Besides inspiring us to ramp up the fitness regime, the buzz from the Olympics has kicked off a bout of British wanderlust. Travel experts Mr & Mrs Smith already tipped us off to the best boutique hotels in London, but now they’ve cast their net a little wider, bringing you family-friendly stays in Berkshire, the Cotswolds and leafy Wiltshire.
Style Grand, glamorous country seat
Setting Pukka polo parkland
Luxurious country manors within easy access of London don’t come more glam than Coworth Park hotel and spa, just outside Ascot in Berkshire. The 17th-century mansion and polo estate has been treated to an intelligent and eco-friendly modern makeover that’s given it three restaurants, a spectacular spa, and an air of quietly confident grandeur.
Sleeping Set apart from the main Mansion, the Cottage rooms offer a bit more privacy, although all Coworth’s rooms easily accommodate free extra beds or cots. Larger families can book the three-bedroom private Dower House.
Activities Indoors there’s a Wii, a library, TV and DVD selection, plenty of Lego, a dolls’ house and train set, and several play areas, including a crafts room and a kitchen. Outside, there’s a sandpit, basketball and a playhouse (oh, and 240 acres to run around in). The Chill Den has a Wii and Xbox, 3DTV, air hockey, pool and football tables. There’s a packed calendar of art classes, nature trails, treasure hunts, t-shirt making classes, sports days and the ilk, plus outdoor activities on tap, such as football, croquet, riding, biking and tennis. After all that action, a good night’s sleep is guaranteed.
Feasting All Coworth’s restaurants welcome kids at any time – Michelin-starred chef John Campbell has created a menu of locally sourced, seasonal and organic treats, specially tailored to junior palates. High chairs are available, packed lunches can be provided, and staff are more than happy to heat baby food or milk.
Sassy savings Stay three nights for the price of two, and score a bottle of wine on arrival.
Style Family-friendly farmhouse
Setting Homely heart of Gloucestershire
A 14th-century farmhouse set three miles from Tetbury, amid the leafy rural roll of the Cotswolds, Calcot Manor offers the acme of family escapes, with child-geared facilities at every turn and a parent-pampering spa. Family-friendliness, however, doesn’t make the hotel a passion killer – the couples-only rooms in the main house, sophisticated fine dining, and an outdoor hot tub mean the manor’s as appealing a destination for twosomes as it is for toddlers.
Sleeping There are 13 rooms and suites that have been specially kitted out for families, with plenty of space to sprawl in. The Large and Deluxe Family Suites are spread over two floors, and have separate kids’ bedrooms, dotted with teddies and toys.
Activities The Mez children’s area for over-eights is stuffed to the rafters with games, including table football, Wii, Xbox, PlayStation and a home cinema. For more outdoorsy diversions, there’s 220 acres of grounds featuring cycling trails (bikes with child seats are available free), walking paths, tennis courts and during the summer months, a maize maze.
Feasting There’s an excellent children’s tea served in the Gumstool every day at 5.30pm. Under-eights are discouraged from the main Conservatory restaurant but the Gumstool children’s menu is one of the best we’ve seen – entirely home-made and organic. For the miniest of Smiths, organic baby purées are also available. High chairs are supplied, baby food or milk can be heated at any time, and staff will readily prepare a packed lunch.
Sassy savings Book a two-night midweek break and receive free breakfast, plus £40 each to be used towards dinner in the hotel restaurant. You’ll also get a Calcot champagne cocktail each on arrival, to help ease you into holiday mode.
Style 17th-century country living
Setting Wonderful Wiltshire
Small, luxury and family-friendly Woolley Grange is set in 14 acres of glorious private grounds on the outskirts of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, just eight miles from Bath. Laze by the pool in summer, retire to the fireside in winter, and enjoy the verdant English countryside all year round. Your children will love its giant trampoline, heated pool and amazing kids’ facilities, too.
Sleeping Suites have sitting rooms; the newly renovated Hayloft is popular. All rooms have space for an extra cot or bed, but it’s a squeeze in the standard doubles. Children sharing parents’ rooms stay free, paying only for meals.
Activities This child-friendly hotel has generous grounds to run around in, an outdoor play area, children’s croquet, bikes (and helmets) to borrow free of charge, outdoor table tennis, football nets and a giant trampoline. Little Smiths will love the vintage tractor parked up near the kitchen garden shop. Indoors, there are board games, and PlayStation consoles in the (unsupervised) Long Room playroom.
Feasting A two-course children’s lunch (£5) is served in the Orangery, and high tea (£7) is served daily in the Woolley Bear’s Den crèche; pre-order at reception in the morning. There are high chairs in the restaurant and Woolley Bear’s Den. The main restaurant is adults-only after 7pm (last orders are 9.15pm). If you want to eat in the evening as a family, the Orangery serves dinner from 6pm, with special ‘Teenie’ menus for the children.
Sassy savings Enjoy three nights for the price of two, plus receive a free pre-dinner glass of champagne each night, late check-out and a cream tea.
To book a child-friendly Smith stay visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326. What’s more, BlackSmith membership is now free for life, so book through Smith to receive life-enhancing extras and exclusive offers at more than 900 hotels and holiday houses around the world.