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Review: Staying at Longleat Safari Park’s Deer Keeper’s House

As part of our staycation series, we’re off to explore Longleat Safari Park and stay at one of their exclusive onsite accommodation locations.

Ever since the pandemic put our holiday plans on hold, we have been debating whether or not we go abroad this year or stay a little closer to home. The chaos at the airports is enough to put anyone off, but along with the weakening of the pound against the euro and dollar, and the uncertainty of covid, we decided not to book flights this year. In comparison, Longleat is only 1 hour and 30 minutes from our home in Cardiff, compared to a 2-hour flight to Spain, plus airport travel on top.

When we choose to stay in the UK, we often find we book much shorter breaks. In fact, many of our most recent staycations have been for 1 night only. As with all families, we’re always on a budget. The balancing act with any holiday is do we stay somewhere cheaper for longer, or do we stay somewhere nicer for shorter. If we opt for the latter, we’re keen to turn it into an experience that we either do once or certainly one that we don’t do all that often.

Longleat Safari Park

For a long time, we’ve been envious of our friends sharing Instagrams of their amazing time at Longleat. If you don’t know, Longleat offer VIP experiences that promise to get you even closer to the animals. They have a range of options to choose from and to suit a variety of budgets. However, whenever we have gone to book, we’ve left it too late in the season. Who knew they would be so popular? We certainly didn’t. This meant that the year that we had wanted to go (2021) wasn’t possible. In fact, I ended up speaking to Longleat and setting myself a calendar reminder for early 2022 to book for May half term… and even then, quite a few options had already gone.

What we booked

  • 1 night stay at the Deer Keeper’s House (£709 including extras below)
  • Extra afternoon tea hamper (it was a special occasion)
  • Upgraded to full English breakfast hamper
  • Longleat Cuddly Toy (Extra Large Koala)
  • Bronze VIP Safari Tour for 3 people (£270)

I know to a lot of people; this is an incredible amount of money, and it is. However, when you consider that we haven’t been on holiday for more than 3 years, it was a treat and a special occasion (someone’s birthday).

Our itinerary

  • Day 1 – Safari Drive Through + Main Square
  • Stay overnight at the Deer Keeper’s House
  • Day 2 – Bronze VIP safari tour + Main Square

The luxurious accommodation

For our Longleat stay, we decided to book 1 night at the Deer Keeper’s House, which is located on the north-western edge of the parkland. It’s neatly hidden away in forestry area and if you pass it, it would be easy to miss.

Once we had spent a full day at Longleat, we were able to check in at guest services, who provided us with all the information that we needed for our stay.

Pictured: Rhys Gregory and partner Alice Alexandra

On arrival at the property, we were completely blown away by the size of it and its beautiful surroundings. It had a cottage-like feel with its low ceilings, wooden beams, stone floors and fireplace (which you can use).

The Deer Keeper’s House at Longleat

Finding the cottage was made easy, as a map of the property was provided by the Longleat team. As you drive around the parkland, it would be easy to miss, as it’s nestled amongst trees in a secluded siding.

The front of the Deer Keeper’s House

The front of the cottage has enough parking for up to 4 cars (in our opinion). The entrance has its own mini court yard where you can park your vehicle ready for unpacking.

The study

You can tell that a lot of love and planning had gone into the décor, from the wallpaper, seating, and mini study room.

Throughout the property, you can learn more about the history of the building, how, why and when it was built. We found these touches particular fascinating and we wished we had more time to learn about it. The Longleat website does give you more background information, so it’s worth checking out ahead of your stay.

Did you know? The Grade II listed Deer Keeper’s House was built in 1775 by Thomas Davis, the assistant to Longleat’s Steward. Because Davis paid for the building’s construction himself, his yearly rent for the land was only two shillings (roughly equivalent to the daily wage of a skilled tradesman).

Overall, the property boasts 3 beds (1 double bed, two singles and an attic master room with bath). Enough for up to 6 people I’m told. There is also a downstairs W/C, family bathroom and bath facility in the master room.

The bath at the Deer Keeper’s House at Longleat

The master bedroom is lucky enough to have its own bath, which was simply gorgeous, but it takes a while to run the water.

The room with two singles at the Deer Keeper’s House

Each room has been tastefully decorated. Fresh towels, bed linen and dressing gowns were provided in each of the rooms. As there were only three of us staying, we had the pick of the rooms.

The first floor bathroom

You can tell that the decor, right down to the bathroom and towel rails had been carefully chosen to give a luxury feel to the Deer Keeper’s House.

The kitchen

The kitchen had a farmhouse feel with a modern twist, with all mod cons. The fridge was pre-stocked with the extras that we had ordered. It was ample for the three of us, and you can easily see how a larger family could enjoy the space.

The outside patio area

Outside, there was a small patio with a large grass area. There were table and chairs outside, which we decided to use for our afternoon tea experience. We had brought with us some champagne and extra snacks, which made it perfect.

The Longleat afternoon tea featuring fresh local produce (with some extras that we brought with us)

The weather had been hit and miss during the day, but we were lucky enough to have the best of the weather whilst at the property. This allowed us to space out our afternoon tea, and enjoy summer games on the grass as the sun went down.

The living room

The living room space is equipped with everything that you need. All of the digital channels and subscriptions, including Disney. Blankets and cushions, and even a small fireplace.

Plenty of wood, kindling and matches were provided.

As warm as it was when we visited, we couldn’t help but light it and set off the evening as we cosied down.

The bronze VIP tour

Whenever we go away and especially if we’re not there all that long, we endeavour to maximise our time.  You will see from our itinerary above, we tried to pack in as much as possible in a short period of time.

By staying onsite, it allowed us to reach our starting point from the tour on time and without stressing with traffic getting to Longleat.

Credit: Longleat

There are several VIP experiences to choose from. We opted for one of the 4×4 experiences, which is perfect if you want the taste of getting up close and person with the animals, without getting eaten. They do offer feeding experiences if that’s more your bag, but there are age restrictions, so check before booking.

The bronze VIP tour was shared with another group of three, although you do have the option to book the tour exclusively if you wish.

Longleat bronze tour

Our tour guide was clearly very experienced and offered insight into the park and animals, which we didn’t have when we drove through on day 1 on our own. He was also able to radio ahead and get permission to drive ‘off road’ and get even closer to some of the animals.

The bronze VIP tour – before we got a little closer

One of the highlights were the giraffes, which is part of the drive through experience, whether you decide to book a tour or go it alone in your own vehicle.

Feeding the deer the previous day (in our own car)

A word of warning if you are precious about your vehicle though. Be mindful that these are captive but still wild animals, and they won’t care if you are driving a people carrier or a Mercedes. However, if you want to avoid the monkeys for example, you can skip sections of the tour when in your vehicle, just follow the signs. It isn’t just the monkeys that you need to wary of either, as we found out when feeding the deer the previous day.

Feeding day for the big cats at Longleat Safari Park

We were also lucky enough to see the big cats on feeding day, which meant better photo opportunities and made it extra special.

The Manor House at Longleat

There is still plenty that we didn’t get to see, including the manor house and the extensive parkland that Longleat has to offer.

Longleat Safari Park only has limited onsite accommodation, so if you do decide it’s something that you want to do, I would suggest planning ahead. They also occasionally offer discounts throughout the year and are also part of the Clubcard scheme.