We did a lot of research into unique and unusual places to stay in Cornwall for our trip this summer, and there was one spot that topped the list as quirkiest of them all. A Celtic Roundhouse at Bodrifty Farm, hidden away in its own secluded woodland glade up on the Penwith Moors. We stayed for two nights and absolutely loved it.
One of the most unusual places to stay in Cornwall?
Bodrifty Roundhouse is an authentic replica of a Celtic Cheiftain’s roundhouse, with a thatched roof and earth floor taking those who venture through the low wooden door back in time to the Iron Age in Cornwall. The Roundhouse isn’t just one of the most unusual places to stay in Cornwall, in fact it’s one of the only structures of this type in the whole world. If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a roundhouse, or are just looking for something a bit different, then why not give it a go.
Bodrifty feels a million miles from anywhere, but really it’s only a short drive to pretty much anywhere on the Lands End Peninsula. The roundhouse is roughly half way between Penzance and St Ives in an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), accessed by lots of those gorgeous narrow Cornish lanes that have high hedgerows alive with wild flowers. You’ll need a car to get here, and indeed this is the best way to explore the area anyway. Yet once you’ve arrived, the car can be but a distant memory if you wish.
The farm sits on 100 acres of nature reserve, woodland and moor, over which guests are welcome to roam without having to go near any roads. From the settlement the Tinners’ Way traverses the moors to St Just over in the west, and St Ives to the east. This ancient ridgeway path takes you through remote moorland and past several other prehistoric sites for which this area is renowned. Our favourite was Carn Euny, an ancient village dating back to the Iron Age, with a rather unique ‘fogou’, or underground walled-passage which we just had to explore.
Brief History of Bodrifty Roundhouse
So, why was the Roundhouse built here on this farm? Well, if you walk through a couple of fields from the glade you’ll come across the Iron Age Settlement of Bodrifty, which is recognised as one of the most important such sites in all of Europe.
Constructed in 1999 using traditional materials and authentic techniques, Bodrifty Roundhouse was built to replicate the largest hut in this Iron Age village, and has been used for educational purposes, to show curious visitors what life used to be like for our ancient ancestors. It was even opened by none other than the Time Team!
Today the roundhouse is also available for travellers in search of unique accommodation in Cornwall, and we think it’s ideally suited for stays of one or two nights. It’s definitely one of the most unusual places to stay in Cornwall that we think you’ll ever come across.
Facilities at the Roundhouse
Whilst a stay in a roundhouse is essentially going back to nature, we didn’t have to forgo the comforts of 21st Century life. Just a few steps away on the edge of the glade is the ‘Treehouse’, a cabin built around a tree that houses a small modern kitchen and private bathroom, for exclusive use by those staying in the roundhouse.
We used this for cooking, eating and changing, and kept our clothes and bags in here to avoid them getting smoky in the roundhouse. There’s a fridge and hob so it’s easy to whip up simple dishes, although we suggest taking your own washing up sponges and t-towels since the ones provided were kept in a dusty cupboard under the sink and were far from clean.
It’s all about the ‘Hearth’
I studied archaeology for a year at university, and one of the most important lessons I learned was that the ‘hearth’ is always the ‘heart’ of the home. Mainly because it provided warmth, light and created a sense of community amongst those who gathered around it. It was no different here at Bodrifty Roundhouse. We kept the firepit crackling merrily away whenever we were inside and like moths to flames we found ourselves mesmerised by its simple significance.
It was actually quite a romantic place to stay in Cornwall. The handcrafted wooden benches look just the part, and the few rugs scattered about the floor gave the roundhouse a bit of a homely feel.
Back to Basics
When you go back to basics it makes you appreciate the little things, as well as each others company, far more than usual. Without phones, TVs or any other outside interruptions, we got down to the business of conversations, cards and imagination. Hubbie even found a stick to whittle, and did a fantastic job of poking it into the fire. I think it’s a man thing! I enjoyed swinging in the thoughtfully provided hammock (yes, there was a hammock in the roundhouse!), watching the smoke swirl around above our heads.
