Do you take pets?
No. The cottage is guaranteed to be a pet-free environment so is suitable for people with pet hair allergies. I make no exceptions to this rule and pet visitors brought by someone on a day visit are not allowed inside the cottage either.
Do you cater for feather allergies?
Because I had to go out and buy double of everything in the way of duvets, pillows and cushions for Covid quarantining, I decided to go for synthetic stuffings (where normally they are feather and down) so that I can cater for people who are allergic to feathers. So the cottage (with advance notice!) can be nearly feather free. I say nearly because the large cushions which are part of the sofas are feather stuffed as are the throw cushions around the house. But all the bedding can be feather free on request. Just let me know if this is necessary.
Do you have a floor plan?
Yes, you can see a floor plan under the photos section of this website. It is not exactly to scale (and I have since moved the drawing room furniture around!) as this is my first venture into this software but it gives you a rough idea of the layout.
What are your cleaning arrangements post Covid times
I am, as usual, endeavouring to make sure the cottage is a beacon of cleanliness
What is provided in the cottage and what do I need to bring with me?
This is of course a self catering establishment, and as such, you look after all your own catering and toiletery needs. However, mindful of how some will be flying in from abroad with limited space we try to provide starter supplies of all the essentials. So you will find basic supplies in the kitchen like seasonings, herbs, a little oil, vinegar, washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets (at least up to a week's supply) sugar, tea, coffee, kitchen paper, foil, cling film etc. etc. As people use these they often replace one or two things for the next person. These are not intended to be your sole supply for your holiday. It just means you don't have to rush out straight away to the shops. In the bathrooms, a little shower gel, soap, shampoo, loo paper. Of course linen and towels are included and changes left if you are staying over five days for towels and over a week for linen. In addition a tea tray is left to greet you with biscuits and homemade bread and a bottle of wine for your dinner (you are not expected to replace any of the latter!).
Knives are kept sharpened (but please tell us if we have missed a newly blunted one!) and there is a sharpener in the drawer. There are many items of kitchen equipment for the keen cook - food processor, smoothie maker, hand mixer - (again, please tell us if you need something you can't find). There is a hairdryer for each bedroom and a few converter plugs but it is wise to bring some with you as these regularly go walkabout.
There are two fairly simple hairdryers, one in each bedroom. If you need lots of pillows, there are more in the cupboards. Some are firm and some are soft.
Do I need a car?
We recommend that you have a car because, without it, you will miss out on seeing so much of the lovely countryside. However, if you are happy to be reliant on your feet, a bicycle or a taxi then it is perfectly possible to have a lovely relaxing holiday here as you can order your grocery shopping online. Bicycles can be hired and delivered to the cottage. The new and excellent community shop, housed in the former Catholic church on the Upper Green is five minutes on foot also has a cafe which is open most days of the week. You can eat at The Howard Arms (there is a 10% discount for my guests) or The Red Lion, both about 4 minutes away on foot. Public transport is infrequent. There are buses into Stratford which meander through the villages so take quite a long time. You can also go to Shipston by bus. The trains run to Moreton in Marsh and Honeybourne and you can get a taxi from the station. You can also arrive via Stratford upon Avon Station.
Where should I hire a car?
The best place for choice of car and rates is undoubtedly the airport on arrival but if you are unsure about driving when you are jet lagged then we can recommend driver services which have been used by other guests. If is possible to make your way to the cottage by rail to Moreton in Marsh and taxi (this should be ordered in advance) and then hire a car for your stay from a place local to us.* Some visitors, not wishing to drive out of London (if this is their starting point) take the train to Oxford and pick up a car near the station there. It is a fairly straightforward 45 minute drive, via Woodstock, to the cottage from there. An alternative is to take the train from London Marylebone station to Banbury and pick up a car there - then you have only a 20 minute drive to the cottage. There is, in fact, a coach service between Banbury and London Heathrow which is another option and although not ultra fast, it does avoid dragging luggage about. *There is also a small but reliable car hire place about 3 miles from the cottage but you have to get a taxi to that (I am not allowed to drive you because of not being insured to do so). It is essential you book well in advance if you need an automatic gear shift. Please feel free to ask me if you need any help or advice on this matter. Note that I do not have an electric charging point for electric cars and our grid will not take charging so please do not try (!) but here is a list of local charging points and nationwide look here
What are the bus services in the area like?
Not comprehensive! There is a bus service which runs from Moreton in Marsh to Stratford upon Avon which passes through Ilmington. This is four times a day each way, Monday to Saturday except for Bank Holidays. It stops outside the Red Lion pub in Ilmington.
Can I order groceries before I arrive?
