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The Brandy Thief | Coastal Cottage | Lee, Ilfracombe

The Brandy Thief

Lee, Ilfracombe, Devon, UK

Settled within a land famed for smugglers and contraband, where Malibu-scented gorse sweeps across the moors before meeting the toiling sea, The Brandy Thief offers sweet relief on the edge of Lee Beach near Ilfracombe. Awash with history and swathed in character, this luxury coastal cottage is a dreamy retreat for explorers looking to hunker down in North Devon.



This historic coastal cottage was once an aid to prolific bootlegger Hannibal Richards, acting as a warning of law-abiders nearby; now it's a serene family home with jute-lined floors and timber rafters. Personality oozes from each exposed 400-year-old stone and leather-studded armchair, from where a guest can survey torrid waves on stormy days, spiced rum in hand. Rustling up a big breakfast in the kitchen will fuel guests for a day of exploring Exmoor National Park nearby. At close of play, head out at low tide for a sunset shoreline stroll before cosying up on the armchairs, immersed in an old smuggling movie.


Three bedrooms with original floorboards and gorgeous sea views reside up the narrow stairs so often synonymous with curious cottages in seafaring villages. The twin bedroom is all soft sheepskin and exposed wood, while the super king-size zip-and-link next door is a serene place to collapse after beach frolics. The master bedroom is the crowning jewel in this Devonshire treasure chest, with a super king-size bed, dual aspect horizon-facing windows and an en suite with rainfall shower. There's also a family bathroom on the first floor, with antique roll top bath and steamy rainfall shower.


A small but perfectly positioned lawn sits just outside the front of this picturesque holiday cottage facing Lee Bay, giving guests the most magical spot imaginable for fun afternoon picnics, or long evenings spent stargazing to the soundtrack of crashing waves. The South West Coast Path runs right in front too, so visitors can make good exploration of secret coves and lofty clifftops, mostly accessible for the whole family. Come nightfall, bask in the glow of the festoon lights on the covered patio, enjoying seaside shanties or cosy chats with those you love, well into the small hours.

The Facts

  • SleepsUp to 6 guests
    From £1,995 per week, £1,495 per short break
  • Alternative group optionsUp to 2 or up to 4 guests
  • Bedrooms and bathroomsAll three bedrooms are on the first floor. There is a double bedroom with super king-size bed and en suite shower room, a zip-and-link bedroom and a twin. On the first floor is family bathroom with antique roll top bath and separate rainfall shower.
    View bedrooms
  • PetsOne small to medium well-behaved dog is welcome and two on prior request
    Pets are charged at £60 per week or part thereof
  • Arrivals and departuresArrival Time: 4pmDeparture Time: 10am
  • FamilyYes, children are very welcome. One cot and one highchair are available.
  • PracticalitiesThere is a free public car park with limited spaces available just 50 yards from the property. The kitchen includes a Smeg fridge-freezer, further small fridge, oven, ceramic hob, Nespresso coffee machine, dishwasher and washer-dryer. Due to the nature of the cottage, there are a few low doors and ceilings throughout and open flames are not permitted. The garden is fronted by a quiet road and is not enclosed; guests are asked to supervise dogs and children at all times. There is an open brick fire located in the living room, however this is only decorative and cannot be used due to the fireplace being listed. Please note, phone signal at the property is intermittent at best. Aside from the network Three other networks have little to no signal, though there is internet available. There is phone signal for other networks further up the cliff.
  • Homestay includesLuxury welcome hamper with local produce, bottle of the owner´s favourite wine, Smart TV, Bose Bluetooth speaker, beach towels, board games, WiFi internet, magazines, luxury linen and towels...House book - your property and destination guideDiscover more
  • Private cateringSeeking a celebratory dinner or fully catered escape? Our recommended caterers will work with you to create personalised menus for your stay. Details are shared through our house book on confirming your booking.
  • RetreatsFrom foraging weekenders to crash courses in cold-water therapy, our bespoke retreats bridge the gap between luxury and back-to-nature philosophies. Create a hand-crafted stay that puts connectivity at the fore.
  • Other informationProperty terms and conditionsFrequently asked questions

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A relaxing self-catering coastal cottage escape in Lee, North Devon
Sea views can be enjoyed from almost every room in the cottage
The family bathroom on the first floor

Prices & Availability


Framed by soaring cliffs, fronted by a promenade strung with glowing lanterns and inhabited by pretty Victorian town houses overlooking the sea; Ilfracombe on the North Devon coast embodies every nostalgic whim and romanticism of the great British seaside.

