Woolley Grange Hotel Main House. All Photos Copyright of NHYM 2015.
Woolley Grange Hotel
Wiltshire BA15 1TX
OVERALL RATING: 4 stars
Hotel itself: 3.75 stars
Children’s Amenities: 5 stars
Service: 3 stars
Restaurant: 4 stars for dinner, 3 stars at lunch
Room: 4 stars
Woolley Grange Front Lawn
Let me preface this post by saying that this is NOT what I would consider a ‘family-friendly hotel’. Au contraire, I would call it a ‘child-centered’ hotel, or one that is dedicated to children and that allows parents to join if they so please. This should be clear from the outset, in case you were looking for a 5* hotel that catered to children.
I say this because:
- There are children everywhere. When we arrived there were children on the front lawn swinging/jumping/fishing/swimming/playing.
- The lunch menu for children is much more elaborate and appetising than the adult menu (For children: steak, roast chicken, spaghetti. Adults: Sandwiches & Light Bites)
- The ‘Movie Room’ only plays children’s movies
- The table settings are named with your children’s names, not yours.
- The ‘Candle-lit’ dinner reserved for adults still has children running all over the place while you dine by ‘candle-light’
- The beautiful front lawn’s view is encumbered by a trampoline, a football pitch, a mini-tennis court and plastic playground toys.
- Did I mention there were children everywhere?
- Every hotel guest here comes accessorised with at least one, two, or three mini people and possibly a granny or grandpa thrown in for good measure.
- In the lounges, instead of House & Garden or Country Life magazines, train sets and baby books fill the coffee tables.
- Activities here are children focussed: films, egg collecting, kids club etc…
So, now that I’ve gotten this out of the way, you will be prepared for a lovely children’s weekend/holiday in the country. The upside is that you don’t need to be embarrassed when your child throws a) tantrum b) hissy fit c) their food all over the floor d) a toy at their younger sister/brother/your head. As this was our first ever ‘Children’s Hotel’ it took a little adjustment. Best for children 0-9.
The Main House. NHYM 2015.
The hotel itself is a beautiful Jacobean Manor house that accommodates 25 rooms and suites for all kinds of family arrangements. There are interconnecting rooms that are perfect for a family of 4 or other rooms that can fit smaller families. It is old, kitschy and creaky, with thick carpets and small nooks and crannies interspersed in the house. It is not what I would call a five star hotel, with blue thick velvet carpets that show mud and crumbs left behind by children, and service that comes by to only hoover and tidy beds. (Other 5* stars generally try to tidy up clothes and toys, but not really this one).
Front Entrance Woolley Grange Hotel. NHYM 2015.
In addition to the main house, there is a small spa with an indoor swimming pool, which both looked quite nice but we never managed to use the pool because it was closed while we were there. And no, I never found time to visit the spa. There is also an outdoor pool available for proper British families who braved it out in the rain and cold at 13 degrees. I mean, yes I know it is heated, but really? No, you won’t get me in that pool with this great British weather….
The walled garden. NHYM 2015.
Like I mentioned before, this hotel is all about kids. For our urban-kids, there was plenty of things to enjoy at this hotel: a swing and trampoline on the lawn, a small playground out back, and a walled garden. The walled garden had toy houses, ducks, geese, hen, a tractor and apple picking.
Woolley Grange Tractor
There was egg collecting from the hen house.
Hen House & Chicken Laying Eggs. NHYM 2015.
Ducks and ducklings. NHYM 2015.
Pumpkins in the Walled Garden. Or are they squash? NHYM 2015.
The Kids Club was cute, nothing to go crazy over, but available for 2 hours per day, just enough time for a coffee and a read of the newspaper. It was mostly geared towards younger children under 5 years old, but still had some jewellery making for older children and a breakfast club on a Sunday for an extra hour and a half in bed.
Kids Club. NHYM 2015.
Simon the Rabbit at the Kids Club. NHYM 2015.
The Room & Service
We had a very spacious family room with 2 interconnecting rooms, which fit us perfectly. The children had their room with two twin beds while we had a large King size bed with very comfortable beds. The Service… well, let’s just put it this way: the hotel was full of Uni students working during their summer holidays to earn a little cash for the year to come. There were no professionally trained French Maitre d’ or fully trained concierges (‘Uhm, sorry, you booked Longleat tickets through us? No one told me!’) Not quite what we are used to, but very friendly and genuinely nice.
Did I mention everything is for children here? NHYM 2015.
Outside Woolley Grange
What the children really loved outside the hotel was Longleat Safari Park, probably the best drive through Safari Park in the UK (unlike Whipsnead which is not a proper drive through Safari Park), which also has an Adventure Park and a beautiful house to visit. You could spend days there and it is a sure hit with the kids. The Safari Park has plenty of animals to see; giraffes, zebras, lions, tigers, and lots of Monkeys that love to sit on your car mirrors! The Adventure Park also has loads of fun playgrounds and more to see. The Jungle Cruise had hippos, gorillas and a chance to feed sea lions. We were there for a whole day and didn’t manage to see it all. Definitely worth a visit.
Longleat House. NHYM 2015.
Nico the 55 year old Gorilla. NHYM 2015.
Despite the often 3* rather than 5* service, this place is great for children. It’s a quick escape from the city and a great base to explore the countryside. We saw more animals there than we have seen in all our years in London (we also managed to feed goats, pigs and ponies at a little farm in the vicinity). It’s a great place for kids, although where parents can sometimes feel like second class citizens, but since we’ve had plenty of adult time in our day (see: Santorini, Greece: https://nottinghillmummy.com/2015/08/22/travel-lusting-photography-santorini-greece/), we sucked it up ;0. There’s plenty to do around there, like visit Bath and Bradford-on-Avon, which we also enjoyed (a new rest the Weaving Shed in Bradford was a nice surprise). We would recommend it to anyone who is looking for some quality time with kids, and save the following weekend for time with the adults.