Cots and lots pro­vided in this Cotswolds haven

Na­ture meets lux­u­ri­ous nur­tur­ing on this fam­ily brea – Sh­erna Noah per­suades her son to swap his tablet for a trowel in The Cotswolds

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GLOBETROTTING -

IT’S not ev­ery day you’re happy to stand back and watch your five-year-old whack a ta­ble with a large, wooden mal­let. But at Wool­ley Grange, a lux­ury ho­tel on the edge of the Cotswolds, that’s ex­actly what my son is be­ing en­cour­aged to do.

We’ve trav­elled to this Ja­cobean manor house for a short break, and our visit hap­pens to co­in­cide with a Tues­day morn­ing gar­den­ing ses­sion for chil­dren (aged two to eight years).

And so, Isaac is thor­oughly en­joy­ing bash­ing ap­ples from the ho­tel or­chard to bits to make juice for the res­tau­rant.

Dat­ing back to the 17th Cen­tury, Wool­ley Grange looks im­pos­ing when Swing­ball, pond dip­ping and cro­quet will keep you busy – not to men­tion the chick­ens we first walk up the gravel path­way to the en­trance.

But we soon dis­cover a re­laxed at­mos­phere, where chil­dren can run around de­spite such grand sur­round­ings.

Isaac gets to plant broad beans and col­lect a freshly laid chicken egg from the nest­ing box. And his tablet – which we’d brought along for the car jour­ney – is now ly­ing aban­doned and for­got­ten in our room.

Depend­ing on the time of year, dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties, such as ap­ple press­ing, take place in the walled gar­den, where chick­ens, ducks and geese roam freely.

It’s a kids’ haven with a trac­tor to climb on and two wooden play­houses with real gera­ni­ums grow­ing in the win­dow boxes.

El­iza Reid, the head gar­dener, who used to work as a re­searcher on wildlife TV shows, wants chil­dren to get plant­ing young. So she launched the once-a-week Lit­tle Green Fin­gers Club, where kids hone their skills plant­ing flow­ers and veg­eta­bles un­der the tu­ition of the gar­den­ers. But it isn’t just our son get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion.

I’d never thought about where my bath­room loofah came from and hadn’t re­alised it was a fruit.

But Isaac helps cut the loofah, which re­sem­bles a large cu­cum­ber, from the “Loofa-to­rium” for later use in the ho­tel spa.

And this is where I find my­self a few hours later, hav­ing a full body mas­sage where the “golf balls in my shoul­ders” are rubbed away with jo­joba oil.

The spa menu in­cludes fa­cials, mud co­coon and pump­kin treat­ments. I come away from my mas­sage feel­ing taller – and at 5ft noth­ing, that’s a real re­sult.

Be­ing ver­ti­cally chal­lenged can be ad­van­ta­geous at Wool­ley Grange, how­ever. My 6ft 2in hus­band has to duck to en­ter our Jaco bean-pro por­tioned bed­room, with its beau­ti­fully ex­posed low wood beams.

Our two-level suite com­prises a sit­ting room, which serves as our son’s bed­room, a walk-in wardrobe, huge bath­room and our bed­room, with views of Wool­ley’s grounds.

We look out to cedar, weep­ing wil­low and wal­nut trees and the invit­ing-look­ing out­door pool.

There’s also a 12 by 7m in­door pool, with a view through full-length glass win­dows of the herb gar­den.

There’s a sauna and steam room next door, so you can nip in while tak­ing it turns to play sharks with your chil­dren.

If you want more time to your­self, you can book a ses­sion for your off­spring at the Of­sted-reg­is­tered creche, or Wool­ley Bears Den.

And at night, most par­ents en­joy a can­dlelit din­ner alone, by mak­ing use of the in-room mon­i­tor­ing ser­vice where re­cep­tion staff alert you if they hear your child wake up.

Wool­ley Grange was a fam­ily home in 1989 when its own­ers opened it up as a coun­try house ho­tel.

It’s now part of the Lux­ury Fam­ily Ho­tels group, a col­lec­tion of eight, up­mar­ket child-friendly prop­er­ties, rang­ing from a castle in the Cotswolds, to Fowey Hall in Cornwall, said to be the orig­i­nal in­spi­ra­tion for Toad Hall in The Wind In The Wil­lows.

In­side, Wool­ley Grange is full of char­ac­ter – we find carousel horses and a stuffed bear on the land­ing.

There’s a dark pan­elled lounge and a sit­ting room that dou­bles up as a cin­ema, with DVDs you can take to your bed­room.

But we spend most of the time out­side, do­ing a lit­tle pond dip­ping and vis­it­ing the na­ture gar­den with its rab­bit and “in­sect ho­tel”.

For those with energy to burn, there’s a trampoline, Swing­ball, a cro­quet lawn and space to play football or bat a ten­nis ball.

We’d planned to ven­ture out of the ho­tel dur­ing our stay – Bath is only eight miles away, the his­toric town of Brad­ford on Avon is a five-minute drive and there’s also Lon­gleat Sa­fari Park – but we don’t quite man­age it.

There’s sim­ply too much work to be done in the gar­den, Isaac in­forms us.

Wool­ley Grange spe­cialises in look­ing af­ter fam­i­lies

PA Photo/Hand­out

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