Enjoying the lap of luxury at Winchcombe Farm (Review)

Enjoying the lap of luxury at Winchcombe Farm (Review)

THE phrase five-star luxury is much overused when it comes to holiday accommodation. But never have I before considered it to be an inadequate description for somewhere I’ve stayed . . .until now.

The newest lodge at Winchcombe Farm Holidays in Upper Tysoe, is quite simply, luxury on another level.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation
Photos by Dave Fawbert Photography.

As the paint was literally drying on their newest lodge, I was lucky enough to be among the first to experience the most ambitious project yet, Ben’s Burrow which sleeps up to nine.

Set on two storeys, both indoor and outdoor space is in abundance with a design that makes the very most of its idyllic environment. And we were spoilt for choice for resting spots from which to enjoy the beautiful views – so, over the course of the weekend, we chose them all!

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

Luxuriating in a hot tub on raised decking is undoubtedly one of the best possible spots from which to soak up the rolling Warwickshire hills. But, determined to make the most of every inch of the private area exclusively reserved for Ben’s Burrow guests, we also spent time hanging out in the hammocks, and relaxing in the loungers, deck chairs (yes, there’s even a small makeshift beach area!) and geodesic dome. Partly suspended over a duck pond, the dome is the most exquisite spot for peaceful meditation and reflection. I defy anyone not to drift off to sleep on the daybed under the stars if left to their own devices for long enough!

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

And for when you can’t sleep – because you’ve been daytime dozing -there’s even a telescope so you can stargaze at the night skies in unrivalled comfort.

Unique to this lodge, you can also enjoy access to your very own fire pit, surrounded by log stump seats. What better way to appreciate the great outdoors than bonding with friends and family over some toasted marshmallows beneath the stars!

Plus there’s also a private patio enclosure to the rear complete with ride-on toys for the littlies.

When indoors the environment’s not too shabby either. The spacious open-plan kitchen and lounge features all the mod-cons including American-style fridge freezer, dishwasher, microwave, SMEG kettle and toaster and oven-grill.

Central feature is a grand dining table as well as plenty of sumptuous seating in which to kick back and enjoy the 55inch Smart TV and DVD player after a busy day out exploring – or, in our case, bubbling in the hot tub.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

If the weather is kind – as it was for us – you can make the most of the alfresco dining area, which even boasts a charcoal pizza over and six-burner gas barbecue.

But it’s owner Jo Carroll’s keen eye for detail and thoughtful touches throughout the property that help really set this place apart. From the welcome basket containing fruit and cake on arrival, to the stylish interior décor statements, you feel like you are guest in her own home – a home that’s been lavished with a great deal of love and attention to ensure ultimate guests satisfaction.

 

But none of it’s at the sacrifice of practicality as Jo has thought of everything. For instance, the downstairs double room, which has been equipped with parents of young children in mind, includes a cot, rocking chair and even a Teasmade, for those disturbed nights.

While the downstairs king-size room affords its own adjoining en suite featuring shower and toilet.

Another corridor reveals a stairway to access the triple bedroom, with its own freestanding bath, double-width power shower and separate toilet.

And there’s the most delightful adjoining self-contained studio flat, fully equipped with twin beds, kitchenette and private bathroom – perfect bolthole for in-laws or teenagers seeking some independent space.

Ben’s Burrow is an absolute triumph and is set to become a hugely popular addition to the Winchcombe property stable

The other properties are:

Will’s Tree House – The only treehouse in Warwickshire, it is ingeniously architect-designed to sit among the canopies of four supporting trees, which rise through the decking and kitchen. It sleeps four people, blissfully combining indoor and outdoor life with every imaginable comfort.

Bob’s Lodge – a two storey house for six but has space for another two in a geodesic dome with a super-king-sized circular bed and stargazing equipment.

Chicken Shed Lodge – Equipped with another geodesic dome and a wrap-around veranda, the third property is a stylishly restored retreat for five people.

George’s Getaway –This sleeps up to eight people in three bedrooms (and a geodesic dome) and boasts twin freestanding bath tubs.

