Writer and mum of two, Clair Hart, recently came to stay with her family on our ‘Time for You’ Toddler break. She wrote this lovely account of her stay and kindly agreed to host it on our blog. We hope you enjoy reading!
Hello, Clair here!
Anybody with children knows that going on holiday isn’t always relaxing. The moment you kiss your baby for the first time, you kiss goodbye to those luxurious Mr & Mrs Smith nights away.
Or that’s what we thought until we stumbled upon Woolley Grange Hotel’s ‘Time for You’ Toddler Break.
Woolley Grange, a stone’s throw from Bath, has come up with an ingenious toddler friendly hotel formula for tired parents pining for a little bit of down time and pampering.
Relaxation is the overriding sensation as you walk through the doors of Woolley Grange, an old Bath-stone Jacobean manor house on the rural outskirts of medieval Bradford-on-Avon.
On the outside, the hotel looks like any other boutique spa hotel. But, walking through the entrance past muddy wellies, dog toys and board games - you immediately realise that this hotel has something different in store.
No formal reception, just a warm, welcoming, historic house filled with families relaxing by the fire with their children and couples snuggled up on sofas reading the latest magazines. The friendliest of staff making sure you have everything you need to kick back and relax.
Aside from the numerous snugs and lounges, this hotel has a serious ace up it sleeves: childcare!
The Woolley Bears Den and more...what every parent needs to know!
The hotel isn’t just a toddler friendly hotel, it has a huge adjoining nursery, the ‘Woolley Bears Den’, with brilliant staff and everything your toddler could ever wish for. Ordinarily, every night that you stay entitles you to two hours of complimentary childcare, but with the two night ‘Time for You Toddler Break’ you get up to 8 hours in total with the lovely team in the Woolley Bears Den. Also on offer is a 60 minute spa treatment of your choice (or 2 x 30 minutes) in their luxury Elemis spa, a two course candlelit dinner on both nights whilst they do the baby listening, and a Friday morning lie in for mum and dad whilst the staff take your toddler off to the Woolley Bears Den for the Toddler Breakfast Club. How great is that for tired parents!
Toddlers eat for free with choices from their fresh and tasty children’s menus and have full use of the family friendly indoor swimming pool spa (there is also a heated outdoor pool in the summer). The 14 acre gardens also have lots for toddlers to enjoy, including the White Witch’s house, play shops, swing, trampoline, Rosie the pig and the flock of comical Indian runner ducks.
Another bonus: the hotel has all the toddler equipment that you need, so need to pack the kitchen sink.
How toddler friendly hotels should always be…
After checking in and exploring the beautiful grounds and spectacular walled garden, the kids wanted to explore the Woolley Bears Den. With toys galore, arts and crafts and lovely, caring staff. My two year and three year old boys were in their element.
My husband and I took this golden opportunity to head to a deserted snug and indulge in a little tipple in front of a roaring fire.
How often do you get to have quality time together during the day when you have babies? It was so lovely to get the chance to have some uninterrupted adult conversation and just do nothing. Guests have the option of pre-booking and paying for a babysitter if they want to go out. Instead, we opted to grab the kids when their two hour session was up and take them to ‘Children’s High Tea’.
Feeding time at the zoo can be a torturous time in a restaurant, but not here. The boys’ table was set up with their names, crayons, paper, plastic cups, plastic plates, plastic cutlery, bibs, drinking bottles. You name it; they had it ready to go. We went for a sausage & mash combo as it’s a guaranteed plate clearer at home. The boys got a starter of hummus and veg dips, and opted for a fresh fruit salad for pudding.
After tea, we decided to explore the spa and pool. It had everything you’d expect to find in a luxury spa, as well as large family changing rooms and lots of floats to keep the kids entertained. The water was lovely and warm and my husband and I took it in turns to try out the steam room and sauna.
When we headed back to our hotel room, we were blown away by the set up. The bed guard was already on the bed, the potty was already in the room, and the tea station was fully stocked. A member of staff also delivered warm milk to the room for the boys’ bedtime.
We stayed in the Balcony Room, a beautiful room with a vaulted ceiling, deep luxurious bath, huge plush bed and, best of all, a separate connecting room for the children.
A very enjoyable date night
Once the boys were tucked up in bed and the intercom all set up we headed off for our ‘date night’. As we headed down to the hotel it was amazing to see all the other couples’ transformations from daytime parent mode. The ladies had taken the time to do their hair and put their glad rags on. Some even donned heels. The men all looked relaxed and pleased to be out without the children.
It has to be said that Woolley Grange is worthy of a date night. The staff are attentive yet relaxed, the setting is special, and the food is utterly spectacular. Many of the ingredients are grown within the hotel’s wonderful walled garden (which guests are free to roam). The head chef works closely with the head gardener to produce dishes made from seasonal ingredients, grown just outside. The food we enjoyed would be at home in a Michelin Star restaurant.
My husband and I almost forgot that we had children, until one of the reception staff (monitoring the intercoms) came over and whispered that one of our children was stirring in the room. After dashing upstairs to tuck the youngest back into bed, my husband and I continued with the comfort of knowing that our children were being closely monitored by reception.
The next day whilst the children were enjoying their childcare, we took advantage of our spa treatments. I went for a facial and my husband went for the back massage (30minutes each).
Half an hour just to myself. Bliss. The therapist talked me through what she was going to do and then very quietly pampered me for 30 minutes. By all accounts my husband’s back massage was good too.
The rest of the afternoon we spent wandering around the walled garden. My husband gleaned some tips from Eliza, the head gardener, whilst the boys explored the ‘village’ of twee wendy houses, complete with a mini play shop.
A much needed lie-in
Our evening followed the same format as the night before, but we were sufficiently relaxed to tuck into an extra couple of cocktails.
This made the next treat even more special. The children were collected from our room first thing in the morning and taken to ‘Toddler Breakfast Club’ where they were fed, watered and entertained whilst we enjoyed a rare lie-in.
We then meandered down to breakfast to revel in an extremely quiet full English whilst reading the mornings papers. Not a child in sight.
The best toddler friendly hotel in the world?
Overall our break was fantastic. The perfect combination of family and couple time. The hotel and grounds are stunning and the staff are wonderful. Nothing is too much trouble and you do get a sense that they genuinely like the relaxed, chaotic atmosphere that having children round you brings.
We’re lucky enough to have stayed in some lovely hotels that state they are ‘child friendly’. What they actually mean is, ‘ we will tolerate your children if we absolutely have to’. This is not the case for Woolley Grange, they aren’t just child friendly they are child encouraging. If you forget something they have it, if you need something they get it, if you don’t want something they get rid of it.
I’d like to stress that this is an independent review and I cannot recommend the ‘Time For You’ toddler friendly hotel break enough.
We will definitely be back. And yes, possibly the best toddler friendly hotel in the World!