Travel: Luxury lodges in Badwell Ash offer Champagne, hot tubs, chocolate...and a child-free environment


Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges. MUST CREDIT JOSEPH JOHN CASEY - Credit: Archant

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis discovers a relaxing haven for couples in Badwell Ash


Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges. MUST CREDIT JOSEPH JOHN CASEY - Credit: Archant

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a doctor. But I am prescribing something to every parent. Every person who’s over-worked and under-nourished. Every one of you looking out the window right now thinking “God when is spring coming?”

It’s not drugs I want to dish out – it’s an experience.

One that was so transformative and relaxing last weekend that, once home, I was so relaxed I could barely be bothered to lift a finger to operate the TV remote – and that’s saying something.

Let me tell you how the weekend began. We had to leave the house by 2.30pm. At 2pm, oldest child had to be collected from a friend’s house. Youngest child was running around in Pokemon pyjamas playing Minecraft on his tablet. Husband thought it would be a good time to fit a new bolt on the back gate. Oh, and aforementioned husband had somehow managed to drip curry on the kitchen floor the night before, leaving a stain requiring a heavy dose of bleach, and a dressing of bicarbonate soda (which really doesn’t work, by the way).


Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges. MUST CREDIT JOSEPH JOHN CASEY - Credit: Archant

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After wrestling youngest child away from his device, scrubbing the floor, and packing an overnight bag, to say I was fraught by the time we got into the car is an understatement. Any mums reading this will know exactly what I mean. There’s nothing as frustrating as kids who won’t do as they’re told, and partners who, although generally meaning well, have the attention span of a Jack Russell and are adept at finding ‘jobs’ to do that take them away from the hustle and bustle of daily family life.

Kids finally bundled off to the grandparents, we drove on a dull, horrible February afternoon the 30 minutes from our house to Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges (near Bury St Edmunds) to be met by owners Penny and Anthony Tilmouth, who assured us we’d find peace and quite in their little slice of mid-Suffolk heaven.

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The couple took on the pre-existing business 15 months ago and it sounds like they could do with a taste of their own medicine. Not only do they have three very young children, but they’re renovating their house.

Anthony led us down to the fishing lake where four sparsely gathered Scandinavian lodges could be found – their terraces jutting over the water.


Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges. MUST CREDIT JOSEPH JOHN CASEY - Credit: Archant

I hadn’t told my husband there was fishing. Sometimes, the way he talks, I think he loves carp more than me, so it was best to keep the fact you can fish here a secret.

Immediately the hot tub caught my eye. It was already bubbling quite nicely at 39C under its cover and, as we were shown, had lights, fancy seats and everything!

After dropping our bags at the front door, we were both astonished by the level of detail and care put into the lodges, and within five minutes we’d already decided we didn’t want to leave.

Our four poster bed was plump with proper down cushions and, as my eagle eyes spotted, chocolates from Les Chocolats Belges in Woodbridge.

The bathroom had a fancy steam/sauna shower with a built-in radio.

And there were slippers, fleeces and robes for the hot tub, plus soft blankets draped over the sofas in case it got chilly later.

On the table sat a basket of freshly baked bread. And another basket filled with wine, chocolate, biscuits and the wherewithal for breakfast. In the fridge? A bottle of champers, six eggs, and sausages and bacon from Rolfes butchers.

Seriously, what else could we want?

We popped open the bottle of red and promised ourselves we’d just have a little sip before getting dressed and heading out for dinner in nearby Bury St Edmunds.

But after one glass each, with the sound of the bubbling water just outside too alluring, we thought “sod it!” and headed into Badwell Ash for a fish and chip takeaway. Okay, so it wasn’t fancy, and not what we had planned at all – high heels, make-up, cocktails (for me, not him) – but that dinner, eaten under a blanket, looking out over the water as the sun was setting, was really quite romantic.

And afterwards, red wine polished off, there was nothing for it but to grab the Champagne and chocolates, don robes and slip into the warm, muscle-melting depths of the hot tub. As we submerged ourselves in the water, we both breathed an audible sigh of relief. It was as if the jets, and the heat and the lighting (which changes colour) were some kind of therapy, massaging out all our kinks.

Together, in the water, with nothing but the funny call of the nearby black swans in the background, it was as if the morning hadn’t even happened and we were just ourselves, without work, the kids or any of that other rubbish, clunking up our brains. It sounds cheesy, but just one night away, truly away, from everything can make all the difference. You can remember who you both were before all the other stuff filled up your lives.

We enjoyed every moment of the evening. Having a drink. Sharing jokes and stories. Listening to music. Watching an old film. Snuggling on the sofa. And in the morning, hubby was even happy to rustle up breakfast which I can’t remember happening for a long time.

Would we go back? In a heartbeat, and I’ve already made enquiries. What Anthony and Penny have in Badwell Ash Holiday Lodges is special. It’s a child-free, stress-free time capsule. And I was actually happy I had no phone signal anywhere on the site because, for one night only, I was exactly where I wanted to be, with exactly who I wanted to be with, and nothing else really mattered.

How much does it cost?

Prices range from £465 for three nights, to £1,099 in peak season for one week. On special holidays there are extra treats included – such as Easter eggs during Easter, and Christmas puddings and delights in the festive season.

Read more here.

Tel: 01359 258444


The lodges have information brochures packed with ideas for days out. Several walking and cycling trails are included too. Visit Bury St Edmunds for fantastic shopping and eating. Or get on the train in Bury St Edmunds to Norwich for a day wandering around the lanes.

Eating out

There are lots of places in driving distance. The Dog at Norton is reliable for good quality pub food. And the Dark Horse at Stowlangtoft is also recommended.

For a romantic soiree, try The Leaping Hare at Wyken Vineyards.

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