As the leaves turn and the days shorten, the Cotswolds comes into its own. If you’re searching for an Autumn family break Calcot has it all, writes Jessica Jonzen
If the Cotswolds was to have its colours done, it surely would be an ‘Autumn’. Those sepia toned stone cottages the colour of a perfectly toasted teacake, the gently rolling mist-covered hills, and the crackling fires warming hearths and hands in centuries old pubs all set the scene perfectly for the season of mellow fruitfulness.
Which is why Autumn is surely the most picture-perfect time of year for a visit to the Cotswolds. And if you have little ones in tow, you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere that will cater to you better than Calcot, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire.
The privately owned flagship hotel of the Calcot Collection, which includes The Painswick (also in the Cotswolds) and The Lord Crewe Arms in Northumberland, Calcot dates back to the 14th century, with its 16th-century manor house a relative new build. Today, it plays the generous host to families and couples alike (it’s adults only in the manor house, and the spa is mostly a child-free zone apart from set family-swim times, so you don’t need to worry about being bombed during your morning dip.)
The four new family suites, designed by Cathy Birtles and launched last year, brings the number of dedicated family rooms to 13. When I visited with my mother and two children, aged 12 and 9, we stayed in the Slimbridge Suite, a gorgeously spacious two-bedroom retreat with its own pantry complete with copper sink, Smeg toaster and kettle, as well as thoughtful goodies such as a freshly baked loaf of sourdough, fresh fruit and homemade shortbread, with a hot chocolate making kit left on the children’s beds.
MELLOW LITTLE GREENE PAINT COLOURS ARE LIFTED WITH POPS OF COLOUR FROM CAREFULLY CHOSEN ANTIQUES AND TEXTILES
Calcot epitomises the Cotswolds aesthetic without being twee, so the restful paint colours are pepped up with fabrics from the likes of Rapture and Wright and GP&J Baker, as well as playful antiques and artwork to create a unique, home-from-home feel. The bathrooms, with their roll top baths, waterfall showers, Mandarin Stone tiles and Aromatherapy Associates products are mini spas in their own right.
Speaking of spas, drop the little ones off at The Playbarn so you enjoy a treatment (or two) in peace. Calcot’s Ofsted-registered purpose-built crèche also caters to older children at The Mez, where kids aged eight and over can play on PlayStations, Wii Consoles and Xboxes or watch a movie in the 12-seater cinema, which got a very enthusiastic reception from my two.
A swim followed by a herbal tea and a wallow in the outdoor hot tub was enough to recharge my batteries, but you can also book in for all manner of treatments. In early 2024, Calcot will open the Grain Store, a dedicated luxury gym and fitness sanctuary, for those who don’t want to give in entirely to relaxation.
With two full-sized tennis courts which are complimentary to book, a disc golf course, a woodland play area, boules, croquet, and a mini football field, there are plenty of outdoorsy activities. We hopped on Calcot’s (very well maintained) mountain bikes, which are free to hire, to explore the trails through its beautiful 220-acre site. Calcot is undertaking an impressive rewilding project, which includes wildflower planting, deploying organic farming methods, and planting 21,000 trees to encourage the reintroduction of rare and endangered birds, butterflies, moths and other wildlife.
This is one of the things which really sets Calcot apart; it is absolutely rooted in its location and aims to immerse its guests fully in their surroundings. If your appetite for Mother Nature isn’t fully sated, Westonbirt Arboretum is just a 10-minute drive away – and there’s no finer time to visit than in October when the Japanese Maples are in all their scarlet glory.
THE MANOR HOUSE HAS ADULT-ONLY BEDROOMS, WHILE FAMILY ROOMS AND SUITES CAN BE FOUND IN BEAUTIFULLY CONVERTED OUTBUILDINGS
Of course, one of the best things about a weekend away with the kids is having a break from cooking endless pesto pasta. Calcot has recently refurbished its Brasserie, which is popular with both guests and locals alike for every meal from breakfast through till supper. Executive Chef Richard Davies serves relaxed yet elegant seasonal dishes such as brown sugar cured pork chop, artichoke and truffle ravioli with pickled mushroom, hazelnut praline and coffee choux bun, and a selection of both local and French cheeses. Meanwhile, the kids get traditional crowdpleasers such as cheeseburgers, pizza, and fish and chips. It would be nice to see a slightly more adventurous children’s menu but I suppose children are, on the whole, pretty conservative when it comes to food.
With dinner over, you can book one of Calcot’s babysitters (seriously, they can’t do enough for you here) so you can spend an evening propping up the bar (or reclining on a sofa) in The Hive – a café by day and cocktail lounge by night. After a day of equal parts action and blissful idleness, what could be better than cosying up with a Negroni in front of a roaring fire? If nowhere does Autumn quite like the Cotswolds, then nowhere does the Cotswolds quite like Calcot.
THE OUTDOOR HOT TUB AT THE CALCOT SPA
A COSY CORNER AT THE HIVE, A CAFÉ BY DAY AND COCKTAIL LOUNGE BY NIGHT
THE SITTING ROOM AND CHILDREN’S BEDROOM IN THE SLIMBRIDGE SUITE, ONE OF FOUR NEW FAMILY SUITES
AN ADULT BEDROOM IN ONE OF THE FOUR NEW FAMILY SUITES
CALCOT MANOR DATES BACK TO THE 16TH CENTURY
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