Our stay at the beautiful Holwell Farm was supposed to be the fabulous, family holiday we have once a year, in many different places, with our widely dispersed families. This time was to be even better, as we were attending and celebrating the marriage of one of our sons to our beautiful daughter-in-law nearby at the Great Barn. We were all very excited about the prospect of being together in such a lovely place. The location had been booked and paid for for more than a year. We had very high hopes of a 'family friendly' holiday, as we had four couples staying in two large cottages, and an assortment of ten children and teenagers, ranging from 10 months to 16 years. It sounded the perfect location and facilities. The first night was not great, as no nightlights had been provided, and so when the generator went off, there was no light at all in the house. Our other cottage had matches but no candles, and the main house had candles but no matches. We understand the 'clear skies' policy in the National Park, and approve of it completely, but some sort of lighting must be provided for the guests in the hours when the generator is off. From a health and safety point of view, alternative lighting must be provided for adults or children. People should not have to stumble round a strange house with no lighting at all. One of the youngest in that house, who was jet-lagged from travelling half-way across the world to come to the wedding, woke at 3.00 a.m. and screamed in the pitch-blackness, waking all other five children and all four adults. This was the morning of the wedding. When we were safely out of the way at the wedding on the Saturday, the owner entered this property, ostensibly to deliver some battery operated nightlights, and to collect a broken chair. She could have come when we were there in the morning. She came back on the Monday, at 9.30 in the morning and raged at our daughter, who was up preparing a late breakfast, threatening eviction if the house was not immediately tidied up. She said that the house had been in turmoil when she had entered on the Saturday (hardly surprising after such a night), when in fact some of the washing up had not been done and some cushions from a sofa were just behind it on the floor where the children had been having a teddy-bears' picnic with their toys. Hardly a crime, and she shouldn't have been in our house without our permission anyway. It was amazing after such a night that we were able to be ready for the wedding at all. She also went beserk when she saw that we had had to bring in some garden benches to enable us to seat everybody for family meals. I had been in e-mail contact for some weeks before our arrival asking for extra chairs, as one of our most important family experiences is eating together. She had said that the garden chairs were 'unsuitable'. She was right - they were unsuitable - and yet nothing else was supplied. This family also own a hotel, so it would not have been impossible to bring in a few extras. Supposedly five-star accommodation should try to help guests, if they have such simple specific requests. They eventually did find enough, but not until she had threatened to throw us out because of damage to the slate floor from the benches (there was no damage) and because the washing up had not been done on the Saturday or the Monday when she came back to shout at us. Provision of extra chairs would have been so simple - we would have been so grateful. She also initially blamed us for the chair that had become unstuck (three others came unstuck in exactly the same place during the week, so it was a manufacturers fault not ours). She did not come back and check the house again at 12.00 pm as she had threatened. One of our party had stayed to tell her what is, and what is not, acceptable behaviour towards your guests, missing a rare family outing to do so. But she did not come back.
Good things about Holwell. Yes, there are several. The position is outstanding and you really can walk right out on to the moors. The man who looks after the animals is friendly and knowledgeable. The beds are wonderful. I had one of the best nights' sleep in my life on the Sunday night. After her verbal attack, I have not slept through the night since. They offered to keep the generator on extra for when we got back from the wedding, so that we could get the children into bed in the light. We were grateful for that.
So, a potentially wonderful, and extremely expensive, holiday was completely ruined by agression, resentment and unhelpfulness. We are so sad that our memories of a fabulous wedding are clouded by the Holwell experience. Why did she decide to take against us? I really don't know. The children are all well-behaved and did not break anything. None of the adults are aggressive or unfriendly or unreasonable. We have never had this sort of treatment at other holiday venues. We have been welcomed in other places. Maybe we would have been better off if we had had dogs or horses, but it is described as being child-friendly, so we hoped that it would be. My title for this synopsis was just a warning that you may be accused of something you didn't do, of breaking something you didn't break, and your holiday home may be visited in your absence as ours was. I did write a letter with most of the above in it, but have not had the courtesy of a reply or an apology. Be careful, be very, very careful!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.