Calcot Manor Hotel

Gloucestershire, Cotswolds & Chilterns, United Kingdom Book from

A spoiling Cotswold country hotel for couples and families alike, with 2 pools, kids zone, huge grounds and superb spa
There are few hotels which pull off the difficult combination of child- and parent-friendliness as successfully as Calcot Manor. While the little ones are busy making masks in the playzone, having tennis lessons or splashing in the 30C indoor pool, grown-ups can kick back in a highly pampering spa, laze in a firelit drawing room, or canter around 220 acres of grounds. Come dinner time, there's high tea for families in the pub-style Gumstool Inn, or haute cuisine in a candlelit conservatory while the inbuilt room monitor takes the strain. With so much space, couples on a romantic weekend (we met plenty) won't feel crowded out; ditto girls on a spa break. It's also great for a celebration: a converted tithe barn hosts banquets for 10-100.

Muted, spacious and very comfy bedrooms are scattered across the main building - a 700-year-old farmhouse - and its outhouses, linked by scrunching gravel paths and privet hedges. Family suites offer separate kids' rooms (many bunk-bedded), plus a 5-star selection of books and DVDs. With 200 (unfailingly cheery) staff and 2 (Merc-filled) car parks, it's a little larger and pricier than some of our Cotswold boltholes, but worth every penny.

Highs

  • For us: sitting in the outdoor hot tub, champagne in hand, while our son did (supervised) den building in the woods
  • For our neighbours: moonlit strolls in the grounds, and spoiling breakfasts in goosedown beds next morning
  • For others, the activities: horse-riding, electric bikes and clay-pigeon shooting (some need advance booking)
  • We enjoyed the smiley-but-never-smarmy service

Lows

  • We found our dinner at the Gumstool a little disappointing, but the Conservatory gets rave reviews
  • On arrival, the signposted gravel driveways can make it feel larger than it is
  • You pay top dollar - for top quality

Best time to go

The Cotswolds are at their best in summer - glorious woods, verdant valleys and the lakes of the nearby Water Park. But summer holidays are also the busiest time, so families might find more space over Easter or spring / autumn half-terms. It's cosy in winter too, with open fires and the spa still in full operation (indoor pool, hot tub).

Our top tips

Bring trainers for the lovely 3km jog around the Trim Trail. Or bring hiking boots and explore a glorious valley of crenellated manor houses and secret lakes below Newington Bagpath (3km west): park at the abandoned church and follow the footpath down to Lasborough Park. Or - if you have the legs - continue to Ozleworth and back up a side valley via Bagpath to the church (about 8km / 3 hrs' walking).

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Hotel
  • 35
  • 2 restaurants (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

35 rooms and suites are spread across the main building and several barns and stables, family rooms being in the latter. Decor is tasteful and inoffensive: muted Farrow and Ball olives, wall-to-wall beige carpets, Hypnos-mattressed kingsize beds, halogen spots and bendy-stalked reading lamps. Some sit under sloping eaves, a few boast ancient beams; all have generous limestone-tiled bathrooms with, in most cases, a walk-in shower as well as tub.

Some rooms are on 2 levels: romantic bedroom hideaway upstairs, bathroom with groovy teak-clad tub below. Family suites get a bunk- or twin-bedded kids' room with its own DVD and inbuilt monitor. All are excellently equipped - Aromatherapy Associates toiletries, goose-feather duvets and Roberts DABs. Smallish windows overlook green fields - a couple of rooms are on the dark side - but you can count on "the snuggliest beds in the world" (to quote our son).

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Walk through the magic door from reception and you find yourself in a genteel country pub - flagged floors, leather armchairs by the fire, Butcombe and Hooky on tap. The Gumstool Inn offers a mix of locally sourced pub grub (Gloucester sausages with mash and shallots) and fancier bistro fare (Jerusalem artichoke risotto with porcini), though don't expect haute cuisine or exotic flavours here; our shank of lamb was rather bland.

