Quirky places to stay in Surrey
- Credit: Various
We’ve all dreamt of staying in a beautiful country mansion… but a horsebox? Claire Saul looks at some of the more unusual places available to holiday in Surrey
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Surrey positively teems with options for nights away and weekend breaks – and when it comes to short stays that offer an additional talking point or which tick the box for out and out ‘quirky’, there is a range to suit all tastes, styles and pockets.
If rock music is your thing, or you want to impress your ‘muso’ friends, you can’t do much better than a stay at Ridge Farm on the edge of the Surrey Hills, a former recording studio where some of Britain’s most iconic bands created their albums. Previously housed in a barn on the site, this legendary studio once played host to the likes of Queen and Oasis. Today, traces of the property’s music heritage are still in evidence in the form of the gold discs displayed in the hallway and the vintage speakers in the lounge, while the tennis court, which guests can use, is the same one that Freddie Mercury played on when Queen were there rehearsing their A Night at The Opera album.
What is more, the 12-bedroomed, wisteria-draped 16th century farmhouse has a chocolate-box beauty and retains many of its original features. “Lazy days by the pool, games on the lawn and long nights around the log fire…” entices the blurb. Ridge Farm accommodates up to 24 people, and use of the grounds, pool house and tennis court are included in its rates (prices on application).
For those with a particular interest in history, the Landmark Trust is renowned for its stunning and often distinctive properties and there are four options in Surrey, including lodgings in the Tudor and Georgian areas of Hampton Court Palace.
Another one is Goddards, which was built at the turn of the 20th century by the great Edwin Lutyens, the architect behind such well-known and diverse works as the Cenotaph in Whitehall and Queen Mary’s Dolls House at Windsor Castle plus multiple English country houses. This elegant mansion at Abinger Common, with its integrated bowling alley, was originally designed as a ‘Home of Rest to which ladies of small means might repair for holiday’. Goddards sleeps 12 and prices start at £2,766 for a four-night, midweek stay in July.
Ladies and gents of small(er) means today might be better suited to Landmark’s option of Oxenford Gatehouse at Elstead, an asymmetric property designed by Gothic revivalist Augustus Pugin in the 1840s, and considered to be among his finest work. The gatehouse features two bedrooms that sleep two guests each, a stunning but steep spiral staircase plus an open fire and an enclosed garden. Prices start from £434 for a four-night, midweek stay in July.
Smaller budgets... If staying in a grand country house is your dream but your pockets aren’t sufficiently tailored to the idea then consider Town Green Farm near Englefield Green, where the three-bedroomed south wing can be booked for as little as £120 per bedroom, per night. The boutique hotel-styled first floor has living accommodation suitable for up to six guests, who will also be able to enjoy the sole use of a heated indoor pool, jacuzzi and sauna on the floor below. The extensive gardens include water features and a pond complete with ducks. You can also admire the rare breeds in the adjacent courtyard, but be warned, it’s a Peppa Pig-free zone; this get-away-from-it-all retreat is for the over-13s only.
In addition to the more traditional delights we’d expect from the National Trust, such as the Grade II-listed Emley Farmhouse, near Godalming, and Garden Cottage, a 19th century cottage in the grounds of the magnificent Polesden Lacy near Dorking, holiday lets also include the hire of Hunter Basecamp, their volunteer accommodation at Swan Barn Farm.
Located within easy walking distance of Haslemere high street and nestling among beautiful meadows and woods, Hunter Basecamp sleeps up to 19 people at the bargain price of £285 per night. The interior is simple and homely but well-equipped, including a woodburner with free logs; all you’ll need is your bedding and your walking boots, ready to explore Black Down, Hindhead and the new South Downs National Park.
Beyond the bricks... The beautifully furnished 1930s shepherd’s huts at Heath Hall Farm near Thursley in the heart of the Surrey Hills boast all the best of outdoor living without an inch of canvas in sight. The pine-lined, 14x7ft huts are equipped with a wood burning stove, kitchen equipment and a bed that can double as a sofa during the day. A second hut provides all your washing and toilet facilities. Aside from the use of a tennis court and two bicycles on site, you can also enjoy exclusive use of a jacuzzi, which is housed separately and where, through the windows, you might catch sight of the farm’s resident chickens, ducks and geese or even perhaps the inquisitive alpaca. The hut sleeps two, with prices starting at £200 for two nights (Friday and Saturday) and a reduced rate for an additional Sunday night stay. Newly completed is also ‘The Ark’, bespoke accommodation with electric lighting, power and heating and sleeping for two plus one child’s bed. Perfect for a family weekend with a difference!
