The lodges at The Farmstead in Suffolk, not far from the world famous site at Sutton Hoo, are cosy, charming, quirky and fun. Toby Keel paid a visit.
I have a bit of experience with log cabins — assuming that you’d count a garden shed as one. A couple of years ago, when the pandemic sentiment had gone from ‘is this really happening?’ to ‘is this really still happening?” I came to the conclusion that it was unsustainable to work from home while perching on whichever sofa, kitchen chair or bed wasn’t currently occupied by another member of the family for their urgent Minecraft/ Whatsapp messaging/ coffee with friends needs. And so I moved my office into the shed.
It was great. Electricity and internet were sorted quickly, and I was soon carrying out video calls against a background of broken lawnmowers, ancient golf clubs and rusty bicycles. I made friends with the spiders. I wore thick coats, hats and two pairs of trousers in the middle of winter. And it all worked so well that I decided to turn the shed into a proper home office properly, and now it’s a proper little room. With proper windows, bland white walls and… well, no character at all. In every practical way, it’s better. But it’s lost all its fun, romance and charm.
For a while that didn’t bother me, but then we went to stay for a couple of days at a place which showed me exactly what I should have done with the place. I should have turned it into a miniature version of The Farmstead, a series of eight utterly, exquisitely and breathtakingly gorgeous self-catering log cabins in the Suffolk countryside, not far from Woodbridge.
Our cabin was made from timber that looked rather like reclaimed scaffolding boards, left so gloriously and unabashedly unfinished that several still had lumps of building site dirt clinging to them. The floorboards were uneven, and plentiful mismatched furniture so higgledy piggledy that it’s the sort of thing my wife would make me take straight to the tip if I ‘accidentally’ bought it at the local auction.
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The bathrooms are made of corrugated iron and poured concrete, with taps that look like the sort of thing you’d attach your grandfather attached a hosepipe to. And yet it works spectacularly well, and is married to so many touches of modernity, comfort and luxury that I felt completely relaxed, yet pampered and entertained.
It’s like living in an episode of The Waltons but also having decent WiFi, a television with Netflix, a kitchen with everything, and the sort of shiny copper bath that I thought only existed in brochures. One of the (two) baths was even set out on the veranda, so you could have a soak while watching the sun set over the surrounding fields and woodland.
In short: the pictures don’t lie — even in terms of the light, which tends to be awful in log cabins, but is bolstered here by skylights. Are there any downsides? Well, this is proper countryside so you won’t escape the bugs, particularly as seeds have been sown to create a wildflower meadow; and The Farmstead’s owners run a wedding venue nearby whose music you’ll probably hear at night if your trip coincides with a celebration (though wedding parties are encouraged to book out the lodges as well). But these are niggles in what is one of the most charming and fun places I’ve stayed in years. Just make sure you go there before, not after, you re-do your home office…
Lodges at The Farmstead start at £500 for a three-night stay. See www.farmsteadlodges.co.uk for more info and to book.
Things to do near The Farmstead
Aside from all the country walks you’d expect, there’s a wealth of things to do in the local area. Top of the list must be Sutton Hoo, the site of one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century when a Viking burial ship was discovered in a mound, now run by the National Trust. While the site of the dig itself is literally just a big field with some humps in it (albeit one you can look out over from a fine new observation tower), the swish visitor centre is great, as is the museum of the dig that Edith Pretty’s house has been turned into.
And finally, for traditional family seaside fun, Southwold is nearby, with its sandy beach, putting green and pier, which as well as the usual attractions is the site for Under The Pier, a madcap collection of coin-operated machines which really must be seen to be believed. The town itself is also lovely, as is nearby Aldeburgh.
Kate Green takes a look at the village of Flatford, in the Dedham Vale AONB, and in particular the cottage