If you live in a big town or city, a large group holiday in a country cottage has a lot of appeal – the peace and quiet for starters, no noise from traffic and sirens, far away from the hustle and bustle of busy streets, it’s the perfect way to spend time with your nearest and dearest, to unwind and recharge any flagging batteries. Whether it’s a family holiday, a reunion of old friends, a hen weekend, a birthday celebration, or a corporate team building break, you’ll find the country cottage ambience just adds to it all and makes your stay so much more special.
Historically, there’d be no such thing as a group holiday cottage because back in days of yore, a cottage was typically a small dwelling, but of course that’s all changed and properties have been extended, knocked through and restyled, and the result is some truly gorgeous holiday homes for big groups. Cottages usually retain much of their original character; chunky ceiling beams, inglenook fireplaces, thick stone or exposed brick walls and window seats, and that’s what makes it all so homely and cosy. Most of us have that stock image of a quintessential thatched country cottage where old-fashioned flowers tumble together in the gardens and roses scramble up the walls; there’s something very romantic and idyllic about it, especially when the cottages stand in attractive villages, or amidst miles of unspoilt countryside.
Group Stays has all kinds of large group holiday homes, and because our properties are mostly in the West Country, in Somerset, Devon and Gloucestershire, we have some enchanting big country cottages sleeping up to 14 people. Some of these have swimming pools or hot tubs, saunas, games rooms and BBQ lodges; all have welcoming rustic inns nearby and plenty of things to see and do in the locality. Let’s take a closer look.
Whitehaven has been much extended over the years and now accommodates 12 people in 6 bedrooms. The location is fantastic, right on the edge of the Forest of Dean, in grounds of an acre with an outdoor dining pavilion placed perfectly to take full advantage of the far-reaching views. There’s a play area for the kids too, and inside, a swimming pool and a games room.
In the Devon part of the Blackdown Hills, Culmbridge House stands at the edge of the quiet village of Hemyock; it sleeps 12, with room for 2 more guests, and is light and airy having recently been refurbished and redecorated. The large garden has play equipment and a BBQ lodge, and just a few steps away is an indoor pool and games room.
Deep in the Somerset countryside we have some absolute gems, tucked away round winding lanes, high on hillsides, and in peaceful hamlets. Out on the tranquil Somerset Levels is Riverside, formerly two Victorian worker’s cottages, now a boutique style retreat that sleeps 12 and has a big garden with play equipment, and a hot tub beneath a leafy arbour. The setting is captivating, right on the banks of the River Tone with views that stretch on and on across the moors. Just across the road is Walnut Arbour, which is like your own private spa with an indoor pool, steam room, hot tub and sauna, so it’s brilliant for hen weekends. Although it’s essentially an old barn it’s been thoughtfully converted to give a very cottagey feel; there’s snooze space for 12 in 6 bedrooms, with room for 2 more people.
High on a hillside overlooking the Levels and actually, most of Somerset, is Dancing Hill. This used to be two farmworker’s cottages but was carefully transformed into one big house many years ago; it sleeps 12 in 6 bedrooms and has a games room, hot tub and swim spa. Those views will have you wonderstruck, extending right over to the Somerset coast and the Bristol Channel.
Snucked away on a private lane is our new addition, Frog Street, available from April 2019. This is a dream of a cottage that sleeps 12 +2 and when work has finished it will have a games room, hot tub, swim spa and BBQ lodge with a kitchenette attached. Wisteria scrambles up the walls, there are window seats, Jacobean panelling, and a fabulous outlook over fields where horses graze.
Halse Water House is the classic chocolate box cottage, in a peaceful location on the edge of the village of Halse, not far from Exmoor National Park. It sleeps 12 and has a hot tub, but what really sets it apart is the 5 acre paddock and the stream that meanders through the garden; you can sit out there on a baking hot day with a refreshing drink, your legs dandled in the cool waters; bliss.
Ilbeare is a lovely big holiday cottage out round the lanes close to Taunton and the Quantock Hills; it sleeps 14 and has 2 acres of grounds that include an area of woodland and a stream; there’s a hot tub, a BBQ lodge and a games room.
Going up in size and both once serving as farmhouses, are Pound Farm and Hurstone. Pound Farm is a rambling old place, beautifully refurbished and packed to the old oak beams with character; it sleeps up to 21 guests and has all you need to keep everyone happy – an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, games room and play equipment, and it’s set amidst farmland near the village of Bishops Lydeard in Somerset.
Hurstone stands in a commanding position on the edge of Exmoor, overlooking a scenic valley. There’s room for 14 people and at an extra charge, 4 more. It has a games room, a hot tub and out in the field is a secluded summer house. There’s a terrace that runs along the front of the house where wisteria climbs up the walls; the perfect spot for afternoon tea.
When you’ve finished dreaming check the availability for these heavenly large group holiday cottages, and don't forget that most are pet friendly so you can take the family pooch along too. Get away from it all, escape the rat race for a whole week, a midweek break or just for a weekend. Put your feet up and take your ease in a big country cottage with stunning countryside and fresh air all around.