I had been a bit worried about the smoke, especially being an occasional asthma sufferer. Yet after the fire had got going, the smoke did dissipate surprisingly well through the thatch, and although most of the time it hung heavy in the air, it was always far above our heads. I don’t think I even coughed once!
It gets very dark inside the Roundhouse, which is part of the charm. In our modern-day lives we’re often unable to escape all forms of light, even at night, so experiencing true pitch-black was rather special once the glowing embers of the fire had finally died away as we drifted off to sleep. As a result, we reckon the roundhouse is certainly one of the most romantic places to stay in Cornwall. There was a string of fairy lights which we put on in the evenings whilst we were toasting our marshmallows, but they did feel like a modern intrusion so we didn’t have them on for long.
Comfy and Cosy Nights
Speaking of sleep, it was surprisingly good! The enormous Celtic Chief’s four-poster bed is amazing, and made completely from locally-felled green oak. Once we’d clambered up (it was pretty high off the ground) we sank into the impossibly cosy duck-down duvets and top quality cotton sheets, instantly forgetting that we were essentially sleeping outside in the wild. We’d gone prepared with thermals and even woolly hats, but woke up each morning having discarded the lot it was so warm. We’d expected to struggle sleeping, but in fact we had the best couple of nights’ kip we’d had in a long time.
Mornings at Bodrifty Roundhouse were all about waking early with the birds, throwing open the big wooden doors to let in the first rays of daylight, and saying hello to the swallows that seemed to like flitting around the glade. Then it was time to tiptoe through the dewy morning grass and clusters of gently swaying bluebells in our pyjamas and wellies, over to the Treehouse for showers and a spot of breakfast.
It was whilst we were mid-way through our bowls of Cocopops (breakfast of holiday champions!) that Hubbie spotted the fox cub, playfully jumping around the clearing right in front of the roundhouse. Completely oblivious of our presence, it cavorted on the lawn, perhaps chasing imaginary butterflies or just revelling in another beautiful day. We watched him for several enchanting minutes, before returning to soggy cereal.
Take a Quick Look Inside…
Out and About
By day we went off exploring, scrambling along coastal paths, visiting the famous Minack Theatre and having picnics on secret beaches. We also discovered some of the more unusual things to do in Cornwall, like traversing jungles on rope bridges, visiting castles we’d never heard of, and even checking out a museum for witchcraft and magic!
One of the joys of a holiday in Cornwall is that pretty much everywhere is easy to reach!
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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that unique accommodation and quirky places to stay are what makes us tick. We were looking forward to staying in a roundhouse, but didn’t expect to enjoy the experience quite as much as we did. Bodrifty Roundhouse must be one of the most romantic and unusual places to stay in Cornwall, and indeed it’s the sort of place marriage proposals take place beneath the brilliant starry sky in the magical woodland glade.
Tips for Staying at Bodrifty Roundhouse
- WOOD SMOKE: Don’t take your kit into the Roundhouse, only the clothes that you want to wear during your stay. It gets really smoky inside and therefore so does everything you take in. It actually took a couple of washes to rid our clothes of the smell, so we were glad we didn’t take in anything that couldn’t be shoved in a washing machine back home.
- FOOTWEAR: Take some crocs or wellies in case it rains, and to walk through the damp grass in the mornings.
- FOOD: Make sure you stock up on food before arriving, it’s quite a long way to the nearest shop.
- TORCHES: Don’t forget your torches, and maybe take a pack of cards for some evening entertainment.
Book Here: Bodrifty Farm Roundhouse
Who: Romantics, history buffs, nature lovers, and anyone with a sense of advenure
Where: Lands End Peninsula in West Cornwall
Parking: The car parking area is right outside the treehouse so it’s easy to transport your kit.