With staycations on the rise, Winchcombe is the perfect destination of choice for a COVID-safe oasis of rest and relaxation.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

If you want to stake your claim I suggest you get in double quick. Check out the website here

Classic British dishes with exotic influences

Classic British dishes with exotic influences

ONE could be forgiven for overlooking pretty Preston Bagot in Warwickshire. It is home to little over 100 people, a church, Manor House and beautiful 17th-century pub.

But it’s this very pub, The Crabmill, just a mile-and-a-half outside Henley-in-Arden, that puts the hamlet on the map.

The Crabmill, Preston Bagot

As a relative local (I live in neighbouring Warwick and schooled my children in Claverdon and Henley), The Crabmill has long been on my radar. But recent new ownership and subsequent refurbishment, piqued a renewed interest, so it was time for a return visit.

Now a part of the Brunning and Price stable of pub restaurant businesses, the early signs are positive.

Arriving early for our meal, the outside tables were already all taken (admittedly it was a rare sunny evening) and the friendly vibe helped my husband and I quickly unravel from our busy days at the ‘coalface.’

The convivial atmosphere and mine hosts’ warm welcome settled us in nicely for the experience ahead. We had high expectations for head chef Gareth Evans’ mouth-watering menu. The South African, who hails from a Michelin starred restaurant background, offers a wide choice of classic British pub fare complemented by some more exotic influences, including Sri Lankan fish curry, Jerk-spiced chicken wings and Steam Prawn Din Sums.

The Crabmill, Preston Bagot
Pan-fried Jon Dory with tomato and beurre blanc, saffron boulangere potatoes, courgette and asparagus.

But it was one of the evening’s fish specials that caught my husband’s eye (as a non fish-eater myself, he often takes these opportunities to indulge!) and he wasted no time after heeding the warning that there were only 10 portions of the Pan-fried Jon Dory (with tomato and beurre blanc, saffron boulangere potatoes, courgette and asparagus) up for grabs – an advantage of dining early).

This followed his Crispy Baby Squid starter (he really was taking full advantage!) – both dishes on which he lavished praise.

On the non-fish side of the table, my Roast Chump of Lamb (served with parsley potato cake, asparagus, herb tomato and minted hollandaise) delivered on all fronts. It was cooked to perfection and oozed freshness and flavour.

Both the lamb and my preceding Smoked Chicken and Herb Terrine were beautifully presented and went down a treat.

The Crabmill, Preston Bagot
Roast Chump of Lamb served with parsley potato cake, asparagus, herb tomato and minted hollandaise.

So far, so very good, we agreed. Dessert had a lot to live up to – but earlier glances of the menu’s sweet treats (I know I’m not the only one who looks at desserts first!) it was clear I was going to be in for the toughest decision yet.

From the eight or nine dishes on offer I think I’d managed to whittle it down to four. Was it to be the Sticky Toffee Pudding (with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream); Warm Chocolate Brownie (with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream); Cherry Chocolate Tart (with sour cherry sorbet) or Toasted Waffle (with caramelised banana and honeycomb ice cream)?

I was more than happy with my eventual waffle selection, which was polished off with gusto. I’m often too full to appreciate a third course, but these were just too tempting!

The Crabmil, Preston Bagot
Toasted Waffle with caramelised banana and honeycomb ice cream.

Meanwhile my husband’s Crème Brulee with shortbread biscuits didn’t disappoint either.

Not for my sweet tooth on this occasion, but worthy of mention, is the impressive Cheese Board, made up of your choice of three – or six – local cheeses, including Berkswell Cheddar and Croxton Manor Stilton!

A Light Bites and Sandwiches menu is also available, options including Open Smoked Salmon Bagel; Coconut, Lime and Coriander Poached Chicken Salad; Roasted Red pepper, Sun Blush Tomato and Goats Cheese Quiche and Rump Steak Sandwich. So, a real contender for lunch next time you’re in that neck of the woods.

The Crabmill, Preston Bagot

A meal for four here will not be light on the pocket, but prices are not uncompetitive with similar restaurants in the local area.

The Crabmill can trace its roots back more than three centuries – and it still bears the marks of its history today – with its tiny leaded windows, weathered half-timbered exterior, crooked beams and flagstone floors.

Fitting then that this cider mill is once again at the centre of purveying fine food and drink to locals. Long may it continue.

Visit their site at: www.brunningandprice.co.uk/crabmill/