The Ickworth Hotel in Suffolk is beautiful all year round, but there was something about the sea of daffodils in residence when we visited in late March that made it feel all the more special. Slap bang next to (and originally part of) National Trust property Ickworth House, this hotel is the definition of family friendly. If you’re looking for somewhere that has family fun and grown up relaxation in equal measures, this place is for you. One day you can ride bikes (available to sign out from the bike shed) and play for hours in the fairy garden and swimming pool, the next day you can pop the kids in the superbly fun creche and head to the spa for a treatment.
The rooms are traditional with a mid-century twist. Ornate furniture and plush fabrics sit alongside retro accessories. We had a large double room with a camp bed for our three-year-old and there was still plenty of space for dancing, hopping and skipping.
Downstairs in the hotel are two large sitting rooms – one has a massive sofa and a good selection of toys and kids’ books to help yourself to, the other is a slightly more grown up affair, and the perfect place to have a cuppa and scone while your little ones are at the creche.
Two hours in the Ofsted-registered creche are included in the price of your room each night. Our three-year-old thought she was in heaven (and my critical eyes saw the place was spotless and packed with well-kept toys). In fact, when we collected her after her first session (and my spa treatment) she immediately asked if she could go back the following day.
Outside, the walled Fairy Garden has grassy areas to run around in, playhouses, trikes and scooters, swings and slides – and our daughter’s favourite, a giant trampoline. We dare you not to have fun in there…
Food-wise, there’s a restaurant for family dining and an early kids’ tea each day. If you’re looking for something a bit fancy, the fine dining restaurant Frederick’s is a grown ups only affair, so tuck the kids up in bed, take advantage of the hotel’s listening service and enjoy a slap up meal.
If you wander past the main Ickworth House building (still owned and run as a National Trust building) there are 1,800 acres of land to explore, whether you’re going for a gentle saunter or fancy trying out geo-caching. If you’ve forgotten to pack your wellies, there are lots available to borrow at the hotel reception. We spent an hour or so at the adventure playground in the National Trust parkland before having some lunch. There are a couple of cafes – a regular indoor one which serves hot meals in a bright and buzzy room, and the Porter’s Lodge outdoor cafe which serves sandwiches, jacket potatoes and ice creams.
NEED TO KNOW
Rates start from £95 for bed and breakfast. Dinner bed & breakfast rates also available.
The Ickworth is open all year round and one night stays are available.
Check out The Ickworth’s website or call them on 01284 735350.