With so many couples wanting honeymoons for all the family, we discovered The Elms in Worcestershire – an ideal UK bolthole combining romantic treats for newlyweds and piles of fun for kids too.
THE WOW FACTOR
In Worcestershire’s rolling downs, a 10 minute drive from the town centre, near a traditional village with some all-important pubs. Malvern and Evesham are both close. You get hit with the feeling you’re about to enter truly relaxing retreat territory as you pass an abundance of hidden country pathways and heart-soaring views of the Teme Valley on your drive down. Check in is easy, especially since there is a thoughtful play area under the stairs next to reception where children can browse through the book and DVD library while your luggage is whisked up to your room.
The Queen Anne style house, built in 1710, has so much going for it. Set across 10 acres of private land, there are tennis courts, a trampoline, fairy trail, croquet, and a gorgeously wild garden and orchard – perfect for romantic evening strolls before dinner in the main restaurant. Inside, you’ll find busts galore, deep sunken sofas and wooden furniture. A peaceful library bar serving cocktails using herbs and fruit from The Elm’s own garden is possibly the best multi-purpose room idea ever.
Stay in any of the 23 sumptuous bedrooms in the main house and you won’t be disappointed. Each suite comes with a baby listening monitor service, high Georgian ceilings, antiques and beautiful oil paintings in keeping with the period décor. It’s just the right amount chintz one yearns for during a honeymoon in the country – with essential mod-cons including flat screens, power showers and Wi-Fi, naturally.
Go to the Garden Restaurant next to the spa for relaxed wood-fired pizzas and steaks and the award-winning Brookes for more formal dining (open only for adults after 9pm). The head chef serves up elegant fine dining with French and British classics including fillet steak, roast chicken and duck. Breakfasts offer plenty of cooked and continental healthy treats (the locally sourced sausages are superb).
WHAT YOU’LL LOVE
This is a grand dame English country hotel purposely built to cater for families who don’t want to compromise on luxury. We’ve never seen so many happy parents, blissfully enjoying the grounds, menu and even spa (oh yes, there is a free crèche on site so you get some all-important treatment time in!). We spotted many families with grandparents in tow – a great idea if you’re thinking of a multi—generational style honeymoon. The added bonus of course, is the spa and pool area; a 12-metre pool is bath-water warm, the hydro-Jacuzzi goes from indoors to out so you can watch the kids in the pool while you spa and there’s a thermal retreat steam room, sauna and ice fountain. If you are visiting with kids, you can relax knowing the OFSTED-registered crèche is situated thoughtfully, in an out-house building right next to the spa. Activities include cookery, crafts, outdoor play and of course, swimming and is open on Sundays for anyone needing an important lie-in after the wedding! As an added bonus, the hotel offers a children’s afternoon high tea service too, fully loaded with freshly baked cakes and scones. Older kids will love the air hockey machine, X Box and table football in the games room.
Absolutely. The hotel has extensive grounds for a marquee and can be hired on an exclusive use basis too, accommodating up to 130 guests. Two dedicated rooms are licensed for civil ceremonies and the space allowed for weddings ensures you’ll never have to worry about bad weather. The crèche can also be booked for children during the evening.
West Midlands Safari Park in Bewdley, Worcestershire, has one of the UK’s biggest conservation programmes and direct links to Ongava game reserve in Namibia and is home to some of the world’s most endangered exotic species. The 200 acre park us a 15-minute drive from the hotel and one of the best reasons to visit Worcestershire by far. The sight of a great white rhino (once teettering on extinction) at sunset on a sunny day and lions and cheetah’s playing in the grass during a four-mile drive through safari will instantly transport you to the African savannahs, but of course, with lots of cash savings! Even better, anyone visiting the park gets a free return ticket which can be used within a year –it really is brilliant value for money. Other all-weather enclosures include a bat cave, reptile house featuring crocs and snakes, mini-reefs and you can watch penguins being fed every day too. The park is also hot on weddings: Spring Grove is a beautiful Georgian house situated within the grounds and accommodates 220 guests with a dedicated wedding planner in-house.
For more information, visit www.wmsp.co.uk
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The Elms, Worcester www.theelmhotel.co.uk 01299 896666
Book at www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk 08444 822162