Imagine a hotel that collects the kids from your room for brekkie and lets you sleep in! Let's all move in to this made-for-families oasis near Bradford on Avon.
I jump up and down with Muddy joy (not literally obvs. I’m far too lazy for that) when I find something I know Muddy readers will love and whoa, I know I’ve got it spot on with this one. If you’re looking for a family break with younger kids, this is it. A few weeks ago (when the sun was still shining) the mudlets, Mr Muddy and I spent a gorgeous 24 hours at Woolley Grange and it truly was a triumph of relaxation.
The hotel is within spitting distance of Bradford on Avon, a gorgeous historic town harking back to Roman times and steeped in history and architecture. Even better, the shopping in BoA is top notch and a number of new bars and restaurants have sprung up for the more discerning gin-quaffer including the fab-tastic Timbrell’s Yard and The Weaving Shed. A few miles further and a pretty train ride from Bradford-on-Avon is the World Heritage City of Bath, with its Roman Baths, sweeping Georgian crescents, magnificent abbey and rich calendar of cultural events. Enjoy the sights on a boat trip along the river, or get up high and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city on a hot air balloon ride. But right now we are staying put here…nope, you’re not dragging me far from this swimming pool/kids club/glass-of-rose-in-hand combo, oh no…
The hotel is part of the Luxury Family Hotels chain that includes the stunning Fowey Hall in Cornwall and Georgian manor Moonfleet on the dramatic Dorset coast. The idea is relaxed luxury for grown ups – shabby chic drawing room, large fireplaces, slouchy sofas and smart-ish spa – with a treasure trove for kids – pool, trampoline, ball games, swings, croquet, movie nights, kids club, walled garden, potting shed… shall I go on? It’s true put-your-feet-up/ignore-the-pesky-blighters time here.
Small touches like a bar of signature Woolley Grange chocolate on our dinner table and chalk signs with the mudlets’ names on it at breakfast made all the difference and earned squeaks of delight from our smallest monster. Other quirks include the chance to collect eggs from Roald Dahl’s Chicken House No 1, petting Simon the rabbit and – wait for it – the Children’s Breakfast Club on Sunday mornings. They’ll pick up the mudlets from your room so you get to lie in. Yep, I’ll say it again, YOU GET TO LIE IN! Funnily enough, you’ve got to book this one early as it is very popular.
A full calendar of family activities includes events such as the Bath Children’s Literature Festival, with readings and workshops for all ages, and Apple Day in October, when mini muddies can take part in crushing the apples and making juice.
A home from home, I’d say. If you’re knackered with couple of toddlers in tow, come here. If your kids are old enough to take themselves off around the grounds, order themselves a milkshake and knock up a game of cricket while you snooze in the spa, come here. The minute you step through the front door you feel yourself relaxing. There are no huge formal rooms here, just a series of smaller living rooms, all lit with fires and stuffed with sofas in which to fall into, order a cuppa and just chill.
What is it with kids and bunk beds – they love them! The old coach house, just behind the main manor, was an ideal resting spot for us, with two bedrooms in our suite plus a small but perfectly formed bathroom. Other rooms range from the elegant to the quirky, contemporary and stylish to traditional.
Uh, duh! It’s about as kid-friendly as you can get without a life-sized Mickey and Minnie popping up at tea time.
OUT AND ABOUT
There’s loads to do in this beautiful part of Wilts. As well as Bradford on Avon and the shopping mecca of Bath, Lacock Abbey and Fox Talbot Museum are just around the corner. The surrounding countryside, as well as offering Wiltshire’s only 36-hole golf course at Cumberwell Park, has plenty of outdoor family activities to be enjoyed. Cycle along the Kennet and Avon Canal, come face-to-face with the jungle at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park, and visit an abundance of National Trust properties. Castle Combe is a hidden treasure and The Frome Independent is an artisan craft and food market every first Sunday of the month.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families.
Even better for: Families with tiny tots who just need a break.
Not for: Kid-free romantic breaks. There are two many squealing mudlets around for that.
The damage: Stay for three nights this summer with rates from £902 for a family break. Packages often include dinner and complimentary treats such as spa treatments, afternoon tea or family picnics.
Woolley Grange Hotel, Woolley Green, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1TX, Tel 01225 864705, woolleygrangehotel.co.uk