Dream of Christmas every day? Now it can be! Deep in the heart of the Somerset countryside, you’ll find your very own year-round Christmas Cottage.
Whizzard have had us dreaming of Christmas every day for nearly 50 years. And guess what? Now it can be! Deep in the heart of the Somerset countryside, nestled in one of the UK’s most iconic natural features, lies the country’s first Christmas themed holiday accommodation. Come with us for an explore…
Old Rowlands is one of just a handful of permanent Christmas stores scattered across the country. Oases of the festive season, these special shops offer a little North Pole Magic whatever the calendar date and weather! But this Cheddar Gorge institution has taken things one step further with the introduction of a year-round holiday let Christmas Cottage. Now you can escape the daily grind and head directly to the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year whenever you wish!
Store owners Katherine and husband Barry kindly invited us to visit. As Jo was sadly unable to make it, I roped in a friend for a girls’ weekend with a seriously festive twist!
We visited the Christmas Cottage in November 2021. Please note that this was a PR visit with grateful thanks to Katherine and Barry. However, the views expressed in this article are entirely our own.
Cheese & Cliffs!
Arriving In Cheddar
Cheddar Gorge is quite the backdrop for a weekend break away. Christmas cottage or not, this is a stunning part of the country that deserves to be explored at length.
The UK’s answer to Yosemite, wind your way down between increasingly awe-inspiring cliff faces to find the small village of Cheddar criss-crossing the river Yeo at its base.
Famed for its cheese (of course!) and the pre-historic Cheddar Man, this part of Somerset certainly attracts a tourist or ten! Visiting out of season, it was charmingly bustly but quiet enough to enjoy the scenery and secure easy parking.
Old Rowlands Gift & Christmas Shop
We explore Cheddar’s beautiful year-round Christmas Shop – a little slice of all things festive!
Your Very Own Narnia
Christmas Cottage sits directly above the Christmas Shop and is literally built into the cliff face. Steep steps take you up to the entrance and it is immediately apparent that you are not arriving at your typical holiday let!
A wreath on the door and decorated trees to either side set an instant festive tone. Walking across the threshold – with welcoming red and green bunting, fairy lights galore and a table ready for Christmas Day – I couldn’t help but feel like Lucy, finding the door to Narnia … except this time it’s always Christmas, whatever the season.
Click the video below to take a tour of the cottage.
Exploring The Cottage
As you move through from the kitchen to the lounge, it really is jaw-droppingly pretty. A sparkling Christmas tree fills one corner of the room whilst a rich garland meanders its way up the staircase. The wood-burner sits waiting at the far end, ready to be enjoyed from a corner sofa covered in throws and festive cushions. It’s beautiful and seriously cosy; as close to Kate Winslet’s Rosehill Cottage from The Holiday as you are going to find!
Heading upstairs there are three bedrooms, kitted out with Christmas bedding (of course!). With garlands twinkling over bedheads and plushies dotted around, the rooms are oh so inviting and we can attest that the beds are extremely comfortable too!
A stormy November weekend was sadly not ideal for exploring the outside space at the cottage. But we did venture briefly up to the roof terrace to glimpse the stars in the night sky. And it’s easy to imagine whiling away a balmy summer’s evening people-watching from the elevated position, glass of rosé in hand (or perhaps an autumnal mulled white wine?!).
For us, the call of the wood burner proved irresistible and we spent the evening snuggled under blankets on the sofa, chatting, sipping tea and – inspired by our setting – watching Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap homes at Christmastime.
Spread The Word!
Like what you’ve seen? Be sure to share with your friends.
Let’s sprinkle Christmas cheer far and wide!
fab-yule-ous festive touches
Attention To Detail
As with the store downstairs, Katherine’s wealth of experience in visual merchandising is clear. The attention to detail is tree-mendous, with little festive touches everywhere. And being a Christmas shop owner means access to all sorts of seasonal trinkets too!
Open the cupboard and you’ll find a selection of Christmas crockery.
Fancy a cuppa? There’s a snowman teapot ready and waiting!
Want to watch a movie? Choose from a wide selection of Christmas DVDs.
Even the used bedding at the end of the stay is collected in Santa sacks rather than plain old laundry bags!
And Katherine has partnered with a selection of other local businesses to offer welcome packages upon arrival. Choose between bath bombs (to make use of the fabulous candlelit tub), tea & coffee (so you can definitely break out that snowman teapot) and of course the arguably essential cheddar cheese selection (goes brilliantly with Christmas cake!); each adding an extra level of welcoming indulgence to your break away!
Complete Guide To Year-Round Christmas Shops
Come with us as we visit the all-year Christmas stores around England.
Christmas Dinner When?
Christmas Is All About The Food
The cottage’s comprehensive guide to the local area includes details for almost thirty local restaurants, cafes and takeaway. So whatever cuisine takes your fancy, there’s an eatery within strolling distance to investigate.
We chose a restorative trip to the quaint Lion Rock Tea Rooms following our time on the road. This gorgeous café is spread across a series of rooms, each with a different theme and décor – there’s even a pretty outside roof deck in better weather. We snagged a spot by a wood burner and tucked into a ploughman’s platter for lunch (when in Rome and all that!). Prepared with a selection of local cheeses, I am still salivating at the memory now.
Oh, and if you’re in the mood to self-cater, there’s a couple of supermarkets and a butcher in town too. Heck, why not go the whole hog and cook Christmas Dinner whilst you stay?!
More Like This?
Looking for other festive activities to enjoy? Whether it’s at home or out and about, we’ve got a whole host of ideas to keep you in the Christmas spirit!
out and about in Cheddar
Beyond Christmas Cottage
If you can persuade yourself to step out from this Winter Wonderland, there is certainly plenty to keep you occupied. The gorge itself offers a stunning three-mile walk, with rock climbing opportunities aplenty for braver souls than us!
Covid has left its mark with some of the cave attractions currently closed until further notice. But the 274 steps of Jacob’s Ladder remain open and are a great way to burn off those cheesy calories, offering stunning views across the gorge and far beyond on a fine day. The last portion of the climb is up Pavey’s Lookout Tower; named for Rowland Pavey, the very same historic mill owner and local celebrity honoured by Old Rowlands Gift & Christmas Shop.
When In Cheddar…
Embracing our freedom from less enthusiastic shopping members of the family, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the village’s selection of independent shops. The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is the only place that produces cheese in Cheddar. And with samples to try, cool bags available to help transportation home, and cheese combining local cider and other flavours, the temptation was too great!
Heading slightly further afield, Cheddar is perfectly positioned as a base from which to explore the local area. The sandy beaches of Weston-super-Mare can be found 12miles further west and Glastonbury is just 20mins down the road, with its striking Tor and eclectic mix of independent stores. The UK’s smallest city, Wells, is 10miles away and Bath and Winchester are both within easy reach for a day trip.
And it was Winchester, with its seasonal Christmas Market that offered us the perfect gradual return to normality as we headed home the following afternoon, discussing how to convince our respective partners that we should always fall asleep beneath a twinkling fairy-lit garland…
For more information about other organisations mentioned in the article, please click the links below: