Andy Mossack revives a Masai Mara safari experience while glamping at Brook Meadow.
It was the birdsong that confused me.
After a balmy night in a four-poster bed embraced in the rustic trappings of safari lodge luxury, I was woken by a nearby bird enjoying some early morning banter. I had been fully invested in a dream about a past trip to the Masai Mara where, for some reason, the hippos were tweeting. Actually tweeting, like birds….
Clearly, my subconscious had been fully seduced by the authenticity of Marabou, a luxury safari lodge, not in Kenya, but in rural Leicestershire, glamping at Brook Meadow. It seemed even the British weather was in on the act, a proper heatwave in late September adding another layer to the Masai vibe.
If you’re seeking a safari lodge glamping experience, Marabou delivers it in bucketloads, courtesy of the Hart family’s three generations of beef and arable farmland, and Claire Hart’s skills in architecture and interior design supported by her talented team of carpenters and upholsterers.
Marabou is a spacious antique colonial style two-storey tented lodge for up to eight people close to the farm’s fishing lake, with its own private access via a small footbridge over a stream. The rug-covered open plan living area includes a lounge with comfy couches and armchairs and a cosy wood-burning stove. A hefty oak table and eight chairs provides comfortable indoor dining while a well-equipped kitchen with a Smeg fridge, kettle and toaster, electric hob and sink takes care of the catering. There is even a small breakfast bar for three for those snacky moments.
The bathroom is unexpectedly roomy, with trendy copper piping and free-standing tub, rainforest shower, sink and plenty of hot and cold water.
But for me, the rustic charm of Marabou really shines out with the sleeping layout. The master suite is a study in colonialism, a king-size four-poster replete with decorative nets. Then, tucked away behind heart shaped doors and up a couple of steps, lies a cabin snug with another king size mattress. And up on the mezzanine level via a wooden ladder is one more king bed and a couple of snuggly camp beds.
Out on the decking there’s more furniture for lounging around on sunny days and warm evenings, and another sizeable dining table. Down a few steps into the garden and a fire pit and chair swing await. It’s particularly cosy after dark when the solar powered fairy lights spring to life, and there’s no other light to spoil some stargazing on a clear evening.
But glamping at Brook Meadow has much more to offer than just an Out of Africa lodge experience. For an extra touch of indulgence why not have a freshly prepared breakfast hamper delivered to your door? I just had to, couldn’t help myself. A basketful of local produce from local caterer Nicola Ash at La Fête Fleurie; cold cuts, cheeses, crusty bread, homemade granola, compote, and pastries, milk and ground coffee.
Joining the main camping park, there’s Mooovie nights in the cow shed (see what they did there), and during the summer season a wood-fired pizza oven in a horse box, turns up on Saturday nights.
Claire’s dad Jasper runs guided tours around the entire farm estate in his vintage 4×4. Plenty of tales and glimpses of the outdoor Avalanche Adventures activities on offer including clay pigeon shooting, quad bikes, racing buggies, a giant 4×4 off-road circuit, land hovercrafts, and even opposite-steer buggies.
The mind boggles.
Up at the farm shop, mum Mary (locally known as the hen whisperer) seemed to have an endless supply of freshly laid free-range eggs available, and there’s some emergency supplies, including a few tubs of very tasty local Thaymar ice cream.
Glamping at Brook Meadow is a real find. It won me over from the moment I drove through the gates. While Marabou is about as close to a real safari lodge experience as you can get without travelling to Kenya. Minus those tweeting hippos of course.
Breakfast hamper and Lubenham scarecrow images (C) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Glamping at Brook Meadow.
A four-night self-catering midweek stay in Marabou costs from £145 per night based on two people sharing. Add £15 per night per additional person, up to eight people.
Or a four-night midweek stay in a lakeside lodge costs from £120 per night based on two people sharing. Add £15 per night per additional person, up to four people.
Non-electric camping pitches cost from £24 midweek and £26 Friday to Sunday or Electric camping pitches from £34 midweek and £36 Friday to Sunday. Cost includes one vehicle for 2 people and the pitch. Based on a two-night minimum stay at weekends.
Optional extras include a range of gorgeous handmade, locally sourced, hampers delivered fresh to the door from £10.50 per person; wood fired pizzas on site every Tuesday and Saturday and a coffee shop with artisan homemade coffee and cakes. As part of a working farm guests can also go egg collecting with farmer’s wife Mary, take a 4×4 tour of farm with Jasper the farmer or settle in on a straw bale for a Saturday night ‘moovie’ in the cowshed cinema.
Getting to Glamping at Brook Meadow
Brook Meadow is easily accessible from across the UK and just over an hour by train from London to Market Harborough or two hours by car.
This is an area of natural beauty and plenty of history. Naseby and its battlefields, so pivotal in the English civil war, is nearby. Market Harborough is well worth a visit, as is historic Lubenham Village which holds a scarecrow festival every September.
The George in Great Oxendon is a former 18th century Inn offering super lunch or dinner fare with ingredients sourced from local suppliers. There’s a constantly changing a la carte menu or a 3 course Auberge Supper (lunch or dinner) every Monday to Wednesday for just £22.50. Fish and Chip Friday is always popular too. Excellent value and very generous portion sizes.
The George, Harborough Road, Great Oxendon, LE16 8NA
Tel: 01858 452 286 Or click here to reserve a table.