It is called a cottage but anything but! A long drive leads up to the property situated amid lovely scenery. There are 8 large bedrooms with 6 of them having en-suite bathrooms. There is a large well equipped kitchen with an AGA, 2 fridges, 2 sinks, microwave and dishwasher. There is a lounge area off the kitchen, and an even larger lounge on one side of the house. As the property is on the side of a hill, there is a basement area that has a games room and gym. There are extensive gardens, patio furniture and BBQ. The place was warm from underfloor heating except the towel rails in the bathrooms did not appear to work. There is WiFi and several TVs and each room is wired to a sound system where music can be heard all over the property. The access is suitable for the disabled but there is only one bedroom on the ground floor and that doesn't have an en-suite. The 8 bedrooms sleep 20, so a lot are suitable for family rooms. Overall it is a fantastic place to stay in!!
I am writing this review because Wood Bank is a special place and we as a family had a great week there, but it would have been even better if we had known more about the house and facilities before we started the holiday. This is a ‘heads-up’ that we hope will help you get the most of it. The very best features of Wood Bank are the enormous spacious rooms and the feel of opulence – helped by the dramatic antique furniture throughout. It really is grand and has stunning lawned areas around the house with much evidence of old overgrown gardens when you walk around revealing the remnants of what was probably a massive area of formal gardens in the past. The views are great and it is very peaceful… starting with the long winding drive opening up into a formal courtyard with grand entrance. There is plenty space to accommodate 20 with many peaceful areas to escape to even when wet and windy outside, so you actually needed to look for other people rather than feel crowded! The kitchen is very large too and great for a party kitchen – can practice ballet in it BUT not really designed for catering for the number of people it sleeps. If we were to go again (and we had a great time as a family gathering for all ages) we would have to take a lot of stuff to fill in the gaps, and we would not plan on cooking – either order in takeaways from Caerleon, have a barbeque if the weather was not so wet as we experienced, or eat out. Shame really as the dining room easily seated 20 and was wonderful to eat in. Unfortunately a number of our party were only there for the first half of the week, so we had to arrange a large supermarket grocery drop on the 1st day to make sure we could get off to a fast start to the holiday and not waste time shopping. Expecting sufficient storage space for fresh food and decent cooking facilities, we did buy in the food. In hindsight we wish we had planned on fast food deliveries – we would have spent much less time trying to make do with the limited facilities. (We were only trying to make Chilli, Pasta and marinated roasted chicken with accompaniments so we were not naïve or being too ambitious!) There are plenty serving dishes with grand effect, but the big AGA is reduced in size by the fact that there are no inner shelves and we could only find 3 cooking trays that would fit in, so it meant that you were constantly cooking and swapping into other areas to keep warm. The microwave is tiny, and quickly overheats in the cupboard space it sits. We moved it out but it still was mainly useful for warming the baby bottle. The cooker was also small and we only had 4 electric rings… but there was a catering style deep fat fryer if you want chips or Asian fryups. If you want to have a few people prepping veg and salad, you will need to take extra knives and there is very little prep area – just one square of normal height worktop to the right of the sinks, and otherwise you will need a few ‘little helpers’ as the central table is very low and at dining height. OK for serving a buffet off but we all suffered back ache! The one knife block with a few very blunt knives is limiting and the butchers steel was worn out. We went out and bought 3 knives and a sharpener & then gave the knives a treat and they were then OK. There was also not even a cheese grater, so we bought one and left as a treat for the next guests! Very few bowls (only one very small pudding dish and a large stainless one, and a single jug – but no more) made making things other than marinade difficult. There were no clingfilm or foil available either. There are 2 massive Belfast sinks in the kitchen, BUT no plugs or washing bowls. The standard domestic dishwasher could not hold the large trays or dishes so we had to buy more panscrubs and bowls to be able to wash up. The instant boiled water tap rather than a kettle was limiting too, as you could have a couple of cups of tea from it, but try filling a large pot to even cook frozen veg or parboil potato wedges and you are left to boil up cold water on the cooker which took ages. Watch the pan handles – some are coming loose and the screw heads are striped so won’t tighten. For storing food and drinks, the 2 fridges and 2 freezers in the kitchen are small for modern family living – cannot fit any more than ice creams and a few bags of veg in the freezers – certainly no room for 9” pizzas even – but there is an ice cube maker. Unfortunately the fridges are undersized even for beer and soft drinks and we had to restock constantly and there was a balancing act between salad and beer space. There is a large chest freezer in the utility room but the power cord did not reach a socket, so you will need an extension cord to reach. If you’re not planning on cooking that’s OK. After reading the above, you will probably decide to order takeaways!! But if only catering for up to 8 or so, you can probably manage better in the kitchen, but I would recommend smaller and more regular shopping trips. You are only 10mins approx. from Supermarkets in Newport – the local shops in Caerleon are OK in emergencies, but have very little stock or choice. In the bedrooms, there are very few flimsy hangers so if you don’t pack any (and who would expect to need them in such a place for a week… you would expect enough) you will have to use the drawers. Unfortunately the fittings of the antique handles are lethal to modern fibres and I now have 2 luxury bamboo garments which have been badly plucked and ruined by the back nuts. Going again I would take lots of hangers. There are no sink plugs (there are for the baths) and some of the taps and shower levers are broken. The water temperature was very low throughout and if the house is full, cold showers were all that was available at peak times, and lukewarm at best … when no one else in the house! For children, be aware that there are dangerous sets of stairs and NO child gates – we had to go out and buy two to make it at all safe. (The owner had none to supply when asked). Also the odd little pool (no fountain, fish or plants in so why is it there!?) in front of the main steps to the lawn is actually 6’ deep and very small surface, so if a child fell in it would take at least 2 in the water to try to get them out with 2 aiding from the side. It is lethal and thank goodness we only lost a frisby in there. Why is there no guard over it we have no idea?! (BTW there are 3 of us in the party who are life savers and swimming teachers / kayakers etc, so we are not afraid of water but that is a pointless risk). In the fitness / games room there were no power leads for the treadmill and cycle, although the owner said they are removed and coiled up… but none of us could find them in the week. Why are they separated one doesn’t know. The TV there is also much smaller than expected and not good for a big match or film. The Wii is also in the smaller snug upstairs and is a bit cramped to play. To finish on a high, the snooker table is fantastic. There are also loads of Board Games etc and they were very useful. The ground floor bedroom used to be a library and had a vast selection of books to choose from. In summer this house will come into its own as there are French Windows everywhere and lovely patios all round… including in some bedrooms. No doubt it is most attractive to a group of golf fanatics due to its proximity to Celtic Manor. There are quite a selection of things to do in the area so you will not get chance to be bored.
We had a wonderful week at Woodbank house with our family of 18. The house was perfect and had enough space for us all. We were given one of the family rooms which was very spacious and had an ensuite with bath and shower and beautiful view. Our two adult sons enjoyed the games room where they played pool. We cooked every night and were all able to sit together at the large dining room table which was special. We have some happy memories of our time together there.
My (now) wife and I rented Wood Bank as the venue for our wedding reception - this had not been our first choice, BUT, it was immediately clear that Wood Bank was vastly better suited to our needs than the location which had been our first choice - and I'm therefore so glad that we were able to be at Wood Bank instead - we were SO lucky. The house, grounds and facilities at Wood Bank were all first-rate, the manager of the property was very helpful, and our family fully intend to return in the future. Thank you! Outstanding.