A home from home in the middle of beautiful, tranquil countryside with only the sounds of sheep and fowl to break the silence. Just back from a fabulous week at The Ballroom, which is a fabulous holiday rental with a well equipped kitchen, light and airy living room, with a view to enjoy for hours on end over rolling fields and an open fireplace, two good size bedrooms, a dining area and delightful outside terrace backing on to fields.
Chris and Freya gave us a warm welcome and we enjoyed a week exploring the surrounding countryside, mostly on foot, taking in the sights and sampling the local food, and of course ice cream and desserts! The cottage is in a perfect position with the villages of Wheddon Cross and Exford within easy reach with local shopping facilities and quality pub and restaurant food available. Minehead, Watchet and Dunster are only a short drive away and we took full advantage of the area throughout our stay and left with a good few free range eggs bought from the farm to enjoy on our return home.
Missing the rolling fields and the peace already, I know for sure we are certain to return!
We stayed for a Saturday and Sunday night, short break in mid-November.
The Ballroom has plenty of potential, as do the relatively new owners. There is no doubting the sublime setting. With stunning views, peace and tranquility abound, which was a primary reason for booking.
Effort has obviously been made to make this a comfortable getaway. A Laura Ashley mattress in the main bedroom was incredibly comfortable and money well spent. Bedding was also of a high quality, expected at this price point but welcome nonetheless. Furniture was dated but fitting for the character of the property. Kitchen facilities were adequate, with all the appliances you could want except a dishwasher, which would be useful for longer/family stays due to the small sink. Space might be a limiting factor though as this is only designated by the owners as a kitchenette. Units and worktops were fine for the space on offer but not of particularly high quality.
Cleanliness was good overall, although the oven hob was not particularly wonderful. We have stayed in many cleaner places but this one was NOT dirty. A bit more attention to small details is important at this price level and a professional cleaning company could help attain this. It would then be much easier to maintain for longer by the owners.
There are things that, in our opinion, need to be addressed quickly;
1) HEATING: We applaud the use of a biomass system. However, the radiators never got above cool. No thermostats were available for us centrally or on the radiators themselves. You have to ask the owners if you want it hotter/colder. Also, the default is for the heating to go off at night. We were asked if we wanted it on all night and the owners were surprised when we said, "Yes,please". Apparently, we were the first to ever request this! Now, we don't want to have to ask "permission" to change temperatures when we're away to relax for a few days but there is currently no choice in the matter.
On our first morning we had no hot water and had to have a cold bath. Apparently the "system" had tripped out. The owners had gone to attend a Remembrance Service (credit to them) and so weren't on site to sort the problem. OK, things go wrong but after having to sleep in clothes due to the heating being so inadequate on the first night, we weren't overly impressed.
2) OPEN FIRE: As stated, a basket of logs and some kindling is provided. Be prepared to pay £5 per basket of logs if you want more. We used 4 baskets during our short stay...be aware. In our opinion, this should be done on an honesty system, given the clientele likely to stay here. Furthermore, you can't help yourself...you have to ask! Really? I'm grown up enough to put a few logs in a basket and don't want to have to deal with the owners unless there's a problem. We have nothing against the owners, they're very nice people. It
all just felt a little too controlled.
One of the reasons we used so many logs was that the door to the sitting room wouldn't shut because it had warped so badly. A gap of around 4 inches let a dreadful draft through and as already stated, it was cold throughout the apartment. We had to move the sofa towards the fire to avoid this draft and keep warm.
On leaving, I went to settle up for the logs we'd used, expecting the charge to be waived as a result of our experiences but was asked for £5. I smiled and paid but was not impressed.
3)BITS and BOBS: Half a toilet roll on the holder with no replacement seemed miserly. Towels were from John Lewis but rough to the touch. A bit more fabric softener might not go amiss.
Overall, this property did not meet our expectations given the high end price charged to stay here.
There is certainly potential to make it a very pleasant short break/holiday destination. At the moment prices should be reduced given the unfinished condition of what should be higher end accommodation. We do appreciate that it is a work-in-progress but feel that it should be made more transparent that it is by no means the finished article. More realistic pricing would go some way to making that clearer to potential guests.
We have rated this a 3 out of 5, primarily because it's better than a 2 but really it isn't up to a 3 just yet if we're being totally accurate.
Hopefully this review will not be seen as a slating of this property. There are things that aren't up to standard at the moment and the owners, who obviously don't have a wealth of experience in hospitality, are still learning how to deal with people who can be fussy and demanding at this end of the market and who won't necessarily want to spend their time away discussing problems with owners.
We wish the owners all the best in their venture and genuinely hope to read many more positive reviews about The Ballroom in the future.
I stayed here with my husband and two children for a few days at the start of the school holidays. The house is lovely and clean and a good space for families. My children loved being able to roam in the field behind the house. We found it easy to get to the coast and to visit other attractions in the area, including Dunster Castle. A car is a must though to get around the area. The owners were very welcoming and we appreciated the teabags and fresh milk on arrival. All in all a wonderful place to spend a holiday!