We provide small starter amounts of things like salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, herbs, tea, coffee, sugar, flour and kitchen stuff like cling film, foil, kitchen paper; also shower gel and shampoo, loo paper, dishwasher tablets etc. We can book a table for you at our local pub if required for your first night. You get a 10% discount for being one of our guests. I can do a small shop for you of your requirements for breakfast if you are coming off a plane and are going to arrive too late for shopping, or you can order online from one of the supermarkets locally - Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons, the Co-op, Ocado, Asda, Sainsburys all deliver and if you order it for the day you arrive I can put the shopping in the fridge and freezer. (the freezer is small but there is a second fridge freezer which can be turned on, in the garage). As long as you arrive before closing time, you will be able to pop around to the village shop for your first day supplies. They open at 7.30 every morning, including Sundays.
What coffee makers do you have in the cottage?
We have an electric drip filter machine which can also be set to wake you up in the morning with the coffee ready, A French press/cafietière (I provide some ground coffee for the this and the filter machine to start you off) A hob top Bialetti type espresso maker and a Nespresso machine which takes Nespresso and generic capsules. Nearby supermarkets sell Nespresso-compatible capsules including Starbucks coffee made for Nespresso (we do not have a Nespresso shop in the area).
Which is the easiest way to the cottage if I am flying in?
If you can fly to Birmingham, this is the nearest airport. You can pick up a rental car a short walk from the terminal and the drive is only 45 minutes to the cottage. If you are flying to London Heathrow, then the journey by car takes approximately 1.5 hours. I send you detailed driving instructions whichever way you are coming. Gatwick Airport is further at just over 2 hours but this can be a longer time if you are travelling at a busy time, especially if you get tied up in traffic on the M25. Stansted, Luton and Bristol are all possibilities, reachable in under 2 hours (Stansted a little longer).
Where are the nearest shops and restaurants?
The village shop is a few minutes walk and as well as all the basics, sells fresh fruit and vegetables and meat, the majority sourced locally. It has a cafe attached for coffee, tea and light meals. There are two pubs which cater for lunch and dinner and some great pubs restaurants a short drive away. I give you details of all of these in my folders of useful information left for you in the cottage and in my Hostfully online guide. The local 'gastro-pub' The Howard Arms, offers a 10% discount to our visitors. It is advised that you book a table in advance at weekends and at other busy times of year.
There are many interesting shops in Shipston on Stour and Chipping Campden (Shipston is better for food), both just 4-5 miles away and Waitrose supermarket 6 miles away, probably the easiest option as there is parking right outside. Stratford upon Avon of course has several supermarkets (Tesco, Morrisons and Aldi) and is 7.5 miles.
Do the owners live nearby?
Yes, we live very close. Just across a courtyard. in the house opposite. However, we make huge efforts not to be intrusive and we are on hand for all the minor mishaps - we have taken people to the doctor, jump started cars, provided advice for countrywide trips, given parking directions in strange towns etc. etc. And if any equipment should fail while you are staying, we are nearly always on hand to see to its replacement or repair. If I am having a productive period in the garden, in the summer, I leave you organically grown vegetables and fruit on your doorstep (but no promises as I never know what the birds will steal or the weather will ruin)and I am cutting back on the work in the garden so I have much less than I used to.
What is the bed configuration?
In the main bedroom, the bed is a super king size (American King). There is no footboard so suitable for the really tall. The frame holds two full sized single bed matresses (3'3") made up with separate duvets - otherwise known as Austrian Twins. This bed has been deemed very comfortable by visitors who have commented on it. In the twin bedroom, the beds are full sized singles with wooden frames and very comfortable 'Medium' matresses. These do not move together to make a double. There is no footboard to disturb the tall ones. All the beds have electric under blankets for the winter months. There is no sofa bed, extra bed or cot as the cottage sleeps strictly four people, including children.
Is the cottage suitable for babies and toddlers?
No. For various reasons, we restrict bookings to those with over fives only.
Which is the best airport for Sansome Cottage?
This of course depends on where you are coming from! The nearest and most convenient to get to is Birmingham. It is also a good place to pick up a rental car. When booking an airline such as Ryanair and you google for it, I would strongly advise that you double check that you are on their own site and not one just selling their flights, third party with all the extras that go with it. It is almost always best to deal with the airline itself, rather than through a third party. I know because it has happened to visitors who have come to us and they have no idea if they have been checked in, what baggage allowance they have etc etc. There is no problem about checking in when you are here as we can print out your boarding passes for you if you don't want to have an app, but I think nearly all airlines now have a phone app to download the pass which makes life easier and there is always a chance we might not be here when you need us (although 99% of the time we are).