Our pre-Christmas mini-break was to the beautiful Isle of Wight. Having crossed the Solent on a Wightlink ferry, we stayed in Cabin 1 at Tom’s Eco Lodge, within the grounds of Tapnell Farm Park. This is located a convenient 5 miles (12 mins by car) from the car ferry in Yarmouth. We spent 4 nights on the island, arriving at 10pm in total darkness!
Finding the Lodge
Knowing we were arriving late, the staff at Tom’s Eco Lodge ensured the lights were turned on to help guide us in! Finding the parking area for the lodge was straightforward – you just need to follow the signs. Having parked in our allocated space, we decided to locate the cabin before unloading the car. We had a torch with us, and this came in very handy! We followed the signs down a woodchip path, through a woodland lined with safari glamping tents, until we found Cabin 1 beyond the trees. The cabin was reached via a gated decking area (great for pets and young children).
At this point the children decided to run back to the car to get a wheelbarrow, unload the boot of the car, and wheel our bags to us! They rather liked pushing the wheelbarrows …
There’s a definite ‘wow’ first impression as you enter the cabin. It’s instantly home-from-home and cosy. I’m even going to be trendy (and I’m never trendy) and say the cabin oozed hygge! Lots of lovely soft furnishings, and I was particularly taken by the hedgehog cushions; I foster wild hedgehogs so have a bit of a soft spot for the prickly creatures!
You were definitely in a wooden cabin, as wood defined the interior décor with unique chairs and tables. There were also some tasteful Christmas decorations, which was a nice touch.
Let me take you on a quick photographic tour of the lodge. Here’s the main living area with two L-shaped sofas, a bookcase loaded with a range of reading material and board games, a unique coffee table, and a retro radio …
The kitchen was very well equipped with everything you need, including a dishwasher, microwave, oven and hob, washing machine and fridge-freezer. A large wooden dining table, with benches and handmade chairs, is a very sociable space with lots of room for everyone to sit around to eat, play games etc.
Leading off this main area is a corridor from which the you access the two bathrooms (one with a bath tub, the other with an excellent powerful, hot water, walk-in shower) …
Bedroom 1 with twin beds (don’t you just love those towel elephants!) …
Bedroom 2 (double):
Finally, Bedroom 3 (2 x bunk beds):
I was particularly taken by some of the wooden wall art:
TV versus No TV?
We have two tech-addict children and one of their first questions having chosen their bedroom was “where’s the TV?” There isn’t one. There is a radio though if you ‘need noise’. There’s also really good wifi if you feel you must catch up with Eastenders on your phone. However, TV defeats the object of being in this beautiful part of the world – walk away from technology and soak up the silence while you can … the TV will be waiting for you when you get home.
To be honest, it was nice to be away from a TV – it encourages you to read more, and (goodness me) actually talk to one another!
The brilliant thing about arriving in darkness is that when you explore the following morning it’s like discovering it all over again! Can’t believe we didn’t spot the hot tub! Once we did, the kids were rarely out of it!
There’s also a BBQ, deckchairs and picnic-style seating. The best thing though? Oh, the view! The lodge looks down over a valley of fields. Birds of prey swoop through and the cloud often sat low in the valley making you feel really high up; it’s a view you’d never tire of.
We fell in love – with chickens – while staying at Tom’s Eco Lodge. There’s a large enclosure full of ex-battery hens who love to race you! The birds are in amazing condition, proving just how much they love living there … and their eggs tasted amazing. You can collect eggs for breakfast each morning (there’s an honesty box for donations in the carpark).
Here’s the chickens …
Other Accommodation Types
I mentioned earlier the Safari Glamping tents. We didn’t look inside them, but they are a really good size for a family, with a decking area looking out towards the chickens. Some even have wood-fired hot tubs!
On the other side of the tents is a clearing in the woodland, where there’s communal seating and a fantastic pizza oven for all to use. We’re a huge fan of artisan pizza when camping, so would definitely make full use of this during the warmer months.
Beyond the two cabins there’s a row of eco pods … I didn’t explore these, but they look cosy and a lot of fun and perfect for families who want to get closer to nature, but don’t want to pack a tent in the car and all the accessories that goes with it.
Tapnell Farm Park
If you have young children, the location of Tom’s Eco Lodge within the grounds of Tapnell Farm Park is absolutely perfect – a huge bonus. If you don’t have children – don’t worry, you are far enough away to not hear or be bothered by it!
Tapnell Farm Park is a lovely children’s farm. There’s lots to see and experience, with a range of activities throughout the day. And for children with pocket money, there’s a shop!
We visited on the run-up to Christmas, so there was a steady stream of young people visiting Santa (with his real reindeer). Toby was particularly taken by the lovely clean festive tractor!
There’s lots to see at Tapnell Farm Park. My favourite was the Wallaby Walkabout – the cheeky wallabies kept trying to escape! I was particularly fond of the white ones 😊
There’s also meercats here too …
Back inside the main building, in the ‘Meet the Animals’ section we loved petting the goats and sheep.
The row of sleeping piggies was so sweet …
And the Guinea Pig Village was brilliant!
Millie-Mae, with her love for all things creepy crawly and scaly, loved the Bugs and Beasties display … but however hard we looked, we couldn’t see the stick insects!
Outside, in the Paddock, we saw some alpacas as we went in search of the donkeys.
Go karts, zipwires, soft-play and outdoor playground
Toby loved the brilliant go-kart track. There’s a variety of karts to choose from too – from single ones, to side-by-side doubles, to ones with a child seat on the back … providing fun for the whole family.
Inside the barn, there’s a brilliant zipwire …
… As well as a climbing wall, straw bale play area, and plenty of seating. This is a good area to have any picnic you may have brought with you.
Outside you’ll also find a farm-themed playground, jumping pillow, climbing frame and Sledge Slide:
There’s also an indoor soft play and a Toddler Zone just beyond the café.
The Farm Park Café has lots of space for children and prams etc.
They serve hot and cold food and drinks – there’s an extensive menu of homemade cakes and sandwiches. Obviously, lots of meals suitable for children.
I cannot fail to mention The Wight Herd … some very (very) decorative cows located throughout the park …
Other Facilities on Site
The Cow at Tapnell Farm
The Cow is a highly popular restaurant located between the Farm Park and Tom’s Eco Lodge. The menu looked fantastic, but we didn’t get chance to visit during our stay. (The cabin was so comfy all we wanted to do was cook ‘at home’.)
Isle of Wight Adventure Activities
One day, as we were driving out, we spotted a coach offloading LOTS of people at the activity centre. This was two days before Christmas … we’d love to know what activities they had booked! Isle of Wight Adventure Activities offer a huge range of challenging fun, including (as a small selection) coasteering, kayaking, paddle boarding, mountain boarding, bushcraft, axe throwing and archery. I feel exhausted just reading about them!
Top Targets offers rifle shooting and clay pigeon shooting. Toby really wanted to have a go with either of these, but we were too busy alas.
Do We Recommend Tom’s Eco Barn and Tapnell Farm Park?
Absolutely. The Cabin was simply delightful. Genuine ‘get away from it all’ peaceful luxury. The children’s farm on-site was an added bonus. The Eco Lodge complex wasn’t very busy at all when we visited, so can only imagine the atmosphere during warmer summer days. It was perfect for us; as well as exploring the island we managed to relax and recharge before heading home for the hectic week that is Christmas and New Year. We’ll definitely return … I’ve got to, because I want to take a white wallaby home!
We were invited to stay at Tom’s Eco Lodge in return for an honest review. All opinions expressed above are our own.