Self-catering holidays are great for groups of people because they offer space in a way that hotels are unable to provide. There’s no need to share communal areas; everything within the lodge is for your group to enjoy wholeheartedly. Seeing an opportunity, Darwin Escapes partnered with Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire to launch Blenheim Palace Lodge Retreat. Luxurious Magazine’s Sabi Phagura was one of the first to enjoy them.
It’s taken five years to develop them, and the wait has been well worth it. Blenheim Lodge Retreat, situated on the doorstep of the iconic Blenheim Palace, finally opened to the public at the beginning of August. I was honoured to be the first journalist to experience them.
The latest venue by Darwin Escapes, the Lodge Retreat, features a collection of one-, two- and three-bedroom lodges next to the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site. Blenheim Palace has over 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland and formal gardens to roam around in, so it makes perfect sense to have a lodge on the fringes.
Steeped in more than three centuries of history, home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace boasts a year-round events and exhibition calendar, so a single trip is not enough.
You’ll get a warm welcome from the staff when you enter the retreat’s reception. And why wouldn’t you? When you enter the location just off the A44, you’re greeted with the serenity of a couple of thousand acres of beautiful landscapes that have a way of putting distance from everyday life. After a quick registration process, guests can be in the comfort of their lodge within minutes.
Ours, one of 36 lodges (a quarter of which are pet-friendly, complete with fencing around the outdoor patio area to keep four-legged animals safe), had everything I would expect from a luxury lodge.
The open living space, with its sleek interior in the middle with oversized armchairs, a sofa, a coffee table and the kitchen, is flanked by two bedrooms. Both rooms, a double and twin, boast their own en suites complete with full-sized bottles of ARRAN goodies.
A rummage of utensils, pots and pans in the kitchen and my mother was comforted she had complete freedom over what and when to eat during our three-night stay.
Significant investment has gone into landscaping and planting local flora around the site, while the Lodges have been carefully oriented to the west, making the most of the morning sun.
My keen gardener father was only too happy to perch himself on the patio furniture to admire the serene views across the neighbouring meadow.
Blenheim Palace Lodge Retreat was built with sustainability firmly in mind as the company pioneers a switch to greener electric lodges. Each lodge has a vehicle charging point to meet the rising demand for electric cars.
The on-site reception building, with its friendly team, aids guests throughout their stay. Inside, a shop stocked with Blenheim Palace products alongside other essentials. Park Manager Simon was accommodating during our stay and was ever-present in assisting us.
Guests at the Lodge Retreat can take advantage of a 20 per cent discount on entry to Blenheim Palace, where they can tour the palace and grounds, immerse themselves in the events and exhibitions and even stand in the very room legendary British leader Churchill was born.
If you’ve never been to the palace and have a penchant for history, I would hugely recommend investing in a ticket. Designed by Vanbrugh in 1705, the palace was the nation’s reward to the first Duke of Marlborough for his victories over Louis XIV.
Inside, you will find exhibits through diaries, artefacts, photographs and film that tell the story of the many lives associated with the palace as well as the lives of those who have run the Palace and Estate for three centuries. Framing the palace is the beautiful Anglo-Dutch Baroque garden, the layout of which was the work of Henry Wise. Cookies and fudge from the gift shop were devoured by us trio as we admired and discussed the grounds.
The nearby village of Woodstock is also a must-visit destination from the lodge. This fine Georgian town has a distinct Royal heritage and is home to numerous period buildings, including the 18th century Town Hall and the Church of St Mary Magdalene. The charming streets also offer a choice of independent shops, galleries and a great selection of places to eat and drink when you’re not in the mood for cooking.
There’s so much to do at the palace and in the surrounding area, and as lodges go, the Blenheim Palace Lodge Retreat is ideally placed for a holiday exploring the remarkable county of Oxfordshire. Alternatively, you could just stay put, kick back and go nowhere, knowing you have everything you need at your disposal for a home-to-home stay.
Darwin Escapes Blenheim Palace Lodge Retreat – Where and How?
Blenheim Palace Lodge Retreat is in Bladon Rd, Bladon, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PT. Prices start at £525 for a week’s stay in a one-bedroom Winston lodge. For more information about all of Darwin Escapes, visit www.darwinescapes.co.uk.
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