The Parent Friendly Stays team recently had the opportunity to spend a long weekend trying out the luxury glamping holidays available at Feather Down Farms. 

We feature many Feather Down Farms on PFS; you can see our full selection here, or visit Feather Down Farms directly for up to date prices and availability information.

Read on for our in-depth ‘tried and tested’ holiday review!

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Our Feather Down Farm site

attractive first impressions as you approach the Manor Farm site

We opted to stay at Manor Farm in Hampshire: a family-run cattle, sheep and arable farm set in the stunning surroundings of the South Downs National Park.  The site overlooks fields in all directions and feels like the middle of nowhere, a proper escape from home; yet the small market town of Alton with handy facilities (including several supermarkets) is less than a ten minute drive away.

Feather Down has nearly 30 farms across the UK, and many in Europe too, meaning there are plenty of accessible options to suit most requirements.

Our Feather Down accommodation

one of our six (!) hideaways at Manor Farm

We booked our stay with Feather Down Farms as part of a large grouping celebrating a number of milestone birthdays, meaning we needed enough space to accommodate six families with eight children ranging in age from three to fourteen.  This gave us the perfect chance to test out a number of the accommodation options available on most Feather Down Farm sites: four canvas hideaways with private outdoor showers; a further canvas hideaway with en-suite shower; and finally one smaller log cabin. Each canvas hideaway sleeps up to six people, while the log cabin slept two.

Our views on the accommodation were universally positive.  The rustic canvas hideaways were surprisingly spacious with plenty of open plan living space including a sofa, dining table and kitchen area.  Lit by candles and gas lanterns, and with heating provided by the log burning stove in the centre, the tents provided a cosy, warm and relaxing space to enjoy as a family even as the evenings drew in.  As regular campers we’re used to the fact that tents get cold overnight even in the summer, making thick jumpers and blankets a must for a comfortable sleep, but our log burner ensured our accommodation stayed pleasingly warm throughout the night.

our rustic and cosy glamping accommodation – we loved the traditional gas lamps and log fire

Sleeping arrangements also worked really well for everyone.  The canvas hideaways accommodate up to six people divided between a main double bedroom, a separate bedroom with bunk beds, and then a cosy raised cabin bed with wooden doors which opens onto both the living space and master bedroom depending on your preference.  Inevitably the children all fought for the right to sleep in the unique cabin bed!  We all found our beds super-comfy, with pillows and duvets as good as the ones at home if not better.  Beds came pre-made in the master bedroom but not elsewhere which made for some slightly awkward clambering in the children’s rooms (for a small extra charge you can get the kids’ beds made too!) and you’re asked to remove all the bedding and drop it off in a laundry room before you leave.

The hideaways were well equipped with everything we needed during our stay including kitchen tools, a large cool box, bedding, towels, candles and fire-making equipment (logs, matches, firelighters etc).  There’s no electricity of course – the whole Feather Down Farms ethos is about enjoying the great outdoors away from the modern distractions of the 21st century – but we had no issues boiling water for hot drinks or even cooking breakfast on the stove.  A small word of warning though that you definitely need to plan ahead if you fancy a brew; it took us over an hour to get the water boiling!  You’re permitted to bring your own gas stove if you need a bit more flexibility.

“what shall we play next?”

The smaller log cabin proved a perfect space for the couple who stayed in it; an equally cosy, charming and comfortable space.  It also benefitted from a pair of gas hobs which the rest of us were slightly envious of.

Outdoors, the tents and cabin all came equipped with a covered deck area with seating, a fire pit and a BBQ.  With the benefit of multiple spaces to enjoy we found we utilised different spaces at different times during our stay, allowing the children a change of scenery when we needed, but would all have been happy with the location and aspect of any of the hideaways.

a shower with a difference!

There were only two minor issues we encountered during our holiday.  The shower in one of our hideaways (the only en-suite one, ironically!) didn’t work throughout; repairs were attempted after we reported the problem but it didn’t fix it unfortunately.  As a big group we had plenty of other showers to borrow but if we’d been staying on our own the impact would have been greater.  The on-site staff were very apologetic, in their defence, and we recognise these things just happen sometimes.  And it’s worth saying that the outdoor showers were fabulous: there was something quite special about the combination of a properly hot shower and a gentle sunny breeze!

Oh and at 0400 one night our fire alarm went off at full volume leading to a slightly terrifying dash from bed to ensure the tent wasn’t on fire.  It wasn’t of course so we’re not quite sure what happened there, but better safe than sorry..

Child friendly holiday features

There was much to enjoy at Feather Down Farms for both the children and adults.

wholesome outdoor fun for all ages

For the little ones, our holiday was a genuinely wholesome back-to-nature experience just as we’d hoped.  We deliberately left most screens at home and warned everyone in advance – even the teenagers – that there wouldn’t be the opportunity to charge devices.

