I can’t say I’ve ever stayed somewhere quite like the Cheshire Boutique Barns in Wrenbury. In a sentence – it was the ideal harmony of character, charm, story, passion and peace. Although the pictures below say a thousand words, I don’t feel that they quite do this subtle retreat justice.
I love the tale of how designer and founder Rachael, came to turn her childhood joy of building delicate duvet-dens filled with china tea sets and sweet treats, into an adulthood pursuit. In her own words:
I thought about what I’d want once I arrived here. The option to roll up on a dark winter’s night to a fire, lamps and candles ready lit and glowing. An ice cold bottle of fizz upon entry, or perhaps a delicious local breakfast hamper ready stocked in the fridge. Some in house pampering… Oh yes! And a private driver to whizz me off to one of the many local restaurants. And so, one of our many and varied 5* VIP retreats were created.
I read somewhere once, that everyone should try and do something similar for their ‘living’, to the activities they loved to do as a child. It only hit me the other day, my favourite childhood activity from as young as 3 yrs old was ‘den building’ then furnishing each den with all of the very best vintage china, soft duvets, feather pillows, warm wool blankets, yummy things to eat and interesting books and activities I could smuggle past my mother! Funny that don’t you think? Now I just hope I can welcome you here sometime soon to enjoy it too.
Not an inch of space has gone unnoticed, ensuring that from the moment you open the door, you truly feel like you’ve escaped the city and arrived in nirvana, whether you plan on staying in and sprawling out on the soft, throw-laden sofas or going out for a serene candle-lit pub dinner.
Before you arrive, you will receive an email with details of how to check-in and allocated parking areas, depending on which barn you have chosen. This includes the code to the high security lock of your door, so there’s no need to dither about the main house wondering if you need to pick up some keys, as people like me who clearly don’t read all their emails properly will do.
Upon entry, Rachael brought over some chilled strawberry champagne and left us to it. It wasn’t long before we were sitting on the chairs by the log burner in our garden and putting our feet up to admire the view. The resident dog strolled over to join us and I made some cups of herbal tea using the fresh stems of mint and lemon balm provided.
A small leather bound Guest Book on the table was littered with gushing reviews, thank you’s, highlights and whimsical memories. A previous guest had even mentioned that the barns had saved him a large expense on a country retreat, and he proceeded to secure a booking for every other weekend. Its pages beautifully illustrated that whether it’s a ‘mini moon’, ‘baby moon’, pre-wedding night, or purely a weekend retreat amongst family and friends, these barns have much to offer everyone.
The Garden Room
Formerly a space used to create and house cheese, cheesy it is not. Fairy-lit, decadent, unique, soft, warm and fragrant, it is. The treasure chest in the centre of the room houses a limitless supply of DVDs, board games and magazines, electric tea lights are scattered over every surface and once you are swallowed up by the cloud-like sofas in front of a real log-fed fireplace, there’s no getting out.
Unless of course, the motivation to move is for the star attraction – a monumental, gleaming copper bath tub that reveals itself when folding back the beautifully painted, ceiling-to-floor wooden doors. Don’t make the mistake of clambering in straight away and missing the chance to lie back and gaze up at a star-dusted sky, through the astutely-placed window above. As a born and bred Londoner, it is the first time in a long time that I have experienced such silence. I almost couldn’t sleep later on, despite melting into that magnificent marshmallow of an Egyptian cotton bed.
The water is crisp and the air, pungently floral. A short walk down the road in one direction, lies the Cholmondeley Arms – home to 366 varieties of gin. It also does an amazing apricot tarte, to the soundtrack of birds chirupping amongst countryside conversation (did you know that a log burner is a necessity in summer because the warmer days often mean colder nights?).
In the other direction down the path from the barn, lies a pub in an old converted Windmill. Almost every review in the guest book recommended sampling the local produce here. Unfortunately with the high demand came low staffing issues, so we didn’t quite get the chance – I recommend arriving early if you don’t want to risk it. With its two story terrace, it’s also the perfect place to watch the sunset at the end of a fair day.
If you don’t mind the drive into Hale, Victor’s restaurant also comes highly recommended. Perch on one of the high benched seats at the back to gain a regal view, overlooking the entire floor plan. Petal covered ceilings, leafy green walls and fresh shellfish-laden ice baths. Don’t leave without ordering the Lamb Cutlets.
The barns are one of the only 5*, award-winning accommodations in the area. Making it the choice hideout for celebrities such as Mary Berry (who’s also experienced the delights of The Garden Room) and a variety of other television stars.
Included in their long list of awards, is one for sustainable practices. Sheets are left to hang instead of being thrown into industrial tumble driers and eco friendly or recycled products can be found throughout the chateau. You never could imagine that The Nest Barn (so named because a Swallows Nest was found in the roof during its conversion) and The Cow Shed House, were once home to an old milking parlour.
Despite everything you could ever ask for being just a phone call away, the space feels decidedly personal and solitary. It was hard to tear myself away after just a night, however the time came to hit play and head back to reality. To say I thoroughly enjoyed myself, meeting Rachael and escaping into another dimension of calm, would be an understatement. Thank you so much for hosting me and I cannot wait to hear and to read many more of your fabulous tales and updates upon my return.