Top 10 UK large group accommodation holidays

Croyde cottage, large group accommodation

A lifetime compendium -
best group accommodation holidays

Devon rental, best large group accommodation
Parnaclott House, Devon

A need to research the best large group accommodation has sprung up as we are (a little bit) older, and most people we know now travel as a pack of 4 instead of 2. They also seem to have spread out across the length and breadth of Britain. This makes meeting up tricky. We can no longer all fit in one person’s house, even for an afternoon, let alone a sleepover.

For a few years now, groups of pals and family have been meeting up en masse in various locations, ranging from communal tents to manor houses, finding that if you split the rental costs between you and cook communally, it’s fun and vaguely affordable.

There is also the occasional need to find somewhere to celebrate the odd birthday, kid-free. The budget goes up a bit for these events as you are only paying for 1 not 4 people’s contribution. But strangely, the fanciest places, and the ones with the most  breakable antiques, have been with the kids (and a guest hamster, on one occasion).

Here are some of our large group accommodation faves, served with a side of local activity ideas.

Top 10 group accommodation options

Best large group accommodation 1: Abbots Manor, Combe Raleigh, Devon

Practical stuff:

Sleeps: 18

Bedrooms: 8

Bathrooms: 7

Cost: from £1734/weekend

Toys: Trampoline /table football/cross trainer/swing/slide/firepit

Location: Honiton, Devon (17 miles NE of Exeter)

Booked through: Helpful holidays 

To the Manor born

Possibly the grandest of all our large group accommodation sleepovers was at the Abbot’s Manor, belonging to a travelling military family. We were pleased to call this palace of a place home, if only for the weekend.

The 3 storey house comes with antique furniture and a grand piano. With its fancy marble fireplaces, adorned with matching marble horses and a sprinkling of elephants, it feels like they are letting you stay somewhere you usually pay to get in. (We inevitably brought down the tone, playing chopsticks on the grand piano.)

The drawing room and dining room lived up to their titles, like a setting for a period drama, The modern farmhouse style kitchen, has floor to ceiling glass doors which open up on to a patio and into the garden. The games room upstairs was like something out of Marry Poppins and was a hit with the under 10’s. The enormous fire pit was popular with the whole gang.

Weekend lesson leaned – don’t sit in the kitchen like lady of the manor drinking prosecco and leave the children unattended on the trampoline or lighting fires in the fire pit. No-one died. S’fine.

House history: famous visitor

This Georgian Grade II listed house was built by a Reverend in 1790 and was once the manor to the 3,000 acre Combe Raleigh estate.

During WW2 Lt Clifton James, an actor and soldier, was a visitor to the Manor.  He so resembled Field Marshal Montgomery that MI5 decided to exploit the likeness to confuse German intelligence and selected him to act as his decoy double on military manoeuvres. A plastic finger was even made to hide James’ missing digit and complete the disguise. He subsequently starred in the film “I Was Monty’s Double”, which told his bizarre story.

Large group activities: Fossil hunting on Charmouth Beach

Fossil hunting at Charmouth

Hiring large group accommodation means you have an equally large group to keep entertained for the weekend. Getting a big house means that if the weather is bad you don’t have to go out, but it is usually in the interest of everyone’s sanity to do so. We decided to hire a hammer and science lab goggles from the portacabin on Charmouth beach and let the children loose, chipping away at ancient rocks in search of elusive ammonites. Don’t worry if you don’t find one, you can always check out the magnificent finds of others (practically entire dinosaurs) in the beach shop.

Best large group accommodation 2: Edinburgh townhouse

Apartment 1. Melville Place

Practical stuff:

Sleeps: 8

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2

Cost:  In Jan about £50 pppn

Booked through: Airbnb

For a group of 14 birthday weekend shebang, 2 townhouse apartments were needed, but as these two were only a 1 minute walk away from each other, they were close enough for a joint (ad)venture. Both apartments are in the West End and a 2 minute walk from Edinburgh Castle.

Despite being an apartment, the rooms in the Melville property were vast. The decor was so chalky chic, it felt like we were walking through the pages of a home and lifestyle magazine. The 2 parties of 8 and 6 fitted quite easily into the living room (after a bit of a dance round the kitchen island).

Passing a centre for Rocket Science and a doorway to the Department for Parapsychology on the way up the internal stairway behind the grand front door, added an immediate level of interest to this booking. My advice, invite the neighbours to any get together you may be having, as their conversation would be sure to get your party going. (You could score points for each time you managed to utter the phrase, “It’s not Rocket Science,” during the course of the evening.) 