Instead, a glamping stay like ours at Manor Farm proved the perfect escape from usual routines and one which the children rapidly and universally embraced without complaint: exploring the entire site safely on their own while the adults relaxed nearby; playing football, cricket, frisbee and races across the field; enjoying board games and jigsaws; traipsing to the on-site shop (more on that in a second) to grab a drink or snack; making friends with the other guests staying on the site; playing hide-and-seek; toasting marshmallows on the campfire (which the children happily built on our behalf!).

making the most of the fields

Wildlife surrounded us throughout our stay: sheep grazing in the fields, hens wandering freely around the site, red kites soaring through the sky above us and the odd hare racing across our field much to everyone’s excitement.  There wasn’t the offer of a farm tour or specific farm activities (like tractor rides or animal feeding) during our holiday but these are often available at Feather Down Farm sites so it’s worth exploring this when you book.

Parent friendly holiday features

relaxing in the sunshine

For the adults, our holiday was enjoyable both for the obvious pleasure it provided our collective offspring during the course of the weekend but also for the almost enforced relaxation a glamping-style holiday generates.  From the moment you wake up there’s an unavoidable sense of time slowing down and the delightful absence of the usual chores or household admin. Instead we found ourselves sinking into a deck chair outside the tent admiring the view, listening to the wildlife, reading a book or catching up with friends with the log fire slowly burning away in the background ready for our next cup of tea.  And occasionally wondering what the kids were up to as they’d escaped on another adventure!

It’s possible to book a hot tub for an additional fee at most Feather Down sites, including at Manor Farm.  Ordinarily we’d be first in line for this – we love a hot tub! – but decided against it this time for practical reasons given we had so many people in our group and that the style of hot tubs available (essentially a rustic wood-fired bath..) only accommodate a maximum of two people.  We did see one of the hot tubs in action outside another guest’s hideaway and can’t deny it looked like a lovely way to unwind.

We were quite impressed by how these came out!

Mealtimes at Manor Farm were a real highlight, particularly on the Saturday night when we came together as a big group for a BBQ/pizza extravaganza using the on-site facilities.  It’s fair to say that the BBQ proved slightly easier to manage than the pizza oven, and there was quite a lot of head-scratching while the dads of the group (inevitably) debated competing theories as to the best way to generate sufficient heat in the pizza oven.  But they did it eventually – and the resulting home-cooked pizzas tasted all the better as we watched the sun set over the neighbouring fields.  For breakfast, we planned ahead and brought ingredients for relatively easy meals we could cook in a single pan on the log burner, which worked really well and tasted incredible.

the on-site shop was popular with the children for cold drinks and snacks – just needed to make sure they wrote down what they took!

Daytime activities obviously vary between sites and locations, but at Manor Farm we discovered a lovely walk through the idyllic surrounding countryside which took us directly from the campsite to a nearby village pub (the Three Horseshoes at East Worldham).  We hadn’t prebooked but easily found space to sit in the sunny garden and enjoy some proper pub grub and a drink.

Back at the farm, as mentioned above, we made good use of the honesty shop.  We weren’t expecting a lot to be frank – maybe charcoal, matches, that kind of thing – but were actually quite impressed with the variety of offerings which also included cold drinks, snacks, wine, jam, cereal, tinned food, tea, coffee and so on.  It was a simple case of ticking off items as we took them and then paying at the end.

In summary..

family camp fires as the sun set were a holiday highlight

We loved our family friendly holiday at Feather Down’s Manor Farm site and there were quite a few tears (mainly children but the odd adult too!) when our visit drew to a close.

Our long-standing friendship group struggles to find time and space for so many people to reunite in a relaxing but affordable space, and with the right balance of shared spaces and privacy, but we felt the Feather Down glamping experience really worked for us.  It’s worth noting too that while we didn’t do it this way this time, it’s possible to book an entire farm for a ‘takeover’ weekend so you’ve got the whole place to yourselves.  For us there was no issue with the presence of another couple of families staying on the farm; the hideaways are all really well spaced out so the potential for disturbing each other was low.

So in summary, the accommodation, environment and facilities with Feather Down were just wonderful – an indisputably parent friendly stay – with the additional benefits of unlimited fresh air and that warm parental feeling knowing the children have experienced a really memorable break.

In fact, our group enjoyed our Feather Down Farms stay so much we’ve already rebooked for next year.  What better review of a holiday could there be?

If you’ve been inspired to consider glamping with Feather Down Farms for your next family holiday, check out our selection of their best sites here, or visit the Feather Down website directly for up to date prices and live availability.