Going on holiday somewhere that is both child friendly and luxurious seemed like an impossible dream for us since the arrival of DD three years ago. With the arrival of DC2 imminent, we really wanted a relaxing break that didn’t involve the usual firing up a camp stove in sideways rain while chasing earwigs out of the cool-bag.
So Moonfleet Manor, a striking Georgian house nestled beside the golden sands of Chesil Beach in West Dorset, that promises both luxury and a family friendly atmosphere seemed like the perfect getaway before we disappear back into the baby tunnel for a while.
First impressions were really good. This house and the grounds are stunning- and look just like the pictures on the website- hurrah. This is not a shiny, sterile chain hotel with motivational posters on the wall and identical rooms. It’s a quirky, charming old house that has remained true to the original decor and features despite its reincarnation as a hotel. We received a warm welcome from the reception staff who personally took us to our HUGE room, where DD was extremely excited to find she had her own ‘quarters’ with adjoining doors. Our bed was enormous and very comfortable, while the bathroom was spacious with a big bath and powerful overhead shower. Handy, as I am currently the size of Pluto.
For the DCs, there is a large garden play area with games and strategically placed sun loungers so parents can relax and keep the little darlings in sight. If you need a break from the DCs then the Ofsted registered creche on site is for children up to eight years old and is open every day. There is also an indoor play area with ping pong/trampolines etc should the good weather desert you.
The Mediterranean restaurant is equally impressive. Overlooking the garden, it is a bright and comfortable space with extremely good food. You can opt to have a family dinner at 6pm or dine later without DCs with the option of a baby sitter (this costs extra) or a free listening service. We had dinner and breakfast here and genuinely could not find fault with the food or the service, despite my best efforts. It is fine dining, but in a family friendly environment. The children’s menu is good quality- not a limp fish finger or soggy goujon in sight- and with smaller portions for younger children.
The spa is also a nice touch. I had a 30 minute facial which left me feeling vaguely human for the first time in months, and also got some samples of the products. The spa has a full range of the usual treatments you would expect- from massages to pedicures, so you won’t disgrace the family with your gnarled feet on the beach.
Overall, Moonfleet Manor is a delightful experience where the entire premise is geared towards making life easier when holidaying with young children. And it works. Things that could be improved on are the swimming pool- it’s okay-but for a hotel of this standard and price it could do with a refurbishment. It’s just a bit nondescript. A slide here or there or some of those spouty water turtle things would be a start. The indoor play area was a bit lacking in toys when we visited, but it was sunny outside so this may change in poor weather. Also, and this is nit picking, a small fridge in the room would be very useful- especially if families need to keep food or milk cool for smaller children.
But on the whole, if you want to escape real life for a while, but really MUST bring the DCs, then Moonfleet Manor is fabulous.
(Mumsnet was invited to Moonfleet Manor on a press trip review.)