If Calcot Manor offers everything a frazzled parent could wish for, our visit couldn’t have been better-timed – we arrived after a busy week at school and the office, hoping for a sunny weekend in late May to splash in the outdoor pool and roam the 220 acres but facing a forecast of torrential rain and abnormally cold temperatures.
Luckily this luxurious 14th-century country house hotel with its award-winning spa and restaurant, located about five kilometres west of Tetbury, immediately transported us into another world, offering us a warm welcome, fantastic food and fires blazing in each living room. After our first gin and tonic we instantly relaxed.
Our vast family suite included a room of their own for the kids upstairs. Toys and books are provided, and a baby-listening service reaches all rooms, even those away from the main hotel building. When the kids were finally asleep, we treated ourselves to a fantastic meal in the smart conservatory restaurant, serving local dishes.
The children were so excited by the thought of a chocolate-themed breakfast followed by a few hours in the OFSTED-registered play centre that they woke at 6am – the homemade shortbread and the board games allowed us to win few extra hours in bed. They’d been right to be excited though – Coco Pops, chocolate croissants that they smeared with Nutella, and as much home-made smoothie aas they could drink put the sugar-free, sawdust-style muesli I serve up at home to shame.
Calcot Manor’s crèche is available to hotel guests free of charge. I was a bit concerned my seven-year-old was too old for it – the play-barn is split into two levels, ages 0-7 and 8-12, with older ones getting the use of The Mez with its computer games and cinema. But she enjoyed playing Mum to the younger ones, and her younger sister was there to keep her company. This allowed my husband and I to spend some time together in the spa and to work off the four-course breakfast in the swimming pool and on the four-kilometre ‘trim trail’ within the grounds. The outdoor hot tub in the beautiful stone garden with its roaring wood fire was ideal for a wet, cold May.
The indoor swimming pool is only available to children at certain times, and the outdoors pool is open May to September. Happily, our children weren’t disappointed that they missed these swimming times and that the weather was too grim to swim outside – there was plenty to keep them happy. We spent a memorable day at Westonbirt Arboretum a few kilometres' drive away through pretty Cotswolds villages, with its woodland walks and open stretches of meadow, experiencing the spring walk of rhododendrons, bluebells and azaleas in their multicolour glory.
After a cold blustery walk and in need of some fuel, we headed for the Arboretum’s restaurant, run by the Calcot Manor kitchen team. The children’s sandwiches were made with thick brown bread and chunky ham – a welcome change from the plastic ham on white stale bread served up at similar establishments. The food was very reasonably priced and the cakes to die for. Just as at Calcot Manor itself, everything was spot on.
Read more about luxury family breaks in the Cotswolds at Calcot Manor.