Meet Charlotte Thomson and Joey Auger, the owners of HarbourLights – a truly stunning conversion of a former public toilet block inCornwall known as the ‘Loo with a View’ – so stunning in fact that it caughtthe attention of George Clarke’s AmazingSpaces and was featured on the programme!
We spoke to Charlotte to find out more about this uniqueluxury holiday home, and her tips for visiting the local area.
How did you first discoverthe ‘Loo with a View’, and what gave you the idea to convert it into HarbourLights?I amused to Joey taking me to view weird and wonderful ‘projects’ from watertowers, to coastguard huts and hobbit houses in the woods! So the idea of apublic toilet didn’t faze me in the slightest! We saw it up for auction, sawthe stunning views and location, and just knew straight away what a stunningproperty it could make.
What are yourbackgrounds and did you ever think you would attempt such a unique conversion?Joeyhas been in property in one way or another all of his working life and hasrenovated nightclubs, hotels… all sortsof amazing things! I brought my first house (an old tin miners cottage) at 18and renovated it whilst doing a degree, so I suppose we have both always shareda love of old buildings and the property market. Together we have renovated anold Playhouse in Portsmouth, ancient cottages, a chapel, and a few other‘challenging’ projects so the toilet didn’t faze us to be honest! We knew itwould be hard work but that makes it more rewarding when you get to the end!
Were there any challenges youfaced when renovating the building?
Oh mygoodness, anything and everything. The first big challenge was that when wetook the roof off, all the walls started moving outwards. So we had to create aconcrete ring beam (all very boring and technical!) to support the structure.Because of the properties history and it being in a World Heritage site, we hadto keep the majority of the remaining building as it was and just add on to it,so this was more difficult than we’d originally hoped.
We had nightmares with builders letting us down, hence why we ended up doing95% of the work ourselves. There was a break-in and robbery… Honestly, wereally went through it on this one!
How did the project come tothe attention of George Clarke’s AmazingSpaces, and did you enjoy filming it?
Ihad posted a few tweets about the project, and it was Channel 4 that contactedme to ask me to send in a few photos and background information. They came downto do a recce of the place to see how it would work on film, and they fell inlove with it and said it was perfect for the show. We did 13 full days of filming and shot some really fun,interesting footage, so hopefully they’ll do an extended version one day!
Has the project changed youroutlook/life in any way and if so, how?
The original intention was to sell the property when it wasfinished, as we said on the show. However the more time we spent there, and themore we showed our family and friends around, the more we fell in love with it.That’s why we decided to keep it and rent it out as a luxury holiday let. (Anduse it ourselves of course!) We are really enjoying doing this, and lovegetting the amazing reviews and comments. So much so we have started Lovers Retreats,a company dedicated to romantic breaks away – So keep an eye out, there is moreto come!
What’s your favourite featureof Harbour Lights?
Ooooohthere are too many to mention! If I had to pick one, I suppose I would choosethe beautiful silver bath at the end of the bed. It looks out right over thesea so if you’re lucky you can be sipping Champagne in a hot bubbly bath,watching the dolphins that are regularly seen in the bay.
Sum up Harbour Lights inthree words.
Do you have any plans for thefuture to convert other unusual properties?
Weare currently looking at an old grammar school, and a care home… Although ourplans change weekly. Watch this space!
If you were visiting thelocal area, how would you spend a day?
Charlestown is full of little gems and things to do, youwouldn’t even need to get in the car. I’d start with a slow walk alongCharlestown beach with the dogs, stopping to skim stones and explore the caves.This would be followed by a fresh coffee and croissant at Short and Strong, thelittle cafe in the square.
I’dthen soak up the scenery around the Harbour, watch the tall ships sail out ofthe harbour, and maybe treat myself to a Cornish ice cream!
I’dbumble around the antique and gift shops, picking up a few souvenirs for myfriends, and maybe then take a walk along the South West Coast Path to CarlyonBay or Duporth for a picnic.
Theevening would be spent at The Longstore (steak and seafood restaurant) followedby a Cornish pint at one of the nearby pubs, listening to local bands play.
If Iwasn’t already exhausted by this point I’d stroll back to Harbour Lights andhop in the hot tub with a glass of bubbles, with my head back watching thestars.
If you were to go on anunusual UK ‘staycation’ what type would appeal to you?
Somewhere dog friendly, by the sea,a bit quirky, with some luxury touches… But then, I’ve just summed up HarbourLights!
If this sounds like your idea of holiday heaven, book your stay at Harbour Lights via Host Unusual and see for yourself why Charlotte and Joey fell in love with this utterly unique place.