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Great family days out in Somerset

Fabulous days out in Somerset

 

If you’re hiring a large holiday home in Somerset for a family break, you’re bound to want a few ideas for a day out or two, especially if you’re having a week-long staycation. Here are some of our suggestions for our favourites that we hope you will enjoy.

 

 

 

 

West Somerset Steam Railway

Steam and Diesel trains run along this beautiful 20 mile line from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead on the North Coast for a fabulous step back in time. There are quaint stations along the way for stopping off points, if you wish, with plenty to do in the surrounding areas. The line takes you through gently rolling fields beside the Quantock Hills, beside charming villages to the open landscape of the coast and views of the Bristol Channel.  The end of the line at Minehead is ideal for beach fun, cafés and walking.

Dunster Castle

Set on top of Dunster hill in Somerset, it’s a picture perfect castle – easy to imagine it defending against invaders. Today you can approach more gently, even by steam train if you feel like adding to your adventure. The Castle is worth exploring to discover more about it’s 1000 year history, dating back to William the Conqueror. In the winter months, the Castle is open for behind the scenes tours of areas and aspects of it’s upkeep that visitors don’t often get to peek into!

For summer time visits, the subtropical gardens are ideal for children to roam in and there is a rare working watermill in the grounds dating from medieval times. Since an extensive restoration, the mill has been producing wholemeal flour that is available to buy from the shop.

Fleet Air Arm Museum

There’s a fabulous array of aircraft of all types here in 4 large exhibition halls. It’s well laid out and imaginative in its use of display, with lots of facts and play areas. The first Concorde to fly is housed here, as well as very early planes, Hawker Jump jets and the largest collection of Royal Navy aircraft in Europe.

The Aircraft Carrier experience is very engaging as you walk down corridors which are created from the interiors of 3 carriers, to see the control rooms and flight Ops. There’s a simulated helicopter ride that takes you onto the flight deck itself, which is recreated with a number of exhibits and big screens showing a landing and take-off.

There’s an indoor and outdoor picnic area, a café and a play area based on the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.

Wookey Hole Caves

These stunning caves are the largest and most spectacular show caves in England. Within the caves, the Witches Kitchen houses the largest stalagmite in the world, where legend has it that a witch was turned to stone. The Great Hall is over 70 feet tall and is one of the tallest chambers, there are more stalactites to marvel at in here. In areas of the caves, you’ll find yourself over 200ft underground with more than 11,000 tonnes of rock overhead.

Hauser & Wirth

Is a world class contemporary art gallery set in delightful Somerset countryside with a rolling programme of exciting, innovative exhibitions. Situated within a working farm that provides produce for the restaurant, the buildings are a work of art in themselves, the new and renovated elements blending stylishly. Piet Oudolf, the internationally renowned landscape gardener created the landscaping scheme for the entire site, with his trademark swathes of soft planting, creating an enchanting outdoor area and meadow with all year round appeal. The restaurant is definitely worth stopping in, (booking essential), decorated with quirky works of art it has an eclectic vibe and delicious food!

Noahs Ark Farm

We particularly love the zoo keeper experiences here. So, if you’ve ever dreamed of looking after giraffes, big cats, bears or elephants, this is a really fun treat that can be arranged on a one to one basis with a keeper. For a more general look around the zoo, you can enjoy over 100 species of animals, both large and small. Within the farm animal section there are animals to pet, feed and cuddle, and depending on the time of year, cute chicks or other babies to admire.

Glastonbury Abbey and Tor

It’s not just famous because it can be seen for miles and miles around, but also because it has huge spiritual significance for many people. The conical shape of Glastonbury Tor is natural and thousands of years ago it was an island. It’s worth climbing for the views and if you start from the western side of the tor will take you about 15 minutes, if you decide to walk from the town, the whole journey to the top will be about an hour.

The abbey was founded in the 7th century. It was destroyed by a major fire in 1184, but subsequently rebuilt and by the 14th century was one of the richest and most powerful monasteries in England. It is the legendary resting place of King Arthur and Guinevere, and for centuries people have visited to see the grave of the mythical fifth-century King of the Britons and his bride.

 

If you are heading to Somerset for a summer holiday or a weekend with friends or family and are looking for large houses for rent do have a look at our collection, by clicking here – they are ideal for  big group accommodation with plentiful entertaining spaces, delightful bedrooms and plenty of on site entertainment too.

