This post was written in collaboration with Birch Community. Birch Community kindly provided us with accommodation, however we paid for food and refreshments.
Like many people, we had more or less resigned ourselves to spending most of this year at home, but when it came to half term in October, I really wanted a short break from the same four walls and usual neverending to-do list! I had heard about Birch Community, which combines beautiful design with good food, activities for the whole family, co-working spaces and a wellness centre. It’s just an hour from home which is an easy distance, definitely more attractive with bickering children in the car.
Having arrived a bit earlier than check in time, it was a pleasant surprise to find that one of our rooms was ready to use. It was an airy room with lots of light from the big windows, and beautifully decorated in calm colours with natural scandi style touches. The en-suite bathroom appears to have been repainted rather than fully refurbished but was perfectly fine for our requirements.
The communal spaces and activities at Birch set it apart from other hotels. We particularly enjoyed the beautiful cinema room, which showed films throughout the day and evening, on a huge screen with a great sound system. We were also able to order food and drink through a link which made it a very luxurious experience! The music room had a variety of instruments as well as lots of space which made it ideal for children to play and explore for a while. I visited the wellness centre, which has a well equipped gym and beautiful changing rooms (shown above). Classes such as yoga and spinning are also held here and many of them are complimentary. My children also loved the games room, where they played table tennis, darts and Scrabble, and the pool table in the co-working space.
We didn’t try any paid-for activities on this occasion but the pottery studio looked excellent and would be great to try on a trip with friends. There are lots of cosy corners to sit and chat so it would be perfect for a knitting retreat or catch up with friends once we can all get together again!
We appreciated the relaxed atmosphere at Birch, the staff were all very friendly and approachable, and children were able to play freely by themselves which was nice to see. There was hand gel available in all rooms with reminders about keeping everyone safe, and all staff and most guests wore masks.
We mostly ate at Valerie’s, their all-day dining restaurant. All the food was freshly prepared with high quality ingredients. We especially enjoyed the wild mushroom pasta, monkfish, fresh sourdough and the delicious burnt butter ice cream. It’s worth noting that although the food was amazing, it was beyond our usual budget for a holiday meal so this did add up over the course of the stay. We decided not to eat at their fine dining restaurant The Zebra Riding Club to keep our budget under control, but this review from Grace Dent certainly tempts me to go back for a special meal without the children one day!
We loved exploring the ground on our second day at Birch, while my husband used the co-working space. There were lots of trees to climb and interesting paths in the woods. We collected two eggs from the chickens (who were very interested in my boots!)
Overall, we had a brilliant time at Birch and didn’t want to leave! We left feeling that there was much more to explore at Birch. I am already planning to return once it reopens after this second lockdown. The bunk rooms for families offer excellent value for a stay, but the cost of food does add up so it is worth bearing in mind when considering your budget.
With thanks to Birch Community for working with me on this post.