The Coach House is a pretty 3-bedroom (sleeps 6-8) cottage set amongst 800 acres of woodland and parkland on the beautiful Stowlangtoft Estate in Suffolk. Although wonderfully rural, the cottage and its courtyard neighbours, is brilliantly convenient too. There's wonderful walking and cycling, with bikes for hire on site, plus a restaurant in the courtyard (Fri & Sat evenings only) and Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, and a whole host of fantastically pretty coastal towns and villages all within a short drive. Add to that a handy list of baby and toddler gear on hand, and the result is a brilliant rural retreat for any pre-school family.
Formally the Estate's stables and grooms quarters, the Coach House now has a contemporary open-plan living design. The lounge, dining area and kitchen is huge with a light bright feel thanks to its patio doors to the private terrace and double height ceilings with sky lights. The huge family bathroom, shared by the two twin bedrooms, is also very spacious and two of the three bedrooms roomy enough for a cot a piece.
The interiors are country contemporary with neutral colour schemes and comfortable modern furnishings, plus all mod cons including dishwasher, washer dryer and microwave in the kitchen, plus TV, DVD and HiFi system in the lounge.
Outside, private patio area – perfect for dining outdoors on a warm evening (a BBQ is available from the owners) and larger communal gardens spread out to the left of the house.
If you don’t feel like cooking at the weekend, there is a restaurant just across the courtyard, or the Michelin award-winning restaurant and cafe at Wyken Vineyards within 2 miles. Why not hire a bike (child bikes, helmets and babyseat available) and cycle there for guilt-free afternoon tea? If you fancy cooking yourself up a storm, the vineyard also has a farmers’ market each Saturday morning, which is ideal for stocking up on local goodies.
Further afield, the historic market town of Bury St Edmunds is a great place to explore and is just ten minutes away by car. The Abbey Gardens is a lovely stop for the playground and duck feeding, and the leisure centre offers a pirate ship and flumes for the young ones. The new 'Coffee and Kids' café (opposite a tempting children’s clothes shop!) is a funky place to spend a few hours getting creative with paints or letting the little ones play with the toys and playhouses, whilst enjoying a cappuccino.
The medieval wool town of Lavenham, and nearby Long Melford, are also close and ideal for antique hunting. Cambridge is 40 minutes away for a great day’s shopping, punting or touring. The renowned Suffolk coast with its famously pretty towns of Aldeburgh, Dunwich and Southwold are within a short drive and well worth a visit.
Other nearby attractions include the award-winning Easton Farm Park which is perfect for toddlers and offers animal feeding, petting, egg collecting, horse and cart rides and mini train trips. Banham Zoo, with its brand new giraffe enclosure is an easy drive, and the Africa Alive safari park nr Lowestoft has a fabulous re-creation of the African Savannah.
As well as Coffee and Kids, other recommendations for eating out with little ones in tow include the brilliant field kitchen at Jimmy's Farm, made famous by the TV show and a great day out in itself thanks to its animals and nature trail - stock up on supplies in the shop too. If babysitting is an option, Bury is home to the Old Cannon Brewery and Brasserie (a lovely brew pub), and Maison Bleue, for superb fish. Further afield is the critically acclaimed The Great House at Lavenham and, family friendly, Thorpeness Brassiere and Regatta in Aldeburgh.
Nearest Medical Services: Doctor 2 miles away, local hospital 9 miles away.