The Glamping Holiday luxury campsite at the Springbok Farm estate at Alfold promises to ‘turn the camping experience on its head’ with its four, five-metre bell tents. Each shabby chic-styled tent sleeps up to five and is fully equipped with all bedding and cooking items, including a fire pit with a plentiful supply of logs and firelighters, with the option of ordering in home-made meals and tea hampers from the site’s Cordon Bleu trained owner. The onsite kitchen meanwhile offers equipment and hot and cold running water, while showers and toilets are shared. This quiet and peaceful site has a minimum stay requirement of two nights and is charged at £125 per night for two people, with each additional guest priced at £15 per night. A special school summer holiday promotion this year offers three nights for the price of two for a midweek (Monday to Thursday) stay, excluding the bank holidays.
The open road… For the glamping option combined with the open roads of Surrey, consider ‘Ges’ (pronounced ‘Jess’). She won’t be the first vehicle whose name has been inspired by its registration plate but possibly the only horsebox to greet its guests with a welcome basket of local, seasonal produce and quality bedlinen. ‘Ges’ has been lovingly converted into a home-from-home for self-catering and bed and breakfast options, sleeping up to four in a kingsize cabin bed and double sofa bed. A wood-burning stove ticks the box for chillier nights while a picnic basket and blankets are on hand for sunny days. ‘Baby Ges’, a 1970s pony-towing trailer, provides a walk-in shower, basin and toilet. Cooking facilities and barbecue allow you to keep your options open. ‘Ges’ can be hired for £135 per night. She can also be driven by you to a preferred beauty spot or hired for a special event within a radius of approximately 30-miles of Chiddingfold for £185 per night.
For a vintage feel to your self-drive days and nights away, consider the Seventies pop-top VW camper vans available to hire from the Croydon-based Buttercup Bus company. Primrose-coloured Buttercup or duck egg-blue Belinda have been featured in film, on television and have appeared in plenty of lifestyle ads. Both have an integrated camping stove and are equipped with everything from camping chairs to a bottle opener. They each sleep two adults and three children, with an optional awning that can be hired to accommodate an additional two adults. High season rates (July to September) start from £320 for a midweek break (Tuesday morning to Thursday evening), which includes insurance and breakdown recovery.
On the water... Last but by no means least, Guildford’s On the Wey offers holiday breaks along the River Wey, River Thames and the Basingstoke Canal on a luxury, 60ft self-drive narrowboat, which happens to be named after an 80s television series. Box of Delights sleeps a maximum of six and features a fully equipped kitchen, dining area and central heating plus a range of entertainment options from colour television and DVD player to traditional board games and (whisper it) even an Xbox. If required, tuition is provided on vital operational aspects such as boat handling, safety procedures and lock operation. Short breaks (Friday to Monday or Monday to Friday) start from £960 in July, with a full week charged at £1,330, and both rates including your diesel and river travel licence.
From grand historic houses (or at least part of them) and properties with a story to tell, to classic vehicles and tents with the glam factor, the choice is yours. Go on, why not dare to stay somewhere a little different this summer?
And for a right royal celebration…
…stay in the world-famous Hampton Court Palace!
Step back through the centuries and opt for the elegant Georgian House, originally built as a kitchen for George, Prince of Wales, in 1719 and then later divided into two houses, one for the clerk of works and one for the gardener.
Eight guests can book to stay in one of these houses, located on the path to Henry VIII’s tennis court, where they can also enjoy the private walled garden along with spectacular views of the palace rooftops from the attic and access to all the Palace’s public areas during opening hours.
July prices are substantially more than off-peak when a four-night stay is as little as £769 but the property is in high demand so for that extra-special treat in 2015, do not delay! More @ landmarktrust.org.uk
Find out more…
07867 788184 / ridgefarmstudio.com
The Landmark Trust
01628 825925 / landmarktrust.org.uk
Town Green Farm
firstname.lastname@example.org / ownersdirect.co.uk (property ref E7621)
0844 335 1287 / nationaltrustcottages.co.uk
Heath Hall Farm
01428 682808 / heathhallfarm.co.uk
07925 571461 / glampingholiday.co.uk
My Cool Holiday
0777 2280 963 / mycoolholiday.co.uk
0789 996 5903 / buttercupbus.com
On The Wey
01483 505315 / ontheweynarrowboathire.co.uk