Although our lives are becoming less restrictive, and it feels as though the freedoms we once had are in sight, international travel is still off the cards, and the humble staycation remains top of the list for many of us. It’s finding the right one (with availability) that poses the problem. You don’t want to drive for hours on end, especially with children in tow, if you’re staying near-ish home – that’s the whole point. To be close enough that it’s not an arduous task, but far enough that it feels like a new and exciting escape. Well, we may have found the best of both worlds, but an hour’s drive away, in the breathtaking Hampshire countryside.
In the heart of the Meon Valley, Hampshire is Cedar Valley, where you can escape the bustling city in favour of a tranquil natural setting with a stay in one of the site’s glorious glamping options on the private estate of Bereleigh. The estate, which has been home to the Tyrwhitt-Drake family for over 400 years, is traditional family-run farmland. However, farm diversification became a point of interest for Jack, the youngest of the Tyrwhitt-Drake sons, who launched Cedar Valley back in 2011. Earlier in the Spring, Jack built two new cabins to add to the Cedar Valley line-up, and we would be taking up a one-night residence in the impressive Woodland Kabin. A beautifully contemporary black build on the edge of picturesque woodland, wholly isolated with only open-ended views and pheasant for company, it was truly an idyllic vision to behold.
After a drive down several country roads against the backdrop of a rural landscape, we took the turning into the Bereleigh estate to Cedar Valley, where a retro-style double-decker bus (‘Boycie the Bus’), a cafe and deli were on a field to our right. We later found out that the site also boasted ‘Ricicle’, the mobile pizza oven, as well as a fully licensed bar stocking local ales and ciders. Further down the track, we spotted some of the other glamping options, including two safari tents, several other wooden cabins, and Betty the Bedford, a restored horse lorry. A little further up the tree-lined hilly path and we’d reached our destination: The Woodland Kabin. Aesthetically, the chic and modern exterior was so boldly impactful against its natural surroundings, the juxtaposition was deeply satisfying. And although rustic in its use of locally sourced reclaimed timber cladding and environmentally conscious design, this fully sustainable cabin exudes an element of luxury throughout.
Nestled amongst the woodland trees and sitting proudly atop the rolling fields around it, The Woodland Kabin comes equipped with all the best necessities: a firepit, a table and benches, some cosy deckchairs and an outdoor bath to the front. There was a barbecue set (we made good use of that) and plenty of dry split ash logs and kindling in large bins at the back of the cabin for the firepit, which was my husband’s favourite place to reside.
Indoors, the interior design is stunning; the most notable feature is the massive window to the side of the bed where we soaked up the beautiful views in comfort, a cup of coffee in hand. A wood burner sat at the foot of the bed, and a clever foldout table and chairs are inbuilt to the wall for mealtimes. The kitchenette came with a kettle; fridge freezer, pots, pans, cooking utensils and cutlery, crockery, glassware, salt, pepper, coffee, and tea. Oversized exposed pendant lighting dangled elegantly over the kitchen and featured in the bathroom, too. The bathroom came complete with a generously sized waterfall shower and space for all those essentials. Soft dressing gowns hanging invitingly to the side, and plenty of towels for the stay. You’ll find books to peruse and an armchair to read them in. Generally, the cabin is spacious enough for two, but we took along our toddler (with travel cot), and we managed just fine.
That first evening we had the barbecue going with dinner cooking on the grill (read: husband burning it) and the firepit roaring for post-feast marshmallows. Bellies filled, we relaxed watching pheasant and basked in the sound of rustling woodland and birdsong. It was a chilly evening, but we weren’t leaving here without trying the outdoor bath. There were a few tears (from my toddler, too), but once we were in, it was dreamy. We managed to watch the sunset in a mountain of bubbles (provided, by the way) in the middle of the countryside; absolute bliss.
Out and About
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to getting out and about. You’ll find lots of options in the cabin’s welcome pack, with maps for walks, local villages to visit, fishing, and contact numbers for any local restaurant or pub bookings you may want to make. We decided to take the Kissing Gate Walk early the following day, and we lucked out with the weather: clear blue skies, glorious sunshine and a cool, crisp temperature, which meant we could layer up just enough. The walk took us uphill to spectacular views of the valley, then down to the village of Meon and in a loop back to the cabin; around 1 hour 15 mins in total. We had earned our hearty lunch at the local pub The Thomas Lord, a 7-minute drive or 1-hour walk from Cedar Valley.
The Best Thing
The best thing was The Woodland Kabin, its surroundings, the entire experience. If you’re looking for a couple or family staycation where you can unwind, take in stunning views, breathe in clean air and feel rested, then Cedar Valley is for you. For us, it was the perfect city escape, and in such easy reach of London too; we will be returning for sure.
Another (more practical) feature that I was impressed with is the heating system in the cabin – a recent addition, I’m told. You don’t have to rely on the wood burner; instead, you can use the radiator to keep it super cosy. Bonus!
The Worst Thing
I would recommend a two-night stay over one night. There are many attractions and things to get up to in and around the area. Plus, who wouldn’t want another night in such an incredible setting?
From £150 per night; book on website: www.cedarvalley.co.uk or call on: 07557 798 857;
Cedar Valley, East Meon, Nr Petersfield, GU32 1PH