Where is it located?
Wilderness Reserve most certainly lives up to its name. A remote and secluded countryside setting in Sibton, Suffolk, this is the place to really immerse yourself in nature – here, the bright lights, big city feel of London feels a million miles away. If you’ve ever wondered what true peacefulness sounds and feels like, come to this sprawling 5,000-acre estate, which is home to a lovingly restored manor house, and dotted with luxury farmhouses and cottages – all steeped in quintessential English countryside.
If you’re braving a car journey, it’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive from London. You can also catch a train, with the closest station being Darsham. Often train journeys to remote locations can leave you with a hefty taxi bill from the station to your destination, but luckily this is just a five-minute drive down the road, and collection/drop off points can be arranged with Wilderness.
What can you expect from the accommodation?
Within the estate there are nine different properties, from the 19th Century Sibton Park country mansion that dominates the landscape (it sleeps a whopping 27 people), to the beautiful glass-fronted Walled Garden, which sleeps 16. But this isn’t just a location to which you need to bring a horde of friends – the magical setting of Hex Cottage, a dainty, thatched property set in the woods that wouldn’t look out of place in a fairy tale, is lit only by candlelight and sleeps two. Whatever your choice, all properties are refurbished to the highest spec, with fully equipped kitchens, lavish beds and roll-top baths.
Our stay took place in Garden Cottage, a beautifully restored four-bedroom property, built into the wall that surrounds the estate’s original flower garden. The 19th century former head gardener’s property has three double rooms – two with roll top baths and one with a completely separate bathroom. This is the ideal place to visit with friends who have children, thanks to its en suite bunk room which can sleep up to six kids – the ultimate sleepover!
The living room’s main feature is the magnificent fireplace. Inspired by the ‘Green Man’, a motif related to nature that is synonymous with Suffolk culture, the breast of the chimney is adorned with a large carving of a man’s face, complete with a beard like the branches of a tree. But the main attraction was the 30ft well in the centre of the kitchen – covered by reinforced glass and lit up from the inside, it’s an amazing sight to see whilst you’re chopping your veggies.
The properties are fully equipped with everything from glassware to crockery and cooking utensils – you don't need to shlepp anything with you. The houses are all completely individual which is the real appeal about the place, it can accommodate all sorts of get-togethers.
What activities are on offer?
Bikes are provided for guests to explore, and there are plenty of activities for the adventurous: walking trails, a tennis court and even a boating lake. But there’s also a pool and hot tub available for those who have come for the sole purpose of relaxing. The local sweet shop is a top destination for children – luckily there’s plenty of space for them to run around until the sugar high wears off.
Everything has been considered at Wilderness.There are chefs available to cater for parties, delivered meals that can be left in the fridge pre-arrival, plus very generous breakfast hampers. There’s also extensive ‘experiences’ that are on offer, such as the Wilderness Bonfire Experience with marshmallows and mulled wine, Pilates and yoga, and even helicopter rides for those feeling brave – there’s something for everyone.
Is there anything close by that’s worth exploring?
Absolutely. You don’t need to stay on the grounds of the reserve if you don’t want to – there’s plenty to explore outside, too. The towns of Aldeburgh, Southwold and Framlingham are all within driving distance for those who want to see a bit more of Suffolk and there is a generous selection of country pubs close by to choose from.
Who is the resort best for?
If you want to get away from it all, whether for the weekend or a more indulgent full week stay, then Wilderness is definitely a destination to consider. It’s ideal for any kind of group, from couples looking for a romantic getaway to a group of friends looking for an escape from the city to families with children who want to enjoy the sprawling countryside. Regardless of your motive for going, it provides everyone with a peaceful haven and a serious hint of luxury. This autumn will see the grand opening of a few more properties, including the newly renovated Chapel Barn Estate, which is ideal for celebrations and events.
Prices start from £545 for one weekend. Visit WildernessReserve.com
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