Welcome to the Hamptons, Essex

Osea is the Caribbean-colonial island that’s just an hour from London. It’s the Hamptons, it’s Nantucket, it’s Necker Island. Except it’s not. It’s Essex with a twist. At the Captain’s House, you’re right on the water’s edge. Slosh around in the heated pool. Sleep in four-posters, bathe in rolltops, observe life as it slides slowly past.

Same time zone, different world

Escape to your own Caribbean-colonial island, just an hour from London, in the same time zone, but part of a different world. Osea is Essex’s answer to the Hamptons, a Viking burial ground, a World War I torpedo base, and a rehab retreat to the A-list. Welcome to your new world of Nantucket picket, four-posters and rolltops.

Briefly cut off by the tide, you’ll spend your seclusion in The Captain’s House, sleeping 22. Squint only slightly and you could be in Maine or on Necker with Sir Richard. Slosh around in the heated outdoor pool. Take the private stairs down to the beach. Light the woodfires. Drink a red on the terrace.

Sit on the water’s edge and stare down the estuary. Walk your dog on the beach, canoe, kayak, swim. Come back to high-beamed ceilings, bulging bookcases, a shared Clubhouse with games room, four-poster beds with freestanding rolltops, and a covered veranda for watching the boats bob past.

Cook up local Maldon oysters, samphire and seaweed on the range cooker, or be cooked for while you loll around with a gin and a grin. Book on-site yoga, spa pampering or sailing. Embrace the island life. Watch the waves wash the beach, let life slide by at a far slower pace, try to imagine you’re actually in Essex.

Gardens and grounds

You want gardens and grounds? How about your own private island complete with salty air and empty shores? A place where the skies echo to the calls of the Brent geese and the plaintive chirp of the curlew. Where you can gaze at the mainland across the causeway and dodge the mainstream awhile. And where you can simply explore.

What will you find? Well, the heated pool will go down well. You might also find rope swings, a kids’ playground, donkeys, jellyfish and all five species of English owl. You’ll find a tennis court, a croquet pitch, a secret orchard, and a gazebo or two.

Borrow the fishing equipment, take the private stairs down to the beach, grab a bike (any bike). Dine and drink out on the terrace in the briny air. Breathe in huge lungfuls of the stuff, stare down the estuary, live the beach life. Feel extra alive.

Living spacesLiving spacesLiving spacesLiving spaces

Living spaces

Yes, you really are in Essex. That’s despite all the evidence that suggests you’re in Nantucket or Maine or on Sir Richard’s Necker Island. The clapboard exterior points you that way, but the interior’s equally wonderfully misleading. Check the old suitcases that come artfully arranged and the monochrome photos of old yachts.

The house sits largely on one level, but you’ll feel you’re on another spiritual plane. There’s room for 22 here and you can all get together in the large living room to feed the woodburner. Relax on leather sofas above exposed floorboards and dip into antique books. Take the French doors out to the terrace and gaze at the waves.

If burying your head in a book is important to you, head to the library and pick from shelf after shelf. Or get the clan together and dig out a DVD from the library. Pop over to the shared Clubhouse for table football, table tennis and pool. You’ve got mobile 4G routers here, but don’t rely on the streaming. Maybe that’s part of the remote and rustic charm.

Stay here because you’re celebrating, because you need to gather the family together, because you love the sound of the sea, or just because you can. The Captain’s House will reward you with cosy solitude, welcoming wood fires and an old-world luxury that wafts away your cares on the salty sea breeze.

Cooking and dining

Cooking and dining takes on another dimension on a tiny island five metres above the sea. For starters, Ocado will deliver over the causeway. But only if your one-hour slot falls within the four-hour low-tide window. How exciting is that? On top of that, you’ve got a whole raft of local delicacies that come with the whiff of saltwater and seaweed.

If you love cooking, you’ve got a gas range cooker with eight rings on top, plus two electric wall ovens. You can use them to muck around with lip-smacking local ingredients such as Maldon salt, Maldon oysters, samphire, Tiptree jam and all manner of seafood.

Eat around the dining table that won’t even groan with 30 plates on board, or head out to the terrace to light the barbie and add a salty smack to your steaks from the sea air. If you’d rather put your feet up with a gin, then book our chefs from Gather and Feast for your own bespoke menus.

Nip across the causeway for pubs such as the Jolly Sailor at Heybridge Basin, home to
an outside terrace, seafood bar and barbecue area, or the Queen’s Head at Maldon, for family-friendly fare. For great seafood, like dressed crab, scallops seared in thyme butter or mouthwatering mussels, pop over to The Company Shed at Mersea Island.


Bedrooms here are lavish and luxurious with sea views that give the illusion of being on a cruise in the Caribbean.

It all begins in bedroom one, a superking with shower en-suite and a freestanding rolltop bath sitting proudly in your room. Bedroom two is a double with its own bathroom, while bedrooms three and four are kingsize rooms with a shared bathroom. Bedrooms five and six are double-doubles each sleeping four and sharing a bathroom.

In the annex, bedroom seven is a superking with shower en-suite and a rolltop in the bedroom, while bedrooms eight and nine are double en-suites with showers.

Deep sleep here is a delicious luxury, something you slip easily into while listening to the waves wash onto the beach and the breeze blow over the sand.

Kids welcome

The Captain’s House on Osea Island is all about unique memories. It all begins on the mainland, by keying in a code at the access gate. Then it’s onto the causeway, with a low-tide drive on the tidal road. This is already feeling pretty special.

Once you get here, there’s no real rule book. This is a haven for free-range kids, with the beach circling the island. So just explore. Keep your eyes peeled for the kids’ playground, the rope swings, jellyfish, donkeys and all sorts of owls. There’s a gazebo in the garden: that’s your hangout during barbies or picnics.

Inside, with nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a living room, library and more, the Captain’s House is big enough for games of hide-and-seek that might never end. Outside, the entertainment’s more obvious. Dive into the heated pool, then grab your rackets and play some tennis.

Find the games room for vinyl and record players, table tennis, games and a small cinema room. On a practical note, the owner can supply cots and stairgates and, if your kids are best friends with the family dogs, they’re welcome too. There are no shops, amusement parks or arcades here. This is purely about fresh air and fun.

What people say

What people say

"What an amazing beautiful place, everything was perfect, the house and grounds were immaculate and the house was very well equipped, I would love to think I will get the opportunity to return sometime soon." - Sandra

Bikes, boats and jam

Plenty on site, with the beaches, the pool and the tennis. Try treasure hunts, kayaking, paddleboarding, cycling or sailing. Back on the mainland, Essex Outdoors Mersea offers zip wires, archery and aerial adventures. There’s golf at Forrester park, a spa at Five Lakes and strawberry jam at Tiptree.