Taking off on a fluffy-robed adults only spa break, one with “the girls”, on your own, or with your hairier half is actually a pretty easy thing to do. Spot somewhere you like, book it. Soak. Done. But throw kids into the mix (along with the desperate feeling that you need a break from life and the notion that you don’t actually mind seeing their sweet little faces most days) and you have a challenge.
Spa-breaking with kids is a tough gig. Where to go? Will other people mind? Will they tantrum? Will you actually get to relax? There are a handful of UK spas who know the pain, the woe of the parental spa-breaker, and they specialise in making it ok to bring your kids along.
I have hunted down seven family-friendly spas across the UK from Surrey to Wales, Cornwall, Warwickshire and Scotland with help from Abi Wright at Spa Breaks.
I’ve stayed at The Elms, Warwickshire (which was so great for a young family with a creche, kid-friendly dinner times and a baby monitoring service) and Abi from Spa Breaks has enjoyed them all.
My knowledge of The Fowey Hall hotel extends to me running in there desperately seeking a room one storm-sodden night after out camp got flooded out nearby. There was no room at the inn, but it looked a delight through my matted, soaked fringe and I vowed to be back.
So for Mothers’ day (March 6, people), or any other day, I hope you get a break somewhere, and ideally at a spa where professionals can care for your kids while you float away.
Get. In. This. Pool. Foxhills is not far from the capital and has a nursery, soft play and a den for sulky teens. You can relax with Elemis spa treatments (GREAT products these), acupuncture, a steam and hammam and lie around in stylish Le Corbusier lounge chairs. I quite fancy the idea of crawling upstairs to bed after a spa treatment and the rooms look lush. The OFSTED nursery care costs are £10 an hour if you’re a hotel guest.
The Gleneagles® Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland PH3 1NF
Gleneagles is a dark horse. So much more than golf (or stick ball as I like to call it) happens here. You can do falconry! Mind the infants with that one. You can shoot clay pigeons, or train your gun dog! Or you can set your other half off to do that with your sprog while you do some serious spa-ing including such well-though-out health things such as nutrition consultations, colon hydro therapy and ayurvedic treatments. This spa is about much more than a cleanse, tone, moisturise. And they make a point of taking care of children from babies through to teens.
The Elms was our first experience of a family spa hotel when Chips was just one year old. He loved the Bears Den nursery, we loved floating about in the warm pool and having massages while he made new friends. The hotel has a proper country house hotel feel and like the grand old family home I don’t have, it had a toy chest under the stairs, ride-on toys about the lawn and welcomed children in the pool. A child-friendly tea time at 5pm plus a listening service while we ate dinner downstairs meant we could all relax. This would be a great one to stay at near lambing time (from March) as there are so many sheep in the fields nearby.
The Fowey Hotel is another in this hotel group which includes Woolley Grange in Bradford upon Avon, Wiltshire, and New Park Manor in the New Forest.
Across in Wales, Celtic Manor is a large-scale centre with great products – Elemis for facials and Leighton Denny for nails. They offer a nanny service at £15.50 per hour, sessions for children of all ages in the den for £12.50 and adventure activities for teens and tweens. The spa includes mud, steam and the opportunity to “wash away … every last drop of tension in your soul.” Every last drop! Who can say no? My soul is tapping NP18 into Googlemaps right now.