 

Great places to visit in Sussex

 

Camber Sands is a wonderful stretch of beach to enjoy as part of a weekend break at Sussex Manor, near Robertsbridge

It’s great to visit Camber Sands during a stay in Sussex

Sussex offers plenty of great things to do, whether you are having a holiday with your family or a short break with friends  –  something for everyone.  A plus point in our view is how fabulously easy it is to get to from London, train travel just takes the strain – plus maybe, a little something from the buffet for the journey?  Gaze out the window and watch the countryside come into view.  Even by car, you’re really not going to have much of a journey at all.

So, once there.  The beach is always a firm favourite, stunning Camber Sands, stretching mile after mile, well worth walking along to blow the cobwebs away, smell the salty air and maybe dip your toes in the water for a paddle.  If Fido is with you, he will approve of this outing.

One of the few beaches in Sussex to be sandy, it doesn’t even get too crowded in the summer which is a bonus.  There’s windsurfing and kite-surfing here and the sporty among you can book in for lessons – not surprisingly a windbreak might be handy if you’re planning on spending the day at the beach!

Around Rye, it’s definitely 1066 country, you can bring your suit of armour with you, but the locals are pretty friendly now. You get the benefits without the war games!  Rye is especially attractive, and we’d recommend you visit.  It’s a charming mediaeval town with cobbled streets, (is this where the infamous Hovis advert was filmed we ask ourselves), delightful buildings full of character.  This is no bland high street, its full of independent shops contained within historic buildings – quaint tea shops just must be visited!  Regular markets take place and these are especially attractive in the run up to Christmas.

Rye has an enchanting harbour, with an active fishing fleet, which might be an ideal place to stock up on delicious freshly landed fish for a tasty supper for your group. Alternatively, Rye has quite a yachting fraternity, so you might want to get on your sailing shoes or even hire the equipment for some windsurfing lessons at Rye Watersports.  For the nature lovers among you, the area around the harbour is of special interest and is one of the most important conservation areas in Britain.  The walks through the nature reserve are wonderful and you will see some amazing wildlife too.

Great Dixter House & Garden near Rye is a horticultural gem and a wonderful place to visit if you love colour, design and style.  The garden was the life-long creation of the late Christopher Lloyd (famous gardener & writer) and will surely inspire any gardener, even if it’s just the window boxes outside your flat!  The gardens were laid out Lutyens style, but the planting is unique in its style and is rigorously adhered to by the charitable trust that now runs it.  It has a world-wide reputation for excellence and to be in Sussex and not drop by would seem a pity.

If this sounds a place you’d be packing your bags and heading towards, you might want to grab your friends and hire our house in Sussex, spend a few days exploring and enjoy each others company.

 

New Years Eve – only a few party houses left!

If you’re still undecided about your plans for New Years Eve, we might suggest you think about a house party!  Chances are good that your friends haven’t made any plans either and you could all have the most marvelous break in the countryside at a large manor or country house.

One of the best things about this New Years Eve is that it’s over a weekend, so if you aren’t keen to use up your holiday allowance there is no need.  However, why not make it a really indulgent long weekend and add a couple of days – it’s a great way to recharge the batteries ready for the start of 2018 and a whole host of other celebrations and parties you’ve probably got lined up.

Berry House

On the wild and windswept North Devon coast, it’s a time of year to fully embrace the idea of walks along the coastal path, lung fulls of fresh air and the prospect of a roaring log fire on your return to the house, perhaps followed by a gorgeous dinner.  Berry House is a super party house with a games barn for indoor fun if you don’t fancy venturing out – with a pool table, table football and TV room there is plenty to amuse you and your friends.  New Year price £5245.

 

Berry House, perfect for a New Years Eve party

Sussex Manor

This is one of our new big houses and we think it will be popular when you’re looking for a “smaller” big house.  Sussex Manor is available from 30th December and it’s a very glamorous party pad, traditional on the outside, but all high tech and sleek lines inside.  Gorgeous, colourful squashy sofas, a long dining table – perfect for a candlelit dinner party, a cinema room for movie time and all discreetly tucked inside a 17 acre estate that is completely private.  New Year price £5500.

Majestic Sussex Manor, a lovely house for 16

Devon Farmhouse

Set in the heart of rolling countryside Devon Farmhouse will give you a great venue for a party to remember.  The stylish design will be certain to delight your group and all the bedrooms are en-suite too.  The main house sleeps 16 and if your group size grows there are separate individual barns to hire that can accommodate extra guests.  The house is located in the South Hams so you might want to explore the delightful harbour town of Dartmouth, with it’s excellent pubs and restaurants.  New Year price £4500.

