What is the story?
If you have young children, you’ve probably heard of Luxury Family Hotels in the same sentence as the miraculous words “free daycare.” The group, known for transforming grand old buildings into laid-back places to stay, has five child-friendly hotels in the south of England in family-friendly locations including the New Forest and the Suffolk countryside; Moonfleet is his newly renovated address on the Jurassic Coast.
What do we like?
Two lions guard the entrance to this Georgian mansion, but don’t be put off by their stone stares, the welcome is full of warmth. Arrive with a sick child in the car and the staff will promptly take any dirty clothes to the laundry. Call at bedtime for hot milk and it will appear on your doorstep in a jiffy. And those cups you constantly scrub? Drop them off at reception in the morning and they’ll be back, sparkling clean, before tea time.
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A room at Moonfleet Manor
This free daycare is also a dream. The Den in the Park is an Ofsted-registered nursery for toddlers aged three months to eight years, and you’ll get 90 free minutes for each child each day. That’s enough time for a dip in the indoor pool (where there’s also a toddler pool, which our two loved) or a spa treatment in the separate Verandah building. Here’s also a huge games room, with arcade games (free), a climbing wall and trampolines – our toddler loved tinkling to the grand piano here.
Back in the main building, the restaurant serves adult fare—lobster thermidor, chateaubriand—as well as a kids’ menu topped with classics like cod goujons and sausage mash. Baby monitors are provided so you can delve into the wine list (a glass of Hambledon English sparkling to start perhaps?) while they are fast asleep upstairs.
The 36 rooms are cozy and chic, but retain a classic feel — softly painted wooden beams above, thick rugs underfoot, and huge freestanding tubs in the bathrooms. Families should book a Superior or Deluxe Room, which can accommodate cribs and Z-beds, or, even better, a Two-Bedroom Suite, so there’s a separate bedroom and bathroom for the kids.
Chesil Beach, Dorset
The hotel grounds lead to the water and the well-trodden Southwest Coast Path. Even little feet can walk to the Fleet Lagoon Nature Reserve, about 100m from the back door, for bird watching and views of Chesil Beach. Abbotsbury Swannery, with its colony of around 600 swans, Weymouth’s sandy beach and the Sea Life Center are all a short drive away.
Helen Ochyra was a guest at Moonfleet Manor, which offers double guest rooms from £120 (moonfleetmanorhotel.co.uk)
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