“ Address: Burton End / Stansted / Essex / CM24 8UQ „
We weren't supposed to be flying from Stanstead but my mistake turned out to be a good move. When we were booking our ski trip on the Crystal website we were comparing various packages and I have to confess that when I went back to one that we'd looked at previously, I thought I had arrived at the same holiday. Turned out, however, that the flights were different; not from Gatwick, as I had thought; my fault for not checking closer.
As we approached our departure it became obvious from the weather forecasts that heavy snow was due and that there could be serious travel disruptions. Although Stanstead looked like it would be less affected than Gatwick, we would still have to get there so we decided that staying overnight the night before could be a good move.
I did some investigating on the Web, for over-night accommodation including car parking for the week we would be away. There were plenty of options but mostly well over £100. Warman's Barn House stood out at around half the price. Suspecting that there might be a problem I checked TripAdvisor for reviews and found a range of reviews right across the spectrum. This is unusual. I read several of them but could come to no firm conclusion as to whether I should avoid this or go ahead. In the end I decided to go ahead as it would only be for one night.
The accommodation is actually managed by The Ash public house, which is across the road. The Ash advertises itself as a "Gastropub" so it did seem that we would at least be assured of a good evening meal. The cost of the stay, plus parking, was around £60!
We arrived mid-afternoon on the Friday and parked in the pub's large car park. Checking in at the pub, we were asked about transport to and from the airport, which is not included in the price of the accommodation. The pub has an arrangement with a local taxi firm and for convenience we went ahead and booked our short travel. The cost was £4 per person to the airport and a flat charge of £12 for the return to our parked car. So, an additional £20 but still a lot cheaper than the other alternatives.
We walked across the road with our luggage to the accommodation, which is on the driveway of a typical Essex converted weatherboard barn. The rooms, just three in all, are built in a complimentary design. They are the ones you can see in the foreground in the picture above. We were in room 3. The entrance is a simple lockable gate style door that offers little by the way of draught-proofing; a large gap under the door would let in the wind but, fortunately, during our stay there was little if any wind at all.
The room is very large and, in one corner is a large, separate bathroom with a basin, toilet, bath and a shower attachment over the bath, with a glass splash-screen. The entertainment in the bedroom was a small, old CRT TV bolted to the wall, with a Freeview set-top box, and so required two remotes. There was also tea and coffee making facilities. One large wardrobe was available for clothes although we didn't unpack.
The bedroom is heated by a single wall-mounted electric convector heater and the bathroom by a heated towel rail. The room was very, very cold. Clearly, no heating had been switched on in preparation for our arrival and probably not since the last occupant, which may well have been the previous weekend. The weather was very cold, as the snow on the ground testified and, no matter how well insulated, any room will cool rapidly in such weather. So, the first thing we did was switch on the heater full-blast!
As my wife had some work to do before we left, we popped across to the pub and spent most of the afternoon there, me reading and my wife using their Wi-fi. I must admit that the pub wasn't especially warm and the open log fire wasn't throwing out a lot of heat. Not only that but the drinks were extortionate: a pint of Real Ale and a glass of red wine came to just under £10!!!
We went back to our room later on and found that it had warmed up appreciably since we had arrived. Content that the temperature was heading in the right direction, we returned to the pub for an evening meal.
Our evening meal was excellent and, I have to admit, I rather overdid it by choosing a dessert when I probably should have stopped. The wine was from an extensive list and very enjoyable. At around £60 for the two of us, all inclusive, it was also very reasonably priced, which was a pleasure after the experience earlier in the bar.
We enjoyed a good night's sleep and, if anything, in the morning the room was too hot! We certainly switched off the radiator long before we departed, the fabric of the room having heated up enough to retain a decent temperature all on its own.
It only remained for us to have a shower and get dressed to leave for our holiday. This drew our attention to the one really disturbing issue about our stay: the surround of the shower end of the bath was badly stained with what looked like a nasty reddish mould. This was ingrained in the gap between the shower-screen and the wall to which it was attached and around the edge of the bath where it joined the wall. Most unpleasant to see. At least the water was hot and we were able to shower and get out quickly.
The Swan doesn't offer breakfast, one big drawback of this accommodation, so we went early to the airport to have our breakfast there. The airport is only about 10 minutes away. The taxi arrived on time. Our car had already gone from the pub car park, having been taken away for storage the previous evening. We were given a sheet of instructions, with a number to call for the taxi to collect us and take us to our car when we returned.
The car turned out to be parked on a business park between the pub and the airport; we had passed it on our way out. It was there safe and sound on our return and soon we were on our way home.
So, would we stay here again if we were flying from Stanstead? I doubt it. Although the accommodation wasn't bad overall, the initial cold welcome was a drawback and the issue with the state of the bathroom was unacceptable. Unless there were definite improvements here, I would rather stay at slightly more expensive accommodation. Clearly, the pub relies upon you eating and drinking there to make up for the low initial price charged.
Abridged version posted on TripAdvisor, with pictures.