We head to the heart of England in our Lexus CT 200h as we continue our tour of the UK’s best compact luxury hotels.
Lexus CT compact luxury tour: Scotland
Lexus CT compact luxury tour: The South
Lexus CT compact luxury tour: East Anglia
Lexus CT compact luxury tour: The Cotswolds
Lexus CT compact luxury tour: The North West
BC (before children) weekend breaks meant indulgence, relaxation, an escape from the daily grind. Dinner a deux, the Sunday papers, a glass of fizz, an afternoon snooze… then the patter of tiny feet brought the end of minibreak hedonism and the start of stressful ‘are-we-there-yet?’ ordeals. Sound familiar?
It can be difficult to imagine me-time combined with familial harmony when you have with a car full of kids who can test your patience before you’ve left the driveway. Luckily, there’s a hotel group that understand the demands of modern parenthood perfectly. Luxury Family Hotels just get it. They know exactly what every frazzled parent longs for – special moments with children and me-time too – and they really do deliver family-friendly perfection.
The Elms sits in 10 acres of glorious grounds overlooking a verdant Worcestershire valley. The extraordinary thing about this hotel is that it manages to be luxurious but ‘lived in’. You feel almost like you’ve been invited to stay at the home of a terribly generous friend (albeit one who happens to live in a Queen Anne manor house with spa facilities.)
You won’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells if your children screech their way round the gardens, drop a biscuit on the carpet or refuse their vegetables.
Huge beds and sofas, indulgent bathrooms and floor space generous enough to mean an extra kids’ bed doesn’t mean shimmying round the rest of the furniture, this is relaxed style at its best. You’ll find all the usual in-room luxuries and child-friendly touches such as a DVD player and discs and a baby-listening device.
Dine with children on the terrace (the fussiest of little diners won’t faze chef) then let the baby listening service take over. The chic dining room is where to remind yourself of dinner as a couple – remember that? Chateaubriand for two, a Worcester White double-baked soufflé or perhaps sea bass bouillabaisse? This is a menu full of grown-up temptations.
If you don’t get it together to leave the hotel and grounds over the course of a weekend, you won’t be disappointed. Why would you when The Elms is designed for family time, from croquet and trampolines to a fairy trails through the gardens and football nets on the lawn.
Have a swim, a soak in the indoor/outdoor hot tub or a spa treatment – solo, if you like, since staff will entertain children at the Bear’s Den club while you indulge.
The Sunday Breakfast Club runs from 8am – 9.30am for children aged 3 years+, while you have a lie in. Bliss.
Laid-back luxury that’s perfect for multi-generational get-togethers. You’ll return home with memories to last a lifetime.
Need to know:
The Elms Hotel
Telephone 01299 896666
Rooms from £180 per night
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Built in a Lutyens style, this 31-bed manor is quintessentially English. With its preened topiary and tall chimneys, it looks like something from a period drama. As you sweep around the circular drive to the entrance, you may be forgiven for wondering if a butler should greet you rather than the friendly reception staff.
With 20 rooms and 11 suites, there’s quite a range of rooms to choose from. Go for one that overlooks the gardens and you’ll be in for a treat as there are far-reaching country views beyond and some beautiful sunsets.
It’s all very tasteful and understated
The décor here is on the traditional side of contemporary – it’s all very tasteful and understated, so perhaps not your style if you like your interiors quirky. Bathrooms are large and luxurious, tubs deep and surrounded with marble. In-room Nespresso machines are a nice touch, as are complimentary fruit and nuts.
The beautiful grounds at Mallory Court are more than just photo opportunity; the kitchen garden is the source of herbs, fruit and vegetables for the Michelin-star standard kitchens.
Menus served in the more formal, oak-panelled Dining Room feature updated British classics such as saddle of lamb, roast pigeon and Cornish crab.
The Brasserie, meanwhile, is about comfort food – braised ox cheek, chicken and leek pie and braised belly pork, with desserts featuring sticky toffee pudding and warm chocolate tart. There’s a great selection of cheeses too.
Mallory Court sits in 10 beautiful acres, so take your time to explore the expertly tended grounds. (We defy you not to want to clip your hedges when you get home.)
If you’re feeling more energetic there’s a tennis court but with no pool or gym, you may simply be forced to collapse with a cream tea on the terrace or a glass of something by the fire on chillier days.
Although you’re not too far from the M40 and only 30 miles from Birmingham, you’ll still feel as though you’ve got away from it all here. Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon is less than 12 miles away if you’re up for joining the tourist throngs. And don’t miss nearby Compton Verney, a 120 acre park and museum within a magnificent mansion house.
The perfect retreat for foodie gardeners, Mallory Court is a treat for the senses.
Need to know:
Rooms from £99 per night
Lexus CT 200h photography by John Rowley www.johnrowley.eu