It's all been said in the previous reviews, but here's a - hopefully balanced - account of a Christmas week stay for 13 at Stockbatch Granary.
First impressions are that the place is quite tricky to find, and even once you're through the marked gateway, you do begin to lose confidence as you go down the potholed track (0.8 mile) that you have found the right place. OK, you're deep in the country, mud ’n’ all, but those without 4x4s may feel some concern for their tyres/suspension.
The building itself is a plain ex-agricultural structure, oddly configured. You enter via a hallway which leads to a dining room (capacious but very plain) one way and a farmhouse kitchen the other (as well as to two of the bedrooms, upstairs). From the kitchen, you access the sitting room (a large rectangular room with fireplace at one end; only that end is really of any use). This leads to the large sports hall (cold in winter, as you'd expect) and on to the main bedroom wing.
The good news is that the house worked very well for a family Christmas: there is lots of space, and the heating and hot water work very well. The beds are comfy. Cleanliness is good. Everyone had a good time. The children particularly enjoyed the sports hall.
The bad news is that there is, in my view, at least something in most of the criticisms that have been made. They all relate to a slight feeling that you're paying premium prices (heading for£5k at Christmas) for a slightly cheese-paring approach. So, for example…
• the lighting is poor pretty much throughout. Who puts in kitchens nowadays without under-cabinet lights? Six small spotlights in a large kitchen is a joke. In the sitting room, the choice of lighting is between unatmospheric (LED downlighters) or insufficient (even for people like me who like 'atmospheric' lighting). We stole lamps from the bedrooms to improvise something acceptable.
• the carpets were not quite grubby, but they were not quite clean either; the sitting room carpet was simply not of a quality likely to stand up to the sort of wear it is likely to get.
• not the slightest concession was made to Christmas; anyone spending several thousand pounds on a week's rent over the (four-week) festive season should not have to go to the fiddle of getting a tree delivered and bringing a stand and decorations. It's hassle you don't need, and can reasonably expect not to have.
• furniture is often basic. One of the best bedrooms, for example, has no wardrobe but a rail with miscellaneous tatty hangers; more squat than luxury retreat. The kitchen has insufficient seating/table space for a full house. Glasswear was rather miscellaneous (and no flutes). The oven is just about big enough to cook a Christmas lunch… but a plate-warmer would have made all the difference.
• Could firewood for a week's stay really not be included in the price?
I should emphasise that none of these points is a reason not to stay at Stockbatch Granary. They are, however, relatively simple ways in which the owners could transform this from a satisfactory venue to a really desirable one.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The thousand acre Pitchford Estate is a dairy, sheep and arable farm with extensive woodland located six miles south of Shrewsbury in one of England's most rural counties, Shropshire. The Estate is home to Windy Mundy Farm, Stockbatch Granary and Tree House Barn, three spacious barn conversions available as holiday accommodation for groups of up to 16, 14 and 4 respectively. With stunning interiors and an idyllic location, these properties offer a country escape that we hope that you'll love as much as we do ... more less