House history:

This is a grand Grade A Listed, 3 storey cornerstone of a terraced townhouse, built by Robert Brown in the 1820s. Melville forms the central axis of a grand residential scheme. The curved and columned entrance provides a dramatic terminating view onto equally grand wide avenues. 

Even the  railings are important architecturally, and have their own listing

Apartment 2. Randolph Place

Practical stuff:

Sleeps: 8  (It says 8 but we were 6 and filled all the beds. The other 2 were hiding under the bed pull-outs)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2 (1 en suite, 1 communal)

Cost: In Jan about £50 pppn

Booked through: Airbnb

The un-decorated concrete hallway behind this grand front door came as a bit of a surprise, but it all turned out nice again when we opened the door to the interior apartment, which they had decorated (in a very nice period kind of way).

Its central location, retro window seats, wooden floors, a comfy-to-grand lounge and mini-orchid alcove all made for a fancy flat. 2 olde worlde wine bars are on tap in this cobbled courtyard cul de sac, and you could practically hoopla a castle turret from the window.

House history:

This large group apartment is part of a grand Georgian terraced townhouse. It is a listed world heritage apartment from the 1840’s, also built as part of the Edinburgh New Town, one of the most important and best preserved examples of urban planning in Britain, apparently.

Activities

Book at least 2 days for your Edinburgh trip as one will involve horizontal rain drumming into your eyeballs then turning the streets to rivers, the other will be glorious sunshine. Guaranteed.

1. Castle

Take a  wind-whipped vertical-hair photo from the courtyard in front of the castle, with views over the town.

Then check out the interior of imposing castle itself, which totally dominates the city. Follow a guided tour, and be prepared to absorb a thousand years’ worth of history whilst peering down a barrel of a cannon.

2. Carlton Hill

Called the Athens of the north after someone decided to build a mini-Parthenon replica on the hill, you can tell you are not in Greece as you will be wearing an anorak.

Look through the Grecian columns out over the River Forth, before spinning the other way for views down the entire length Princes Street and up to the Castle.

3. Harry Potter

Take  a selfie outside the Elephant Cafe, where J K Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books. Then pop round the corner to Greyfriars Cemetery to find the original Potter, Riddle and McGonegal inspirational gravestones.

4. Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

For a country hike plonked incongruously into the middle of a city, put on some proper shoes and head up Arthurs Seat for 360 views to infinity and beyond.

5. Mary Kings Close

Mary Kings Close, Edinburgh
Mary Kings Close replica - no photos allowed

 

Wander with ghosts through the homes of plague victims, amongst subterranean 16th century alleyways entombed beneath the city with a  Mary King’s Close guided tour.

Best large group accommodation 3: Paddington Farm, Glastonbury

Practical stuff:

Farmhouse:

Sleeps:  20 (dorms and rooms)

Cost: 

M-F Winter (Nov- Mar)  £650

Summer £750 

Weekend  £550 (or £14pppn)

Toys: Wood burner and barbecue. 

Longhouse:

Sleeps: 6

Cost:

£22.50 pppn 

£12.50 per child 

under 2’s free

Yurt: (when available)

Sleeps: 10 (ish)

Cost: 

sometimes for hire –for around £300/weekend

Camping:

Cost:

£10/adult (with no children),

£7/ adult (with children),

£4/child

Book through: Paddington Farm

Love and peace on the farm

The main vibe of this group accommodation is full-on hippy with a dash of druid. Goddesses float around the site, intent on making their way up the mystical Tor itself at some point in the weekend. Bearded farm volunteers with life stories to tell live in the out buildings. You will find yourself embracing the love and thinking it perfectly acceptable to  walk into town wearing your face painted with flowers.

Choose between a farmhouse (for 20), a longhouse (for 6), a yurt for 11 (not always available, but sometimes offered instead of the farmhouse in case of double booking) or camping in the surrounding fields, for your al fresco large group accommodation. As the years go by we have moved up through the accommodation options from campers, to yurters to full on farm folk (best for the rain!). Other hardier pals have clung on to their camper vans and their youth. But at £14 per head, I choose bed and roof.

The Farm House

Farm house sign, Glastonbury,

The Farm House - Downstairs

Think of it as a camping upgrade and you will not be disappointed with this group accommodation choice. Being here is all about being outside, kids playing in the fields, BBQ’s and country walks, but its good to have a shelter in the rain. Indisputably rustic/rough and ready, it is cosy on a cold evening and you can sit round a wood burner in the dry. You can fit most of the adults on the 3 sofas in the comfy lounge, with children on the dining benches behind. The patio doors are great for supplying BBQ’s and indoor/outdoor evenings with a chilly edge.

Fridges and coookers are also an upgrade on camping.

The Farm House - Upstairs

The 10 bed dorm in the farmhouse is a child’s sleepover dream. Adults also feel a bit like they are stepping back in time to school camp days, sharing a dorm for five. Large group accommodation doesn’t usually involve so many grown ups sharing, and there is a twin, a double and a single for those who need their peace/sleep (or those who draw the lucky straw).

There is a weirdly large empty area separating the 2 dorms, carpeted but with no furniture in it. We are yet to establish an identity for this room, but feel sure it has party potential for some not very tall people if if rains. 

The Farm House - Outside

The pretty walled garden comes with a HUGE round table, very appropriately Arthurian for the Glasto setting. You get a BBQ patio out front and views over the whole valley and campers fields.

The house is a total bargain, and it’s handy that any extra/last minute guests can join you in a tent in the camping field next door.

The Yurt and campers' field

Comedy farm features

Haystack, Glastonbury

Haystacks

Children will become feral in the farm's many fields and may choose to climb haystacks like characters from an Enid Blyton novel (before realising they are actually allergic).

The wood shed Paddington Farm, Glastonbury, Group accommodation

The woodshed

There is a bonus wood shed for the all-essential camp fire, supplied with an array of axes for your Neanderthal-leaning pals (there is always one).

Campers Shower block, Paddington Farm, Glastonbury, Group accommodation

Shower block/dairy

I love the fact that as a camper your shower is indistinguishable from its former incarnation as a dairy. All the piping is still there, and you literally wade through a courtyard of sheep to get in.

Go karting, Glastonbury, Paddington Farm

Go-karting in a chair

There is an opportunity to try home/farm made go-karting in a school chair. Without brakes. Take antihistamine for the nettle landings.

Fire pit, Paddington Farm, Glastonbury Farm, Large Group accommodation

Fire pits

Whether camping or staying in the farmhouse, there is always the promise of a fire pit – but it is not always evident (usually having been spirited away by other borrower campers). Instead, a scavenger hunt will take place for dustbins or any old metal containers that will act as the party centre piece for the evening.

Fairy lit toilets, Paddington Farm, Glastonbury, Group accommodation

Campers' Toilets

The toilets come in the form of a fairy lit wooden shack. Don't be surprised (as we were) to find semi-clothed campers wandering around your farmhouse , assuming it the communal shower block (having ruled out the dairy as a likely candidate)

Alfresco pizza oven, Paddington Farm

Pizza oven

Sometimes you will be promised a pizza oven, but it might not be built in time - leaving you a bit hungry and ever more reliant on the yet to be found fire pit.

Farm info - a good egg

Paddington Farm is a charitable trust and social enterprise, located on a 43 acre organic farm. It runs various schemes to bring inner city kids to the country.  In the words of its website, “We provide some free rural educational activities to enhance the farm experience and to promote environmental responsibility”.

Activity 1.Gastonbury Tor

A 30 minute walk down country lanes will take you to Glastonbury Tor, a conical 500 foot clay hill with the Grade 1 listed St Michel’s tower perched on the top  (where you can shelter from the wind while you eat your biscuit).

The site of monks and beheadings for 800 years, the original wooden tower was destroyed by an earthquake in 1275. A second church was built, of which only the remaining tower survived the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1500’s. 

You could not make up (or could you?) the number of myths and legends associated with Glastonbury Tor. Not only is it believed to be the Isle of Avalon of Arthurian Legend, it is said to sit on a spiritual ley line, to have been visited by Christ (with Joseph of Arimathea), to be the burial place of the holy grail, and entrance to the land of the fairies.

So much mythology draws crowds.

The walk to the top comes with a good chance of spotting a witch, robed and/or and bearded druid or at the very least a chanting drummer. And some more sheep. Go on the summer Solstice for the best goddess action, and a mini pop concert at the top o’ tor.

Like going on a bear hunt. But without the bear. 

Activity 2. Glastonbury

Head down the Tor and into Glastonbury itself, a true New Age community experience. Enjoy an afternoon of  browsing bingly bongly instruments, crystals, striped pantaloons, and extreme people watching.

