Our Story

Hello! We are Zoe and James and we would love to introduce you to our family-run business Willow Forest Stays. 

Our Hosting Story

Our story begins when Joshua was very young and we had family holidays with my parents.  At the end of a particularly memorable holiday in Cornwall one of us (we can’t remember who!) thought that we might like to have our own holiday let one day.

Fast forward to 2010.  I was on maternity leave when I saw an advert in the local paper for an old stables and hayloft and we got our chance to make our dream come true!  

By October 2011 we finished creating Woodland Barn and welcomed our first guests and their canine companion.  The serene dog-friendly holiday cottage with private terrace and stunning views soon became a firm favourite.

A decade passed where we enjoyed welcoming  guests from all over the UK and from further afield too.  

Then in 2021 we decided to purchase an old miners cottage with a well-appointed holiday lodge that was already welcoming couples for romantic stays.  We founded Willow Forest Stays and welcomed our first honeymooners to Casita Lodge in August 2021.

The miners cottage needed refurbishing but finally we were ready and welcomed our first family to 24 at St Johns Easter 2022 and continue to welcome guests for family stays and short breaks with friends.

 

About Properties

Woodland Barn

WOODLAND BARN is set in a peaceful location taking in the horse-shoe bend of the River Severn and surrounding countryside. This former split-level stables and hayloft conversion has retained lots of original features.  

Fully equipped for self-catering, Woodland Barn has a garden with lawn, patio and terrace with private hot tub and stunning views.

This cosy conversion welcomes up to two dogs with an enclosed garden and walks from the door.  The Forest of Dean is a dog-friendly destination so you will find many walks, activities and places to eat where your canine companion can go along too.  Check out our blogs below to find out more.

Close to amenities and scenic woodland and riverside walks, nowhere is too far away! With lots of activities and experiences to share Woodland Barn is the perfect location for your next staycation

Casita Lodge

CASITA LODGE is set in a peaceful location opposite St. John’s Church.  This former annexe sleeps two and has been converted into a well appointed comfortable and stylish holiday lodge with open plan living space fully equipped for self-catering.   

This Lodge has several highlights including the log burner that turns the lodge into a cosy haven, the relaxing rain-head shower in the en-suite and the private hot tub, exclusive for our guests, the perfect spot for star-gazing.

Casita Lodge is set in a peaceful Square and is the perfect location for a romantic getaway.

 

24 at St John's

24 at St. John’s is set in a peaceful location opposite St. John’s Church.  It sleeps 6 with 2 bathrooms.  

This spacious holiday cottage has an open plan fully equipped kitchen and dining space with breakfast bar, a cosy snug and a sunroom that leads out onto the patio and garden.

It has several highlights

  • A private hot tub exclusive for our guests use.
  • A log burner that turns the holiday cottage into a cosy haven.
  • We welcome up to 2 dogs (with no extra charge) and have an enclosed garden with scenic walks from the door.
  • The setting is quiet and peaceful and is the perfect place to come with family or friends to rest and recharge.
  • Although we are rural we have great Wi-fi with fibre from the door and the Breakfast Bar makes for a good workspace.
  • This holiday cottage can be rented alongside Casita lodge to sleep 8.

 

What's So Special ?

Cleanliness
We fog the entire cottage between guests using a safe and natural product that's also food safe and has been proven to kill Covid-19.  Our Cleaning Team do a thorough clean leaving each room smelling lovely and fresh ready for our guests.
Added Value
Our kitchens are fully equipped for self-catering and include some added “extras” so whatever you decide to create you should be able to find what you need. We like to provide our guests with a small kitchen pack and some other necessities that we hope will be helpful during their stay. We also like to leave a welcome pack.
No Extra Costs
We wanted to make booking easy. At our holiday cottages there are no additional charges for heating or electric, for bedding or towels, for Wi-Fi or for bringing your canine companion to stay. We try to provide as much as we can as standard so that you can start relaxing from the moment you step inside the door.
Central Location
One of our guests commented in a review that ‘nowhere is too far’ and many other guests have mentioned how the central location of our holiday cottages makes it easy to explore the surrounding areas. Every holiday cottage is located close to amenities including supermarkets, pubs, coffee shops and more. Guests can explore the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and South Wales with journeys ranging from 5 – 45 minutes.
Our VIP Club
We like to think that Willow Forest Stays are a little different to other vacation rentals you may have stayed with.  We like to keep in touch with our guests at whatever part of the journey they are at.  If you are planning a stay or have stayed and would like to keep in touch please consider joining our newsletter. Here is the link https://eepurl.com/hss_OD
Stunning Views
Woodland Barn is situated high upon the hillside overlooking woodland, countryside and the horseshoe bend of the River Severn. On a clear day, with the help of binoculars, you can see the Severn Bore from the terrace. My favorite days are when the fog is low in the valley and the skies are blue, you can’t see the river, but the air feels fresh, and I feel like I’m walking high above the clouds.
Dog Friendly
James and I love to take our dogs on holiday with us, after all they are part of our family. We are pleased to welcome up to 2 dogs at Woodland Barn and 24 at St John's FREE and we provide the following items as part of our standard : * ‘I’m on holiday’ dog tags with our contact details on the back * a soft and cosy blanket so that your dog can enjoy lying on the sofa or in the comfy chair * doggy bags and a gift from my dogs (Molly & Simba) to yours. We have a few requests :- * We would be grateful if you could help keep Woodland Barn clean and tidy by cleaning up after your dogs and not allow them on the beds. *Please can we ask that you don’t leave your dog alone – there are links to walking routes in our on-line Guest Guide and some information on dog-friendly activities and places to eat in our Guest Guide and Blog. We also have some contact details for dog sitters. * We do not supply dog beds or crates, please can you bring your dogs usual bedding to help them to feel at home.
Enviromentally Friendly
We use sustainable toilet and kitchen roll in all of our holiday cottages & holiday lodge. Our supplier partners with charity 'Just a Drop'. Each box of kitchen roll supplies a child in Kenya drinking water at school for 6 months and a box of toilet roll supplies clean drinking water for 12 months. * We have electric cars which are charged by solar panels to reduce our carbon footprint travelling between holiday cottages. * At Woodland Barn we have an air source heating pump which provides hot water to run the underfloor heating etc.
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Our Team

Patricia Whatson
Executive Director

Emily Austin
Marketing Director

Michael Reed
Customer Care

Susan Mc Ryan
Creative Director

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