Breakfast with a view. This last weekend, we were lucky to be invited by The Landmark Trust, to stay at their atmospheric property Luttrell’s Tower in Southampton. We packed up a car with two of our favourite people, their 7-month-old and everything we needed for a two day break, then headed along the coast for a couple of days of relaxing and restorative sea air.We arrived at dusk and after getting a little lost eventually found our way to the tower, looming in all its glory out of the winter night sky. Built around 1780, Luttrell’s is a private tower on the shores of the Solent, with smugglers tunnels and breathtaking views of the sea. A magical place where you can sit and watch boats passing for days on end. The dusty blue doors beckoned us in and we explored the rooms on our ascent up the winding tower stairs. The blue room has huge windows and shutters to batton down for privacy and protection from the elements. Simply furnished with antiques and traditional decor this room looks out onto the sea, gardens and woodlands nearby. Up the winding stairs to the next level, the green room has smaller windows for a cosy feel, with more antiques and etchings of historical voyages. Gold accents with rich rugs, wooden floors and more of that coastal light, sleeping and waking in this building is an absolute pleasure. As I said, we arrived at dusk and all piled in with our bags and boxes. We pre-prepared an evening meal for each night so we could spend as much time relaxing as possible. Friday night was spent sitting at the huge bay window facing out into the darkness with the sound of the wind and sea for music. Arriving after dark we didn’t know what to expect when the sun came up. I spent the evening excitedly wondering how close the sea was and what the view would be when we woke up the next day. The living space is bright yellow with huge windows on three sides, a fireplace and comfy chairs for fireside relaxing. I didn’t capture every detail of this room as a whole, if you ever visit (which I highly recommend) it is just so lovely to discover for yourself. I baked two batches of granola to fill a big jar for the weekend and we had breakfast using the beautiful Landmark Trust crockery. I fell in love with the blue and white patterned china now need to find a teapot just like this!The view was everything we hoped and more. I ran up the winding stone stairs to an 8am view of waves rolling in and boats slowly gliding by like huge metal swans on a rippling lake. The sky was pale blue-grey, the breeze gently fluttering the silvery green leaves of the Ilex trees below.We sat here for breakfast and an hour or two later for tea and cake. Then it was time to search the basement for the secret tunnel that leads to the beach for a fresh air walk, a snuggled sleep for this little one below and some seaside treasure hunting.With winding stairs in both directions, we climbed all the way to the top of the tower for a blast of sea air before heading all the way down to the underground tunnels – our direct route to the beach. Dusty green Cyclamen leaves decorated the sleeping winter garden, while daffodil and crocus tips peeked through the soil, waiting for warmer days to pop their petals out. We found shells, seaweed and branches softened by their time in the waves. Bringing them all home to take a closer look and read entries from all the previous guests of the tower, dating right back until 1971. Inside the volumes are beautiful drawings, paintings, poems and detailed descriptions of holidays passed – and some beautiful handwriting! Later, a bit more boat watching, a very soothing pastime indeed. Ferries, fishing boats, yachts and container ships all navigating the water between the two islands. As the light fades, across the water the lights of the Isle of Wight start to twinkle out of the darkness. The best way to enjoy a place like this is to pack everything you need so no time is wasted away from the magic and history of the property. We didn’t leave the grounds for our whole visit – except for our beach meander.My top tip if you stay here is to go down to the Bijou bathroom before dinner, draw yourself a bath, pop a candle in the alcove, shut the door and open the porthole window to listen to the evening wind rushing by. I took some of my favourite Aesop beauty products with me and had a mini spa half hour before getting dressed and heading back up to the dining room for dinner, bliss.The place has a feeling of an Agatha Christie novel about it (in a good way)! Inside there is everything you need for preparing food and truly taking some time out the real world. To sink back into history and really enjoy some calm. For those who can’t quite sit still, there are interesting books, games and puzzles. We loved reading about Luttrell’s Tower throughout history. We were sad to leave the rustling hydrangeas and pack the car for home. I’d love to visit this place in all seasons to see how its surroundings change.These are the top five places on my Landmark Trust visit wish list –
1. Danescombe Mine – Calstock, Cornwall. Nestled in the woods this is the engine house of a former mine. The living room leads onto wooden decking where you can sit out and overhear the stream running past the back door and wonder what life was like here a century ago
2. Hanmers – Lundy, Bristol Channel, Devon. A fisherman’s hut, Hanmers was built by a fisherman in 1902. He chose a good site, a dip in the hill, on the path from the beach to the castle, so the place is sheltered but has the usual wonderful view out to sea towards Devon.
3. La Maison des Amis – Gif-sur-Yvette, Essonne, France. La Maison des Amis is one of the guest cottages created by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the grounds of Le Moulin de la Tuilerie. The ground floor opens onto a private terrace overlooking the main gardens; the first floor is open to the original roof timbers and also has views of the gardens and woodland beyond.
4. The Pineapple – Dunmore, Central Scotland. An eccentric 18th-century summer house built in the shape of a pineapple – it presides over a walled garden, while at the back is a private garden for those staying. It is an eccentric work, of undoubted genius, built of the very finest masonry.
5. Cul-na-Shee – Saddell, Kintyre, Argyll and Bute. Cul na Shee means ‘nook of peace’ in Gaelic and this simple weathered boarded cottage is well-named. Set in a stunning location on Saddell Bay on the east coast of Kintyre, it looks out across the Kilbrannan Sound to the Isle of Arran. Here in the 1920s a schoolteacher, the daughter of a local minister, built herself a simple home for her retirement, on the grass behind a rocky beach.