We had spent weeks trawling the internet for suitable cottages that would fit our group of fifteen for Tom's 30th birthday, and were met with e-mail after e-mail of disappointing replies to our enquiries, mostly with regards to people/companies, not being able to accommodate our entire group, not willing to do short breaks or being fully booked.
Almost at our wit's end, we then decided to send as many e-mails as we could, in the hopes that at least one would get back to us, and here was where our GREAT experience with Penbridge Court began.
Despite the fact that they hadn't planned to open until March (which was clear on the website, but we hadn't read properly due to our utter desperation), they had decided to let us have their four cottages from the 25th to the 27th of January. After the dismal result of our first attempts at securing a cottage, we didn't think that anyone out there would take into consideration that, for someone like Tom who works abroad and would like to spend his 30th with friends and family back in the UK, it would mean a great deal to us for someone out there to take it upon themselves to help out rather than just dismiss us. E-mails flew back and forth quite regularly. Every question was promptly and thoroughly answered, and this was despite the fact that we'd ended up talking to different people throughout the whole correspondence. What consistency!
Now on to the best bit, the actual cottages.
We arrived on the Friday and as we drove in, were immediately greeted by the very organised, Tim, who then proceeded to give us a systematic and comprehensive tour of each and every single cottage, and each of its rooms and facilities. Suffice to say, it was very difficult to keep our jaws from dropping through out the tour.
Tea, coffee, sugar and a tin of shortbread biscuits greeted weary travellers, but the birthday boy got a little bit extra. To his surprise, he also had a wonderful birthday card and a bottle of Baileys! Every cottage has central heating, which is a given, but they also had their own wood burners, and more than enough chopped wood. Each cottage also had it's own stove, fridge, washer & dryer, dishwasher, glasses, crockery and utensils. Towels and bed linens were provided for each and every single room, and everyone LOVED the fact that hot water bottles were provided (perfectly colour coordinated with the room by the way) with little bags of lavender that you could put inside the cover for a relaxing nights sleep. Everyone also enjoyed their beds and their very soft duvets that just enveloped you and shielded you from the cold . There was ample and spacious parking. We had 6 cars in total and there were still spaces left. You could also park really close to the cottage of your choice so it was so easy to load and unload our belongings.
For those who like a firm bed, it has the firmest bed out of all the cottages. It is the closest to the main cottage, The Barn, and has a view of the massive garden.
This cottage faces The Barn and is the furthest from it so it's perfect for those who like to go to bed early or not be worried about noise or loud music (perfect for the elders :D) though, to be honest, we had music blasting in The Barn and you could hardly hear it once you stepped outside.
Really cute cottage for two attached to The Barn, and we don't mean cute in lieu of pokey, we do really mean cute.
Oh, The Barn. It's beautiful. We entered through the kitchen door and the kitchen was massive. Gone were our worries of being able to cook meals for fifteen people comfortably. Heavy-duty stove with multiple hobs and ovens (don't really know the proper term for these sorts of things but we definitely didn't run out of room to cook/bake things). There was a huge free-standing fridge and just in case that wasn't enough, they had a smaller one (disguised as a cupboard), so again, didn't have to worry about where to store food and drinks. We had a kettle, tea towels, trash bags, washing up liquid & hand wash (for the TWO sinks), and A LOT of glasses, utensils and crockery. Every kitchen tool you can think of, they had it! Can/bottle opener, graters, sieves, cooking utensils, (glass, ceramic and wooden) bowls of different sizes where you serve food in… they had EVERYTHING!
Opposite the kitchen is a long dining table, which extends onto one of the living areas with a foosball table and a humongous tv. The layout was great because it allowed everyone to do their own thing (lounge around, watch tv, play, drink, eat, cook, etc.) without completely separating anyone.There is also a bathroom on the ground floor, which was SO convenient as people didn't have to go all the way to their cottages or their rooms on the second floor, as the main party, we had decided, was going to be in the kitchen & dining area, as we could easily have the food all over the kitchen countertop and all the drinks in a corner, whereby everyone could just keep going back for seconds or thirds with such ease.
There is another dining area on the other side of The Barn where the table is even bigger than the last, which is connected to another living area with immense brown leather sofas and a grand fireplace. It provided a great space where we could prepare the banners, posters, cards, streamers and party hats for the birthday celebration without the fear of premature discovery by the celebrant. This was also such a terrific area to wind down at the end of Tom's birthday evening.
There was so much natural light all through out the cottage, and even though there was a lot of space, it felt cozy and homely. You could imagine the garden as being lovely in the summer, but the view of the snow-covered garden was beautiful as well. The family dog, Bella, definitely enjoyed the grounds and it was so lovely that they had thought of preparing a doggie loo.
The only downside (which, to be honest, wasn't really a downside for us) is that mobile signal is intermittent. Vodafone has the best reception but it was still spotty. The great news is, is that The Barn has wifi AND a landline, which eliminates any concerns you may have about not having mobile reception.
Suffice to say, if you want a hassle-free weekend/week away, with all the comforts of home (and more), this is definitely where you should go. It's always nice to stay in a place that has been designed as if someone were to live in it, rather than as a place where people flit in and out. Also, in this day and age where you get quite used to being treated like an atm machine, it was touching that there are people/businesses out there that genuinely want to make your experience as smooth and memorable as possible.
Thank you very, very much, and looking forward to staying with you again!
Hannah J. & Tom B.
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