For classier fare, book at the Conservatory Restaurant, where an army of waiters glides among candlelit tables bringing Gruyère tarts, fig and feta salads or wood-roasted sea bass with red pepper ragout. Parents can switch on their room monitor and relax, or even book a baby-sitter to do bedtimes - it's less than the cost of a main dish. Wines range from £20 "everyday drinkers" to classic Chablis and magnums of Moet.

Breakfast, a 3-table buffet supplemented by good cooked dishes ("create-your-own" omelette, smoked-salmon eggs Benedict), sees Boden-clad toddlers frantically colouring in while their parents compare Playzone schedules. Staff are valiant, the mood benign; no disapproving looks here.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • You could spend several happy days within the hotel: there are 2 pools (one indoor, one out), 2 all-weather tennis courts, horse-riding on the grounds (at holiday times), a 3km jogging trail around the perimeter, electric bikes to borrow, not to mention a fully-fledged spa with hot tub, gym and free daily activities (pilates, yoga, even ballet - but you'll need to book ahead)
  • Kids will love the Playzone - perfect for pre-schoolers, with crafts, creche and matronly carers; older kids can head up to the Mez for Playstations, Wii and cinema screenings (book ahead)
  • In warm weather, head for the Cotswold Water Park, a mini lake district of fens and lakes, brooks and beavers; there are beach-style banks and high rope adventures, kayaks and birdwatching trails
  • If it's wet, head to the antiques mecca of Tetbury : vintage clothes at Qetty Bang Bang, superb lunches at The Ormond and, at the Highgrove Shop, a huge range of organic foods and plants from the Prince of Wales' country home (with planning, you can book a tour of his gardens)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Clay pigeon shooting
  • Dance Classes
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Pilates
  • Tennis
  • Tennis coaching
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

This place will spoil families rotten - not just little ones, but parents too. The kids' activities are so good that you won't feel guilty slinking off to the spa; the listening service so reliable that you can really relax over a grown-up dinner. Judging from the families staying during October half-term, it's more popular with toddlers and junior-schoolers than with older kids.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

10 spacious family bedrooms and suites are situated around a flower-filled courtyard in an electronically secured building. Family rooms have a double bed and 2 truckle beds in one large space. Family suites have a separate kids' room, either twin- or bunk-bedded. We stayed in Beverstone and loved it - the books and toys selected for our son were spot on! The larger suites occupy 2 levels (gated, of course) and boast their own small garden; the Deluxe gets a separate sitting room too. All can fit a cot.

Babysitting:

Playzone staff offer evening baby-sitting at very reasonable rates

Baby listening:

All family rooms and family suites have a built-in monitor

Baby equipment:

  • Baby Boxes with changing mats, sterilisers and more
  • Baby bedding
  • Stair gates

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Creche/Kid's Club:

The Playzone (open daily) caters for all ages up to 16; you'll need to book ahead at busy times. The crèche is run by qualified nannies and packed with Hasbro toys. For pre- and early-schoolers, activities such as crafts and cookery classes are offered during the holidays; our 6-year-old loved his supervised den-building in the hotel's own woods. For older children, the Mez (mezzanine) has computers, Playstations, XBoxes, Wii consoles and its own 12-seater cinema

Children's meals:

High tea is served in the Gumstool around 5.30, and if you come later there's a kids menu (tasty but not hugely imaginative, we thought)

Kids Activities on site:

  • Playground with slides and timber towers for juniors
  • 2 all-weather tennis courts (must be pre-booked)
  • Bicycles to borrow (all sizes)
  • Indoor pool (restricted times) and outdoor pool (May-Sept)
  • Pirate playship
  • Woodland gymnasium
  • Assault course
  • Mini football pitch
  • Nature trail

Kids Activities nearby:

Westonbirt Arboretum is on your doorstep, with some great family trails as well as truly stunning colours in autumn. Cotswold Water Park, Berkeley Castle and Slimbridge Wildfowl Centre are not much further

Distances:

  • Hospital: 10 minutes
  • Shops: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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