Do you hanker after the bucolic, cream tea and sandy beach English holidays of your (or, more likely, your grandmother’s) youth? But, err, you don’t really fancy eschewing all those little luxuries without which a holiday feels, somehow, so much less. And you’d prefer not to schlep to Cornwall this time, thank you very much.
The very first holiday we took after we had C was a gentle toe-in-the-water trip to Dorset (home to many of my own childhood holidays). Now, hands up, I am spoilt on the hotel front (not, I should add, as spoilt as Alex, who has spent years nipping around the globe reviewing a-may-zing hotels for fancy-pants publications. The woman was the Travel Editor for Brides, there is not a honeymoon suite worth it’s rose petals she hasn’t checked out).
So, I was not willing to accept that having a child meant style-free cottages or cheese-tastic family-friendly resorts (obviously, there are exceptions). Thank the gods of travel then, for Baby Friendly Boltholes. Simple concept, well done. It was here that I found The Cowshed – a mini barn conversion in a I-wish-we-lived-here village (there’s a pub and an aesthetically pleasing playground), owned by a lovely I-reckon-we’d-be-friends-with-them couple.
See? It’s lovely, no?
The cottage is a bit like Babington House for babies. It has everything – everything – you need (cot, bunk bed, baby bath, steriliser, bouncer, highchair, changing mat, all conceivable paraphernalia a new parent could possibly want – yes, I waaaay over-packed. We’ve been back since (packing considerably less) and C adored the toys, the playroom, “the big boys” (the owners’ two delightful sons). We loved the sleek interior: the wooden floors, wood-burning stove, White Company linen (show me the woman who doesn’t love White Company bedding and I’ll show you a woman who hasn’t slept under it), the welcome basket packed with local goodies, the fact that you can book a trusted babysitter beforehand, the kitchen which is actually better than ours at home…
There’s also oodles to do. We walked over field and through woods to the King John Inn (delish food), drove to beautiful Studland Bay, pottered around the local villages, visited the farm shop and the petting farm, pretended we’d moved to the country (my husband wishes; I need to satiate my urban yearnings first). Decided to come back.
From £395 for a short break (Monday to Friday or Friday to Monday); from £545 for a week.
Images: Studland Bay by Adam Burton Photography; the Cowshed from Baby Friendly Boltholes