I’m a big fan of family weekends away.
For me, they’re the only way to ensure I actually slow down. At home, there’s always so much to do and not enough time to do it. Away – I RELAX. We all do. And I love that!
Akira’s birthday is at the beginning of December and I’m always mindful that I want to keep it very separate from Christmas so he doesn’t feel short changed. So when Luxury Family Hotels asked if we fancied a weekend away, it seemed like the perfect way to celebrate my baby turning 5. *sobs
I stumbled upon their website one day whilst
faffing around on the internet working hard on my computer and LOVED what they were trying to do. I’ve always lived by the mantra that having kids doesn’t change things and you can still enjoy the little luxuries in life. Of course, it’s not always the case and I laughed a little too hard watching Paddington over Christmas when the stars rocked up to a maternity unit on a motorbike – 9 months pregnant, not a care in the world – then left with their Maxi Cosi in a beige Volvo! Mmm. Sounds familiar! But Woolley Grange serves as a wonderful reminder that you can still enjoy all those little luxuries in life when you become parents. Situated in 14 acres of stunning countryside, on the edge of the Cotswolds just outside Bath, it’s the kind of place you’d usually feel like you constantly had to shush your kids. But no – it’s totally luxurious yet fully welcoming of kids and pets. What’s not to love?!
And by “welcoming of kids” we’re not just talking highchairs and bibs my friend – although of course, they’re there! But Woolley puts kids at the centre and it shows, with everything you need for kids of all ages including a bottle cleaning service (I know!) cots, bedguards – you name it, it’s there. And you can even tell them everything you need in advance.
There’s even a Sunday morning nanny service to take care of your children while you have a lie-in… I’ll let those words sink in…. a LIE-IN! Plus there’s just about every kind of magical outdoor fun you can imagine including a Good Life Garden complete with Bug Hotel, maze, playhouses, tractors, chickens, ducks, Simon the rabbit and Lillibert the hamster! Yeah. Had you at Hello didn’t I! Even the reading table in reception has every kind of magazine a parents heart could desire, alongside tons of books for kids.
AND (just incase you haven’t started checking your diary already) included in your stay are 2 hours of free childcare a day so you can sign your children into the Bears Den for a few hours of fun, while you get some R & R. You can also use the facilities as a family at various times and we had a brilliant time in the Hen House, playing and chilling.
We stayed in Balcony Hall which worked brilliantly as it’s in a separate building to the main house and has two bedrooms – so you don’t have to go to bed when the kids do. Not that you have to anyway at Woolley as there’s a Movie Club so the kids can be entertained while you have dinner a deux. I always think the sign of a good weekend away is a ruffled duvet on a Sunday morning (say no more!) covered in magazines and papers! Bliss.
We loved being outdoors and fully embraced the elements! We have swing ball at home which we generally play in the summer and wouldn’t dream of busting out on a frosty morning. But “Extreme Swingball” (as it became known) was a big hit and we all got mildly hysterical as we played, fingers and toes numb from the cold, loving every minute!
The outdoor pool was, understandably, shut for winter but looked pretty amazing! The indoor pool and spa area are cunningly next to each other so, whilst one of you enjoys a massage (me) the other (Trey – with his short straw – see what I did there?!) can keep the kids entertained in the lovely pool. When else can you swim whilst looking out at a vegetable patch with ducks and chickens? There are even play puzzles on the wall next to the lockers and a playpen in the pool area incase you have a baby (or rather, have a baby with you! Not randomly “have a baby” whilst swimming – that would just be awkward!)
Akira is fairly shy so I didn’t bring a cake to have in the restaurant on his big day, as I didn’t think he’d like the attention. Big mistake. HUGE! Imagine my horror when the staff came marching in with a cake singing “Happy Birthday” and Akira’s face lit up… …then fell as he watched them march past to a woman on the next table, also with a birthday! Yeah. Mummy Error!
I rushed out and explained what a terrible parent I was (!) and the staff quickly rocked up with a Happy Birthday Banana Split and delivered it in full voice! Akira was thrilled, and I inched one step closer to the Mummy of the Year Award! (I didn’t. Obvs!)
Woolley Grange is close to lots of towns and villages to explore but we were there for some quality family time so pottering around, going on walks, reading magazines and generally enjoying each others company was just what was needed. I strongly recommend leaving your wheels in the car park for the duration of your visit.
And when you do get back in your car to leave, the memory of your trip can live on in the shape of some produce from the Honesty Shop at the Potting Shed selling vegetables and herbs grown in the Walled Garden and eggs, courtesy of the resident chickens.