Wolsey Lodges B&Bs for UK literary breaks
- Travel Guide
There’s nothing like curling up with a good book to make the most of a winter evening. But this is also a…Read More
Christmas at a Wolsey Lodge B&B is different. For many B&Bs Christmas is their only day off in the year and they close to celebrate with their families, but those that do stay open take different approaches to the festive season. They have all the variety of Wolsey Lodges themselves, and can be as festive or casual as you choose. These are four lodges that illustrate the range of Christmas experiences available.
Take Lowerfield Farm near Broadway. Owner Sue Atkinson says “When we started off our B&B 14 years ago we hadn’t thought about doing Christmas but we had some guests call – in October – saying ‘just to confirm we’ll be staying with you at Christmas’ and we ended up serving Christmas dinner for 12. We’ve celebrated it every year since. We love it.
“In years gone by it was very international. One year we had guests from Japan, Italy and Germany, who’d all found everything else closed at this time of year. These days there are far more pubs and restaurants open over Christmas.
“Over the years we’ve refined what we provide. Most guests opt to stay three nights, arriving on Christmas Eve and leaving after Boxing Day. We put up a big tree in our living room and small trees in each bedroom – it all gets pretty festive. When they arrive we serve sandwiches, mince pies and seasonal delicacies in the living room, so guests can meet and mingle, though of course they’re free to take the food to their rooms. On Christmas day we serve a large late breakfast, leaving most of the day free to make the most of the daylight.
“We also provide a calendar of events in each room to help guests make the most of their stay. This points guests towards the local village celebrations, which include a brass band, carol singers, mulled wine and roast chestnuts, or a nearby National Trust pub which is great on Christmas day: they don’t do much food but they have morris dancers, mummers, and generally a great atmosphere. Some guests spend most of their time in the Fleece!
“Christmas Dinner is served pretty much as daylight fades at five o’clock. We have five courses, including traditional roast turkey (though we can and do provide vegetarian and vegan alternatives – and not nut roast, that’s too predictable). There’s always a quiz, and we make sure there are plenty of board games out.
“On Boxing day we serve breakfast but no other meals. We usually advise guests to spend the day in Broadway, where the High Street is closed to traffic and is taken over by the local hunt. It’s quite spectacular, with one lady rider always turning up in full period costume, hatted, veiled and riding side-saddle. In the evening we celebrate our own Christmas so we recommend guests go into Gloucester, where there’s a fantastic carol service in the cathedral and plenty of places to eat and drink.
“This year we’ve cut down numbers to serve just 10 for dinner. One couple have come for Christmas for the last five years so they feel as though it’s their private party, just with us providing different guests each year: it’s always worked. It’s my favourite time of year.”
At Tir y Coed in Conwy you can plan your Christmas to your own exact requirements. Owner Sandra Baddeley explains “Though Tir Y Coed can sleep 14 there’s space around the dining table for 12 so we take that as the limit at the moment. We can arrange your Christmas exactly as you like. If we provide the meals it will be very much like the experience you would get at your mum’s, but with someone else doing all the work. There’d be nuts and fruits around the place, your evening meal on Christmas Eve would be built around a ham, you’d get the full Christmas dinner, and then boxing day would be a buffet of leftover turkey, ham and everything else, enlivened by a large fresh salmon. Your exact menu can of course be changed to suit you.
“Alternatively you can rent Tir y Coed on a self-catering basis and look after yourselves. Though the house is beautiful the kitchen is commercial; it’s a very easy place to make large meals easily. There are probes for ensuring your turkey is perfectly cooked and the ovens are computerised. I always give new guests a tour of the kitchen, but if you’re not totally comfortable I’m always more than happy to pop in to programme the oven to cook your turkey to perfection: just tell me what you want to eat and when.
“It’s a great place to be for Christmas; there are fantastic mountain walks and if there’s no snow around the property you can always see some on the mountains, and a short drive up will find plenty. There’s the local village pub (though for meals that’s probably already booked out by locals) and lovely carols at the cathedral in St. Asaph.”
At Crow Leasow Farm near Ludlow Sally Kellard has a more flexible approach. “I can’t say I’ll take guests every Christmas as some years we Crow Leasow will be filled up with families. And at this time of year I’d only take guests who I know, who have visited before and I know will fit in. Guests have to know that they’ll be sharing Christmas lunch with us and what members of family happen to be around, and they have to be happy with that. My family are all pretty social so it’s no big deal. Christmas isn’t always about family – there are always waifs, strays and friends around – but guests have to know what to expect.
“It’s not a question of whether guests are right for us, but whether we are right for them. It’s like guests who want to bring dogs. They have to realise that we are in the middle of a working sheep farm and that we have chickens pecking around our lawn. If their dog kills a chicken I won’t be happy and they won’t be happy either, because their dog has killed a chicken.
“Having said which I’m not shutting the door to returning visitors – who I know – that want to celebrate Christmas here. As long as they fit in they’ll be absolutely fine. And of course if anyone is celebrating Christmas with family in the area and just need somewhere to sleep and have breakfast I’d be more than happy to help.”
Reymerston Hall are also open for Christmas with a special two-night package. Owner Elizabeth Holbrook says “we were rather bounced into this when we accepted a request by a previous guest to celebrate Christmas here. So we’ve devised a whole package to make it easy for more people to join the fun.
“Guests arrive on Christmas Eve for a traditional evening of mince pies and mulled wine, with perhaps an excursion to Midnight Mass. Christmas day starts off with a late breakfast and proceeds into a full turkey feast. On Boxing Day we’ll provide a leisurely breakfast and then guests are free to depart, relaxed, refreshed and replete. It will be a real easy-going family celebration.
“Our reviews tell us people love the homely – yet luxurious – atmosphere here so we aim to make that even better at Christmas.”
Wolsey Lodges can make Christmas perfect without losing that intimate sense of family, with a variety of experiences to match your requirements. Make this Christmas a Wolsey Lodge Christmas.