A hotel stay with a young family is often a bit of an intimidating prospect. An unfamiliar room and surroundings can be difficult for children to adapt to, and there’s always the worry of whether a hotel will be accommodating to families. We’ve only attempted it once as a family of four, and it’s fair to say that it was a total disaster with no sleep had by anyone. But we’ve definitely been feeling the need lately for quality time together as a family, so when Chicheley Hall got in touch to invite us to stay we couldn’t say yes quickly enough! Just one look at their website and the beautiful 18th century house and beautiful grounds had me looking forward to our getaway immediately.
The hotel is located close to Milton Keynes, but you wouldn’t know it from the beautiful surrounding countryside we drove through – rolling hills passed by our windows, with poppies, and wildflowers lining the country lanes as we drove along. We’d actually visited Castle Ashby earlier in the day, a beautiful garden close by that we’d visited before and loved, so wanted to take advantage while we were so near. As we drove up the long gravel driveway to the hotel we were greeted by the sight of the stunning Grade I listed mansion. Max, our 4 year old, declared it “fancy” and I think it’s fair to say he’s pretty spot on. It’s no wonder that it’s a popular wedding venue and has been used for filming location for many period dramas.
We made our way to Reception to check in and were welcomed warmly – especially Max, who had his own very important concerns, like where they would be serving breakfast. I had some concerns about how family friendly Chichelely Hall would be, as the country house setting doesn’t immediately shout ‘children welcome’ but the staff made us feel really comfortable and it was clear that they were happy to do anything they could to make our stay more comfortable. The receptionist did flag up that there wasn’t a note on the system to say we needed a travel cot, so if there wasn’t one in the room, we should call down to reception and they would set one up for us. We were given our hotel room key and clear directions and we made our way there to check it out.
The inside of the hotel is just as beautiful as the exterior, with a dramatic staircase, and dark wooden panelled walls. Thankfully there was a lift, even despite the appearance of not having modernised the hotel too much, so we didn’t have to lug the suitcase up the grand staircase!
Our Room at Chicheley Hall
The rooms at Chicheley Hall are all named after scientists, and we stayed in Born, named after Max Born, the German physicist (a nice touch for our son Max). The room really was absolutely beautiful – huge, with 4 large windows offering a double aspect view over the grounds.
As you’ll see from the photos, the receptionist was right, and there wasn’t a travel cot set up, or a camp bed for Max, but this was easily sorted with a quick chat down at reception. Max was very taken with his ‘special bed’ and it was great that the room was so large that there was plenty of space to set his bed up on the opposite side of the room to Ben, to keep them from disturbing each other in the night. Of course, Max had to make sure that he unpacked his two most important items – his little suitcase, and Dog Dog. Once they were unpacked and settled we were ready to explore the gardens!
Exploring The Grounds
Chicheley Hall has such a beautiful setting, with 80 acres of beautiful grounds to wander. Once we were settled into our room with the beds set up, we headed out to explore.
The gardens were beautiful with roses in full bloom and lots of little paths to explore. It even has a deep moat, adding to the grandeur!
They have resident peacocks, which Max thought was hilarious. He’d heard them calling from our room and immediately went to the window seat to see what was making the noise. He loved doing a bit of peacock stalking. I couldn’t help laughing that no matter how many times we corrected him, he insisted on calling them “pork-in-a-pines” – wrong on more than one count!
We were told when we checked in that dinner in the restaurant started at 7pm, and I think even before we said anything the receptionist already knew that with two small children that was going to be too late for us. Perhaps a look of horror came over our faces! She let us know that we could order anything we liked from the main menu and take a seat either in the bar area or outside in the garden, whichever we preferred.
The weather was lovely, and the bar area was reasonably busy with the World Cup on the TV, so we decided to take our noisy children and eat outside, which was perfect. The croquet was still set up on the lawn, which meant that Max was happily entertained while we were waiting and we didn’t have to worry about him disturbing anyone.
Max was offered the choice of the children’s classics, chicken nuggets and chips, fish fingers and chips, or sausages and chips – all three of which my fussy eater will go for, so that was ideal for us.
I was also really impressed with their menu in terms of identifying allergies. I’d flagged up ahead of time that Ben and I couldn’t have diary or soya, but the menu was coded to identify all the main allergens next to every dish. Brilliant! Although that said, there was only one dish on the main menu that didn’t contain either (which is the case in so many places to be honest), so the gnocchi it was for me. My husband chose the burger and chips, which looked pretty tempting to me!
Breakfast was served in the restaurant from 8am, which is a lot later than we would eat at home, so we definitely had to stall Max in the room for a while. But it was well worth waiting for, with a continental and hot buffet available and tea and coffee brought to your table.
I went for the full English, which is surely the best part about a hotel stay, while Max ended up having a 5 course breakfast – cereal, fruit, yoghurt, sausage and hash brown, and finally toast. I guess he was pretty hungry!
The staff at breakfast were brilliant. They set us up straight away with a high chair for Ben, but without us asking, they noticed that Max was sat slightly low at the table, and brought a booster seat for him, which was lovely. I also asked them about whether things at the buffet contained milk or soya and they were more than happy to go and check with the chef and confirm.
We also had a bit more of an explore of the ground floor and found the most beautiful lounge area and study, full of books and board games.
We headed off to check out with full tummies and, with a final bit of peacock stalking, waved goodbye to Chicheley Hall.
Would I Recommend Chicheley Hall?
Well, our second hotel stay as a family was a huge success! I felt that the staff at Chicheley Hall really couldn’t do enough to make sure that we had a happy stay with them. Although it’s not perhaps the obvious choice for a family break, there was nothing we needed that couldn’t be provided when we asked, and we all had a wonderful time.
Disclosure: We were invited to stay as guests at Chicheley Hall in exchange for this post.