Mini (mini) break
The thought of bringing a weaning toddler into 5-star plush luxury realms is enough to ignite a bead-on. Sticky peanut butter-slathered fingers and Egyptian cotton do not a merry mix make. I arrived at the Four Seasons Hampshire with apple puree on my left lapel and ready to start apologising for the biscuit that had been eaten and regurgitated onto the marbled floor. (By my child, not me for the record – I’m not a savage.) I didn’t need to apologise, though, as one of the team instantly ran over, offered up a Peppa Pig toy for my daughter, swept my bags off me and asked if I’d like a drink. And breathe. This wasn’t going to be one of those hotels that has you shouting: “no, no NOT the vase.”
Set in 500 acres of parkland in Dogmersfield Park, an 18th century manor house, this place has pure ‘escape to the country’ vibes. The rooms are luxe yet homely with all the baby add-ons you could hope for: nappies, wipes and Little Prince organic shampoo and conditioner. The lipstick-penned welcome note on the mirror was a friendly touch, along with a dog-shaped chocolate biscuit for the nippers. All in all it’s a home from home with all The Stuff for kids. You could safely land here not having packed a thing for your kid and all would be well.
Perhaps the biggest parental pull at this grandiose bolthole is Sharkie’s pool. We’re talking a super posh Leisure Centre-level water fun park for the kids that includes a big red slide for the braver souls and lots of water features that kept my daughter gurning and splashing into the early afternoon. It’s kid paradise and not a rogue plaster in sight.
While I could see that happy face from dusk until dawn, there’s nothing quite like being able to slope off to the spa as one of the hotel’s babysitters (£10 an hour) gives your child undivided attention with a bit of Octonauts thrown in for good measure. We had two babysitter slots booked: one for spa time and the other for dinner time so we could have a conversation that went beyond: “Can you grab the wipes.”
The Wild Carrot restaurant offered up a melt-in-the-mouth Wellington of Salisbury venison haunch, served with beetroot and a sumptuous jus – the staff are on hand to help with the perfect accompaniment from a healthy wine list. For those with a sweet tooth but little room left, the café gourmand is a knock out way to end the night.
Whether you’re looking for some QT with the family or QT with them fully entertained, this is the ultimate spot to grab some R&R. That’s not to mention the stables on site and the petting zoo round the back. And not a breakable vase in toddler-reach.
Rooms start at £295, click here for more