Anyone that knows me knows I’m not a camper. The idea of going without a proper shower or a flushing toilet for days on end is my idea of hell. But glamping, on the other hand, is an entirely different proposition I can definitely get on board with. I recently discovered Glampingly, a travel booking website dedicated to this very pursuit, which features a wide range of unique glamping properties in the UK and Europe, from canvas yurts to bell tents to vintage Airstream trailers to cute cottages and quirky tree houses.
In my quest for glamping bliss, I initially had my heart set on a treehouse but with our 1-year-old baby in tow, I decided that something based firmly on the ground was probably a safer option!
After perusing a wealth of properties, we selected Wingbury Farm based on its close proximity to London (1.5 hrs by car), its gorgeous rural location and the fact it had a relaxing wood-fired hot tub. Located just outside the small Buckinghamshire village of Wingrave (just north of the Chiltern Hills), it's ideally situated for those wanting to get away from it all.
Wingbury Farm consists of three self-contained glamping pods all set within spectacular English countryside in all its splendour, delivering city dwellers a chance to leave behind the hustle and bustle of the city in exchange for a slice of countryside bliss.
Immediately in front of the pods, sheep graze happily in the fields, making guests feel at one with nature. And indeed, you are; during our weekend visit we saw partridges and geese and were informed by our host, owner Will Henderson, that a badger also roams the grounds, however, he didn’t grace us with a visit!
The pods are akin to being in a country-chic wood cabin; the curved natural wood panelled ceiling makes the pod feel more spacious and is pleasantly cocooning, while whitewashed tongue-in-groove panelling creates a homely atmosphere.
Small but well designed, the pods manage to pack in a lot, including a fully equipped bathroom with an electric power shower, a sink and a toilet - no outdoor long drops in the middle of the night here - a full kitchen with a sink, fridge/freezer, a 2- ring stove with oven, a flat screen tv, a dining table which transforms into a double bed and two seating areas, which can convert into small single beds, although we reckon it’s best suited for those with small children as it would be a bit cramped otherwise.
To ensure guests have everything they need to be self-sufficient during their stay, pots and pans, dishes and cutlery and all linens and towels are provided.
Our stay at Willow Pod
After a warm welcome from owner Will, we were shown our pod and all the fab little touches they provide such as freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, massive marshmallows for roasting, and all the essentials you need to start your morning right including 1-day-old farm fresh eggs, milk, orange juice and tea, coffee and sugar.
We quickly settled into our pod for the evening and were surprised by how incredibly cosy it was. Thanks to terrible circulation, I’m always cold, so I brought along extra blankets to ensure I’d be warm, but I needn’t have bothered as we were plenty toasty without as we watched tv while tucked snugly in bed.
We loved how in true camping style, the dining table converted into a double bed by using the seat cushions as a mattress, and we found it a real novelty to hide our bed away each morning to set the table for breakfast but I imagine one might tire of this delight after a few nights’ stay!
Ready for bed. Ready for breakfast!
While we adored the inside of the pod, the outside is where it really comes into its own. Each pod has a large deck with glass side panels affording uninterrupted views of the countryside and a picnic table where guess can enjoy an alfresco meal during the warmer months. As you can see, the view is still just as gorgeous in the cold autumn months, even with the early morning frost on the panels!
In addition to the deck, each pod has a unique Scandinavian wood-fired hot tub (complete with a backdrop of sparkling coloured fairy lights), to add a bit of magic as you soak away the stresses and strains of your day while you gaze at the endless fields without a care in the world. There aren’t any bubbles, though, so don’t waste your time looking for the bubble button like we did!
The hot tub by day ...
And by night...
Of course, no camping trip is complete without a fire and after a lovely dip in the hot tub, we enjoyed ending each evening sitting round the campfire, chatting in the dark of the night, while watching the stars twinkle as we roasted our marshmallows to perfection.
Rustic fireside benches
For those who like to BBQ, each pod also has its own BBQ grill complete with cracking countryside views to while away the time while you wait for your burgers to cook.
To ensure that everyone gets a good night’s sleep during their stay, there’s a no noise policy after 10:30, however, given how family friendly the property is, it seems highly unlikely that it would ever get too rowdy - apart from perhaps the odd over-excited child who's thrilled to be given the opportunity to run amok in the great outdoors. Ever the opportunist, Evan was desperate to go exploring and made it as far as the deck before I caught him sneaking out of the pod! Cheeky boy.
Exploring further afield
There is an abundance of things to see and do in the local area, so you won’t be bored, so long as you have a car to get around. Or you can just stay put and look at the views.
The views are gorgeous all day long from sunset to sunrise
Over the course of the weekend, we visited the stunning Waddeson Manor (which features in Downton Abbey and The Crown), the Natural History Museum at Tring (which has a wide assortment of unique animals forever preserved in all their glory thanks to the joys of taxidermy) and luxury shopping oasis Bicester Village. The renowned Whipsnade Zoo ZSL, which boasts an incredible array of animals, is also a short jaunt away.
After a two-day stay, as we drove along the motorway to return to London with a tinge of sadness at having to leave our little ‘home away from home,’ we found ourselves dreaming about what life would be like if we lived in the countryside fulltime – proving that sometimes a short break is more than enough to escape the doldrums of everyday life.
