Bea, Win (& Wonder!) and the great home they have created in Gloucester Place.
Jay & Jecca
Roger Bentley from U.K. visited in November 2012 and awarded
We had a wonderful time at this beautiful b+b at the north of the island, castara is particularly beautiful. Do go to joanna in parmalatuvier for an evening meal, she is a superb cook, bea can help you out with this.
Look out for wonder the dog who has adopted the house!!!