For my birthday last year I decided to go away for a UK weekend break with Christian and the children. Finding more enjoyment from experiences these days to gifts, we picked Woolley Grange in Bradford-on-Avon after reading about its child friendly credentials.
An easy 45 minute drive from our home in Bristol we arrived to a warm welcome from the reception staff, with both the children being really grumpy having been woken from a car nap, the staff ushered us up to our room promptly. We’d paid a bit extra and booked the split level, John Baskerville suite as we wanted somewhere with space. Our bedroom was upstairs on the same floor as a huge bathroom and Poppy and Caspar had ready-made camp beds in the area which would normally be a living room, downstairs in the split level room. The website describes how John Baskerville etched his name into one of the windows back in 1760, whilst we didn’t spot this we did experience the age of the property in other ways… Remarking to the children that I could see a trampoline in the garden as I peered out of our bathroom window, my son asked me to lift him up so he could also take a look. As I held on to him he pressed his forehead to the window excited to see the trampoline, with that the old window sprung open and he lurched forward. This gave us both a fright and whilst he came to no harm, I shuddered at the thought of what would have happened if I hadn’t been holding on to him.
In the same 10 minutes we had another awkward moment when, as my husband and I unpacked our suitcases, the twins began to play hide & seek in our bedroom. Requesting my husband join in the game, Christian joined Caspar as they hid behind a door off the main bedroom. That’s when the knocking started and shouts of ‘Err can you open the door please’. I couldn’t. Somehow they’d hidden behind a fire door which shouldn’t have been open, upon them shutting the door they’d become locked in a small recess. With it being a fire door we had to ring down to reception, who apparently could only release the door by setting off the fire alarms to enable the fire door to then spring open. Both children found this quite frightening and we had 10 minutes of their tears immediately after. So not the best start to our Woolley Grange experience, but we put it down to one of those things and went to explore what Woolley Grange had to offer!
Outside is a large area, with outdoor pool, trampoline, tree swing, croquet, football, as well as a separate ‘Good Life garden’ with a tractor and playsheds. Inside the house the main sitting rooms have a box of toys, with wooden train sets, puzzles and jigsaws, this kept Poppy and Caspar interested for twenty minutes whilst we had a cup of tea and read the paper.
The children loved the heated, indoor swimming pool and we went swimming both days. Adjoining the swimming pool is a spa area, with beauty treatments on offer. A two hour visit to the Crèche is also included on each day of your stay. We chose to only use this once, turning down the Sunday morning breakfast club (8:00am-9:30am) where the children can be collected from your room by staff and taken to the crèche. We did use it on the Saturday afternoon and found the Crèche to be large with plenty of toys. Both Poppy and Caspar seemed to have enjoyed their crèche playtime and it appeared well run (it’s Ofsted registered).
We ate in the Orangery and found the food to be really tasty for both the children and us. With everyone else also dining with small children you didn’t feel uncomfortable when the children were being loud or bored. The breakfast selection was huge and dinner was the same, however the choice of what to eat at lunchtime was more limited, presumably as they expect most people to head out, off-site during the day.
Easy dining with young children.
Great indoor heated pool, with steps.
Relaxed, family-friendly vibe.
Not enough to do on wet days with very little ones.
Limited lunch selection.
Whilst we enjoyed the weekend we felt on reflection we wouldn’t go back to Woolley Grange, the main reason being that we paid a premium price for the break yet felt the overall experience didn’t live up to this. Woolley calls itself a ‘luxury family hotel’ but sadly to us it didn’t live up to the Luxury – although the price we paid did!
We were also lucky that it didn’t rain whilst we were there, with smaller children the pool and crèche are your main activities and in bad weather both of these would soon become crowded.