The Willow Pod at Wingbury Farm Glamping in Buckinghamshire is available from £150 per night, based on up to four sharing on a self-catering basis. There is a two-night minimum stay. To book, visit https://glampingly.co.uk
Upper Wingbury Farm
A summary of our stay at Wingbury Farm, Buckinghamshire
Our journey to Tudor Farmhouse began with an adventure as we scanned the ominous snow flurries, wondering whether the three-hour car journey would be safe enough to make with our precious cargo - our five-month-old baby, Evan, in tow. After reading various road reports and loading our car with a last-minute winter survival kit (a throwback to my days as a Minnesota native), we were confident that we were prepared for all eventualities and were on our merry way.
Tudor Farmhouse is located in the charming village of Clearwell (population 350), which is home to Clearwell Castle, a Gothic castle built in 1728, and Clearwell Caves, a natural cave system which has been extensively mined for iron ore and now operates primarily as a mining museum.
Pull on your wellies and enjoy the great outdoors
Surrounded by 14 acres of grasslands and 27,000 acres of forest, Tudor Farmhouse is ideally positioned for those who love country walks. With distances ranging from a gentle one-hour stroll to more challenging walks of up to three hours, including stops at Slade Brook, Newland Castle, Millennium Green, Mortuary Chapel and Lovers Leap, there is the perfect walk for everyone to enjoy. Don’t fret if you’ve forgotten your wellies at home, as the hotel has a selection of wellies you can borrow during your stay.
The property is also home to a chicken run, an orchard and a kitchen garden, which provides fresh produce for the restaurant.
Guests can choose from 20 country-chic bedrooms, which feature the perfect combination of traditional features such as exposed stone walls and beamed ceilings, and modern amenities including roll-top baths, monsoon showers and the all-important Nespresso coffee machine to make your own cup of caffeinated joy - a morning necessity in my opinion.
A bathroom designed with relaxation in mind...
In keeping with the farm theme, room options on offer include suites, Cockerel rooms, Hen Rooms and Hatchling rooms. We stayed in Room 19, one of the five stylish Cockerel rooms. Located on the first floor, this mini suite had a comfy double bed and a separate lounge area, where the staff had kindly set up a travel cot for the baby. He obviously enjoyed having his own room as he’s never slept so soundly!
We loved that the suite had two televisions – perfect for couples who don’t agree on what to watch (as if that would ever happen) and the roll-top bath and rain shower with complimentary Bramley bathroom products were a real indulgence after a long journey. We also loved the gorgeous waffle bathrobes they provided - the comfiest robes we’ve ever used, which were perfect for lounging in as we read the morning paper.
Dining options at Tudor Farmhouse
The 2AA Rosette restaurant is headed up by Rob Cox (who recently won the prestigious South West Chef of the Year award) and is committed to using quality and locally-produced ingredients, most sourced from within a 20-mile radius of the hotel.
Breakfast is served from 8:30 each morning in the dining room or if you’re feeling too tired to venture to the dining room (or if you’d rather eat your breakfast in your jammies), you can arrange for room service.
In the dining room guests can help themselves to fresh fruit salad and croissants and can choose from breakfast classics such as oak-smoked salmon, poached eggs, grilled brace kipper or a classic full English.
Available daily between 12:00-14:00, guests can choose from two or three courses, or opt for the new six-course tasting menu (with accompanying flight of wines). This includes a beetroot and blackberry salad, white onion soup with duck egg, slow roasted Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with smoked apple puree, pan fried cod with hazelnut and truffle pesto, spiced rice pudding with dark chocolate and star anise ganache and coffee with homemade petits fours.
During our stay, my husband and I organised a babysitter so we could enjoy a much-needed romantic evening meal. We started with Gin Fizz cocktails in the cosy lounge with its wood-burning stove, the perfect respite from the -1C weather outside. We later moved into the intimate dining room with its sexy low lighting and quirky beamed ceilings.
Guests can choose from either a 3-course meal or a six-course tasting menu, which looked divine. Given we were on a limited timescale, we opted for the former. The lamb ravioli with wild garlic, morels and coco beans starter was as beautiful as it was tasty and the pan-fried cod with hazelnut and truffle pesto, Jerusalem artichoke and a chicken jus, was light and comforting. We loved that each dish featured a unique twist by pairing items you wouldn’t think to pair together but they worked remarkably well, such as the white onion soup with duck egg, oats and smoked prunes. Although I had earmarked the lemon parfait with rhubarb sorbet for dessert, alas it wasn’t meant to be as the restaurant manager informed us that we’d need to retire to our room for the evening as the baby had decided that he was missing our company! We weren’t too disappointed though, as it meant more time burrowing under the feather down duvet, where we dozed with ease thanks to the marvellously comfortable bed.
Exploring further afield
Guests can explore the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley area with local forager Raoul Van Den Broucke, who provides the hotel with local produce collected from the region. Raoul who stars in The Wild Gourmet TV programme is an expert in the local flora, mushrooms, herbs and fruits.
If foraging isn’t your thing, other interesting sights to see include the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail and Puzzlewood ancient woodland, which featured in the Lord of the Rings films.
Tudor Farmhouse is a little gem of a boutique hotel in the heart of the countryside that’s ideal for those seeking a chilled-out stay.
Prices available from £130 per room per night based on two sharing a Hatchling Double Room on a B&B basis. Children under six stay free.
A summary of our stay at Tudor Farmhouse Hotel
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