It's always a good idea to keep your entertainment options open when travelling with children and Mulberry Barn Cottage allows guests to do just that. It's a little taste of luxury, awarded 5* Gold Award by Visit England, perfectly located for a day at the beach or a ramble in the forest. Set in the pretty coastal village of Milford and surrounded by grade 2 listed buildings, this recently-built home-from-home sits on the doorstep of the New Forest and yet is only a 10-minute walk from the seaside.
The two-story house itself is a winning mix of contemporary and traditional, built out of time-honoured materials such as hand-made bricks and tiles and cedar cladding and yet loaded with the cool style and state-of-the-art mod cons of a boutique hotel. On the ground floor is a light-spacious open-plan dining, living and kitchen area leading out through French doors to a sunny south-facing terrace. Equally perfect for alfresco dining for the whole family or quiet spot of reading, sunbathing and coffee drinking for grown ups. The kitchen is fitted with a slick, modern gas hob, two electric ovens, a dishwasher, a large fridge-freezer, a wine fridge and a microwave, arranged around a bar with stools. Meals can be eaten around a lovely long glass table in the dining area that is sure to turn even the most chaotic family meals into a special occasion. In the living area, guests can sink into a luxurious L-shaped sofa to watch the 37” wall-mounted flat screen TV with DVD player and Freeview box or listen to music on the CD and radio. Free broadband via a router in the handy downstairs study, complete with divan and easy chair, means that communications with the outside world is guaranteed. A downstairs cloakroom has a nice big shower cubicle and the large utility room has a butler sink, washing machine and tumble dryer to make it easy to deal with the inevitable holiday avalanche of dirty kid's clothes.
Upstairs are two large en-suite bedrooms, both easily big enough to fit in a cot . The master bedroom has great views over Christchurch Bay toward the Isle of Wight. The king-size bed can be split into two comfortable singles while the en-suite bathroom has a huge free-standing bath that will charm any shower-hating toddler. The second bedroom has a double bed and an en-suite bathroom that includes a basin, toilet and shower. Owner David Danby provides lots of crisp cotton linen, cosy duvets and fluffy towels – although guests do need to bring their own towels for the beach.
There's lots on offer for small people too – which means less packing for their parents. A travel cot, highchairs, a baby bath and potty, stairgates and a bottle steriliser are all part of package, as are plastic cutlery and crockery, sippy cups, changing mats and nappy buckets. Inside, bags of toys, DVDs, games and puzzles should keep junior guests amused, while a handy collection of buckets and spades and fishing nets are great for days in the garden or on the beach. But it's not just the children who will have fun here. A trusted babysitter can be arranged to allow parents to have night out alone and sample one of the many top-class restaurants and pubs only minutes away.
New for 2015: The owner has arranged a complimentary Parking Permit be provided for all 2015 rentals which covers all the local towns, villages, beaches, cliff top and marina car parks. In fact it covers a total of 39 local car parks and makes life so much easier for families when visiting.