Staycations are extremely popular right now – for obvious reasons. Trying to find somewhere truly special that isn’t booked up is an almost impossible task, especially if you need one that’s dog-friendly.

The only way you’re going to find that special place is to find one that only a few lucky rascals know about.

Deep in rolling countryside, idyllic Long Acre Farm has only been taking guests for a couple of years and while it is just about to get very popular, it is still a well-kept secret.

Not only is this place a true hidden gem, it’s not far away – nestled in the Valley of the Racehorse, Lambourn... almost within sight of White Horse Hill and just a 15-minute drive from Wantage.

If you’re looking at the pictures and thinking Long Acre Farm looks like it’s going to break the bank, you’re wrong. Currently prices start at £95 per night – which is madness. For that you get to stay in a room which is as good as any 5-star hotel.

Oxford Mail: Long Acre Farm

Picture by Ed Nix

The rooms are filled with beautiful art and knick-knacks from around the world. Beds are genuinely huge and very comfy. You get a great big slice of homemade cake and a cup of tea or coffee on arrival. A fun tour of the farm through little walled gardens of organic produce, stables of horses and free-range chickens running around. And then you’re completely left to relax and be on your own.

An outbuilding serves as your dining/breakfast room, with a kitchen if you fancy taking your own food. But please don’t!

You see the most impressive thing about Long Acre Farm is the person who is there to greet you as you pull up on the gravel driveway.

Owner Joanna Preston is one of the loveliest people you could ever meet and is brilliant at cooking. Joanna started her cooking career catering for holidaymakers on safari in Zambia, then she started her own catering business in London called Sugar&Spice.

In 2011 she sold the business and became a freelance cook and four years ago she and her family moved from London to this little slice of heaven in the Berkshire Downs and began turning the farm’s outbuildings into beautiful guest rooms. Joanna’s cooking is the main reason to visit Long Acre Farm.

We were in the converted pigsty. Just the one room for the two of us but you can book the whole building, which has two ensuite double rooms and one ensuite twin. There are two rooms available in the main house and a little thatched cottage will be opened later this year.

We took our spaniel who’s a bit of a handful so kept her on the lead around the chickens. After sitting in the garden with a glass of wine we walked over the hills then back for another glass of wine and some relaxing. The only thing missing, I suppose, was being able to walk to a nearby pub, but that was forgotten about almost immediately. The peace, like everything else, was heavenly.

Because we’d booked a dinner it was nice to take absolutely ages getting ready in the room with some music before Joanna called us to say it was ready. A crunch over the gravel to the candlelit dining room with no nearby road noise, only the faint sound of chickens and the birds in the trees was great.

Joanna had cooked us roasted English asparagus with a poached farm egg, homemade tarragon mayonnaise and parmesan shavings for our starter. The tarragon mayonnaise was jaw-droppingly delicious. Joanna could bottle that and sell it to the supermarkets, no problem.

For our main course we had a pink fillet of veal on wild garlic potato puree with purple sprouting broccoli, roasted red pepper and slow roasted cherry tomatoes. Again, it was just amazing. The veal was like a creamy pork fille and melted in the mouth. The wild garlic in the potato brought freshness and loads of colour to the plate.

Pudding was a salted caramel and chocolate tart with crème fraiche and berries. It looked incredible when it was put down on the table and was gobbled up faster than any pudding we’ve had in years. Thankfully we had one each or there would definitely have been a fight.

Luckily Joanna also offers cooking classes so I’m hoping to learn a thing or two on our next stay which we’ve already booked.

Long Acre Farm is so much more than a B&B. It’s a night out. It’s a relaxing private evening with your own chef. You can go as a couple or go as a group and use the large dining room in the main house.

Go there for your own exclusive dinner for only £25 per person for two courses or £30 per person for three courses. Take your own bottle or buy from the wine rack. That makes it £155 for two people (and a dog) to stay in a 5-star hotel room with cake, a three-course amazing meal and an organic breakfast before you head off back over the border to Oxfordshire.

Like I said, heaven!

Oxford Mail: Long Acre Farm

Picture by Ed Nix

The Facts

  • Long Acre Farm Bed & Breakfast
  • Seven Barrows, Lambourn, Berkshire RG17 8UH
  • Converted pigsty: 2 ensuite doubles and 1 ensuite twin
  • Main house: 2 ensuite doubles each with a mezzanine (sleeps 2 people) by arrangement Thatched cottage: 1 ensuite 4-poster – to launch 2021
  • Day room: table/chairs, cupboards, fridge/freezer, complimentary coffee/tea, home- made liqueurs and apple juice to buy. Home-made cakes and biscuits offered on arrival; maps and local information
  • Stable Barn: huge rustic barn with agreeable lived-in ambience and including large wood-burner, deep comfy sofas TV for DVDs, books/toys/board games. Horses: B&B for up to 2 horses is available (prior arrangement and subject to contract) – stable/bedding in winter, paddock in summer. Hay, water supply. Local farrier within 2 miles. Carrots and polo mints!
  • People: from £95.00 to £115.00 per room per night; includes copious organic breakfast Horses: individual pricing according to duration and individual requirements
  • Evening meals: 2 courses from £25 per head, 3 courses from £30 per head
  • Seasonal menus prepared by Joanna based on home produce; breakfast includes home- made compotes, granola, muesli, bread and pastries as well as eggs, fruit and meats from the farm.
  • Picnic lunches supplied by arrangement, from £8 per person.
  • Pure water from the farm’s own bore hole.
  • All meals taken at one large table in the main house, in the flower room overlooking the courtyard, or weather permitting outside in the sunshine.
  • Cooking Classes 6-8 people: £50 per person per 2-hour class, includes lunch made during the class 2 people: £70 per person on the same basis
  • Oxford Mail: Long Acre Farm
Picture by Ed Nix
  • Dishes chosen in discussion with guests, depending on seasonality
  • Woodland on site, indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, books, toys, wood-burning and open fires, WiFi, parking; high-chair and cot available
  • Uffington White Horse, Castle and Tom Brown’s Museum; Wayland’s Smithy; Ashdown House and King Alfred’s Castle; Buscot House and Gardens; racing at Newbury; shopping at Hungerford, Marlborough, and family run shop/café at Childrey; Highclere Castle, Staddle Stone Spa at Highclere, riding at Little Hidden Farm. Cotswold Wildlife Park and picturesque Cotswold market town of Burford.