Christmas Markets with Wolsey Lodges
- Travel Guide
It would be easy to succumb to the long December nights, but the runup to Christmas brings a show of defiance. Across…Read More
If you’re looking to escape to the country and enjoy a relaxing bed and breakfast stay, Wolsey Lodges B&Bs are a great place to start. Many are in rural settings, giving you the chance to breathe deeply clean rural air.
The first thing to do is decide your destination. There are the traditional favourites – Cornwall, the Lake District, and the Yorkshire Moors spring to mind – but bear in mind these tend to get crowded in season. Unless you can travel outside peak holidays you might be better off choosing a road less travelled. There are plenty of Wolsey Lodges in lesser-known parts of the country, and your B&B hosts are guaranteed to know the best places to visit and the best things to do.
Take Chillingham Manor B&B in Northumberland. While crowds thong the coast, Chillingham Manor is a few minutes inland – and all the better for it. It’s just by the gatehouse of Chillingham Castle, which is widely said to be haunted and is a wonderful trove of medieval history, and this is also you’ll find the world’s only properly wild, feral cows: Chillingham Cattle attract visitors from all over to witness what happens to cows when left to their own devices for hundreds of years.
Chillingham Manor has three guest bedrooms and is perfect for groups of friends exploring Northumberland together. If you book all three bedrooms you’ll get exclusive use of the ‘new’ part of the house (though new is relative. It was built in 1828).
This is made much easier by the Wolsey Lodges Website. Wolsey Lodges are the prestige association of the UK and Ireland’s best bed and breakfasts. Though these days it’s largely a self-selecting group it’s no coincidence that all Wolsey Lodge members are five-starts on Tripadvisor and regularly top ratings on all the Online Travel Agents. So by choosing a Wolsey Lodge you’ve already weeded out a huge number of B&Bs that offer no such guarantee of quality.
Set in one of the UK’s finest fishing and shooting estates, Wrackleford House brings country-house comforts to a glorious Dorset setting. Lawns lead down to the River Wrackle – which is where you’ll find the nearest fishing. Wrackleford House is best known for its shooting packages, but it’s a great place to experience the countryside in all its glory – and there are plenty of bicycles you can borrow for expeditions.
There are Wolsey Lodges that can be reached by public transport, but they’re not usually the rural properties. Some, however, are remarkably close to railway stations, even though they feel a world away.
Crow Leasow in Shropshire is a classic B&B – and another with three guest bedrooms, ideal for small groups of friends. It’s in the heart of a 5,500 acre estate, so there’s countryside on every side – and excellent walks from the door. Best of all, even on the strictest rural escape it’s worth making sure there are urban attractions close by and Crow Leasow is only three miles out of Ludlow. This medieval gem has a glorious half-timbered centre, a castle and a range of independent shops and restaurants – not so long ago it was the only town in England with three Michelin-starred restaurants. It also has a railway station, making Crow Leasow easy to get to even without a car.
It’s easy to book a Wolsey Lodge. Easiest is by telephone: this makes it easy to check they can meet your requirements and start to plan your stay. Email works pretty well, though it can’t quite equal making direct conversation. Some Wolsey Lodges can accept online bookings but most don’t – and beware of the Online Travel Agents who will help you make a reservation and then charge your B&B hosts a hefty commission.
Holbecks House near Ipswich feels ultimately rural: it has five-acre gardens and is surrounded by parkland.
This is somewhat deceptive though. It’s within easy strolling distance of Hadleigh, one of Suffolk’s most fashionable market towns. So despite being surrounded by birdsong and clean country air, it’s less than a mile to lose yourself in a busy range of gastropubs, galleries and shops. There are four guest bedrooms and plenty of space to spread out and relax.
It’s only polite to let your hosts have an estimated time of arrival. If you just don’t know that is fine but it is always helpful to know when guests are on their way. In advance is also the time to notify your hosts of any special dietary or other requirements. These days lodges can always cope with special diets but may want to order some ingredients specially for you: sometimes this takes time.
At Lys-Na-Greyne the three resident chickens are Mabel, Fudge and Speckle. They have no interest in your special dietary requirements and will continue to lay fresh eggs for breakfast whether you eat them or not. Your hosts Gary and Joyce are a different matter: ‘ask and you shall receive’ is very much the philosophy at this warm and welcoming B&B.
The countryside is all around. The three-acre gardens slope down to the River Dee, there’s woodland all around, and though the Town of Aboyne is close by, head the other way and you’re in the Cairngorms National Park, the UK’s largest protected area.
That’s the hard work done. Now it’s time to enjoy your stay. Research the area if you like, or just ask your hosts on arrival. The important thing now is just to settle back in your new temporary home. This is your holiday: Enjoy it. Once you arrive, take the time to unwind, relax, and enjoy the tranquil countryside. Engage in planned activities or simply embrace the peace and serenity of your surroundings. This is the time to take advantage of the B&B’s amenities and indulge in a delicious breakfast each morning.