Winter Weekends at Woolley Grange
19th March 2017
Now we are stuck to school holidays it is not so easy to pack up and get away for a family trip. However, for the last inset day back in November we packed up and went South West to Woolley Grange family hotel near the village (or may town) of Bradford Upon Avon.
Why do we put so much pressure on family time when you have one day off ?! By the time we had arrived we had squeezed in a bike ride, a shopping trip, DIY jobs and a traffic jam on the M4!
To say I was relieved to see the kids bound into the kids club and for us to pop open a bottle of wine, is an understatement!
We have avoided weekends away in the UK with the kids ever since we checked into an amazing hotel in the Cotswolds with one child a few years back. We had a amazing weekend, and it was the first time we had used a kids club.
However, our parenting bliss came to an abrupt halt when we checked out and we were presented with the bill. It was huge – think St Tropez on a yacht in the summer size of bill.
I am happy to report Woolley Grange Hotel is not in this league. This hotel is by no means cheap but it is considerably cheaper than our previous experience. The aim of our trip was to get the kids outside as much as possible and not be stuck to our usual weekend routine of clubs and sports.
We had heard lots of things about Woolley Grange such as great kids club, beautiful grounds, not a crazy distance from London and well thought out family rooms. This is all true and we instantly felt relaxed, despite a heavy journey down the M4. I have no idea why the kids loved the kids club so much but they just did. This is true with the rest of the hotel, it just works – it is completely informal with lots of things on hand, decent food and massive grounds. I particularly liked the double room with kids bunk beds next door set-up.
We had a fab family weekend and the kids really did enjoy the grounds and the pool. We went with another family and I am glad we did because 1. they are ace, and 2. it is quite a ‘noisey’ hotel with big groups so it is good to go in numbers. There is loads to explore at the hotel and you never feel like you are indoors for very long despite us going on a cold November weekend. However, I won’t forget reading a whole magazine sitting in front of the hotel fire on the Saturday afternoon with a glass of wine in hand, whilst chatting to my bestie. The food was brilliant and the senior staff do everything to be helpful.
We loved exploring a nearby castle – the kids thought it was brilliant despite it being a lot of ruins. On the plus side this means that not many people go there so the kids can run wild. I really can’t remember the name of it though!
However, I have come to the conclusion that there are a number of flaws that you just have to get over with kid / family friendly hotels. There really is no escaping ‘kids tea’ and any hotel that offers this service is basically saying – kids go hell for leather you will not break our staff, they are trained in the art of children’s dinner warfare. This is a necessary evil because you do want your kids fed before you sit down for a three course number. Therefore, the only way to get through it is with wine consumption. Secondly, the swimming pool is not actually a swimming pool between 10am and 12pm then again from 3pm too 5pm. It is a mass of human soup and no swimming can actually take place in the pool because they are so many kids and floats of sorts. The way to mitigate this is to feed your kids as early as possible at kids tea then when their food has gone down take them in the pool before bed. We could smugly say that our kids fell asleep promptly and peacefully due to exhaustion. Lastly, you have to put up with other peoples kids waking you up. I have no witty comment for this one! We were in a room not in the hotel but at the back and we had kids above us still awake when we went to bed and then making noise throughout the night. This only seemed to happen on the first night after we complained so it would seem the hotel did a good job at speaking with the family.
If we were to go again we would ask for a room in the main hotel because we had not booked a babysitter and I didn’t feel comfortable using the listening service in an outside room. We got a babysitter for the first night but had to buddy up with our friends kids for the second night. You need to be a bit girl scout for this place and ‘be prepared’. Therefore, book your massage in advance, your kids club place and your sitters.
My top tips for Woolley Grange:
- Take welly boots and outdoor clothes. It is a great place for just being outdoors
- Book your sitter, kids club, kids tea simply anything kids related in advance
- Organise for morning coffee and kids milk to be sent to the room so you get an extra lie in whilst the kids watch cartoons in bed
- Don’t expect Sunday brunch, you need to get to Sunday breakfast earlier than you might like! The service was also and the buffet depleted when we arrived (we had decided to play some football before breakfast)
- Plan your day trips before you arrive – some of the staff weren’t so good with tips on day trips
- Take your running gear – a run along the canal is fab
Lastly, we didn’t leave feeling robbed, which was a relief.