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“Good experience” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Feather Down Farms at College Farm

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Feather Down Farms at College Farm
London, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
17 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Good experience”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 28, 2013

5 days in beautiful countryside with free reign for kids to roam and make friends with 6 other families. Sunflower fields, feeding lambs and horse grooming. Hot water and rustic but comfortable tents. Fantastic welcoming and chilled hosts with Lucy and Marcus and a lovely mix of families when we visited . Lots of lovely beaches and attractions nearby for daytrips- think about crabbing, fishing or long walks.I think best for kids <9 years.

Room Tip: Go for tent 4 if you like company and tent 7 if you want a bit more privacy..
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Shanaz M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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38 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    36
    2
    0
    0
    0
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30
Couples
0
Solo
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1
Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 27, 2013

Me, my partner and collectively 4 children, all boys aged 3,5,6,7... (Eek! ) stayed at college farm for a week mid aug. The whole experience is one I know the children (and we) will never forget... It feels like you have gone back in time ... Family games outside, water fights, bike rides... Good honest fun that kept the children entertained constantly and not a tv or Xbox in sight. Riding to the honesty shop on the bikes, listing what they had taken and managing to cycle home without smashing the eggs was all part of their fun!
The tent is as romantic and twee as it looks online...again you feel like you have been transported back in time to little house on the priarie. It's gorgeous and clean and comfortable and the children loved the cupboard bed.
I think the most important thing about why this farm is so special though is the family. Marcus and Lucy are so warm and friendly and you feel like you are part of their family for your entire stay, nothing is too much trouble, and they go way beyond it being just a 'job' it really matters to them. Even to the point when I asked for an extra pillow Marcus gave me his own one as there were none spare! And Lucy's dad Rick offering to take the children out on the truck to see the cattle and meet the pet cow Dolly!
I would recommend pizza oven night as its is a lovely sociable evening and again Marcus and Lucy chatted as tho they were old friends.
We visited Bewilderwood whilst we were there which is a great day out and Southwold which has a nice little beach, shops and an unusual little game arcade.
And another vital piece of information ....there is a plug socket in the honesty shop where i stood and dried my hair everyday :0) (that's important to us girls!) and where i charged my phone ...not to use of course but just so I could take a thousand and one photos.
I'm sure any featherdown farm experience will be great, after all the tents and everything in it is standard but you cannot buy what Marcus and Lucy offer, its a very special farm and family and i would go back in a heartbeat.

  • Stayed August 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Katie C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
35 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 10, 2013

Husband, kids aged 9 and 7 and I enjoyed a week's stay here recently. We are camping amateurs and this was the first Feather Down for us, and we absolutely loved it. We loved the unbroken view of corn fields and marshes from our tent, with the swallows and the occasional marsh harrier overhead. We loved grooming the horse, feeding the lambs and the chickens and collecting the eggs from our private chicken coop. We loved that it took half an hour of waiting in the smoke to get a hot cup of tea - it was a slowing down of life, and was really relaxing. We loved the amazing night sky - at 2 am one day, stepping out of the tent, I saw the Milky Way clearly which I've never managed before in the UK. It was the best night sky I have ever seen in the UK.

The hosts Marcus and Lucy were very charming, knowledgeable and friendly and genuinely not jaded from running a place like this (which I have seen in many holiday compounds). Lucy's cake and the picnic we ordered one day were delicious. The granary bread that was freshly baked and delivered to us every morning was worth getting up for.

We were there when it was hot, and there were some flies around. Our mosquito coil worked quite well against them. Also the candles and lanterns are lovely but not very bright, certainly not bright enough for me to read, so you'll probably have limited things to do after dark (as is generally true with camping). I think the tent would be pretty chilly in colder months... we will definitely be going again, but I am going to stick to warmer months.

A fantastic, memorable holiday.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Rie K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Epsom, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 27, 2013

I have recently returned from a mid-week break at Featherdown Farms, College Farm, Aldeby. This is the third such stay in recent years and my seventh year in a row at Featherdown. I always attend with my two teenaged daughters and they usually bring a friend each, so we're perhaps slightly older than the typical family set-up but the delights of the holiday never seem to wane.

