Kate Freud and family visit the palatial Four Seasons Hotel for a wintry weekend
Though our arrival at the Four Seasons was not one of our finest – our youngest, Georgia, vomiting on a biblical scale as we drove up the hotel drive, leaving the rest of the family caught in the crossfire – thankfully it wasn’t an omen for the weekend to come.
From the moment we were helped from the car by a kindly doorman (who then spent half an hour helping clean up the aftermath), to our fond farewells with the hotel labrador on departure, the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating. And as for the hotel itself, where do I begin? Less than an hour’s drive from London, this Georgian pile oozes cosy, countryside charm, making you feel relaxed the moment you step inside.
On arrival to our beautiful suite, my kids did the obligatory bed-jumping and lying-in-the-empty-bath thing they do whenever we visit a swanky hotel, before their delight was complete with homemade cookies.
We headed down to the restaurant for supper with the children, who – we were thrilled to find – ate for free as they were under five. They enjoyed a mini feast before crashing out for the night. At which point, the hotel babysitter arrived, and my husband and I snuck downstairs to enjoy dinner à deux, feeling like we were a world away from everyday life.
The next morning, our room service breakfast arrived to squeals of delight at the sight of crispy bacon and the pastry basket – a perfect start to the day before the adventures really began. The hotel is set in 500 acres, so we set off on bicycles to see the sights. It’s a truly beautiful place, where the kids ran free. They loved visiting the stables to see the hotel’s horses, and later, retreating from the chilly weather, we returned to the hotel for hot chocolate, before going for a swim in the heated pool.
For those with older children, there’s plenty to do, including clay pigeon shooting and falconry, and the hotel’s new Highwire Adventure. And for parents wanting a child-free break, you can book them into the Kids For All Seasons programme, a free service where guides will occupy your little ones with arts, crafts, treasure hunts and kite-flying, while you kick back in the spa. Not quite ready to leave our two yet, my husband Jack and I took it in turns to enjoy a little indulgence with an excellent massage.
The following day, after a morning of play, we dug into one of the tastiest Sunday lunches I’ve ever enjoyed. To confirm the ‘best weekend ever’ status given by my son, Jago, the hotel had a pudding cart where the kids chose from a selection of treats, stuffing their little faces to their hearts’ content. And thankfully this time, we made it back to London without any repercussions.
Double rooms from £295. Call 01252 853000 or visit fourseasons.com