Chances are you have heard a lot about Airbnb, especially if you love to travel. If you haven’t, then the premise of Airbnb is simple- it’s an online marketplace for hosts to rent out rooms or accommodation, and for guests to book them. From it’s beginnings in San Francisco in 2008, the site now boasts over 800,000 properties in over 190+ countries. Indeed in my past life, I used to work for many years at booking.com, the leading hotel booking site, and Airbnb suddenly came out of nowhere- and fast.
Airbnb can have a mixed bag when it comes to reviews and the type and quality of properties it advertises. However there is certainly a little gem waiting to be found on the site, as I found out this past weekend. Quick, easy and with a super slick site to navigate, we picked our destination, Norfolk, and within a few minutes had found Ivywood Cottage just outside Harleston.
There is often a misconception that Airbnb offers budget accommodation, and the idea that you will be sleeping on someone’s sofa or in someone’s spare room. And yes, there is this kind of option available if that’s what floats your boat. But with a young family, this isn’t what we were looking for- however there is a wide range of unique accommodation to suit all budgets.
Ivywood Cottage cost us £95 a night, but then with a service charge and cleaning charge on top (and presumably Airbnb’s fees somewhere along the line too) it cost £126 a night. That was for a whole cottage. (sleeping up to 6) The property had outstanding reviews on Airbnb (you can only review on the site once you have stayed in order to guarantee utmost authenticity), so we were interested to see how it compared.
We couldn’t have been more impressed. Gemma, one of the owners, was polite, helpful and chatty over email, and when we arrived at the property we were blown away with the interior style. The cottage is medieval in age but contemporary in design- with a industrial, reclaimed feel to it. To say I was in heaven was an understatement, but I will let the many photos I took do the talking.
As you can see there were lots of touches that made it one of the most stylish places we have stayed in a long time. And we were obviously there with our children aged four and one, so did it pass the child friendly test too? Well, in all honesty, it probably depends on your children- if you have little ones who love to explore and ‘touch’ everything in sight, then perhaps some of the bits and bobs might be a little bit too irresistible to wandering fingers. However if like mine, they are pretty much uninterested in their surroundings as long as they have some toys, a few books and the television to keep them occupied, then you couldn’t find much better than Ivywood Cottage. There were some nice touches in the way of children’s books and Gemma provided a travel cot for us after I requested one too.
There are officially two bedrooms, with the comfiest of double beds, but there is also potential for a third room, with there being a little lounge/landing on the first floor- this is where my youngest daughter had her cot, meaning it was the perfect set up for our family as we all had a room and didn’t keep each other awake. There were board games to keep us entertained in the evening, (hello Scrabble!) a gorgeous roll top bath to have a soak in, and even a homemade (from a Norfolk deli) cake waiting for us when we arrived.
The pretty little seaside town of Southwold was less than half an hour away, and we also visited Norwich (about 40 minutes away) as well. On our last day we visited the pretty little town of Bungay (about ten minutes away) so the cottage is a good base for exploring.
We were thrilled with our find, it was almost one of those gems that you want to keep to yourself because it was just perfect, but at the same time it was too lovely not to shout about. We thought that the price was really reasonable as well, although not to everyone’s budget, you would pay four times that to get a hotel of the same design and styling.
We will definitely be returning to Norfolk and to Ivywood Cottage. At only an hour or so away from where we live, it really is the perfect rural retreat to get away from the doldrums of daily life- if only for a weekend.
NEED TO KNOW
Rates are advertised on Airbnb at £95 a night all year round, but when you add in the cleaning charge and service charge, the actual rate is £126 a night. There’s no minimum stay, even at the weekends.
Ivywood Cottage is pretty rural- you will need a car to get around.
Check out time is at noon- Gemma and Ed the hosts live in the attached house next door so are on hand if you need anything.
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER
As mentioned above you will need a car to get around as the cottage is perfectly remote. There was no signal whatsoever on our phones (Vodafone) but the cottage does have wifi- however this is patchy and kept asking us occasionally to set it up which we couldn’t without the account holder’s details. The cottage is very suited to children, both young and old, but if you have young children who like to explore then it may not be the most suitable- there are steep stairs and lots of little trinkets about. That said, our children were perfectly fine there and we would go as far as to say it is child friendly.
FIND OUT MORE
Ivywood Cottage doesn’t have a website, but you can find out more via their Airbnb profile.
We paid full price for our stay at Ivywood Cottage, we just wanted to share it as it really is a gem.