As we meandered along a long country lane, we turned right at a pub and presently saw the sign Jollydays and the North Star – just a few hundred yards down the drive and you’re suddenly deep in woodland, it feels like a world away from the gigantic Tesco store we remembered passing just 5 minutes before. We come face to face with the woodshed, it’s like arriving at one of the most elegant lodge hotels in Yosemite National Park, everything is rustic tree logs and reclaimed wood, outside on the patio under a big black verandah awnings are picnic style tables with tree logs for stools. There are candle holders crafted from reclaimed wood, and peacocks strut proudly around outside the door. It’s a fitting elegant welcome at the North Star, the second establishment from Carolyn and Christian Von Outersterp, the couple behind the family run Jollydays Luxury Family Camping.
Jollydays is to Glamping what ‘Wilderness’ is to festivals, smaller than Glastonbury or Feather Down camp sites, but infinitely chic, a bit bohemian and much loved by the families with urbanised children who rock up holding onto their smartphones for dear life, only to discard them while they go and build a den. Not to mention the hen parties who eschew a bawdy ‘kiss me quick’ night out in Newcastle for a weekend to remember in the great outdoors but with no sacrifice of luxury.
The same clientele are welcome at the North Star too but this woodland retreat hopes to attract more couples in search of a romantic hideaway and families who want a luxurious switch off from being wired up. Once inside the woodshed, all is painted black, the lighting is beautiful and you can only begin to imagine how awesome it will feel in winter. A stags head on the wall looks down at you as you feel a deep longing to lounge on the leather sofas covered in reindeer skins and Icelandic sheepskins.
Carolyn is an incredibly talented interior designer and has clearly put her heart and soul into sourcing incredible artefacts and design elements for the woodland suites.
“Our aim” says Carolyn “was to create a magical woodland retreat where you feel can much more connected to nature than you would in a hotel.It’s a 500 acre woodland, the biggest woodland in East Yorkshire, and it’s full of wildlife and deer and even adders (which are protected)”
Carolyn was telling me this as something rustled in the grass, I panicked slightly fearing a black adder….and not linked to the Rowan Atkinson sitcom….but it was in fact a grey hedgehog, scampering along, sniffing out bits of food, clearly unperturbed by the fact that its secluded homeland was now inhabited – albeit temporarily for a few days at a time by humans hoping to catch a pic of him as part of a selfie to upload to Facebook if the connection allowed!
There is an honesty tea and coffee station which brings a whole new meaning to self- select, I simply couldn’t decide while checking on whether to go for the pukka detox or a lemon tea.
Hubby had a coffee which he declared ‘excellent’ not even close to the instant he had been expecting….there’s a selection of teas and coffee in the suites too and if nicking the toiletries from hotels is your guilty secret you will not be disappointed, placed neatly with a promo card next to the huge free standing bathtub with decadent back taps – are three decent sized bottles of Yorkshire made Sedbergh Soaps Natural Skincare.
What a joy to be able to bathe, wash your hair and anoint your body with lotion without synthetic chemicals – the devil is in the detail and at the North Star, every box has been ticked. The bathroom in fact is as big as the bedroom, with a huge slate wall that hides the toilet one side and the wet shower area the other, and there is still masses of space for a driftwood sculpture, a unique Gothic chair (festooned with another skin), and a massive floor area. There’s a reason for that Carolyn says, (not that I’d need a reason when my bathroom at home is minute) – we have a fabulous therapist who can come in with her treatment couch and offer therapeutic treatments, you can literally have your own spa…that’s on the list for next time.
The North Star is open all year round, ideal for lazy summer holidays or for cosy winter weekends.
There are currently only five woodland suites which sleep up to six people each, but eventually there will be fifty. They are nestled in the woodland and it feels secluded and private. At the back of each suite there’s a ground level verandah with a barbecue and dining table for six and once inside, an impressive amount of space, in fact my little girl exclaimed ‘this is bigger than our house!’ Mmm not quite, but it was certainly spacious. As you enter the main area there’s a huge sofa (with a reindeer skin) which converts to a large double sofa bed), another small two bunk room off to the right, and then straight ahead of you internal wooden doors open to reveal the main bedroom. A gigantic double bed covered in another luxurious fur throw, circular wooden bedside tables and unique hanging bedside lights, tea lights in pretty glass holders are everywhere and there is the funkiest wooden clothes hanger I’ve-ever seen. For wintry weather there is a wood burning stove and I’m told it’s toasty warm. One suite has a Far Infra Red sauna – whoop de doo!
The suites all vary slightly, we had a sneak peak into the star suite, it was intriguing and dark, with an amazing hanging canvas of a fairy opposite the bed, gorgeous copper lights hung by the bed, and on the small indoor table there were three massive coffee table books about the cosmos, stars and the galaxy. The absolute piece de resistance in that suite is the gleaming copper bath – decadence!
Our suite Woodville was educational too – I have to confess to not being a history buff, I was ignorant of the Woodvilles, – the War of the Roses and England’s most infamous family. Two books in the suite gave me an insight into Elizabeth Woodville, known as the white queen and enchantress who captured the heart of the young Edward IV the most eligible bachelor in England in 1464. A huge print of Elizabeth hangs opposite the bed and you can only imagine she would be delighted that her story lives on.
The North Star ticks every box for couples, hen parties and families alike, our little girl and her friend disappeared off into the woodland and reappeared excitedly to tell us about the woodland fairy cafe they had built…it really was magical -tiny little plates, cutlery, little bench tables made from tiny strands of wood, and miniature logs as seats. Next up they built a den, with its own entry, tables and chairs, a wooden sign, and of course a nice wooden ledge to hold an iPhone…or a glass of wine.
Each suite has a barbecue on the patio and there’s a fabulous fire pit where we sat in the evening drinking copious amounts of wine (the adults) while the kids drank steaming mugs of hot chocolate and we toasted marshmallows till the goo dripped into our hair.
We left feeling as if we had been away for ages, totally refreshed and ringing friends to see if we could arrange to come together asap! They have promised that if you say I recommended you, there could be a discount this summer..go guys!