There is a lovely flower strung courtyard cafe surrounded by cutesy shops, where you get 5 Maltesers balanced on top of your hot chocolate.

Swing by the Abbey for tales of Saxon Kings, more Joseph of Arimethea and some Henry VIII.

Best large group accommodation 4: Yurt, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall

Practical stuff:

Accommodation: Various – yurts/lodges/cabins/cottages/caravans

Cost: Yurt for 4 about £300pn

Toys: Indoor and outdoor pool/hot tub

Book through: The Park

Spent a cracking girls’ group accommodation weekend away,  sleeping (not really) in a landscaped Yurt Village. Got to hang out in a hot tub, shower in an old rowing boat and bathroom in a cutesy shepherd’s hut. It felt like sleeping in a Harry Potter tent, with all the real beds and furniture. Although I do find  an indoor wood burner a bit choke-y in the night.

There is no need to camp. If any of your party are partial to walls, there are plenty of options for separate sleeping quarters but with communal hang outs:

Pool (and hot tub) :The sun shone, and unusually for England, we were able to make use of the palm fringed outdoor pool and lounging area in the gardens. (An indoor pool is available for more typically English weather.)

Kitchen :There is a kitchen, with a seating area, for those more motivated than us to cook, each yurt being assigned its own fridge (for the wine, if nothing else). 

Restaurant:The onsite Kitchen restaurant provided a lovey bit of tea (and more wine) for us non-cookers.

Party yurt: A communal yurt was the meet up place for night time shenanigans, after which we found a live band playing in a pub field and watched it standing on hay bales. (I’m not sure if this is always available, but Cornwall seems to be full of farm based festivals so I’m sure you’d be able to find one.)

Activity - Mawgan Porth Beach (with possible surf lesson if you like that kind of thing)

Just a few minutes’ walk away is Mawgan Porth beach where you can sample a surf lesson. I tried to insist on a body board, having tried and failed to achieve standing position on wobbly seas before, but was peer pressured out of it. 

The beach is also great for kids’ rock scrambling (from a very different type of holiday).

Drive round the corner to Watergate Bay with its Jamie Oliver cliff top restaurant, or check out other amazing Cornish beaches (which is pretty much all of them. See my best beaches post for details.)

Best large group accommodation 5: Croyde Bay

Option 1. Thatched Poyers farmhouse, Braunton

Practical stuff:

Sleeps: 16

Bedrooms: 6

Bathrooms: 4

Toys: hot tub/slide

Cost: Average £255pn

Book through: Home Away

Love Croyde, so to share it with the extended family we booked a black and white Grade II listed 16th Century timbered cottage nearby (ish). The listing says it is steeped in history but Google is hiding its story, so let me know if you find /know it.

Its cosy sitting room has 3 large sofas around a wood burner. In the wooden beamed dining room, next to a huge stone fireplace sits a table big enough for everyone on non-BBQ days. The kitchen,  you will be pleased to hear is not original, and is a good size for a group. The large front garden has a slide/swing set and an always-popular hot tub fills the backyard.

It was thatched and undeniably lovely, but a bit of a housing estate seemed to have sprung up around it in the intervening centuries and lots driving through snarled up traffic was involved in the centre of Braunton to get to the coast. So these days we stay right next to the beach instead in group accommodation option 2…

Option 2. Beach lodges and chalets at Unison Croyde Bay

Practical stuff:

Accommodation: hotel rooms/chalets/lodges

Cost: from £120 pn

Toys: Pool/sauna/gym/tennis/bowling/mini golf/bar/restaurant/games room

Book through: Unison Croyde Bay

Set right behind the sand dunes, there are toys for all here – swimming pool, tennis court, bowling, mini golf, games room and disco for mini kids and sauna and gym for the big kids. The bar and restaurant are on hand if you are too lazy, or had a few too many wines to consider cooking. Or forgot the food. Alternatively  walk into the lovely surfy-vibed Croyde village to the iconic thatched Thatch pub for drinks and pub teas.

Have spent many a beach-based weekend here, and have tried all the rooms (you get a discount if you are a Unison member), working our way up the accommodation ladder.

Hotel rooms:

Family hotel rooms upstairs rooms are the cheapest at about £114 and are HUGE (if a bit institutional). Downstairs, for about £20 more you get a door opening out onto your own patio and general greenery, which is so much easier for beach access and returning with all your kit.

