Before booking a holiday lodge at Honicombe Manor I checked the Tripadvisor reviews and was surprised at the mixture of ratings - from 'Avoid' to 'Amazing'. Having stayed here for 5-days, I think I can now see why.
The issue is that it seems each of the properties on the park are owned by separate private owners, who are each individually responsible for the upkeep of their properties. It's not like there's one consistent standard of repair and cleanliness across the whole park, because each property is owned, cleaned and maintained by separate individuals.
Looking around at some of the other lodges, some of them do look pretty run-down and I can see that some of the horror stories on here about the state of the properties are clearly true. We stayed in lodge no.22 Valley Lodges (AKA 'Transcendent Lodge') and we were relieved on arriving to find this specific lodge was clean, modern and well-maintained throughout. No mould or dirt anywhere - and was somewhere we'd happily spend a week living in, so no problems with that one at all.
One thing I would say is that there are a lot of these lodges - I'm guessing 30 or 40 or so - all crammed in to one part of the holiday park, so you're living in quite close proximity to other holidaymakers (our balcony was literally centimetres from the next-door property). Our lodge was one of a row of four connected lodges, which I can imagine wouldn't give much privacy if they were all inhabited, or might be annoying if you get lumbered with noisy neighbours. As it happened though, when we were there, they were all vacant and it was very quiet, peaceful and the whole holiday park was generally deserted.
As for the general surroundings of the holiday park itself, it wasn't quite so good. I think it's fair to say the park facilities are run-down, to put it mildly. It feels as if there's been no maintenance or improvements to the main buildings since the 1970s, with dirty floors, crumbling brickwork, weeds growing everywhere, paint flaking and much of the facilities feeling generally old, tired and depressing.
I was surprised to read in the park welcome pack about the "games room" with pool tables, air hockey, arcade games and table tennis. When we investigated the games room, it turns out it was just a large room with a load of old wooden chairs and a single table tennis table. Nothing else.
It's a shame, because it feels like all it needs is a bit of paint and a face-lift and the whole place could be lovely. And no matter how nice the holiday homes themselves are (like our lodge was) if your first impression is the old, dirty, crumbling main reception / facilities area, your holiday is off to a bad start. I can imagine if you're unlucky enough to book a bad lodge, that combined with experiencing the run-down facilities here could certainly combine to make you feel like you wish you'd stayed at home. If you book one of the better properties, you can probably turn a blind eye to the dodgy facilities.
The one exception was the indoor swimming pool, which seems modern and clean - was a great size, nice and warm and something the children loved spending time in. The changing rooms were manky, but the pool itself was good. Perhaps all their money has been invested in renovating the pool and there's nothing less for the rest of the facilities?!
I was also impressed with the service of the on-site maintenance people (an independent company called JC Property Services), who made a special effort to come out to us, outside their normal working hours, to address a problem with the hot tub (which it turned out wasn't a problem after all and was my own mistake).
In the end, we weren't too bothered by the shoddy state of the general holiday park - because our lodge itself was fine and if you walk just 2-minutes down the path you're out in some of England's most glorious countryside, so you shouldn't really want to be spending time shut in a (non-existent) games room anyway! I'd never heard of Callington / St Anne's Chapel before, it's not exactly a tourist hot-spot, but that's the beauty of it. If you like tranquil, relaxing, lush green countryside - this is definitely a place to stay (as long as those staying in the very close-proximity lodges near yours are quiet too and as long as you don't spend much time in the park facilities themselves).
I think your experience of Honicombe Manor will all hinge on the quality of the lodge / property you book. If it's good, you can just about overlook the poor condition of the rest of the facilities - and spend time enjoying the local countryside and surroundings instead. If you're unlucky enough to get a property that's dirty, mouldy and badly-maintained, then there's no consolation to be had in the park's facilities and you'll probably wish you just saved your money and stayed at home!
If you do go here, I'd suggest you do so without the expectation of it being a great place to spend time as a destination in its own right - and head out and about instead. All in all we had a good break here because we got a nice lodge and weren't too bothered about the rest of the park facilities. It is a shame though that for the sake of some fairly basic decorating work, I think travellers would get a much better first impression of the place and be much less likely to leave such scathing reviews!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Honicombe Holiday Park is now under completely new ownership. The new management company (Honicombe Ltd.) took over the site on 17 August 2012, was formed by a group of Honicombe holiday property owners and is committed to improving the site and its facilities in order to enhance the experience of visitors. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Honicombe Manor Hotel Callington
- Honicombe Manor Holiday Resort Callington, Cornwall