“I loved it!” exclaimed our middle son.
“When are we going back?” asked our 8-year-old.
And our 18-month-old surely felt the same way.
We thoroughly enjoyed our October weekend break at The Ickworth Hotel too, as do most parents – some return every school holiday. Yet when your family spends a weekend here, you will also leave a grand lighter. So is it really worth it?
Close to Bury St Edmund, a two-hour hour drive or train-ride from London, The Ickworth is the flagship Luxury Family Hotel. Occupying one wing of a beautiful late Georgian mansion owned by the National Trust, it's surrounded by 1800 acres of beautiful Suffolk countryside. There are 27 family-friendly bedrooms and a further 11 apartments in the grounds.
Unlike most British hotels, The Ickworth really does put the family first. Wellies and bikes are provided with no extra charge in all sizes, as are bathrobes and swim wings. Kids get their own dinner time and menu. Adults can dine with or without their kids (the posh restaurant becomes a kid-free zone in the evening, with baby-listening provided). There’s a lovely indoor pool, a fully supervised OFSTED-regulated crèche for under-7s, and a games room and spa. Outside are beautiful walks, cycle tracks, gardens and playgrounds. You can spend as much or as little time with your kids as you like, although there is no supervision for the over-7s.
Don't compare The Ickworth with similarly priced five-star hotels, many of which offer an even higher standard of accommodation and slicker and more faultless service. Be prepared to set out early or late if you want exactly the right-sized bikes for the family. Expect the dinner atmosphere to be less than lively as you are surrounded by other exhausted couples. And don’t look closely at the number on the final bill. But all that considered, Ickworth provides a treat-filled, luxurious and liberating weekend in a beautiful setting that the whole family will love. It's heartily recommended for over-tired parents in need of gentle relaxation and satisfied children.