In the Wye Valley, where the English hills roll gently towards Wales, sits Westbrook Court. This is where England finds its soul. The stressed and the put-upon come here to read in bookish Hay-on-Wye, to potter the litany of specialist shops, country pubs and ancient churches, or to test their legs on Merbach Hill and Hay Bluff.
Once a multi-awarded B&B, Westbrook Court now offers serious R&R to a select group of your own choosing. Get 19 friends and family together (plus infants) and live an authentic life. Explore the five acres, pick fruit from the orchard, laze in the hammock beneath the willow tree, burn some logs, hang out in the hot tub.
Pick the farmhouse or converted stables but come together for movie nights or games. Eat beneath the beams and the chandelier, or out on the terrace, drinking in the valley views. Wash away the city in rainwater showers, wrap yourself in fluffy towels, warm your hands around the firepit. As it says on the wall, ‘Slip the grip of the town’.
There are bugs to hunt, trees to hug, hedgerows for foraging, and a willow-tree swing. Escape to the private fields or for yomps up Merbach Hill and Little Mountain, or get together in the landscaped seating area for firepit fun.
Watch the ever-evolving night sky from the wood-fired hot tub. Head to the red-brick barn for table tennis or just to bat a bit of chatter back and forth on the hay-bale seating. Laze or camp-out in the summer bell tent. Get some garden games going – volleyball, rounders, quoits and swing tennis. The fresh air and frolics are balm for the soul.
Want to get together in gregarious groups? Want to be apart? With nine living areas, you can party, party, party, or just be apart. The main lounge is just the start. Live it large on squishy sofas and inviting armchairs, with games of cards of charades. Or escape to your own piece of paradise.
Pick from the airy, library-style reception area with Ercol lounge and leather armchairs, a leather lounge for pre-dinner cocktails or movies on the Smart TV, or take a book to the upper-landing reading area, to zone out among the Ercol armchairs and cosy sheepskins.
Five smaller, independent lounges in the guest suites offer ultimate privacy. Every interior space comes laden with Kari Morgan’s deft touches. They preserve historical integrity in a world of bespoke statement lights, ambient lamps, Welsh-sheepskin rugs, wool throws, branded cushions and eclectic, original and local wall art.
Give your relaxation a rustic edge out in the red-brick barn, perched on hay bales with beer or wine, or armed with table-tennis bats. Take time out in spaces decorated with accolades from The Sunday Times and Visit Herefordshire, in a spot so rural that the only noises you’ll hear are murmurs of delight.
Make yourself at home in the forty-foot kitchen with four electric ovens, eight electric hobs, combination microwave and full-size double fridge/freezer. Raid the two bar fridges for drinks and perch yourselves at the five-stool kitchen island. Dump everything in the dishwasher when you’re done.
Prefer to be spoilt? Might we introduce Ananda Hill or Field 2 Fork, Herefordshire chefs happy to cater to house parties on either a heat-and-eat basis or full-blown table service. Whether it’s a one-off celebration or a fully catered stay, put your feet up with a Prosecco, knowing that things are simmering nicely in the kitchen.
Eating out as a group? Off Grid Gourmet accepts parties up to 20 and even offers ‘waffer-thin mints’ (watch out for explosions). Other options include the River Café Glasbury, Chapters restaurant in Hay, Tomatitos tapas and The Stagg in Titley, home of Hereford snails with parsley and chestnuts.
Smaller parties can get light lunch options at Thursday Market or Hay Deli or Gibbons Butchers and Grocer, fresh local fare with a side order of cinema at Richard Booth’s Café and Cinema roaring fires, mulled wine and honest pub grub at the Bridge in Michaelchurch or Tram Inn Eardisley, or cakes and coffee at Shepherds Parlour and Cafe. For posher nosh, you’ll want the upmarket dining of Felin Fach Griffin or The Drawing Room or the Hardwick at Abergavenny.
Sleep log-like in the weighty silence of the border hills. Nine large king-size bedrooms offer quirky, designer charm arranged as four bedrooms in the main farmhouse and five split-level en-suite guest suites in the annex. Annex bedrooms come with their own private lounge areas. No unseemly squabbling, now.
Bedrooms come with crisp white hotel-standard linen and warm wool throws. Luxuriate in steaming baths and refresh with Farmers’ Welsh Lavender bodywash and shampoo. Rooms can accommodate 18 adults and up to six infants.
Bedroom one is a single-level, double-height en-suite room with four-poster bed, armchair seating area and hospitality table. Bedroom two to six offer split-level guest suites with downstairs lounge area, upstairs king-size mezzanine bedroom and downstairs big bathroom. Take life easy in the claw-foot rolltop bath.
Bedroom seven, in the main farmhouse, is an elegant king-size overlooking the front garden and shares a bathroom with bedrooms eight and nine. Eight is a contemporary room overlooking the rear garden, while room nine overlooks the mini-orchard and fields.
Watch the red kites circle and dive for their dinner at Gigrin Farm. Meet birds and owls from everywhere at the Small Breeds Farm and Animal Centre. And see the oldest medieval map in the world at Hereford Cathedral. Come for the book festival and stay for the mountain walks or the arts on offer at The Globe at Hay.