Views of the abundant gardens with their specimen trees fill the bay windows. The swings and trampoline await the babble of excited young voices, the swimming pool’s nicely heated, and the tennis court’s ready for your pre-supper smackdown.
You’d be forgiven for thinking all the frivolity’s out among the greenery, but Harley House delivers everywhere. A games room comes with table tennis and mini pool tables. There are logs to burn, a piano to play, and drinks to pour around the 20-seat dining table. Walk the walled garden, enjoy fruit from the tree, barbie on the patio.
Harley House is Pimm’s and strawberries on the lawn, a butler on call, a hark back to an era of manners and majesty. Today, it’s a hen-less, stag-less and staggeringly lovely font of family fun. Bring your granny, bring the kids, bring your dog, get the generations together and make memories in a rambling slice of English glamour.
The holiday begins when you dive into the heated pool, enclosed by a high wall. And it continues when you get your rackets out and take to the all-weather tennis court.
Kids will love the swings and trampoline and grown-ups can wander the grounds, taking in the walled garden with its finials and Victorian sundial. Stroll further and follow the sweeping lawns to find more mature specimen trees beyond the vast Lebanon cedars which frame the symmetrical facade.
Pause to pour some Prosecco out on the patio, to fire up the barbie and get the generations together beneath the big skies and the towering trees.
First glimpses of Grade II-listed Harley House stay with you. The sweeping grounds, the symmetrical Hamstone ashlar façade, the crunching gravel. But how about inside? Will that grandeur and gushing gorgeousness continue? Is this a place for the generations to gel amid traditional period elegance laced with modern touches?
It’s a resounding yes. This is a world of half-barrelled ceilings and intricate cornicing. South-facing reception rooms flood with natural light and the bay window from the drawing room gazes out over the gardens. This is where you escape with a book from the shelves and a chilled Chardonnay from the American-style fridge.
Want to join the throng? Cosy up with warm blankets and burning logs on the sitting room’s chubby chairs and get a movie going on the 52” TV. Switch on to the Vodafone wifi, connect to the Bose speaker, or get round the piano in the dining room for an old-school singalong.
There’s a funfest here for kids, too. Like the dedicated games room. With table-tennis table, mini pool table and a raft of toys, games and books, the fun need never end. That’s Harley House – a place where everyone from toddlers to pensioners can feel involved. You can even bring the pooch.
If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a place with a gun room, here’s your chance. At Harley House, though, it serves as a large larder rather than a munitions space that would terrify rabbits. Serve up supper from the four oven gas Aga with separate two-ring Miele gas hob, or the four-ring electric hobs and ovens in the coach houses.
Eat in the dining room with seats for up to 26 and its bay windows with views out over the gardens. Or head out to the patio under the yawning skies and gigantic trees to pop Prosecco and sear some steaks on the gas barbie. Or picnicking in the extensive gardens works just as well.
Take it easy, with takeaways from the Viceroy Curry House or Palmer’s Fish and Chips. Or opt for some posh pubbery, with dishes such as pan-fried loin of venison with roasted garlic, mash and curly kale at the Lord Poulett Arms. Or how about some white truffle gnocchi and cultivated mushrooms from the Queen’s Arms in Corton Denham?
The Trough in Yeovil and the Trading Post in Lopen are good for breakfasts, lunches or just coffee. And the The Old School Gallery in Yetminster adds an art gallery. Or tuck into seasonal sharing menus served on large platters At the Chapel in Bruton, a converted church complete with clubroom, scene of indie films, sports events and talks from celebrated guests. As well as paying a visit to Hauser & Wirth’s Roth Bar & Grill.
Tastefully renovated Harley House sleeps plenty – up to 26 – in supreme comfort and total peace and serenity. It all begins in Mel’s Room, with its superking bed, en-suite walk-in shower and private dressing room, which can also sleep two. Bella’s Room, meanwhile, is a kingsize with en-suite walk-in shower.
Jack’s Room is another king with its own dedicated bathroom on the half-landing complete with walk-in shower, while the Pink Room is a superking also with its own dedicated bathroom. Gannie’s Room is an en-suite king with walk-in shower and freestanding bath.
Charlie’s Room is a superking or twin zip-and-link with its own bathroom complete with walk-in shower and freestanding bath, while the studio is a separate annex with its own entrance, superking bed, bathroom and small gallery kitchen.
Need more space? Two coach-house flats offer two four-sleepers or one unit of eight. Each comes with an en-suite zip-and-link twin and an en-suite kingsize. Each coach house also offers a seating area, dining table and kitchen.