There are, it seems to me, three key elements of a holiday: the accommodation and facilities; the location; and the hospitality shown by the hosts.

In terms of the accommodation, those familiar with Featherdown Farms will understand very well. Sure, it's camping, but not like camping I knew as a child. The tents are well appointed, comfortable and spacious; I'm usually accompanied by four teenagers and we make do very well. What the tents lack in terms of electricity and hot water, they more than make up for in terms of novelty, fun and a sense of mucking in together. If you haven't seen a Featherdown tent, think of a basic chalet with canvas sides and roof and you'll get the idea. Meanwhile, the facilities at College Farm are great - perhaps the best I've experienced on a Featherdown break. The shop is brilliant, well-stocked with local goods and foods, and Lucy's delicious home-made cakes. The showers are convenient and always immaculately clean. The farm itself has plenty to keep the interest, especially for younger kids, and it's easy to access.

The location is perfect for exploring the area, within easy reach of Southwold, Walberswick, Aldeburgh and many others. The farm is a few minutes' drive from Beccles, a small town that has everything one could need (if not everything one would want). The setting is idyllic, with expansive views and big skies. It's peaceful and calm, an atmosphere broken only by the sound of children playing and the occasional friendly visit from the farm dog, Jasper.

And, finally, the hospitality. Lucy and Marcus are simply perfect hosts. They are enthusiastic and warm, knowledgeable and helpful. They each strike the perfect balance of being on hand to help whilst also leaving guests to enjoy their holiday - despite the demands of two charming little boys and a busy farm. They smile a great deal and always have a friendly word for their guests. At the end of week get-together, gathered around the outside bread oven that Marcus fires up with great skill, they are genuinely warm and friendly towards their guests and make it a really enjoyable affair for everyone. I noticed this week that both Marcus and Lucy had memorised everyone's names, including the children's, which is quite some feat given the number of guests who turn over each week.

In short, staying at College Farm is a brilliant experience. Warm, friendly, comfortable and relaxed, with perfect hosts and a superb location. Go!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Mick W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
18 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 22, 2013

I have to start this review by saying that I don't like camping, or even the idea of camping. However, as we live in a democracy, I was comprehensively outvoted 1 to 1 by my wife, and thus found myself, for a second year running, at a Featherdown Farm with my beloved and our 2 kids ( 10 and 4 ).

Last year we went to Cheddar Gorge, this year to Suffolk. "Interestingly" enough, the 2 are very similar. This is good news if you are a Featherdown Farm fan, not so good it you are me.

Our hosts were great - Marcus approaches the job with just the right attitude and sense of humour. The huts are exactly the same ( down to the coffee grinder and casually left suitcase ) which, to me, makes the whole thing seem slightly artificial ( a bit like authentic italian Costa Coffee being run by Whitbread ).

My children had a wonderful time, and we didn't kill the hen. If I was knitpicking, I would say that the shower block had seen better days, and that it could really do with a proper toilet.

But this is sort of where I get a bit confused by the whole concept of camping, glamping and whatever. You see, Featherdown go to an awful lot of effort to build their tents/huts/whatevers so that they are exactly the same. And they then go out of their way to deliberately build in discomforts. For instance, the toilets really are not nice ( stronger words spring to mind ). As opposed to a toilet seat ( surely one of the great under-appreciated inventions of modern times ), there is just a hole built into a wooden bench. It is just deliberately crude, and, for a 4 yr old boy with unsteady aim, a challenge too far...

Similarly, why can't they put showers in the hut/yurt/tent thingy's ? Doing the 500 yd walk to take a shower at the end of a long day navigating thru cow pats really is not fun, no matter how hard I try to enjoy getting closer to nature ( especially when you hit a cow pat land mine on the walk back in the dark... )

My beloved and I spent many a long night having deep philosophical discussions ( there's not much else to do as there is no electricity and reading by candlelight is not as much fun as it sounds - which is not a lot for starters ) - anyways, we were discussing why exactly do people go out of their way to do this ? I agree that our kids enjoy it, but then they would have equally enjoyed staying in a little cottage ( no prizes for guessing what we're going to do next year ). Seriously masochistic people will go full blown camping, and they will doubtless enjoy the suffering that entails. But I am not quite sure why the "neither fish, nor foul" Featherdown offering appeals ?