Devon Farmhouse, sleeping 16+

Wherever you will be for New Years Eve, we hope you have a wonderful time!

 

 

 

 

Cream of the Crop. A house with all the toys, fully refurbed, from Easter 2018

 

High standards of craftmanship have made Tatham House in Somerset a delightful large party house for groups

A taster of Tatham House

It’s always a pleasure to be invited to look around a new large house and this one was a particularly exciting prospect for the team at Big House.

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Proud to be an agent

In the gig economy there’s a growing trend for going direct – supplying products and services straight to each other – you rent my parking space from me, I rent your holiday home from you.  Not dealing  with a middle man can often feel like a great way to go.  Direct contact, maybe the price will be more competitive, or just because that’s what everyone else is doing!

We started the Big House Company with just Tone Dale House – and so, essentially, that was what we offered our guests – direct contact with us, the homeowner.

As our business expanded we felt, and we still do feel, that as a business representing other home owners we add value to the customer experience by being the middleman.  We’re proud to be an agent!

So, here’s what we think we add to the whole equation when you book a large house via us rather than going direct to the owner?

Our knowledge

Every house we’ll ever talk to you about, has been visited by at least one member of our team.  If you have specific requirements, (accessibility, bedroom layout, secure garden for Fido, location) we will be able to recommend which house is best for you.

There’s no hard sell, because we aren’t just representing one property – we can remain unbiased in our recommendations.

Our relationship with the owners

We’ve met the owner, we work with them regularly, we revisit them and that all builds into a good working relationship that benefits our guests.

Peter makes the initial visit to see a new house, speaks to the owners and then takes a decision as to whether this is a Big House that would be great for our guests.  Although that sounds simple, there’s a lot of interaction with an owner before we represent them – any changes that we would like to see have to be discussed and implemented.  Currently, we are working with an owner on a 2 year renovation project – the end result will be a splendid 10 bedroom, all en-suite property in Somerset with plenty of fun facilities.

Constantly consistent

There are certain things that we think make a “Big House” experience and we look for those features in any house that joins us.  We want you and all your guests, for example, to sit and eat comfortably around the same table, we want you to enjoy a high standard of cleaning and comfort, we think your welcome should be extremely friendly and helpful, with any problems during your stay being attended to promptly.  The list is longer, but what we’re saying is that we know our houses will deliver that experience and that although you may choose a different house each time you have a different celebration you know that those fundamentals will still be the same.

Small enough to care big time

We are a small agent and always intend to stay that way, so that we can give our guests the advice they want, because we know all our houses and owners so well.  We are passionately committed to ensuring you have a great house that suits your needs.  We believe every aspect of your stay (from your first contact with us, to your final farewell) should be an outstanding, memory exploding house party that you never forget.

Our past guests give us the thumbs up!

We’re well established and have already eaten the 20th birthday cake to prove it!  So you can be confident that hundreds of guests before you had a great experience booking through us and partying at the houses we suggest.

Our past guests really recommend us, in fact some don’t leave.  Anthony, General Manager and often the first person you speak to, celebrated his wedding here in 2014 and joined the company 18 months later.  Peter & Caroline, partners in the business, took a similar route in 2004.

We listen to you

We love to hear what you think and we act on that.  We feed back to owners, so they can constantly improve what they offer.  We always want you to have a great time celebrating your special occasions – that’s the most important thing to us.  If necessary, when a house really isn’t working for our guests, we will take the decision to part company.  We don’t believe in keeping a house on our website so that we can keep taking bookings if it isn’t right for your needs.

 

So yes, we are an agent and proud.  Part of the rental charge you pay will be a commission to us, and we think you get a lot of bang for your buck!  Price doesn’t vary whether you go direct or via us, but you will get our level of customer service, our impartiality, our expertise from the last 20 years.

 

Weddings – Widcombe Grange style

 

Widcombe Grange is great if you’re looking for a relaxed, chilled vibe to your country house party wedding weekend, with your ceremony at the heart of it. Set within 22 acres of private grounds, with heated pool and hot-tub, you have exclusive use for your entire stay.

