Destination: England: Cotswolds
What a joy: a proper hotel for adults that also offers all sorts of treats for babies and children, guaranteeing a good time for the whole family. For the kiddies, there’s a heated indoor pool for splashing about (with separate child zones and times); a wonderworld crèche run by nanny pros; a relaxed, pub-style restaurant, the Gumstool Inn, complete with high chairs, bibs, homemade purees, warm organic milk and staff who get down on their knees to clean up the mess and still smile. And you can also forget the hideous bedroom-sharing scenario that always involves trying to fit the travel cot into the bathroom and hushed voices, putting a damper on romance.
The ten new family suites come with separate children’s bedrooms (two single beds or bunk beds, plus room for a cot) in the same smart contemporary style as the rest of the hotel and a fabulous monitoring system that connects to the front desk. While staff listen for the stirrings of sleeping children, parents get to tuck in to sophisticated comfort food—pressed foie gras and apple terrine, seared sea bass, licorice crème brûlée with blackberry sorbet—at the sexy restaurant. What else is there? A gym (if you must), glorious walks and cycle routes, a spa so serene that your brain will turn to mush and an outdoor hot tub. It’s so cheering that a cluster of old-fashioned stone farm buildings in the Cotswolds has been transformed into such a thoroughly modern, thoroughly friendly hotel. Rates from $586.
Nearby Restaurant: Chef’s TableEditor’s Note: Following a member’s recent stay at the Calcot with her two children, we have the following notes to make on family dining, pool use, and other specifications put forth by the family-friendly manor:
- Children are only allowed in the indoor pool from 3:45 – 5:15 PM, but they are allowed in the outdoor pool all day.
- Children are not allowed in the main restaurant for dinner but are welcome for lunch. The Gumstool Inn pub – run by the same kitchen – is open for children and parents at all meals.
- In addition, Children’s High Tea from 5:30 to 6:00 PM allows little ones to partake in the adult tradition, either with parents or independently (with the hotel’s on-call nannies). The Gumstool Inn Pub opens for supper at 7:00 PM, directly following tea.
- For adults wishing to dine in the main restaurant without the children, the child monitor system is invaluable. The hotel will provide a monitor in the bedroom that the front desk staff watches closely. If anything issues arise, you’re alerted right away in the main dining room.
- Last, the crèche is a score for families. Outfitted with art supplies, games, and – yes, Playstation – the all-day crèche is supervised by hotel nannies. You can book time in the crèche on an à la carte basis; or, you can also pay a £30 supplemental fee that provides you with unlimited access to the crèche, complimentary High Tea, and the baby monitor use all in one.
Cowley Manor glows majestically as you roll up the driveway, not so much Cotswolds chic as classical Italianate grandeur, with fabulous grounds that are sculptured and landscaped within an inch of their lives. Well, it’s Grade II listed, but you won’t find any traditional formality inside. So long, Chippendale and chintz, tartan carpets and heavy velvet curtains; all is groovy and bright here, like the azure pool table and the leather-clad walls in the billiards room. This is one funky country house. Pick an “Exceptional” room in the main house; some of the rooms have private terraces, which are bathed in sunlight when those English clouds part.
The pièce de résistance is still resolutely the C-Side spa, artfully tucked into the hillside of the garden and cloaked by a roof of lavender. The steaming swimming pool slices through the sunken courtyard and is toasty even when there’s a nip in the air. (Do make sure to book a spa slot, though; it’s packed at weekends.) Back at the hotel, all is surprisingly child friendly. There’s even a complimentary dedicated high tea for the little ones, when the usually elegant and serene restaurant becomes bright and flamboyant with primary-colored plastic utensils and kid-size nibbles—not a chicken nugget in sight. And later, for grown-ups, wild boar steak with black pudding mash, warm Cotswold rabbit salad and seriously good puddings. What a winner. Rates from $478.
Nearby Restaurant: Le Champignon Sauvage
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