Wilderness reserve is a country estate in Suffolk with several houses to rent and a range of hotel services. We rented one of the houses for a holiday with our extended family (16 of us) in February.
There are a lot of things to like about Wilderness Reserve but one thing left a little bitter taste in my mouth. Keep reading to have the whole story.
What we liked
What to be aware of
Choose the house that suits your party
The estate is Isolated in the countryside. Depending on the house you choose you have a more private surrounding than other. For instance, the barn, the clockhouse, the farmhouse are all close to each other as they are part of what was the little hamlet in the past.However, they have been redecorated and arranged so that your outside space looks out to empty land.
If you want more privacy but be close to the activities, the walled garden is probably the best as you have your own enclosed outdoor space. It looked very vast and not closed in as I thought initially looking at it on the website.
On the outside wall of that property is the Cottage Garden(?). It is perfect for a family and another couple of friends. The space inside is cozier but still looks airy and welcoming. The four bunk beds will certainly please the kids. Bear in mind that this house is on the side of the small path that all other tenants will take to park their car up the hill.
For even more isolation, you can try the boathouse, which has its own jacuzzi as well! It is actually set in a totally different area and I’ve not been able to find it during our stay, even during one of my morning runs.
The first few days, we were the only ones on the estate so I took a sneaky peek at the inside of the other properties (see photos in the gallery). They are all equally lovely decorated.
Interiors and facilities at the Farmhouse
Our farmhouse was big which we needed given that it was a family holiday with 16 of us! 6 bedrooms and bathrooms, a vast kitchen and dining area, an even bigger entrance hall (perfect for dumping all the shoes), a lounge with a massive TV and a small entrance room for the dirty boots.
The renovation of the farmhouse is really well done. The beans have been exposed, wooden floors kept or replaced in a similar fashion, the walls have kept their textured and their pink colour that is traditional of the region. We even had a thick beautiful thatch roof.
The decoration is cozy countryside with touches of modernism. Textures and patterns are very well matched. I loved the bed throws for instance or the very thick rugs in the bedrooms and living room.
The bathrooms were amazing. The showers would wash you in 5 seconds so strong was the water pressure. The deep baths were very inviting. You also get toiletries and towels as part of the rental.
Amenities and food at the estate
Amenities are perfect: everything you need for a group stay. Big screen TV in the lounge, boardgames, a kitchen well equipped for the Michelin chef in you and enough dishes and plates for everyone, two dishwashers, lots of sinks. A big bowl of fruit, coffee, teas, everything for your first breafkast is provided.
The estate can provide a chef to come and cook for you. It is quite pricey though. Ordering the casual dining menu which is dropped off at your house (and you thus just have to heat it up) proved to be much better value. We had the braised beef, the lasagna and the chicken curry. All very tasty and freshly prepared that day. The deserts also came with cream or coulis or chocolate sauce. And for my niece’s birthday, they did a wonderful chocolate cake with the decoration she wanted. Really a great service.
On site, you can go play tennis, borrow bikes and have a dip in the pool and jacuzzi. We bravely tried the pool (which had been heated but didn’t manage to go higher than 15 degrees) one morning but quickly went back into the jacuzzi!
A note about the service and customer care
The general manager, (Shelby was our contact during the stay and was lovely) can help with many requests: advice on where to go, booking restaurants, arranging activities etc.. You can have massages too.
However,we had the unpleasant surprise to see but more importantly hear building works during our whole stay there: at some point we even had 4 areas at work with proper digging noise. I was not pleased by the lack of transparency and communication about this. In an estate of that level and price, this seemed really out of sync.
I did ask for some compensation and they offered us two nights stay during mid-week. Unfortunately it is unlikely that we would be able to go back mid-week given that we are two full time working parents. I think a small refund woud have been more appropriate.
Wilderness Reserve: our diagnosis
Wilderness Reserve is really lovely and it must be quite special in the summer. However, given the prices and the last interaction, I can’t help feeling that the owners (not so much the staff) are really in it for the money more than for leaving a good impression with their customers.
Wilderness Reserve, Sibton Park, Suffolk
- 11 cottages ranging from one room to 11 rooms!
- Smaller cottages are from £231 a night but bigger ones are more around the £600 mark
- Babysitters and guardians
- Extra beds available
- All the essential food to do the next day breakfast is provided: fresh bread, butter, etc.
- Wildlife and parkland
- Bikes available
- Heated outdoor pool
- Some houses have jacuzzi
- Catering delivered to your house or a chef coming to cook for you