Chalets:

The next step up are the self-catering chalets, which also all have patio doors which open out onto green playing areas (unless you are unlucky and get the caged tennis court facing row). You get several rooms to spread your kit over, including a lounge/dining area and your own kitchen. Several families can fit on the sofas and dining chairs on a cold evening. (Or, if feeling brave, have one for the adults and turn the other into a kids’ hang out for the night.) 

Lodges:

The ultimate in luxury, however, are the new 3 and 4 bedroom lodges. Plenty of room for 2 families to cooch up and stay in 1 lodge together, to keep costs down. They are top of the range patio-furnitured palaces of loveliness, with en suites, chic décor and decking. Having paid for it, I WILL sit out on the deck, whatever the weather (see Croyde – storm and a teacup post for details).

There are plenty of playing out areas for the kids on site (in addition to the vast sand dune system) – room for rounders, football and bbq’s  (all with a little bit of help from one of your more organised adults).

History

The site was purchased by the union NALGO for its members, to give them a bit of a break during the Great Depression and opened its doors in 1930 for recuperative holidays. This may explain the slightly hospital feel to the corridors. During the War, holidays were generally put on hold and the union moved its head office here from London until 1943, when the site was commandeered by the US army to practice manoeuvres for the D-Day landings on Saunton beach.

After the war, it reverted to its holiday camp ways, and is still owned by Unison, offering discounts to members. Am simply following in my historical comrades’ footsteps by recuperating here.

Activity 1. Surf Croyde Bay

Body boarding in Croyde Bay, after a run from your front door, (and this is when an upstairs hotel room is a bit more tricky), through the dunes is non-negotiable. Even in October (peer pressure was applied to adults. Children have since ruled against this as an acceptable winter activity).

Walk along the beach and around Baggy Point headland, or if it is really raining, go for the rapid river ride in the swimming pool at the Ruda campsite at the other end of the bay.

Activity 2. Sand surf at Saunton Sands

Check out the ENORMOUS sand dunes at Saunton Sands round the headland, which are great for running/boarding down. (Watch out for historic bullet shells.) The vast sandy beach stretches for miles and all your surf kit needs can be met at the hire shop next to the beach cafe.

Best large group accommodation 6: Bude

Option 1. Stone Barn Cottage, Clawton

Bude Cottage, best large group accommodation

Practical stuff:

Sleeps: 12 (10 plus sofa bed for 2 little ones)

Bedrooms: 5

Cost: from £275pn

Book through: Independent Cottages

This stylish converted barn was so good, we stayed two years in a row, with its stone walls, timbered beams, glass end-wall and wagon-wheel themed garden furniture.

It was great for communal breakfasts around the farmhouse table, with lots of sofa room and wood burner action. Antique brass and Scandi wooden beds were dotted around, up wooden stairways and along stone flagged corridors.

Outside we were lucky enough with the weather to manage one BBQ. The separate activity barn for the kids was a bonus and came with a variety of nature trail maps to try. We attempted a particularly muddy group night walk across nearby fields and got a bit freaked out by the possibility of angry cows.

As our friends’ families and their children grew, we needed more space and used this excuse to go for a total larger group accommodation upgrade..

Farm info

The cottage is part of a family-run farm, and  part of the Beer Mill private wildlife conservation project. It is surrounded by 130 acres of wild flowering woodland and wetlands. Watch out for the ponds hidden amongst the trees if you don’t want wet feet/children.

Option 2. Georgian house, Parnacott, Holdwsorthy

Practical stuff:

Sleeps: 14

Bedrooms: 7

Bathrooms: 4

Book through: Helpful Holidays

With ideas above our station and delusions of grandeur we tried this stateliest of homes, which you enter by way of a private gate and sweeping driveway to the column fronted entrance.

 

We dined under the stern gaze of former inhabitants (amongst whom is an incongruous Hollywood star) and slept on real 4 poster beds. We decided not to dine on, but watched warily as children played with, the unusual ceramic Tudor cake display. Beware: there were a lot of antique trinkets to tempt small children, including a collection of decanters. 

Generally, we lived like lords in the drawing room, played croquet on the lawn and rang the gong for dinner.

But in this house of contrasts you can also shoot some modern day pool or hang out in an entirely different era in the sitting room behind the kitchen. Time warping forwards again, the bathroom suites come in a 1970’s pink and blue. There was also a singing fish in the loo, which was a leveller.

