By Charlotte Pearl, Co-founder Pink Lining
So the day had finally arrived… My children were in a state of high excitement, except perhaps Henrietta Jane, being only 2 months old… and therein lay my one slight reservation. Were Rufus and I totally bonkers to be zooming from our home in London, to spend a night in a country hotel with our 3 children, Amelia-Rose, Lucas, and Arthur – ages 10 years, 7 years and 5 years respectively and little Henrietta barely past new-born stage? Could this possibly be relaxing or help recharge Rufus and my slightly frazzled batteries?Hmmm. It turns out that on this occasion we weren’t, bonkers that is! For this wasn’t just the a run of the mill country house hotel we had alighted upon the rather grand steps of after a very impressive journey along the field clad driveway, but one that that somehow managed to beguile the children whilst catering for every luxurious whim of their slightly weary parents.
Despite the verdant green grounds rolling away from either side of the rather splendid country estate the Four Seasons Hotel in Hampshire was a mere 45 minute drive from London, meaning I observed rather smugly, that we didn’t need to even make a pit stop to feed Henrietta en route – for once! All of a sudden, after a relatively painless journey we were ensconced in the most beautiful countryside and being greeted by a warm and courteous doorman who led the way to more members of the hotel team whose attentiveness and genuine desire to make one’s stay as lovely as possible was above and beyond the norm.
Whilst Rufus and I were checking in, the children were asked to look inside a large wooden chest to one side of the desk and choose a little welcome gift. They couldn’t believe their luck! From that moment on it was one lovely thoughtful surprise after another. Our bedroom was spacious and elegantly decorated, again, no attention to detail was spared – there was a cot for Henrietta just across from our bed and in the bathroom there was a gorgeous gingham lined wicker basket filled with all the lotions, potions, and wet wipes a little baby could possibly need and even a bib! Moreover, her name had been spelt in foam letters along the bath which was very sweet.
The 3 older children had a large interconnecting room with 3 single beds in a row that reminded me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears! Their eyes lit up at the sight of the next treat, beautifully decorated cake pops with their names written in chocolate along the rim of the cake plate just begging to be eaten! They were most excited to see that all of their names had somehow managed to also be squeezed along the bath in foam letters and Amelia immediately tried out the Childs Farm children’s creams laid out for them.
Darling little towelling dressing gowns and matching slippers provided were quickly slung on over swimming costumes, in excitement to go and make the most of our time there and go to the swimming pool. We had been assured that it was very acceptable to go from one’s bedroom to the swimming pool in one’s robe, but there is something rather liberating about not having to worry about getting changed to walk to the pool or back again – in fact I overheard Arthur telling his friend’s rather confused mother a few days later that he had the best time because he stayed at a hotel where he was allowed to wear his dressing gown all day!
What is amazing is that the hotel manages to combine being so family friendly and relaxed without losing its air of luxury or elegance. It is appealing for both adults and children. I think it manages to achieve this via very careful planning. For instance, there are times when it is ‘adult swimming time’ to give those without children the option to have a quiet swim (or maybe also those with children who need a break!!) The walkway to the pool is not through the reception so you don’t feel ridiculous traipsing through in your dressing gown!
The swimming pool was fabulous, Henrietta certainly seemed to approve of the venue for her debut swim!! To get to the pool, one had to register at the spa reception, which from what I could wistfully glean of the menu looked very beguiling! However, the menu at the Asian inspired “Bistro” restaurant was even more tempting at that moment, and much needed after swimming lengths with children clambering all over our backs.
We all shuffled back in our slippers and robes to our rooms to relax and get ready before the family celebration dinner we had booked for the evening. I must admit that I was rather apprehensive about having dinner with 3 children and a 2 month old baby in the rather formal restaurant “Seasons”, but again it had been organised so that children were allowed before 8pm in order for some adult time thereafter too. Rather sheepishly, Rufus and I arrived at the restaurant, but again the welcoming attitude and lovely smiles for the children put us all at ease. There was even a fantastic children’s menu and our dinner was absolutely superb, Henrietta very helpfully slept throughout the whole thing! Eating at 7pm meant that the children had a very special late night dressed in their best clothes and we had a very special early night – which is precisely what parents of a new baby need!
Exhausted by all the excitement the children went to sleep relatively quickly, tucked up together cosily in their three beds, and Rufus and I even managed to watch a film in our room – leaving the interconnecting room ajar so we might hear them.
After a delicious breakfast the next morning we embarked on our final adventure, a hack around the extensive grounds. We were driven to the beautiful new equestrian centre to have hats fitted and get gloves and protective vests for the children. They even had spare Barbours and wellies for walks should anyone need them. Despite the rather miserable weather, we had a lovely ride and the ladies who took us round were so kind and reassuring to the children.
We could have done so many more things if only we had the time. Lucas had been asking to play football where a goal had been set up outside, there was a fantastic kid’s club and of course, the spa for me! But, we had managed to pack a lot into our overnight mini-break and all came back feeling we had a very luxurious, yet fun family break away from London.
It was the perfect way for us all to celebrate Henrietta’s arrival with a fun and luxurious adventure for all the family.