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The ideal weekend in a country hotel consists of leisurely breakfasts, long walks and evening cocktails by a fire; which is what Calcot Manor and Spa in the Cotswolds offers in spades, even when you’re travelling with children.
It has all the trappings of a grown up, stylish country pad but with thoughtful experiences, from children’s swimming times to an excellent kids’ club, a separate children’s dining hour and a gingerbread biscuit on their pillows – meaning parents are able to enjoy themselves, too. Quite cleverly, it’s managed to finely balance the magic of being family-friendly while simultaneously grown-up.
Citizen Enfants visited the glorious 16th Century manor house to have a play.
The beautiful honey-hued Calcot Manor and Spa delights in providing the perfect laid back country casual vibe, where you can curl up by the (several) roaring fires with a coffee – or an excellent cocktail. The estate is set within 220 acres of rewilded Cotswolds countryside, meaning there is plenty of space to explore and let off steam. Everything is designed to help you switch off and enjoy your stay.
The rooms are decorated in a laid-back country style, completely with quietly glamorous, luxe touches. There are plenty of rooms or suites that accommodate families, with the largest more like mini cottages with a lounge area (including mini bar, kettle, coffee machine), large, comfortable L-shaped sofas that you can all sprawl out on to watch TV or play games, a huge master bedroom with a four-poster bed and upstairs, a twin room that has thoughtful touches for children, like a Tonies box (you can borrow the characters from reception), and a welcome package on their pillows including a gingerbread man and a hot chocolate kit.
There’s also a very large family-sized bathroom (decked out with Aromatherapy Associates for grown-ups and bath toys and Bramley’s products for the kids).
The food is part of the star attraction at Calcot; the ingredients are locally sourced, of exceptional quality and prepared to an incredibly high standard by the talented chefs, whilst still catering to the little people’s tastes.
Breakfast is served in The Brasserie and includes a buffet as well as a hot menu for children (porridge or pancakes amongst the choices).
Lunch can be in The Hive – a laid back bar-café style area with comforting fires, or for a slightly more formal option, taken in The Brasserie, along with dinner. Dining options in The Brasserie range from locally sourced steak, served delicately sliced and pink on a rustic board, to a wild cod with a muscle sauce to a tasty risotto. Kid’s dinner is crowd pleasers like spaghetti bolognaise or burger and mash.
The Ofsted-registered kids’ club – or ‘Playbarn’– is fantastic for all ages (there’s no minimum age); older kids and teens can play on computers upstairs while younger guests can indulge in a huge amount of toys and dressing up clothes downstairs, or arts and crafts with in-house professional babysitting staff. A generous four hours of childcare is included for every night of the stay.
There’s an outdoor woodland playground to burn off extra energy, including a separate zone for the most junior guests, with sensory games to play with and set pool times for children’s sessions. The whole family can also enjoy the tennis courts, bikes (including baby seats or trailers) and disc golf course, or a walk around the estate along the 2.5mile nature trail.
The spa sits above the indoor swimming pool in a separate building to the main hotel and is a beacon of tranquillity. It has had a waitlist for membership since it opened nearly 20 years ago, and now the newly-refurbished gym, the Grain Store, has opened to much acclaim, repurposing the agricultural building into the new wellbeing space using upcycled and sustainable materials. Along with Technogym equipment, there are new studios offering holistic sound healing, yoga, pilates, barre and ballet sessions.
In the spa itself, the exceptional Elemis-trained beauticians offer a full range of beauty services, including an incredibly effective Elemis pro glow facial. Gowns and flip flops are provided at reception, and you can enjoy the steam and sauna, as well as the outdoor hot tub, with a covered outdoor relaxation area complete with, of course, a fireplace. There are two pools available (the outdoor one is closed in winter months), with specific times for family swimming which you are encouraged to pre-book.
If you are tempted to venture off property, Tetbury is the closest town with wine bars, cafes and shops (including the high end antiques emporium Lorfords. Westonbirt Arboretum is five miles south, with plenty of walking routes, picnic sites and even a Gruffalo trail. Meanwhile Highgrove Garden, country home to the King and Queen, is about six miles away.
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