We looked for a large, classy house to rent for a weekend to celebrate my 70th birthday, or rather my daughters looked as it was a surprise for me! They found it quite difficult, but came across Character Cottage Holiday Ltd, your ‘Luxury Country Home’, and booked a place in the Cotswolds. A large country house, set in more than 2 acres of gardens, in the heart of the Cotswold’s rolling countryside. A tranquil setting, but only a few miles from Stowe-on-the-Wold. From the outside, it didn’t look very special, but once inside we were hit by the WOW factor. The house dates back to approximately 70 years and has been beautifully decorated and furnished, with character features, including real wood fires in both living room and dining room, wood panelling and antique furniture. The grand dining room, with its chandeliers and beautiful period table and chairs, is a particular feature of the house. There is a wide range of artwork in the house, which reflects on the owner’s background in the music and entertainment industry. I was very surprised to see limited edition prints by a famous American pop artist, more like a museum than a holiday let! Every available wall space was filled with signed prints and original art works, as well a quirky objects, impulse buys when the owner found something he liked? The Stags head on the stairs had a 70s style garland of flowers round its neck, the dining room had a church pulpit – ideal for speech delivery, and the kitchen had a tea towel holder in the shape of a cat’s posterior guess, where the tea towel went! The house slept 14 people, so was huge.
The youngsters in the party, aged 1-8 years felt they might get lost, but soon found their way around and found it ideal for hide and seek. The owner anticipated this, and warned against using the cupboard under the stair as a hiding place. It was a bit nerve wrecking with all the valuable items around, and a hefty deposit against damage! The children also found the large dinner gong, which sounded at regular intervals till the striker stick was confiscated. The highlight for the children was a television in each bedroom, they moved camp, with pillows and bedding from one bedroom to the next, choosing TV channels. The outside was excellent. A tennis court, football net, trees to climb and a play area with slide and swings. Careful planting of shrubs meant you couldn’t see everything at once, but discovered things one at a time. I particularly liked the rock style garden ornaments, and a wooded area blanketed with snowdrops. We didn’t make use of the garden furniture as it rained most of the weekend. Luckily, the house was large enough to relax and chill out in, with space and TVs, music systems and internet access, and plenty of coffee table books, mainly about rock music. We did venture out to Burford and Bourton –on-the-Water model village, but rain soon drove us back 13 of us sat round the large antique dining table for a birthday meal, with gourmet ready to cook food, organised and cooked by my daughters, and a superb birthday cake from a local provider. There was a high chair for the baby, so he didn’t feel left out. The only downside to the property was the plumbing. Ultra modern bathrooms and en-suites, but the plumbing was insufficient to give adequate water pressure to all. And who was the mystery owner? We spent all weekend following clues – were they there deliberately? Finally we got a name and partial history. I like to think that I like solving puzzles, rather than I’m nosey! So if you’re looking for a unique holiday let, for that special occasion, I’d recommend this property – but pick better weather!