That said, they are doing very well, so what do I know....

Other notes, in no particular order :
1) For some bizarre reason, the double bed comes with 2 single duvets.
2) The farm stays lovely and cool at night - very good during a hot summer like we had
3) For a company called Featherdown, they provide the most awful polyester duvets known to mankind, and even worse pillows. Then again , the hard core campers would probably rather sleep on razor blades or something
4) There are lots of bugs in the countryside
5) Southwold nearby is lovely, with a great beach.
6) The farm guidebook recommends a fish restaurant nearby called The Swan. It's like a 70's Berni Inn ( for those who remember these things ) and the fish tastes nearly as old. You have been warned.

Room Tip: They are all the same but try to get one near the showers
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank BigChiefMuffin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wishaw, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 11, 2013

My husband, 3 year old son and I had a wonderful stay for a week at College Farm. The host farmers - Lucy and Marcus - made us feel relaxed from the outset and were great with our little boy - they are happy for kids to be kids. From a pre-arrival phone call and warm welcome to taking every opportunity to make our 3 year old's stay fun and memorable, we couldn't fault their efforts. Lucy and Marcus went above and beyond our expectations and were so friendly and generous without being intrusive.

The farm is well laid out and the view from our tent was beautiful. Inside, the tent seemed to be even better than it appeared in the Featherdown images - bigger and very clean and comfortable - with crisp linen, pillows and duvets. We all really enjoyed the farm tour with Lucy, the honesty shop was well stocked and all the food we bought was excellent. Apple juice and fresh baked bread delivered from the farmhouse were our favourites! We had baked potatoes on the first night and the ingredients for the stew delivered to our tent another night and both were delicious.

The location is gorgeous, perfect for days out (if you can talk yourself into leaving the farm and animals!) and there are attractions nearby for all ages. We travelled from Scotland and can honestly say the 8 hour drive was worth it. A perfect, relaxing holiday for all 3 of us! Our son loved 'his' animals and is still talking about Tractor Ted, Jasper (the dog) and Ginger (his favourite lamb). I'm sure he will have fond memories for years to come! Thank you.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Claire C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norwich, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 16, 2013

We took our 6 and 9 year olds and they loved every moment. Marcus and Lucy are wonderful hosts and make you feel very much at home and go to lots of trouble to share their lovely farm with you, and the animals and the wildlife, the beautiful view over the marshes and the peace and quiet are all amazing. We were there with just one other family and it was very pleasant because we prefer things to be very quiet and peaceful - I imagine at busy times it has more of a holiday camp feel because the tents are all in one area.

We only went about 20 miles from home, but it was such a special and novel experience to be on a farm and living without electricity. We spent most of our time just enjoying the farm animals, playing and walking on the property but we also went to Moo Play Farm which is nearby and to Southwold. College Farm makes a good base for exploring the area - if we weren't local we could easily have enjoyed plenty of days out within a 20 mile radius.

Marcus and Lucy are fab with kids - patient, relaxed, tolerant and find ways to get the kids involved in farm chores while making sure safety issues are explained and enforced so the kids had great fun but were always safe. The animals, including the lovely Jasper the dog, are all gentle and friendly. There are chickens (and the joy of collecting amazingly fresh eggs), lambs to cuddle and feed (bucket feeding/picking grass for them at this time of year which is still lots of fun), a beautiful horse to groom, bees to visit, two different herds of cattle to visit out on the marshes (and on our visit, a nursery field of calves and mamas), Jasper the dog wandered around and even accompanied us on walks much to my kids' delight and there were also baby ducklings which the children got to handle. We saw a lot of wildlife on our walks - the open marshes mean it is easy for children to get to see things (otter paths/poop, kestrels, deer, marsh harrier, swifts, swallows, swans, ducks, lots of insects). There's a nice play structure and a sand pit near the 1st tent and lots of grassy space around the tents for running about and riding bikes. Our kids were out all day playing in the fresh air.

