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A ‘luxury Center Parcs’: The Inspector reviews ‘back to nature’ hotel The Tawny in Staffordshire

A 'luxury Center Parcs

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Inspector is staying in a £355 a night shepherd’s hut in a ‘back to nature’ hotel in Staffordshire – and finds it reminds him of a ‘luxury Center Parcs’

  • The Inspector visits The Tawny, a ‘hugely ambitious’ hotel near Stoke-on-Trent
  • Amenities include a discreet pool and immaculate gardens
  • Guests ‘eat well’ and the setting offers children a ‘nature adventure’, he says
  • Remember, the inspector pays his sentence… and says it like it is

One thing is clear. The trend towards tree houses, shepherd’s huts, huts and pods of various shapes and sizes shows no sign of abating.

Here at The Tawny, near Stoke-on-Trent, you get all of the above around lakes and woodland, along with outdoor baths, wood burners and decking.

This is a hugely ambitious project by two local couples hoping to build on the legacy left by the late William Podmore, who founded the Consall Gardens, where the hotel is located.

Rustic charm: The Inspector is staying in a shepherd’s hut or ‘Wildwood Hut’, as pictured, at The Tawny, near Stoke-on-Trent

When I ask a co-worker for some background on the place, she doesn’t have much of a clue – but she does bring us a book by Mr. Podmore, for which we are grateful.

The idea is clear to take advantage of a ‘back to nature’ vibe and that is to be welcomed – but why are the steps leading up to our cabin made of plastic and designed to look like wood, and why is it green in the central dining area fake?

We can’t help but think it’s all a bit contrived, although the gardens are immaculate and the discreet pool on what was the terrace of the original house works brilliantly, overlooking the valley.

Pictured is the interior of the Boathouse cabin. According to the inspector, the idea behind the hotel is to take advantage of a 'back to nature' atmosphere

Pictured is the interior of the Boathouse cabin. According to the inspector, the idea behind the hotel is to take advantage of a ‘back to nature’ atmosphere

“Hopefully young children will see it as a kind of adventure in nature,” says the inspector about the hotel. Upstairs is the Hillside Treehouse

“The building (pictured) housing the restaurant, bar and pool table is a modern structure that looks like a funicular should come out of it,” the inspector noted.

The building with the restaurant, bar and pool table is a modern structure that looks like a funicular should come out of it.

The food is good here and it’s clear that the chef is having a good time: he serves white chocolate ice cream with the tuna tartare and adds octopus to the pork belly.

Overall, it’s hard not to think of this as a luxury Center Parcs. We pay £355 B&B for our shepherd’s hut – or rather, two shepherd’s huts merged into one.

The front part has the TV on a wall but there’s nowhere comfortable to sit and watch, and for that kind of money you’d expect a sink big enough to keep water from falling on the floor when you put your hands on your sink. face washes.

But good luck to The Tawny. Young children will hopefully see it as a kind of adventure in nature. And that’s okay.

TRAVEL FACTS

The Tawny, Consall Gardens Estate, Staffordshire, ST9 0AG. Wildwood cabins are priced from £225. For more information call 01538 787664 or visit thetawny.co.uk

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