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Getting there

  • On the Map This self-catering coastal cottage sits just off the beach in the pretty village of Lee on the North Devon Coast.
  • By Car From London, take the M4 toward Bath, take M5 South and follow the directions provided to the property.
  • By Train The nearest train station is Barnstaple, 14 miles from the property.
  • By Air International airports can be found at Bristol or Exeter, two hours and 90 minutes away respectively.

From the owner

“We just love spending early mornings and evenings sitting outside, breathing in the sea air and watching the tide, regardless of the weather. The sunsets are amazing but even the rain and storms can be incredibly spectacular!”

From the owner

We are delighted that you have chosen to stay at our lovely seaside home. Being one of only a few frontline properties in Lee Bay, we fell in love with the cottage at very first sight. We knew instantly it would be an amazing place to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life with our two young girls, who seem to never tire of the rock pooling and sandy stretches of the beach when the tide is out.

The cottage has enjoyed a varied history, thought to have associations with a famous local smuggler, Hannibal Richards. Since then it has been a private house, a museum, and in Victorian times and most recently, beautiful tea gardens. Don't be surprised if the odd walker or rambler passing by asks if you are still serving afternoon tea!

Thought to have been built in 1627, we have taken care to try and keep as much of its history intact to preserve it for future generations, while maintaining it as a comfy and relaxing home. 

The cottage is in such a unique and special coastal location, we have been hard-pressed to find anywhere else that we find quite as relaxing or amazing to entertain friends and family. We hope you find the information in this guide allows you to slip into beach life easily. Moreover, we hope your visit creates many holiday memories that will be savoured for years to come.

The Bunbury Family

Owner recommendations

Live like a local, discovering the best hidden gem restaurants, walks and attractions during your holiday in Ilfracombe with an insider’s perspective.

Relish Barn & Bistro, Ilfracombe

To Eat

Relish Barn & Bistro, Ilfracombe

Specialising in fresh seafood meals, including sharing platters and a great selection of local game dishes from the surrounding South West area, this cosy family-friendly restaurant is idyllically close to the harbour.

Woolacombe Riding Stables, Eastacott Farm

To Do

Woolacombe Riding Stables, Eastacott Farm

These pretty riding stables are nestled deep in the valley of Woolacombe. Visitors can saddle up and trot across more than 200 acres of countryside, take a trail over the dunes or enjoy a quick canter along the three-mile golden sandy beach.

Lee Beach

To Do

Lee Beach

With Lee Beach just over the road from The Brandy Thief, the young (and young at heart) will be entertained for hours on the sands: building dreamy castles, rock-pooling for hours to find otherworldly crustaceans, or simply splashing about in the fresh sea waters.

Quince Honey Farm, South Molton

To Do

Quince Honey Farm, South Molton

One of Britain´s leading honey farms, this family-run business offers its guests demonstrations and hands-on activities like making candles. Take a tour or a half-hour taster as a beekeeper before enjoying a slab of cake in the cafe.

Guest Testimonials

I just wanted to say what a fabulous week we have had at The Brandy Thief. We have had so much fun throughout and the sun came out too! It is a fabulous location and we all felt at home straight away. It was like a perfect memory from childhood holidays. My Mum came to sit in the garden and reminisced. She isn’t very mobile now and it was very special for her.

The owner was so helpful when I contacted her before the holiday. She was very passionate about the property and gave me lots of useful information about the area. The hamper she kindly left us was of high quality with a great selection. We all had a lovely time there.

I could not fault the property, it was beautiful and I would not hesitate to stay again. Thank you for such a lovely time in a beautiful part of Devon- we can´t wait to return one day soon!

We love spending time by the water and The Brandy Thief couldn´t be better located for this. We enjoyed the property and its location greatly! Lee Bay is an incredible spot and we are grateful to have spent our time here.

Wow, what can I say? An amazing place to stay! Such a stylish cottage in which everything´s been thought of - as if lifted straight out of a style magazine. Beautiful rugged coastal walks and sandy beach strolls straight from the doorstep, sunny and breezy and just as it should be. The local pub was so welcoming and everyone so friendly! The Brandy Thief gave us everything we could hope for in a holiday.

Unique extras

From private chefs to luxury at-home spa therapists and adrenalin-fuelled retreats, once you’ve booked your stay we’ll introduce you to our owner-recommended suppliers to create a truly bespoke, memorable escape.


Below are a selection of features in which The Brandy Thief and Unique Homestays has appeared. If you would like to feature the property in an editorial capacity, please contact the marketing team on +44 (0)1637 882014.

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Disclaimer: These particulars, whilst believed to be accurate, are set as a guideline so should not be relied upon as a statement of fact. The photographs show aspects of the property at the time they were taken and it should not be assumed that the property remains precisely as displayed. If there are points of particular importance that need clarifying before you book, please contact us.

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