The Smith family, comprising of Mum Jen, Dad Gordon and 3 year old Sophie escaped London for a much needed break at the Woolley Grange Hotel in Wiltshire. Jen was 33 weeks pregnant with their 2nd child so they were looking for somewhere where they could relax and recharge their batteries before Baby Number 2 arrived. Find out how they get on at the Woolley Grange Hotel and if it’s possible to have a relaxing break there with an active 3 year old!
To say we were looking forward to our holiday at Woolley Grange would be an understatement. I was 33 weeks pregnant and had been busy all year with my new business, an art gallery for children, we’d recently moved house, and my husband had been working long hours. Our nearly 4-year-old daughter Sophie was waiting to start at her new nursery and becoming increasingly bored hanging out at home with her ever-expanding mummy. It was time for a break!
We arrived at Woolley, just outside Bradford-On-Avon in Wiltshire, in the glorious midday June sunshine after an easy two-hour drive from London. Friendly staff, and the resident dog, welcomed us warmly into the wood-paneled reception of the beautiful Jacobean manor house before showing us out to the garden terrace for drinks and lunch.
Children’s High Tea
Woolley Grange is one of eight hotels forming the Luxury Family Hotels group, and among the many things it has perfected is its menu. Their children’s menu is wide and covers lunch, snacks and a 5-6pm high tea for kids to enjoy in its lovely Orangery. For adults there is everything you would expect from a luxury hotel, so if you want a newspaper and a tall glass of Hendrick’s and tonic (or a lovely mocktail for me) while you watch your darling little one eat their locally sourced sausage and mash, you’ve got it.
After refueling we began to explore the extensive hotel grounds. We tried a little mini-croquet, looked for frogs in the pond and bugs in the nature garden, bounced on the trampoline and took a quick dip in the gorgeous heated outdoor pool (ok, I admit I flopped on a sun-lounger). Sophie was becoming almost delirious with pleasure and we were all starting to realise we had found a great place to get away from it all.
Our room was ready in the early afternoon so we went upstairs to unpack. We had booked a family double room in the main house, just above the restaurant and facing out through a bay window over the idyllic garden and local countryside. Along with a big en-suite bathroom, desk and armchairs there was plenty of space for a small bed for Sophie, tea and coffee making facilities and a TV and DVD player. Being such an old house the room was full of character while at the same time plush and comfortable. We felt a bit like we were visiting posh friends at their country pad.
Once we were settled in we went to explore a little more and found a small outdoor children’s playground as well as The Hen House, an older children’s play shed where Sophie enjoyed her first game of table football. Just beyond was a beautiful walled garden where many of the herbs, vegetables and flowers for the hotel are grown and where runner ducks and chickens roam around happily.
At the very end of the walled garden is the quite brilliant Good Life Garden; a fenced-off area with two very cute little play sheds set up as a house and a shop, a tractor to climb on, a sandpit and a rabbit run, along with lots of chairs and tables for parents to sit and relax. We found this a great spot to unwind in the sun the next morning, after a rather large buffet and cooked breakfast, before eventually hitting the swimming pool.
Spa and Swimming Pool
The spa and indoor swimming pool were real highlights of the trip for us all. The modern building is just four years old and has been designed to nestle seamlessly into one corner of the walled garden. We spent hours each day splashing around in the warm water with the wall-to-ceiling windows making it seem we were still in the garden – and without any of the worry of constantly reapplying sun cream! In the afternoon my husband and I treated ourselves to some spa treatments while Sophie had a great time playing in The Den, Woolley Grange’s Ofsted registered crèche, where the staff were great and the indoor and outdoor spaces very well stocked with toys.
Adults Only Dining
Sophie enjoyed her children’s dinner at 5pm and we then borrowed a Peppa Pig DVD from the hotel’s library so she could have a much needed chill-out before we got her off to sleep and went down to the very grown-up restaurant for dinner. Woolley offers a baby listening service using your room’s telephone and knowing that she was just upstairs meant that we could relax and enjoy the delicious three-course menu included in our room rate. Babysitters from the crèche are also available if needed.
Suites are available for larger families and while the entire house is full of fantastic artwork, period furniture and luxurious soft furnishings, there are no sharp corners or glass ornaments anywhere to make you worry about accidents or breakages. The overall atmosphere is one of relaxed luxury where adults and children alike feel very much at home.
Almost as soon as we arrived we were saying to ourselves we would definitely return to the hotel as it’s so easy to get from London and there was so much for Sophie to do that we couldn’t help but relax. Most other guests had babies or pre-school children and the staff were incredibly patient and helpful, so there’s no fear of your little-ones bothering anyone else, or messy eaters being frowned at. The historic local town of Bradford-On-Avon is just a mile away with shops, cafes, restaurants and a canal way to explore and Longleat Safari Park is close by too.
We stayed at Woolley Grange for three nights on a midweek bed-and-breakfast package, which included two evening meals. Children’s meals plus lunches and drinks are charged as extras but the crèche is free for up to two hours each day. I’d recommend visiting midweek and outside of school holidays if you can as the rates are obviously more competitive. We might try a cosy winter break next time!
Click here to visit the Woolley Grange website. The hotel offers lots of special offers which can be viewed on their website
Little Carousel Art Gallery
Jen Smith is the Founder of the Little Carousel Art Galley – an exciting collection of fine art made exclusively for babies and children. Visit the Little Carousel website for more information.