The honesty shop has many of the basics covered (and plenty of wine/beer!) and the prices are very fair, and there are supermarkets within a few miles if you need anything they don't stock. The milk in the fridge is raw, so you might want to make sure you have pasteurised milk on hand if raw milk isn't your thing (it is sooo creamy!). The cool box in the tent works well to keep perishables fresh. The meat from the farm is absolutely delicious!

I would say that you will not get much sleep - as with any camping, you kind of wake up when the sun does, but it all feels so safe that our kids were out checking chicken coops, feeding lambs and playing outside while we were still waiting for the kettle to boil on the woodstove. Using the stove to cook is definitely a steep learning curve (even for people used to wood fires/heating stoves) and it takes much longer than you'd expect to get it hot enough, to cook and heat water for washing up (at least two hours in our experience), which is a relaxing gentle pace but we weren't equipped with enough snacks for our kids to hold off their hunger (thankfully the shop sells local ice cream and crisps!)

We went in June, and needed the extra quilts/blankets and hot water bottles we had packed, because although the tents feel cabin-like and have proper beds/furniture, they are still tents and get very cold at night. We took battery operated fairy lights to hang up in the kids' room as a night light because our city-reared children don't do pitch dark! We also took lots of candles with us (draughty tents make candles burn quickly) and LONG matches for lighting the stove.

You also may need to be aware that the loo in the tent is like an outhouse style of loo seat (like a bench with a hole in it over a toilet pan) and that while it flushes you can't flush loo roll and need to bag that and bin it. It's not that big of a deal in all honesty but my kids and husband HATED it with a fiery passion. Little kids may well find it scary or hard to manage wiping and binning the loo roll, especially at night - a big freestanding torch is very useful!

The shower block was clean and pleasant to use, with plenty of hot water.

When we go again, we will take a little camping stove for quicker cuppas, my own sharp knives, our own pillows (Feather down do not do feather or down pillows!) and plenty of snacks. And I can't wait to go back!

Room Tip: Tents 5 6 and 7 are quieter but further from play area, showers, honesty shop etc
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Lucy P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Feather Down Farms at College Farm

Property: Feather Down Farms at College Farm
Address: St Mary's Road, Aldeby, Beccles NR34 0BD, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > East Anglia > Suffolk > Beccles > Aldeby
Amenities:
Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Aldeby
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are very proud to have been voted as farm of the year for 2013. Our farm is located on the southerly tip of the Norfolk Broads and a short drive from many of Norfolk’s outstanding beaches and coastal towns such as Southwold. On the farm we would love to show you our herd of cattle that graze on the marshes, our chickens that reside at the top of the Feather Down field and in the farmyard you’ll find horses, lots of friendly dogs, guinea fowl and Dolly our pet cow. On the farm we would love to show you our herd of cattle that graze on the marshes, our chickens that reside at the top of the Feather Down field and in the farmyard you’ll find horses, lots of friendly dogs, guinea fowl and Dolly our pet cow.We are Marcus, Lucy, Henry and William Daniels. We keep a herd of mixed breed cattle that graze on the marshes, whilst the chickens reside at the top of the Feather Down field. In the farmyard you’ll find horses, guinea fowl, Dolly the pet cow and plenty of friendly dogs.The tents are located on a south-facing grassy field at the top of the farm-yard that slopes gently down to the marshes. If you come and visit in August or September then you will get to stay alongside the swaying sunflowers. There is a stunning view from all the tents over the marsh-land where the cattle graze down to the River Waveney. Guests can watch the mist roll in off the river and envelop the marshes, at dusk and early in the morning. You might also catch a glimpse of barn owls hunting or see one of the three species of deer we have in the locality.There is so much to do here you won’t need to stray further than the farm, don’t miss our farm tour, you can enjoy a wander on the marshes, take a picnic to the river, help us to move and check the cattle, and assist in looking after the lambs, our communal horse-grooming session is always a hit and don't forget to collect the eggs from the henhouse! If you are here for a rest you can sit out in front of your tent and watch the sails of the pleasure craft in the distance pootling up and down the River Waveney.Our farm larder has meat and eggs produced on the farm or sourced from one of our farm neighbours. You’ll also find local apple juice and ice cream there as well as freshly baked cakes and treats by Lucy. ... more   less 

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