We rented the Old Rectory for the weekend and had 6 couples to stay. The house is beautifully decorated with loads of charm but also has all the mod cons. The owner Claire was fantastic to deal with and even delivered a beautiful new table to the property in time for a celebratory meal which had planned for the Saturday night. Even though the weather was cold, wet and windy we had a fantastic time. On Friday night we had a lovely dinner at the Cuan which is just round the corner. On Saturday we visited Castleward and were lucky enough to catch glimpses of Game of Thrones which was being filmed. We rented bikes and had a fabulous bike ride. Then onto the St Patrick's centre and a great tour from Tim the director who showed us the cathedral, the grave and Saul Church. We had dinner cooked for us by Robert from the Mace next door and delivered to the house and had an amazing meal in the beautiful conservatory. This house really is so special.
The Old Rectory is absolutely perfect for a long weekend with extended family or a group of friends. We travelled in a group of 9 adults and 5 children and there was plenty of space for everyone, including a beautiful glass fronted dining area attached to the kitchen and overlooking the gardens which played host to a couple of very sociable evenings in. The house itself is very well presented, immaculately clean and extremely well equipped with everything provided for including a comprehensive baby pack (use of a buggy, high chair, travel cot and chair swing as well as a plentiful supply of toys). The owner was also very helpful as was Leah Anne who met us and made us feel very welcome from the moment we arrived.
As well as the dining space there is a separate TV room and a large lounge area - even for 14 people the house never seemed crowded. Upstairs there were 5 double bedrooms, 3 of which were en suite, 1 twin room and 1 single room which proved an excellent mix for our group and given the sheer size of the house afforded privacy to those who wanted there own space in the mornings. The master bedroom was spectacular and had a large walk in dressing room which was perfect for the baby's cot and meant we didn't feel like he was in the same room whilst still being close enough to keep an eye on him.
The outside space again is excellent and very well maintained. Highlights include the fire pit and covered area for socialising around a picnic table; the 2 large lawns for games of football with the kids; the many wooded areas again for the kids to explore; and the secret door at the bottom of the garden which leads to your very own play park.
The location of the house was its other main strength just a 2 minute walk (if even) into the heart of a picturesque village which boasts 3 excellent pubs and eateries. There was no need to drive once we arrived at Strangford until we left which really added to the overall sense of relaxation.
Those trips that we did make were across Strangford Lough on the Ferry to Portaferry - the ferry port again being just a few minutes walk from the house; and a trip into Castle Ward (10 minute drive / 20 minute walk), a beautiful National Trust property that houses numerous activities for young kids (Play parks, farmyard etc) and adults alike (canoeing, mountain biking, walking & running tracks).
Overall the time we spent at The Old Rectory made for one of the most enjoyable and relaxing family trips yet. Even though we live nearby in Belfast it was a real treat to stay in such a beautiful property located in undoubtedly one of NI's most picturesque areas and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
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