Festival style house party weekend weddings

Weekend house party weddings at Widcombe Grange

The lakeside gazebo is particularly appealing for an outdoor wedding ceremony. Afterwards choose between a marquee reception, the rural barn or the characterful coach house. Within the beautiful grounds there are several positions that are wonderful for your marquee and you might want to consider a fabulous festival style wedding if you’d like more of your guests staying onsite over the weekend in a tipi village.

When you choose a house party weekend wedding you’ll be able to enjoy so much more than just a one day event.  You’ll usually arrive on a Friday afternoon and perhaps crack open a bottle of champagne to kick off your celebrations, or maybe you’ve decided to add a very personal touch by decorating your marquee with the help of some of your friends.  By evening, the hot tub will probably be central, giving you a fun, relaxing night before your big day.  Don’t forget, if you want a hand with supper, we can put you in touch with a local chef – Michelin star or homely comfort food, the choice is yours.

 

Channel your Glastonbury at your festival style wedding

Tipi village at a festival style wedding at Widcombe Grange

Saturday, you’ll wake up feeling like you’re getting married in your own home, not a hotel where you follow their timetable.  Pad downstairs in your pj’s and have breakfast whenever you want, wherever you want it – perhaps arrange something fun for the morning, like clay shooting, or relax with an indulgent massage.  As your ceremony approaches, our team start to discreetly do their thing, making sure you have your dream day just how you want it.  During the months leading up to your wedding, you’ll have had several meetings with us and a menu tasting, so you know the only surprises will be good ones!

Part of the beauty of the wedding weekend is that the day after, the fun still isn’t over, you won’t be packing up and saying your good-byes. Sunday allows you to carry on for one more day.  Reminiscing, laughing, relaxing by the pool.  Maybe a barbecue; get your friends and family to pitch in, or we’ll be happy to arrange help.  However you decide to spend your weekend here, you’ll have so many memories to cherish – it won’t feel like it’s over in a flash, it will feel like you’ve had the best weekend of your life and married the love of your life.

 

House party wedding weekends at Widcombe Grange

Charming views from the marquee towards the tipi village at Widcombe Grange

 

What’s great about a weekend away?

Party at a big house with your friends

Take a relaxing short break with friends this autumn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your favourite part about getting away for the weekend?  Is it one of these? …..

 

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Have a big group weekend away

 

A big group of friends having fun together at their weekend house party at The Big House Company

Hire a big house and have a great time catching up with friends!

With so many of us living at a distance from friends and family we often don’t see as much of them as we would like.  Jobs can take us to distant parts of the world even, where we establish new connections and new lives.  It’s great keeping in touch though, via technology and seeing what our loved ones are doing.  Sometimes too, the years can fly by and your twenties have suddenly become your forties!

Make a plan

It’s all very well, just thinking about the idea of getting people together and talking about the “if onlys” but the first step really is to get a date in the diary, however far ahead.  Get your group of family or friends to commit to the idea of meeting up and put it in the diary.  Organising a big group can be very rewarding and with any luck there is probably someone amongst you who just loves that sort of thing, it’ll be worth the effort for the fun times you have.

Think about a big group holiday

Deciding what will suit your group best is really your next step.  Maybe it’s just meeting up for the evening! But often, if it’s a milestone event to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or reunion a long weekend or a week’s holiday together makes for a very memorable time away.

Planning an extended break gives you all the chance to truly unwind, have fun and spend a significant amount of time together creating wonderful memories.  There’s no rush; meals can be leisurely, activities can be relaxed and even a couple of days away from your normal routine can have a really re-charging effect.

Large group accommodation

There is a whole variety of accommodation to look at.  Hiring a big house can work really well for a big group and be quite cost effective. It also gives you the flexibility to make your own schedule and the space to make your own fun.  Some of our Big Houses have great party rooms for dancing and wonderful games rooms that can become the hub of the house for competitive after dinner challenges.  Each of our houses are unique and we can guide you to which might suit your needs best.  But one thing they all have in common is exclusive use – you will not be sharing with another group on site.

Make it a tradition

We usually find with groups that have come to stay in one of our Big Houses there is an overwhelming desire to do it all over again. They’ve had such a great time, they don’t want to leave!  So why not make it an annual tradition? It gives everyone something to look forward to and keeps relationships with family and friends strong and those good connections can pass down through the generations.  It might make sense for your group to always holiday together at the same time of year or perhaps experiment and try a different season – you might find that low season works for you, in which case accommodation will be less costly too!

At the Big House Company we helped hundreds of guests to arrange their house party events, so do get in touch if you would like to know more.