Based on previous experience, I had come to believe that glamping is a term made up by people who love camping to lull those who don’t like it, into a false sense that this is a ‘holiday’. I tried it once at a festival and, as I dug myself out of a waterlogged trench at the entrance to our ‘glamping’ area, swore I would never be conned again. So, when I was invited to review the new glamping suites at Woolley Grange Hotel near Bath, combined with a weather forecast of torrential rain, I felt a little trepidation. But, with my children desperate for a camping trip this summer and buoyed by the fact I at least had a chic new pair of wellies to wear, I put on my glamping game face and decided to give it a go.
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When entering the drive at Woolley Grange Hotel, guests are greeted with a breath-taking view of the stunning Jacobean manor house which, along with the adjacent Coach House is home to 25 luxury bedrooms and family-friendly suites. My heart sunk when we were directed in the direction of a nearby field.
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The hotel is set in 14 acres of lush, mature grounds and carefully curated gardens including a fairy garden, Good Life Garden where you can find chickens, geese, rabbits and charming wooden playhouses for children to explore, plus an impressive kitchen garden from which much of the sustainable, seasonable produce for the hotel kitchen is harvested.
Located in a meadow next to the hotel is the glamping site – a new addition for 2021 – and just a short hop from the hotel’s five-star facilities like the contemporary Elemis Spa, indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools and a plethora of stylish dining offerings – which campers are invited to enjoy. Things were looking up.
The hotel is set in a stunning location
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The eight glamping suites are a collaboration with The Pop Up Hotel (think VVIP accommodation at Glastonbury) and they combine the thrill of sleeping under canvas with the trappings of a boutique hotel. Each suite has a stylishly furnished living area, double bed, twin bedroom and spacious bathroom with piping hot running water and Bramley products, fluffy white towels, slippers and eye-masks, plus a large private terrace on which to relax and take in the views, enabling you to be connected to the environment at all times – which is the point of sleeping under the stars, after all.
It was such a joy to witness our boys wake early in the morning, excitedly put on their coats and wellies and venture out to explore the gardens, leaving us to enjoy a lie-in, assured of their safety within the hotel grounds. There was no mention of a TV or screen all weekend.
You can cosy up by the fire and look up at the stars at night
One of the upsides of staying at a Luxury Family Hotels location is that children are treated like celebrities, and there is so much on offer you will be pressed to do it all in just one trip. It’s not hard to understand why the likes of David Walliams, Call The Midwife’s Helen George, Sara Cox and Annie Lennox are all fans.
A gem in the Wiltshire countryside, Woolley offers a host of fun family activities throughout the day. We partook in welly throwing, croquet, football, swing ball, table tennis, chalk art and clay modelling on the front lawn. There is OFSTED-registered childcare on hand and come dusk, resident children’s entertainer Vin had our little crew toasting marshmallows and singing songs around the fire pit, creating truly magical memories as their eyes sparkled and rosy-cheeks glowed with happiness – and quite a lot of mud.
There are so many activities for children to enjoy
The glamping site has its own food and drinks offering in the Hideout Bar & Café, where a dedicated team offer a full bar service, lunch and dinner menu including delicious burgers from the BBQ and stone-baked pizzas – plus breakfast hampers and newspapers can be delivered to your tent door. There is a daily housekeeping service to change sheets and towels, and they even placed hot water bottles in our beds – a welcome discovery given the biblical rain and winds we faced during our weekend. Nothing is too much for GM Claire and her team.
If you do fancy eating some meals in the hotel, the renowned restaurant is led by top chef and former Masterchef: The Professionals semi-finalist Dean Westcar. On warm days you can enjoy afternoon tea – Wind in the Willow’s themed for the children – on the picturesque terrace. It’s the kind of luxury to make even the happiest of campers leave their gas stove at home.
The food available is absolutely delicious
With many traditional family holiday hotspots still awaiting their green light, 2021 is the ideal year to book unique experiences with family or friends right here on home turf. Woolley Grange offers a genuine glamping trip that is a treat for the adults too – a place to unwind in style, while the children run wild in their element, whatever the weather. My faith in glamping been restored.
Luxury Family Hotels collaboration with The Pop-Up Hotel runs until September 2021 | There is a two-night minimum stay during peak periods | To book visit www.woolleygrangehotel.co.uk.
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