Looking for a family-friendly hotel in Wiltshire? Alison recently stayed at Widbrook Grange Hotel and came back raving about how perfect it is for a family break…
Family life can be exhausting, right? That constant juggle of school/childcare, work, family commitments, being a taxi service to swimming lessons and Beavers…. never mind actually spending time together as a family! So if you’re thinking you deserve a little weekend away as a family, there’s a great hotel in Bradford-On-Avon, that I recently discovered. Here’s why it’s the ideal base for a family break.
1. You can book connecting rooms
This, for me, is a bit of a deal breaker when it comes to a family weekend away. I don’t mind sharing a room with my six-year-old but if I do, there needs to be somewhere to sit and relax once she’s gone to bed at 7pm. Sitting in a hotel bathroom while she drops off and then sitting in the dark, while she sleeps is no fun. At Widbrook Grange, we had two adjoining rooms – one for me and the six-year-old, and one for my mum who joined us for the weekend – and it meant that once the six-year-old was tucked up in bed, I could nip through to my mum’s room to drink wine and chat, without fear of waking up a small person. There’s actually potential at Widbrook Grange to have three interconnecting rooms, so if you’ve got a large family, it’s ideal.
2. The restaurant’s children’s menu is great
Firstly, it’s labelled as the “Little adults menu” which I just love and it made the six-year-old smile too. Featuring starters like cheesy garlic bread, homemade soup and local ham salad, plus main courses like pasta or grilled chicken fillets and ice cream, fruit or cheese and biscuits for dessert, it hits the right note between safe foods that most kids will like and healthy options that please the parents. I even saw another family ask the kitchen staff if they could cook a packet of Uncle Ben’s rice for their fussy eating toddler, and they were only too happy to help. The breakfast buffet has plenty to keep kids happy too. In short: your kids won’t go hungry here.
3. And for the grown ups… the bar’s gin menu is amazing
Just the 50 varieties of gin on the menu here, then. That’s all. My eyes lit up when I saw the special gin menu – each one has a great description underneath to help you pick your tipple. They have a selection of tonics too and the bar staff are great at recommended one to pair with your selected gin. We went for a Sipsmith gin with 1724 tonic – so so good. You can either enjoy your gin in the bar or next door, in the snug.
4. There’s a swimming pool
The best thing about Widbrook Grange, according to my six-year-old. This heated indoor pool is simple but perfect if your kids want a splash around. There are no showers here, but it’s a short walk back to your room – and the large showers in the bathrooms are worth waiting for.
5. The grounds have lots of quirky things to discover
When we first pulled up at Widbrook Grange, I’ll admit, I assumed it was just as it seemed: a traditional farmhouse in pretty grounds. But after we checked in and popped our bags in our room, we went for an explore and discovered much more. It was the first proper day of spring, mild enough to go for a walk without our coats on, and families were playing on the grassy area at the front of the hotel. Walking past them, we spotted a few fun animal sculptures and a hard-to-miss vintage milk float with boxes of flowers on the back. Throughout the hotel, there’s a theme of using old farm equipment in a functional way – coat pegs made from a garden fork, lamps made from milk churns – as well as others being used in a decorative way. It gave the place a kooky feel.
6. There’s a canal path nearby
We wouldn’t have known about this, if one of the (brilliantly friendly) hotel staff hadn’t told us about it – just five minutes walk from the hotel is access to the canal path, which gives you a clear walk into Bradford-On-Avon. Well, clear as long as you dodge the dog walkers and cyclists. It took us around 30 minutes to walk it – it would probably be quicker without a six-year-old with you, who wanted to stop to look at the narrow boats every few minutes.
7. Bradford-On-Avon has lots to offer
I’ve only ever driven through this little town once before – we were staying at a hotel nearby and had forgotten to pack our then-three-year-old’s suitcase of clothes in the car. So I drove through town to the supermarket to stock up on pants, socks, leggings and t-shirts for the week. Even then, I could tell it was a special town and exploring it again just confirmed my initial impression. A mix of tearooms, restaurants, gift shops, charity shops and pubs, with a pretty bridge crossing the water and green spaces to sit on, it was lovely on a March Sunday and I’d bet it’s buzzing on a warmer Spring or Summer day. We popped into the Bridge Tea Room for a cuppa and scone – they had a log fire roaring and Sunday papers on offer. What more could you want?
8. The Boathouse restaurant does the best Sunday roast
I’m not one to exaggerate but I think it’s safe to say that the Sunday roast that I had at The Boathouse – Widbrook Grange’s pub over the road – was one of the best I’ve ever had. The tender beef just fell away with my fork and the roast spuds were cooked to perfection. The six-year-old was happy too, with a great kids’ menu and a play area outside, next to the marina (more narrow boat spotting!) Our only complaint? The dessert menu had too many amazing sounding options and was near impossible to choose from…