Reviewed by Lora Hole
We were very excited to have some family time away in a remote area of Devon where there would be no distractions and we could enjoy the peace and beauty of the countryside. We stayed in Toad Hall Cottages’ Buckland Court in the Acorn Cottage. The cottages are located two miles from Slapton village and three miles from the beach.
The roads leading to Buckland Court from the main highway are very narrow and mostly single track which were a bit daunting at first however, we got used to driving on these roads very quickly and the locals were quite accommodating when pulling in to let us pass.
The cottages are situated around a pretty courtyard and are renovated farm buildings. You are allowed to park in the courtyard when dropping off and picking up but normal parking is along the side of the driveway into the grounds. When we arrived, we walked up to our cottage and saw the key in the door.
Acorn Cottage is suitable for a couple or a family of up to four. Downstairs there is a kitchen/living room and upstairs there is a bathroom and two bedrooms – one with a double bed and one with bunk beds. Our cottage was very welcoming and homely. It is equipped with everything you require for your stay including toilet roll, kitchen roll and washing up liquid. As it is an old barn, it has high ceilings with brown beams which give it some charm and character.
The living room has two comfortable sofas, a beanbag, a wood burner style gas fire which when lit made for a very cosy atmosphere and kept the cottage very warm. There was also a small TV with DVD player and a cupboard filled with a large selection of books and DVDs to enjoy during your stay which was a nice added touch as we didn’t expect it. There is a guide to South Devon, which was very useful for finding places to visit during our stay, and a welcome pack which is full of up to date information. There is a card attached to your cottage keys which entitles you to discounts at local attractions and cafes and these are also listed in the welcome pack.
The kitchen is extremely well equipped with cutlery, plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, cooking utensils, fridge with small freezer compartment, good quality microwave and fan oven with gas hob. We even commented that the kitchen had more in it than our kitchen at home! One thing the kitchen did not have was a dishwasher, but we we could have opted for accommodation with a dishwasher as this is stated on the information before you book. There was also a little dining table in the kitchen which can fold out to seat four.
Upstairs there is a good sized double bedroom with bedside tables, a large chest of drawers, wardrobe and a full length mirror. The wardrobe also contained fleece blankets and an iron and ironing board. The bedroom has a very small window and a huge Velux window, as did all the rooms upstairs, which allows a lot of light into the room during the day. The room was decorated nicely and we were each provided with a hand towel and a bath towel which was lovely and soft.
The second bedroom was quite small and had bunk beds, a chest of drawers and the airing cupboard in it. The airing cupboard contained spare bedding and brand new towels.
The bathroom is on the small, but this is reflected in the property’s star rating. It was clean and well equipped with bubble bath, bleach, toilet roll and mirror. It has a bath and the shower is a power shower. There is also a showerhead attachment connected to the bath tap which came in handy.
Outside the cottage, in another door off the courtyard, there is a laundry room which has a washing machine, tumble dryer and freezers for use during your stay. In the middle of the courtyard there is a bird table and my daughter enjoyed looking out the window watching the birds eating. There is an archway leading from the courtyard through to the gardens which has two ponds and a large grassed area which you can play games on or use the BBQ.
We met Simon, the accommodation caretaker, on our second day. He was extremely friendly and checked that we had settled in OK. He knew a lot about the local area and was willing to help with any queries we may have had. He told us he liked an informal atmosphere with guests and he liked to let you settle in before introducing himself which is why he leaves the key in the door of your cottage and allows you to let yourself in. We asked what time we should check out at on our last day and he said any time would be OK which was nice as there wasn’t the usual rush and meant we could enjoy our last day in the cottage. If we ever needed Simon, we could usually find him outside and he was always happy to stop and have a chat.
Simon keeps chickens and ducks and invited my daughter down to the hen house to see them which she really enjoyed! He is very good with children as he is an ex-teacher and likes to try to get them involved. He told us in high season he takes the children to the pond to look at what is in the water under a microscope and also has bat and metal detectors which he shows the children how to use. Throughout the summer he has duck eggs in an incubator in the laundry room which guests can watch hatch. Simon also keeps two owls which were rescued from Dartmoor.
The cottage was clean and tidy. The downstairs carpet and furnishings looked quite newly refurbished. The outside areas were kept immaculate.
We really enjoyed ourselves and I think it would be a great place to spend quality time with family and extended family as there are various size cottages available. As it is quite out of the way with not much phone signal and no Wi-Fi it means there are no distractions from normal day to day life. Some people may not like this however we found it to be a welcome change. There are some local attractions not far from the cottages such as Slapton beach which is beautiful on a sunny day. There is also the South Devon Chilli Farm in Loddiswell which has things for the kids to do and a shop selling their produce. The pretty town of Kingsbridge is nearby too with lots to do there including a great park and shops and restaurants along the estuary. Salcombe and Dartmouth are also within fifteen miles of the cottages.
The cottages are good value for money as they are priced similarly to a hotel room but when compared you get a lot more for your money. We would stay at Buckland Court again but probably in a slightly larger cottage and maybe include our extended family next time. I would recommend it to others wanting a holiday or short break in a serene environment with beautiful surroundings.
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