Big beautiful holiday homes in the Cotswolds present big problems. For example, the lovely Churchill Arms is just a short stroll away. The honeyed-limestone high street, wool church, tea rooms and country inns of Chipping Campden just down the road. And the glorious Cotswold Way wanders idly past.
The problem is that Wellacres House is so playful, peaceful and packed with toys that you might never get to see any of it. Set among rolling hills, Wellacres sleeps 16 amid flagstone floors, exposed beams and contemporary luxury. Get the gang together and celebrate, recalibrate and be captivated.
Play table football, pool or ping-pong in the games barn. Kick the kids out onto the trampoline and the swings. Stay up late as you like, keep your glasses filled, then collapse into crisp cotton in the beamed bedrooms. Wake late and watch time grind to a halt. How do you solve a problem like Wellacres? Slowly, and with lots of wine.
Six acres of starlings, lapwings, hedging trees and lawn lie before you. Cricketing, croqueting and cartwheeling are all on the agenda. Watch time elapse as you splash in the pool. Kick the kids out to the copse to discover the swings and trampoline. Survey your domain from the big snail mound.
Cook in the clean air and eat your steaks and sausages out on the terrace beneath big skies. Get out to the games room and compete for family bragging rights over pool, table tennis and table football. As darkness descends, drink fizz in the steamy bubbles of the hot tub and watch cosmic events of many moons ago play out in the dark skies.
Living spaces here are large, light, open-plan and geared for lazy laughter. Get the folks together in the stone-floored family room – a mere 11 metres by seven – with its squishy sofas for cards and games and tactile fabrics curated by a leading Cheltenham designer. But if you need to get far from the madding crowd, options abound.
Head to the snug to bask in the hearty warmth of the roaring fire. The sofas are comfy, the flagstone floors homely and the supply of books plentiful. Put on your headphones, close the shutters and enter a world of serenity and solitude. Or just enjoy having the TV to yourself.
For all-in, full-popcorn movie nights, invade the living room, as comfortable and homely as your favourite pub. This is a world of stone floors, chunky rugs, comfy throws and old beams. Work your way through the DVDs on the home cinema. From here, you can slide into the library with its books, maps and local information.
Work off a little steam in the games barn. Pick your teams then pick from eight-ball pool to table tennis to table football. Or just escape there with a book when no one’s looking. Wellacres is huge and flexible spaces can be as sociable or as solitary as you choose. Move in and out of the action as the mood takes you.
Play the country cook to perfection on the large range cooker, gas hob and electric oven. This is the kind of kitchen that needs pots and pans to hang from an organiser alongside the day’s pheasant catch. But you might just prefer slow-grown meat, soups and stews from Daylesford Organic Farm Shop.
The chunky hunk of a dining table sits right next to the kitchen. So you can stew and simmer without losing the social touch. There’s space for 16 here, or you might prefer to set the table on the terrace and eat beneath the big Cotswold sky with a soundtrack of starlings and finches and the steady, inviting thrum of the hot tub.
If you don’t fancy doing the heavy lifting yourself, let us take the weight off your shoulders with a range of highly recommended chefs. Book a one-off celebration or put your feet up and let us do the lot. Alternatively, leave it all to Nick Deverill-Smith at The Churchill Arms and his Burford chicken breast or sea trout with Cornish mussels.
Elsewhere in Chipping Campden, go Greek at Michael’s Mediterranean, with a range of mezze dishes, to fresh fish and seafood to renowned ‘marathona’ fillet steaks. Knock seven bells out of the delicious hearty, homemade meals at the Eight Bells Inn. Or head to Cheltenham to Michelin-starred dining at Le Champignon Sauvage.
Bedrooms at Wellacres are what you’d expect: large, light, beamed and beautiful. You’ll sleep like a log, with the window open and the fresh Cotswold air filling your lungs.
The master bedroom comes with a high ceiling. Pick from a kingsize bed and a single, or three singles. Lap up the views then linger in the en-suite bathroom with rolltop bath and shower.
Bedroom two is equally spectacular, with high ceilings, valley views and a shared en-suite. Burrow down into the kingsize bed with deep pocket-sprung mattress and cushion piled upon cushion. Window seats offer a front seat on the rolling Cotswold countryside.
Bedroom three is also large and lovely, with twin beds that kids will love. Two window seats capture idyllic views of the gardens and grounds. Bedroom four is hiding under the eaves, with two wooden beds and adjoining playroom. A secret space that children will always remember as special and safe.
Bedroom five can be a king-size or twins, while bedroom six offers either a kingsize bed and a single, or three single beds. Enjoy beautiful views and a big en-suite bathroom with bath and separate shower. Bedroom seven on the ground floor is a big, characterful king or twin with an open fire for cosy winter nights.
Before you rush off to discover the rolling wolds and ancient limestone villages, make sure you’ve ticked off every on-site box first. There’s six acres of lush lawn, wild woodland and long meadow grass here in which to play cricket or croquet, to kick a ball about or play hide and seek for England.
You’ve got nooks and crannies inside, too, including an attic den, a place to curl up on winter nights and feel ultra-snug. Cupboards overflow with family games, toys, books and DVDs.
From May to September, Exhibit A for fun and games is likely to be the heated outdoor pool (fenced and entered through a lockable gate). The hot tub can also make hours vanish with its uncanny ability to make the stars seem even more fascinating when observed from a deliciously bubbling pot.
Out there in the ancient Cotswold barn, we’ve got games. Get competitive over table tennis, table football or eight-ball pool. Or head outside, to idly pass an hour or so on the swings or to pulverise the trampoline. Bringing baby? We’ve got highchairs, cots, beakers and bowls. We’re parents, too.
Gone are the days when the only way to view a house was solely by way of poring over flat and sometimes confusing floor plans. With the emergence of 360-degree video we have an exciting new way of being introduced to the layout of a house.
With a few clicks you can be leisurely making your way through living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchens and bathrooms – the whole house in all its beauty waiting for you to step on in for an effortless and insightful virtual tour.
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