In order to find Tudor Farmhouse in Gloucestershire, unless you happen to live in or be travelling from Wales, you will have to wend your way through the Forest of Dean.
Officially, this is the second largest forest in England and it’s also one of the oldest, dating back at least to medieval times, it being mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Driving through the winding roads which traverse this ancient forest is no bad thing, because almost as soon as you cross its borders, it is as though you’ve entered another realm.
The trees which often stand right up to the edge of the road create a sense of wonder and awe which is difficult to define – they perhaps stir something deep within, a kind of genetic memory of what our land - Shakespeare’s ‘scepter’d isle’ – was once like.
It is like stepping back in time.
You’re immediately put at ease by the brooding presence of the trees and as one drives along, you can find your imagination wandering down seldom trod paths, at once considering the shy creatures which live in the forest and imagining all the mythical ones which could.
It is here, in this middle world, where the quaint English countryside of popular myth still actually exists, nestled in a small village as idyllic as any romantic notion one may care to conjure, you will find the haven that is Tudor Farmhouse.
Having found what appears to be a slice of Englishness not yet sullied by the travails of the modern world, it is refreshing to discover the experience more than measures up to the appearance.
We were given a warm welcome by the owner Hari Fell, who runs the hotel and restaurant with her husband Colin. Both left jobs in the City to follow their dream of creating the perfect bolthole and if our experience was anything to go by, they have achieved just that.
Right from the off, we were put at ease. The booking-in process was swift and hassle-free and in no time at all we were being shown to our accommodation, which in this case happened to be a pair of rooms, set away from the main hotel in a self-contained outbuilding, complete with its own front door.
Each room was lavishly, but not garishly, decorated, with thick pile carpets blending into stone floors in the bathrooms, both of which had fabulous walk-in ‘monsoon’ showers and roll-top baths just begging to be wallowed in.
There were thick bathrobes behind each bathroom door, HD TVs in the bedrooms, the usual tea/coffee facilities and super-comfy beds.
The main building itself is just as you’d imagine it – all log fires, wooden beams and exposed stone walls.
The food is also excellent, the award-winning restaurant (it has two AA rosettes) boasting its own chef, who proudly sources some of the ingredients of the dishes on offer from the hotel’s own grounds and gets the rest from local farms. It is open daily for lunch until 2pm, for afternoon tea until 5pm and opens for evening bookings at 6.30pm, offering a locally-inspired three-course dinner for £34.
In terms of accommodation, the hotel has 23 rooms ranging in size from single to family rooms and there’s even a suite taking up their loft space.
There’s plenty of parking once you arrive and the hotel itself is just a short walk away. Service is excellent, nothing was too much trouble during our stay.
As if that wasn’t enough the owners run a number of events during the year, including several forest forages, during which guests are taken out by a guide to hunt for wild mushrooms and other edible foods in the 14 acres of land which forms part of the hotel – the ingredients are then used to create a lunch for all those who took part.
All in all, if you are looking for somewhere to escape from the world and you want to do it without abandoning any of the comforts that go with it, then a trip to Tudor Farmhouse Hotel might be just the tonic you need.
It’s a wonderful place to stay, the grounds are extensive enough to keep you occupied for a day or so and that’s not forgetting its superb location – aside from the ancient Forest of Dean itself, there are lots of other attractions nearby, not least of which is Puzzlewood, a must-see for anyone with an eye for natural beauty. It’s just a short drive away from the hotel – no more than 10 minutes – and consists of a breathtaking woodland landscape which looks like something from The Lord of the Rings. There’s also a farm attached to the unusual woodland wonderland with animals, a maze and a hay barn for children to run and jump around in. Slightly further out you will find castles, caves, a railway museum, picnic areas and the Severn Estuary is not that far off either.
Check their website for the latest room rates and deals – during January they had a special offer of their best room available for £160 per night, including three course evening meal and a glass of wine each and full English breakfast. You could add an extra night B&B for £110 or add a Sunday night B&B for £50.
Address: High Street, Clearwell, Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire GL16 8JS
Telephone: 01594 833046