House history:

Parnacott House is a Grade II listed Georgian house, set over 3 storeys and with period décor and trinkets. In the same family since 1580, the current owners list Pepys and the founder of Ontario among their ancestors. Established as a farm during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, it evolved into a country gentleman’s estate.

From 1914 to 1918, the house was used for convalescing officers, and was commandeered by the army in World War II.

It’s owners recently made the headlines again, but I’ll let you investigate that one.

Activity 1. Bude

Visit the beach for body boarding, rounders and sitting in deckchairs (in coats, usually).

Activity 2. Historic Dingles Fairground

Great for a rainy day, the historic Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre has displays of fair ground art and memorabilia, and  a large array of vintage rides, stalls and shows. Let your heart leap into your mouth as you cling on for dear life on incredibly high speed motorbike rides of yore.

Best large group accommodation 7: School house, Slapton

Practical stuff:

Sleeps: 40

Bedrooms: 8

Bathrooms: 5

Toys: Low ropes/school field/fire pit/ping pong/interactive whiteboard (!)

Cost: From about £500pn  ( a bargain £12.50 pp if full)

Book through:  AirBnB

Stay in a Victorian school with photos of school children and evacuation letters from the war adorning the walls. It is very much like being, if not in a modern school, then on a school trip, with its school hall, industrial catering and crockery supplies  Educational taxidermy adorns the window sills and shark papier mache craft projects hang from the ceiling.

Inside, you get a huge sitting room (school hall), dining room (benches for 40) and a maze of dorms spread out over 2 storeys. Finding the nearest loo can be a game in its own right, as is checking if all the many external doors are locked on your way out. 

Outside, having a whole school field to play on with climbing equipment makes this place kiddie heaven, and the fire pit has enough benches for the whole class. There is a an entire shed dedicated to the ping pong table, and picnic/patio benches aplenty.

We were only a party of 16 out of the potential 40 the activity centre can accommodate, and it was still a total bargain to stay here.

Top tips:

The dorm doors are the self closing and locking variety, so sharpie everyone’s door code on to their hands to avoid midnight loo trauma.

Also, close all windows during the day to prevent a nightly crane fly invasion and further loo misery.

Start Bay Activity Centre info

Start Bay Activity Centre is run by the Field Studies Council, which has historically delivered courses to school groups who want to learn about the outdoors. They now offer affordable all-inclusive family holidays to enable families to get active in nature together, with a mixture of organised activities and free time to explore the countryside and coastlines which surround their centres.

We just booked the school building for a weekend though Airbnb, but a whole family activity package is available in this large group accommodation.

Activity: Beaches - Slapton and Blackpool Sands

After a stroll along Slapton Sands beach about a mile away, check out the tank at the end that drowned at sea, before being rescued again.Then head over to Blackpool Sands for crystal waters and a beach front wooden decked cafe. Be prepared to be slapped down by 6 foot shoreline slappy waves. Check out our weekend here.

Best large group accommodation 8: Beach/townhouse, Mumbles, Swansea

Mumbles, Swansea, Group Accommodation

Practical stuff:

Sleeps: 15

Bedrooms: 7

Bathrooms: 5.5 (intriguing – can’t remember what they meant by this!)

Cost: About £750pn including service fees

Book through: AirBnb

Stay in a stylish Victorian townhouse, with Moroccan tiled bathroom floor, midnight blue walls and peacock sofa. An angel appeared to have been sacrificed in the name of living room décor.

There is a surprise party room on the top floor with a bonus kitchen and a decked fairy-lit balcony with sea views, big enough for the whole gang.

Pop outside the front door (past the surf board) and it’s a couple of minutes’ walk to the beach in one direction or the lovely Mumbles shops in the other.

House history

Before being designer renovated by its current owners in 2015, this Victorian town house was rented out as a very different large group accommodation type, student lodgings. Weirdly, when we checked in, the birthday girl herself realised that she had actually lived there at university.

Activities: Shopping and beaches

We decided it was a really good idea to go for a midnight beach walk. Maybe take a torch and sensible shoes if you decide to do this. Or wait for daylight and walk along the beach to the fab Langlands Brasserie, a seafood restaurant on the cliff.

The Gower is famed for its beautiful coast, so beach options abound if you go for a little drive.

The equally famous streets of the Mumbles are full of arty independent shops.

