We’re back with another venue review. This week I thought we’d take a look at the gorgeous Woodlands Manor Hotel in Bedford. Slightly off the beaten track, this gem of a venue is hidden in the Bedfordshire countryside a bit north of Bedford. It has the sleepy village vibes and a woodland garden setting, hence the name. The building is interesting and beautiful dating from 1812 with a great entrance and front aspect for photos.
There are three rooms used for weddings and events: The Library, The Conservatory and The Autograph Room. As the name suggests, The Conservatory is a garden room with lots of windows, giving you an outdoor feel while being inside. This cosy room is quite small and often used for afternoon teas, but can be set up how you need it for your intimate ceremony or reception. It is very small space though, so capacity is limited to 30 people maximum depending on the layout. It feels larger than it is though owing to being a bright, light room with mirrors along one wall.
Events are mainly held in The Autograph Room, with its larger capacity. The Autograph Room links into the Library, which has a capacity of around 40 ish people but the Autograph room has capacity for around 120 guests. Again, capacity depends on how you layout the rooms. For intimate ceremonies and receptions, Woodland Manor is the ideal venue. It is quite a quaint slightly old-fashioned style for some, but well decorated for a traditional manor house feel. The chairs are attractive and comfortable, and highly suitable for weddings – I know it’s a daft detail, but it might help to know you can save money on hiring chairs or coverings.
For larger guest lists you could hire a marquee in the grounds. With the rooms on offer, it would be my suggestion that you use the Autograph room for a larger ceremony so you can make the most of the venue, then have your post ceremony drinks served before moving into a marquee. You get the best of both worlds that way ad you can invite considerably more guests to the evening reception.
The best feature of this venue is its intimacy so you really should aim to make the most of this. It’s a hotel so it has 34 rooms for use by you and your guests. The rooms are comfortable and traditional and good sized with all the usual amenities, you’d expect from a manor house hotel of this style. You’re not too far from Bedford here so further guests should be able to find other hotels in the area or be able to order taxis for the ride home as necessary.
On to the food. It’s an important part of any wedding so having a good menu is key and with Woodland Manor Hotel you’ve got some great sit-down menu options, though quite traditional, they offer great value for money. Having tried the food here, I can vouch that it is as tasty as it looks but I’m definitely a fan of couples making a visit for lunch or dinner. This is a fab way to check out a venue and not just for trying the food but to get a feel for the ambience. If you’ve got the chance go on a date night or join in on a party night that’s open to the public, or pop in for lunch. Make the time for a look around while staff are just about their normal business. You won’t be disappointed. I’ve always found the staff to be friendly and courteous.
Though Woodland Manor Hotel has lots to offer you may need to be aware that it isn’t fully wheelchair accessible. Due to the age of the building, some doorways are quite narrow and it was built with steps up or down into the main rooms, which is okay for the more mobile; they aren’t huge steps, and usually just one or two at most at the ground floor. There are ground floor bedrooms available too, though even they too may have a step or two. If you have a guest with mobility issues it’s best to check with them in advance to ensure they can be accommodated.
If you wish and your budget allows, you can hire Woodland Manor Hotel on an exclusive use basis. You’ll need to give ample notice for this as there may be other guests booked in otherwise. There is ample parking for 120 cars. Arrival by other means can be accommodated too and the driveway and vehicle access is wide enough and with enough headroom for the vast majority of vehicles.
Woodland Manor Hotel is a quirky traditional venue, which might not appeal to a more modern, trendy couple but if comfort and professional 5 star service are in your top priorities, the Woodland Manor Hotel is well worth a look.
What are your priorities for your dream wedding venue?