We Stayed in a Beautiful Oxfordshire Country House and This is What We Thought
My first introduction to the concept of enjoying a break in someone else’s home was years ago when a charming American called our office wanting to discuss a golfcourse guide we had published. His plan was to make us both rich by selling the book in America. At the time he was staying on the Ayreshire coast in a large house with several other well-heeled Americans.
Their plan was to visit all the historic links courses, taking over privately-owned houses for the duration rather than booking into hotels along the way. Wimbledon’s many residents are the beneficiaries of such a practice when, for the fortnight, they make their properties available for the great and the good of the tennis set as they descend on SW19. The stars have their privacy and the home owners make some serious cash in a fixture where all end up winners.
Little by little this concept has grown to encompass property of all sizes and in all locations for those who seek the independence of self catering but somewhere really special. Of course, there is nothing new in self-catering holidays. But the availability of larger properties to rent for just a few days at a time is something that has clearly taken off. Many of us, it seems, are preferring the traditional concept of a country house party when celebrating landmark events, or are just wanting a get-together on a larger scale.
We needed a place for a party. A special party; a 21st birthday. After a protracted debate about where and when we decided, for reasons I will not bore you with, to head towards Oxfordshire to be close to her university and couple the occasion with her end-of-finals exam revelries.
Scouring the many properties available, her rather long wish list narrowed our options down (large enough for 20, a pool, a large garden for games) but amazingly we found what appeared to be the most perfect place, ticking every single necessary box.
Eventful Stays provides accommodation as wide ranging as a luxury yacht in Portsmouth to a mansion in Monmouthshire. They also had a rather beautiful country house, set in over three acres of stunning Oxfordshire countryside, with an 18-metre outdoor pool, a gym, a trampoline and a summerhouse.
The brainchild of Camilla Shaughnessy, who had seen the potential in offering unique self-catering accommodation when the Cheltenham Festival was in full swing, Eventful Stays came up with the perfect match for our wish list.
The main house centres around the impressive Smallbone kitchen which boasts every mod-con you need and some you probably didn’t even know existed. Catering for 20 here was relatively simple and there was certainly no shortage of space for storing and chilling wine (two separate wine cooling cabinets and a very large American-style fridge). Just off the impressive kitchen is a TV room/snug and a handy boot/cloakroom. Given the glorious weather during our stay which saw us enjoying the pool and gardens, we barely ventured into the other rooms, which included an impressive drawing room and dining room.
Upstairs there are two master bedroom suites, one double en-suite and a further large double bedroom and family bathroom. All were well proportioned and elegantly furnished. The summerhouse has its own open plan living and kitchen area, a bathroom, a double bedroom and a twin room.
‘In a hotel you might spend well over £200 just for a room, while with Eventful Stays you can rent the most beautiful home for less and enjoy the informality, exclusive use, facilities and freedom that comes with it,’ explains Camilla.
It was this sense of independence we had wanted, and we made the most of all the property could offer. Pool games, table tennis, ‘Olympic’ garden games and evening drinks on the terrace followed by a barbecue. Our guests loved the informality which saw them relaxing for the first time in a long time post exams, and joining in as much, or as little as they felt up to. Our two-night stay was memorable for many reasons but it was made more so by the ease of our surroundings.
It’s easy to see why such properties are proving so popular. With many sporting delights within easy reach of Banbury, this particular property is perfectly placed. Eventful Stays caters for those seeking somewhere special while they go racing or to the Grand Prix, or many other events nationwide, but has also seen a huge rise in demand for special properties for family parties and events.
Ironically, as we discover, Eventful Stay’s owner Camilla’s biggest struggle is meeting demand and she is constantly looking for unique properties to add to her portfolio. Perhaps your house fits the bill? Each of the homes available has something unique to offer and many have never been advertised as holiday accommodation before but whatever the occasion, however many there are of you, and wherever you want to stay, Camilla will make finding your ideal accommodation easy. After that it is up to you to make it as eventful as possible!
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