I should start off by saying that I love this hotel. My husband and I and our 2 little ones (Little Boy (LB) 2.5 and Little Girl (LG) 11 months) spent 4 days there last autumn. Since then I have recommended it to everyone I know with kids and a number of them have also gone and loved it.
To give you feel for it I will describe a typical day that we spent there:
- Get up and head to the Wild Café for a lovely breakfast with lots of things the kids love (cereal, yoghurt, fruit etc) all served with plastic bowls and spoons and wipe clean bibs (there are also microwaves in the restaurant and on each bedroom level for heating bottles). There are multiple highchairs and even booster cushions so LB could sit in a big seat and still reach the table. Its included so we all eat heaps and then someone else clears the food from the floor and the highchair and washes the multiple dirty plastic dishes – bliss! The café doubles as brasserie for lunch and evenings and looks out down to the beach and the sea which are beautiful
- Head to soft play (not the biggest we’ve been to but plenty big enough to keep the kids happy for 45 mins while my husband and I drink coffee)
- On to the indoor pool which we have to ourselves and is lovely, super clean, and very new and nice feeling (I am funny about standards in swimming pools and this one was great)
- Head back to the café for lunch (we had a food allowance as part of our deal which we could spend however we wanted in the restaurants) again loads of kids options and fantastic salads and local fish for us grown ups
- The kids go back to the room with my husband for their nap and I head to the adults only spa which is lovely. I chill out in a Jacuzzi looking down over the bay and remember when life used to be like this full time! I then spend 30 mins in the adult only library chilling out with my book. I did feel a bit bad for my husband in the room with the kids but it turns out he napped too so everyone won!
- We wake the kids and go for a play on the huge outdoor playground (complete with pirate ship, ice cream van and trampolines). The kids go wild and we get cold
- Then a brisk walk down to the bay (a fairly steep and non-pushchair friendly walk but only 10 minutes each way) where we are very English and make sandcastles in the drizzle and pretend it is lovely weather (the bay is beautiful even in the rain so I can only imagine how lovely it would be in the summer)
- Back to the hotel for free tea and coffee for myself and my husband while the kids enjoy their tea in the cafe. There are about 10 hot options and a cold buffet with crudities and a selection of deserts. Your food allowance can be put against this too but it is only £5 for the hot option with unlimited buffet and the portions are so huge both of my kids share one
- Into the ‘ballroom’ where us grown-ups sit down to a nice glass of wine while a man with a snake, an owl and lots of creepy crawlies – not my highlight but definitely my sons, enthrals LB and LG. This is then followed by a disco with musical bumps and the kids run wild for an hour expending the little energy they have left. Every night the entertainment is different and the kids loved the lot
- We drag weary kids upstairs to our room (the kids are in the same room as us but screened off from our bed with a blind). We put them down and they went straight off (the wonders of sea air working on city kids). To be fair our kids are very good at going down so I imagine this could be more challenging all in one room, but after such an action packed day they were shattered
- My husband and I go down to reception where they tune in the baby listening service (free) and give us a buzzer to carry with us (if there is any noise we are buzzed back to reception to sort things out – luckily this doesn’t happen). We drink cocktails, watch the sunset, eat in one of the 2 restaurants (there is the brasserie and a more fine dining option) and enjoy a 3 course, locally sourced meal which isn’t quite Michelin standards but isn’t that far off either. We almost forget we have kids and wonder at how fantastic it feels to do this when we so rarely get to these days (due to the exorbitant cost of babysitters)
- Off we go to bed where we manage not to disturb the kids (due to the screen) and sleep brilliantly ready to do the whole thing again the next day
In addition to all of the above there are full crèche and kids club facilities which looked fantastic. Personally I like the kids to be with us when we’re on holiday but if you did want a break I would have no problems with putting them in there and in the evening the ones who had gone were all best friends at the disco!
Negatives (if I were to name some)
- Price – it isn’t cheap but to be fair I didn’t feel it was bad value. That said I think it is super expensive in school holidays
- From the outside the hotel looks monstrous! It is a piece of very very bad 1960s architecture and my initial reaction when I saw it was ‘OMG get me out of here’. Inside though it is lovely and has a very modern Scandinavian feel
- The bedrooms aren’t the biggest for a family of four but then we were barely in it (we had the cheapest room so I can’t comment on the more expensive rooms)
- There is entertainment for the adults in the evening. This really isn’t my thing at all but the magician was very polite when we asked to be left to our dinner and we didn’t see any more of him. I have to say if I were the owners I would drop this as it feels a bit more butlins and a bit less resort but then other people didn’t seem to feel the same so it is a personal
- It’s a shame that baby listening isn’t offered during the day so both my husband and I could have gone to the spa together
- It can be a challenge to navigate the hotel with a pushchair. Not a disaster but not the easiest either
- Other children! I know, I know, but I have to confess that for me the drawback of going somewhere so great for kids is that there are a lot of other kids there and that comes with a noise level and hectic-ness that takes some getting used to
Still, all in all I think it’s an awesome place. 4 days was enough for us and I think a week might feel a bit like groundhog day if you didn’t get out and about. For a 4 day break though I think it is one of the best getaways in the UK for families with young kids. We will be back this year