An ‘upmarket Center Parcs’: The Inspector reviews ‘back to nature’ hotel The Tawny in Staffordshire


The Inspector stays in a £355-a-night shepherd hut at a ‘back to nature’ hotel in Staffordshire – and finds it reminds him of an ‘upmarket Center Parcs’

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

One thing is clear. The trend for treehouses, shepherd huts, cabins and pods of various shapes and sizes shows no signs of abating.

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

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

Rustic charm: The Inspector stays at a shepherd hut or ‘Wildwood Hut’, such as the one pictured, at The Tawny, near Stoke-on-Trent 

When I ask a member of staff for some background on the place she doesn’t have much of a clue — but she does bring us a book written by Mr Podmore, for which we’re grateful.

Clearly the idea is to cash in on a ‘back to nature’ vibe and that should be applauded — but why are the steps leading to our hut made of plastic and designed to look like wood, and why is the greenery in the central eating area fake?

We can’t help thinking that it’s all a touch contrived, although the gardens are immaculate and the discreet swimming pool on what was the terrace of the original house works brilliantly, with views down to the valley.

Pictured is the interior of the Boathouse cabin. According to the Inspector, the idea behind the hotel is to cash in on a ¿back to nature¿ vibe

Pictured is the interior of the Boathouse cabin. According to the Inspector, the idea behind the hotel is to cash in on a ‘back to nature’ vibe

'Young children hopefully will see it as some sort of adventure in nature,' the Inspector says of the hotel. Above is the Hillside Treehouse

‘Young children hopefully will see it as some sort of adventure in nature,’ the Inspector says of the hotel. Above is the Hillside Treehouse 

'The building (pictured) that houses the restaurant, bar and pool table is a modern structure that looks like it should have a cable car rising from it,' the Inspector observes

‘The building (pictured) that houses the restaurant, bar and pool table is a modern structure that looks like it should have a cable car rising from it,’ the Inspector observes 

The building that houses the restaurant, bar and pool table is a modern structure that looks like it should have a cable car rising from it.

You can eat well here, and it is obvious that the chef is enjoying himself — he serves white chocolate ice cream with the tuna tartare and adds octopus to the pork belly.

Overall, it’s hard not to regard this as an upmarket Center Parcs. We’re paying £355 B&B for our shepherd hut — or, rather, two shepherd huts joined into one.

The front part has the TV on a wall, but there’s nowhere comfortable to sit and watch it, and for that sort of money you might expect to have a basin big enough to avoid water hurtling to the floor when you wash your face.

But good luck to The Tawny. Young children hopefully will see it as some sort of adventure in nature. And that’s no bad thing.

TRAVEL FACTS 

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

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