Babington House Hotel

Pros: Lovely countryside, cool, great family rooms, great service

Cons: Super expensive, members club as well, pain to get to.

Babington House is a private members club plus hotel and spa nestling in rural Somerset just south of Bath. It boasts 32 rooms of which 5 are family rooms located in the stable block.

Having been stuck in traffic on the journey west from Surrey, we were relieved to turn into the long sweeping drive leading to the hotel, and delighted by the look of this grand country manor, which on the day in question was bathed in early Autumn sunshine. We parked, unpacked, and entered the impressive reception hallway, only to be told that our room wasn’t quite ready. We took the opportunity to get our bearings and dragged the kids off for a walk around the grounds. The hotel felt very busy with the tail-end of the lunchtime crowd – a mixture of hotel guests and members as well as a wedding party.

We had booked a family room, located behind the hotel in the stable block. It was extremely impressive, with a spacious downstairs living space containing comfortable sofa, chic hanging chair, great audio/visual equipment and easy access to tea and coffee making facilities. The ground level also housed a children’s bunkroom, and one of the biggest wet-rooms I have ever seen, complete with 12 inch showerhead positioned in the middle of the ceiling. It’s a novel twist, but not ideal for the body conscious as you can’t fail to see yourself showering in the mirror.  The adult’s bedroom was located and contained a large double bed and a massive family sized bath! All very romantic.

We headed to the crèche pretty quickly, however unfortunately our son, who was eight months at the time, wasn’t able to go in, creche facilities only being available for children older than 12 months. Our two year old daughter seemed happy enough however, and was greeted by friendly girls who whisked her off to play in the well appointed (and clean) space.

We didn’t take the children swimming this time, but did see a pool that looked lovely and well maintained. Holidaydaddy had a lovely massage, although it was a little pricey for rural Somerset.

Kid’s tea was held in the kitchen dining area, just off the main conservatory dining room. The menu choice was excellent, although at £7.50 per meal plus 12.5% discretionary service charge it is rather expensive.

We booked a babysitter via the hotel, who arrived promptly and with great credentials. We felt very relaxed leaving our children with her. We then went to dinner in the main restaurant, which served high quality, modern British cuisine. Unfortunately midway through our meal one of the girls from reception came to our table to say that one of our children was unwell. When we went back to the room we found that our daughter had developed croup, and the babysitter was trying to help ease the cough with steam (what a star!). It was at this point that we realised we had come away with no medicines (a mistake never to be repeated again!), however the hotel very kindly volunteered to send a member of staff out to the nearest 24-hour supermarket to get Calpol. We were certainly impressed by this gesture.

Babington house was one of our first foray’s into the family-friendly hotel market and at the time we were very unsure what to expect. It is certainly expensive, (it cost us well over £1000 for a weekend), but you get what you pay for – great rooms, delicious food, and excellent service. And how many hotels would send a member of staff out at 11pm at night to get medicine? All in all we rated Babington House very highly, and would relish the opportunity to go back.

Holidaymummy rating: 4/5

 

Bedruthan Steps Hotel, Cornwall

Pros: Lots of activities for children, beautiful vistas

Cons: It’s a long drive from major cities, basic accommodation, crèche hit and miss

The drive to Bedruthan Steps took an age. As anyone who has travelled to beautiful Cornwall will know that if the traffic is bad, the journey down the A30 is far from fun.  Unfortunately we made the trip on one of those days, so it was with  a sense of huge relief that we finally pulled up outside the hotel and were able to stretch aching limbs. Unfortunately this euphoria was tempered by the sight of a rather bland looking hotel façade that looked more like a standard Travelodge than a very popular family resort.

Undeterred, we found the reception quite easily, and then quickly went to our inter-connecting room. Although we knew that we did not have a seaview, we were less than impressed by the view of the busy car park. Looking on the positive side at least it meant we could keep an eye on the car, which was parked very close to our window! The rooms themselves although very functional, were small and cramped, and lacking in any real little charm. Again, we were reminded of standard business hotels that can be found up and down the country, built for convenience and conferences, rather than luxury family breaks.

During our stay we used majority of the facilities. The pool was lovely and despite small changing-rooms the kids has a lot of fun splashing in the water, which was of good temperature. Holidaydaddy used the adult-only spa facilities which he described as excellent. He was less complementary of the gym however which comprised a couple of cardo and weight machines in a back room.

The large crèche is housed within the hotel, and although our kids were happy there, we were disappointed with the staff. When we went into the crèche, there didn’t really seem to be many activities set-up, and the staff just seemed to be watching over the children rather than interacting with them in a fun way. The crèche was packed with children of various ages, with no areas obviously designated by age.

Alongside the crèche there is also a soft play which our children enjoyed, although during our second afternoon the hotel allowed access to the local school. Our quiet afternoon with toddlers quickly turned into a loud and raucous playtime! It’s worth noting that there are outdoor playgrounds and really good after-supper entertainment for the children every evening.

The children ate at the kid’s supper throughout our stay, and was clear that the food was fresh, with a great selection to please even the fussiest of eaters. Holidaydaddy and I ate in the main restaurant every night, and the food was excellent throughout. Each evening of our stay we hired a babysitter provided by the hotel, which worked out very well.

The biggest selling point for this hotel is it’s cliff-top location The view is really hard to beat, and we definitely enjoyed whiling the evening away sitting in the adult bar looking out to sea. Overall however, I felt disappointed in the Bedruthan Steps Hotel. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but other than the food, everything just felt a little too functional

Holiday Mummy rating 2.5/5