Review: Wye Cottage – Penrheol Self Catering Barn Conversions

I booked to go here with another mum friend for a quiet weekend escape to celebrate a birthday (see here). We wanted a quiet place to relax, preferably without children, not too far from home with the luxury of an on site or nearby spa or a private hot tub. From the descriptions we could see (and the reviews) Wye Cottage at Penrheol seemed just the ticket. In a rural location just outside of the town of Builth Wells, complete with epic views of the countryside and hot tub it was perfect.

We had booked through Airbnb (as that’s where we found it) which was straightforward enough. Claire sent us a message with information on how to find the property, where to find the key on arrival etc. Claire’s instructions were very clear and (along with the post code being set in the Sat Nav) the property was very easy to find. On arrival, Claire came out and greeted us, gave us a quick tour, showed us how to use the hot tub and wished us well.

The accommodation was well laid out and equipped and very comfortable. Knowing it was 2 mums coming for a break, they had set the one twin up as a king room with the beds pushed together and an insert between the beds. All rooms were en suite accessible wet rooms (with seats and disability supports etc.) The spaces within the accommodation were bright and airy with modern decoration that tastefully incorporated the character features. A nice addition was the woodburner (complete with a basket of logs and some fire lighting equipment). It helped with the requirement to relax (I do love watching flames).

Some sachets of shower gel were available for use, there were plenty of towels and toilet rolls and there were extra blankets available. Some extra nice touches were the drawer full of DVDs and CDs below the TV, and the cupboard full of board games and books. In the kitchen, along with the house and hot tub rules (nothing too outrageous, just really respecting the property and neighbours), we found that we had been left freshly laid eggs, a bottle of soft drink and home made welsh cakes.

Outdoors, at the rear of the property, were amazing country views, a large garden with patio and hot tub complete patio furniture and a bbq and fire pit. At the bottom of the garden, behind some hedging is a gate leading to the children’s play area.

Wye Cottage was a brilliant place to stay. I wouldn’t hesitate to return here again, whether as a family, or as a grown up couple/group. Would highly recommend this place to other people. It is by no means a party cottage, but is most definitely a rural haven.

Review: Christmas at Bluestone

We needed to find something to do for Christmas that would be easy to dip in and out of depending on the mental state and capacity of the children. Having been to Bluestone National Park Resort several times before, and knowing the setup, and the children having visited and enjoyed it… we figured it was a good choice. And as it was UK based, even if it meant having to drive several hours, we could head home if our plan didn’t work in the slightest.

Bluestone is a “village” based independent resort in Pembrokeshire, with lodges and cottages available for short term rental. All of the accommodation is resort owned and so each type of accommodation maintains a certain standard.

We have previously stayed in a Dinas, Skomer or Ramsay lodge, or in one of the cottages. This time, given the Christmas “premium” we went for the ‘basic’ Caldey lodge. For a basic lodge, it is well equipped. 1 double and 1 twin bedroom with quality furniture, table lamps and decent bedding , with beds made up on arrival and the added travel cot and mattress for those who need to use. Open plan living-dining-kitchen area with comfy sofas, TV and DVD player, coffee table, dining table and chairs. The kitchen has integrated diswasher and fridge (with freezer tray) and electric oven and induction hob. All of the kitchen utensils and accessories you are likely to need to make a decent meal and a welcome pack to get you started in the kitchen containing dishwasher tablets and cleaning supplies. And a wet room with underfloor heating.

 

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Check in time for the accommodation was at 4:30pm, but we were welcome to use the facilities from 11am onwards. After running some errands in the morning we left in good time and got there for around 1:30. We headed down to the Knights Tafarn (the “village pub”). Before heading back up to get our noble steed for the week – the trusty golf buggy named Haf (meaning summer in Welsh, I believe).

Whilst we were there, we spent time in the Blue Lagoon Waterpark, which I have reviewed previously just here and in the Adventure Centre, which is a big unit with 3 three story towers of wooden play equipment connected by rope bridges, tunnels and the like, a bouncy castle, a soft play for under 5’s and adventure golf which are all free to use. It also houses some paid activities such as the sky trail, the wall and a rock climbing wall. And the Wildwood Cafe (a forest themed cafe with dens and coves).

For Christmas they had a light show every night (basically a Christmas light switch on) in the village, the Elftopia (see below) a Christmas Parade (Christmas Eve, to wave Santa off for deliveries and lead down to the Christmas Festival in the village). As well as a host of other paid activities like pantomine, breakfast with Rudolph, chocolate house workshop etc.

They had their tickets to Elftopia on Christmas Eve, they got an elf flight suit onesie each and a passport, adults had to purchase their flight suits for £20 each if they wanted one.  At each zone they had an activity of some sort and then they could get a stamp in their passport. The children loved it, but it was so busy and hyper they were over-stimulated and unable to regulate, by the end Caitlin was clung to my leg and crying. It wasn’t that the activities weren’t thought out well, or unsuitable, something perfectly normal and reasonable can become too much very, very quickly.

We spent far more time in the lodge than we normally would, due to the children needing quiet and calm time; that’s ok, it’s perfectly comfortable and very feasible to do so. But they did take part in the 4×4 Safari, Sky Trail and The Wall, though Caitlin’s legs were playing up by the time she got to the wall and she was incapable of actually doing it.

For Christmas day we had ordered one of their luxury hampers which was more than ample and cost £95. But we didn’t order a tree or decorations (tree was £65 and if we wanted the DIY Decoration pack with it it took the price to £125) which we felt was a bit excessive for just 5 nights, when we already have it all at home anyhow.

We had a good time, and it showed us we could go away for Christmas to help the children with their anxiety but we probably wouldn’t come back to Bluestone for Christmas; there’s so much we can’t do there at Christmas time due to the issues the children have. Would highly recommend to anyone whose children can cope with stimulating and busy cirmcumstances.

Bluestone National Resort Wales