Best large group accommodation 9: Stables, Abbeycwmhir, Wales

Practical stuff:

Happy Union Stables

    Sleeps: 5

    Bedrooms: 2

    Cost: from £323/week

And

Tailors Cottage

    Sleeps:  7

    Bedrooms: 3

   Cost: from £323/week

Book both through: Skyes, or direct through the Happy Union pub next door.

The Happy Stables is a barn conversion with original timbers, and Tailor’s house did in fact used to be a tailor’s house. Hired together you get you 2 families into group accommodation for 12 but without having to cook as a group of 12 for each meal.

Inside the Stables, you get a lot of room for your 5 people in the open plan lounge/diner/kitchen. All stylish and wooden with floor to ceiling windows out over the countryside (and snow!).

The 2 houses are both right next to the pub, in the tiny, remote Welsh village of Abbeycwmhir (where?). It’s not really near anywhere, but for a snowy Christmas, its location was perfect. You walk up a gentle path (which may be a road under the snow, who knows?) to the top of a mountain then sledge silently all the way back down.  Best Christmas ever. (Snow not guaranteed – but middle of Wales has got to be your best bet.)

Comes with pub carollers (also seasonally dependant).

Was too busy playing outside to take many pictures of the houses – did get the icicles though. And sledging was our only activity. Walking is the thing in the summer.

Village History

Abbey Cwm Hir (abbey in the long valley), nestles in the Radnorshire hills along with the ruins of a Cistercian abbey built in 1143, where the headless body of the last native Prince of Wales is buried. The monks liked seclusion, hence the village’s isolated location.

Best large group accommodation 10: Lodge, Rutland

Practical stuff:

Accommodation: Lodges/apartments/hotel (66-guest bedroom hotel, 31 lodges and 18 apartments – extreme large group accommodation)

Toys: Comes with a whole hotel’s worth of toys including pool/pool table/bar/lake/spa/tennis/bowls

Cost: lodges from about £275pw

Book through: Barnsdale Hotel

Stay in an array of group accommodation from hotel rooms, to self-catering apartments to wooden lodges set in a lakeside field, in the grounds of Barnsdale Hall. Early risers or party types can book their own rooms for social harmony but still benefit from a group holiday in a venn diagram overlap of awake time.

The lodges are really roomy and work as group accommodation as you can easily fit several families in the evening in the open plan dining/ lounge area.

 If the sun is out, rolling down the grass in front of your lodge is fun. We tried a bit of bowling on the green, pool (both types) and the bar (obvs). Lots of room to run around or do some cycling.

Activity: Rutland Water

At the nearby  Rutland water hire a boat and/or a bike for pootling around the lake. Or if you are a child (or unusually agile adult) have a go at their climbing wall too. Outdoor café available for recovery cup of tea and older generations.

Hall History

A large (and very grand) Grade II listed country house, Barnsdale Hall was built in 1890 as a hunting lodge for Earl Fitzwilliam where he hosted royalty, including Edward, the late Duke of Windsor. You are practically dining with royalty here

Best large group accommodation: Summary

We consider ourselves very lucky to have stayed in this diverse array of lodgings over the years – from lordly manors to comedy camping toilets/milk sheds and hope that this is not the end of the list road. Let me know if you have found anywhere we should be looking at booking for our next weekend away.

Related

Why not try staying in one of Britain’s best YHA’s – from Harry Potter – esque Grade 1 Mansions to former royal hunting lodges or lifeboat stations?

Or try staying in an old Victorian village school?

Looking for somewhere a bit different to stay?  Maybe try a turn of the Century Showman’s gypsy caravan

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5 thoughts on “Top 10 UK large group accommodation holidays”

  1. These look like such great options for group accommodations! I am looking for somewhere for a friends 30th and that Swansea place looks perfect!

    1. It would be great for a 30th! Drinks on the balcony, walks (or even a swim?) at the beach, and shops and bars on hand. Have a great time.

  2. This is such a great and comprehensive post with some great accommodations choices. I particularly love the Edinburgh townhouse – so stylish! Although I’m not sure I’d ever feel brave enough to travel with such a large group: there are so many people to entertain and how would we ever agree on what to do or where to go!
    Still, staying at such a large house one day would be amazing if only to experience what it’s like 🙂

    1. Travelling as a group can be tricky to organise. I think the key thing is to have some joint events/meals out booked in advance and plenty of scope for individuals to go off and do their own thing between times. Makes for a party feel to your holiday though!

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