Sometimes, you just strike it lucky on a Google search! Recently I was looking for hotel accommodation for us and our extended family to stay a couple of nights in Bridgnorth while we went up to visit our new puppy.
The best hotels were already booked up, and it was proving expensive to put all five of us up for 2 nights, so I started looking for self-catering cottages instead.
I struck total gold with Garden Cottage and knew instantly from the website and photos that it would be perfect for us. But it was only when we arrived that I discovered what a gem it really is.
Nestled in quite possibly one of Bridgnorth's most charming Gerorgian streets, the most famous of its previous inhabitants being Thomas Telford who designed St Mary's church at the end of the street. The listed double-fronted, chequer-brick town house is impeccably presented, inside and out.
The owners live next door, from where they also run a discerning bed and breakfast business, so collecting the keys is no trouble, and they are on hand should you need anything. Parking can be a bit of an issue, but the owners organise a free parking permit for you in advance, and the weekend we were there we had no trouble parking outside the house.
The hallway is spacious, with plenty of room for us all to hang our coats, leave our boots and dump our bags. There's a beautifully presented downstairs toilet and shower room, handy if you have full occupancy of six guests.
At the front of the house is the elegant but comfortable sitting room, with wood-burning stove. The owners leave a generous supply of wood, kindling and matches for cosy evenings in. There's plenty of room to all relax in the evening and watch TV, or perhaps play some of the board games that are provided. There are French doors at the back leading out onto the charming back garden, from where you can see the verdigris dome of the church - as Ruby described it, a 'mini- St Pauls'. All the furnishings are beautiful, really heavy-weight, lined curtains in period designs. You get a real sense of luxury here.
The owners have furnished the house with gorgeous antiques and quirky vintage trinkets, and I really
appreciated the sturdiness of the furniture and deep patina of the dark wood.
The opposite front room is a very handy study, complete with a computer for guests use, wifi and ample reading material to keep you occupied. So if you're the sort that has work to do while you're away (guilty!) then this is perfect.
What I loved most about this place is that it really feels like home. So often I stay in places where the owner has clearly never spent a night in their accommodation, or they'd notice the little niggles and missing equipment. But here, everything has been thought of. You really could very happily live here permanently - in fact browsing through the visitor book I see someone did live there for several months when their own home was flooded. I couldn't think of a nicer place for a home.
The kitchen is well stocked, both with gadgets/crockery/cutlery but also with essentials that you'll need such as tea, coffee, sugar, oil, condiments etc. There was even some food in the freezer and cereal in the cupboard. I personally hate arriving at a cottage to find no tea bags and one measly loo roll! Here there was tin foil, kitchen roll and plenty in the cupboards - they'd even left us a freshly baked carrot cake. It's the little details like that which really make a difference I think.
There was tonnes of room in the open-plan kitchen diner, perfect for a family to cook and enjoy and meal together. Ruby was most excited about the basement, which was huge, and houses a tumble drier and airer.s I couldn't help ponder what I'd turn the space into if it were mine...
Upstairs there are 3 large bedrooms - two doubles and a twin with en-suite, as well as the Victorian style family bathroom. So with a total of 3 loos and 3 showers, there was no arguing over whose turn it was! Decorated again in period style, with antique furniture and heavy drapes, all the rooms were beautiful and restful. Because the street has the church at the end, there's no through traffic and is incredibly quiet at night. We all slept soundly, and it's amazing how just a few streets away you're in the centre of town with all the shops and pubs, yet in Garden Cottage you hear nothing.
This really was one of the nicest places I've stayed in the UK. I didn't know this part of the world at all, but Bridgnorth has so much going for it, it's well worth a weekend visit.
The town itself has an olde-world charm, with beautiful shop fronts, independent stores, antique shops, a thriving market and an abundance of traditional inns and pubs to chose from if you're in need of sustenance.
Take some time to explore the castle ruins and the formal gardens which overlook the lower town. Take in the views of the River Severn, and visit the Severn Valley Steam Railway. Further afield, there's beautiful rolling countryside, Ironbridge, Much Wenlock (birthplace of the modern Olympics), Wyre Forest and West Midlands Safari Park.
For enquiries about Garden Cottage visit http://gardencottagebridgnorth.co.uk