Calcot Manor. Two words to set my heart aflutter. Having wanted to visit for years, we finally made the trip to Gloucestershire a few weeks ago and at several points during our weekend, seriously contemplated changing the locks and refusing to leave. Yes. If you have children and don’t or can’t leave them for a weekend, it’s that good. The problem I’ve previously found with many child-friendly hotels is that they’re just not that chic. Obviously I understand that luxury and small children are a slightly incompatible mix, but somehow, Calcot Manor manages to do it. And do it, amazingly.
Firstly there’s the rooms. Just take a look. Not only are they decorated in a wonderfully soothing palette of greys and creams with brilliant touches like sterilisers in every room and two flat-screen TVs, but they are huge. Bigger than most London flats. We were lucky enough to be in a Family suite with two bedrooms on different levels, a living room and pretty little garden. The bed was so big, you could have fitted a family of six in there, not that you’d need to, of course. While the boys’ room was ideal with blackout blinds (which any parent of a small child knows is a must) a giant cuddly fox (which was cuddled a lot) and space for cots. Heaven? Most definitely.
Probably even more important than the rooms is the sheer child-friendliness of the place. From the brilliant childcare in the so-good-I-wanted-to-stay playzone to the monitors in each room, enabling you to go out to dinner whilst reception listens in, to the children’s menus and amazing friendliness of all the staff. There’s also a wooden pirate ship in the garden, a stack of DVDs to borrow and 200 acres in which to roam. You couldn’t wish for better.
The Spa. I love a good spa, especially one with a pool (with an allocated 1hr 1/2 for children) and an outdoor tub. And did I mention the treatments? A complexion boosting facial here, a knot-busting massage there. And then there’s the Bum and Leg Shaper anti-cellulite therapy, the no-surgery Boob Job…Yes, please.
The Food. Oh so good. I could have had the breakfast for every meal (farm fresh eggs, the most delicious pain au chocolats ever, smoothies…). Then there were the scones. And the cake. And the spiced crab cakes. And the Lemon Sole. And the Creme Brulee. Indulge? Moi?
The People. It’s just so darn friendly. Everyone and I mean everyone from the playzone to the restaurant to the spa and reception were universally lovely and clued-up. No vacant eyed stares or looks of worry if you ask for something outside of the box. Just brilliant service with a genuine smile.
I honestly can’t think of a place I’d rather go with my children. I love spending time with them, but I also love having time out with my husband, and what’s great about Calcot is that you can do both. You don’t have to feel guilty whilst one of you looks after the kids. You don’t have to worry that the children are bored with nothing to do, as quite simply they won’t be. And, an important caveat, Calcot Manor would also be amazing without children. The way it’s set up (family rooms in cottages, all the other rooms in the main house) means that if you’re not with kids, you won’t feel overwhelmed by them. It really is a wonderful place.
Go: For a weekend break in the gorgeous Cotswolds. Rooms at Calcot Manor from £280 per night. Family rooms from £335 per night.