CHECK-IN: The Ickworth
It may look and sound grand – and indeed it is – but The Ickworth Hotel is thoroughly modern in its approach to luxury getaways for the whole family – and yes, we mean babies, kids and dogs too. When staying at The Ickworth you’re encouraged to treat the (manor) house as your home. On arrival at Ickworth House the first thing you’ll notice is the striking Rotunda, influenced by the Italian travels of Frederick Augustus Hervey (as it was once home to the Hervey family from 1829 until 1996). It was granted to the National Trust in 1956.
The really grasp the scale of The Ickworth Hotel, know that its only the East Wing that houses the hotel, while the West Wing is a visitor centre and café. Throughly updated to suit modern comforts and living, yet retaining all of its historic charm its a wonderful mix. But, the true beauty is getting outdoors to explore the 1,800 acres of parkland, manicured gardens and cycle trails. There is also a tennis court, a swimming pool, spa rooms, crèche, games and cinema room – so, no matter the weather the whole family can enjoy the perfect country retreat.
You can certainly be to the manor born in one of The Ickworth’s 27 unique, comfortable and stylish rooms. Choose from small doubles, family suites and interconnecting bedrooms which can be booked together for flexible family accommodation. With comfortable king sized beds, impressive en-suites and ‘grand’ sofas, armchairs. Each room is perfectly decked with all the mod cons from flat screen TVs, tea and coffee facilities and enough space for extra cots and children beds (with some rooms also able to accommodate up to 3 children).
For a larger family or event the private apartments in The Lodge can also be exclusively hired to accolade 36 adults and 14 children.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Children stay free is sharing a parents room and before you arrive they can organise cots, nappy bins, bottle warmers, bed guards and potties.
THE BATHROOM SHELF:
Enjoy long hot soaks or luxurious showers using a shelf stocked with full size products – always great when travelling as a family, as no worrying about using up all the bubble bath the first night! The Ickworth offers the classic organic brand Voya – a range that contains extracts of wild seaweed, sustainably hand-harvested from the West Coast of Ireland.
THE POOL & SPA:
This is no stuffy adults-only pool at The Ickworth – this is a family-friendly splash pool for all to use. Although, there is zoned-out areas for a more tranquil environment where adults can unwind after a trip to the spa (especially good if the children are in the Four Bears Den childcare facilities or playing in garden).
We say gardens but really can you call 1,800 acres of parkland a garden? The stunning, lush greenery at The Ickworth is worth a visit in itself. As there’s plenty to keep children entertained during your stay. Theres the enchanting fairy gardens, the intriguing stumpery, a children’s playground, lakes, farm animals and even deers to spot as they roam the land. Maps are available from reception and provide routes ranging from a leisurely stroll along the half-mile Lady Geraldine walk to an energetic seven-mile bike ride along Grand Tour. (Complimentary mountain bikes for all the family are available for guests use). Or, more the more high-tech use your GPS device and try Geocaching: a modern-day treasure hunt around the parkland.
One of the best parts of getting away is the food. And, at The Ickworth you have a number of options. From the airy, family-friendly Conservatory to the more sophisticated adults-only Frederick’s, as well as the option of light meals being served in the lounge, drawing room or, delivered to your room.
The Conservatory is where breakfast is served at weekends (as a buffet but, guests dining in the hotel can order from the breakfast menu too). Casual lunches, afternoon tea and family dinners are also served here. With the perfect family-friendly light and breezy atmosphere you can eat here with babies and small children without worrying about mess or noise. There is plenty to choose from like antipasto platters, steaks and classic seafood, while the kids options include Dingley Dell chipolatas, homemade fish bites or ‘hidden vegetable’ lasagne.
For an adults-only supper hit Fredrick’s, overlooking the Italianate gardens which is set over two-grand rooms on the ground floor. Here you can enjoy a more intimate evening meal and even a few cocktails. This is all while the children are safely tucked up in bed upstairs (If you are staying in the hotel switch you just switch on the baby-listening system that connects to the main reception and if your child wakes up or makes a noise, you will be immediately alerted or, a baby-sitter can be organised if you are staying in the Lodge)
GOOD TO KNOW
Kids’ meals and light snacks are served from 12pm to 8.30pm and children’s ‘High Tea’ is served in the cinema room between 5pm and 6pm if you like the children to eat together. For babies they can heat bottles, bring fresh milk to your room free of charge (morning and night) plus, the chef can also provide fresh, pureed baby food from 7am to 10pm.
Despite the overall grandeur of The Ickworth its refreshing to stay in a hotel that welcomes the sound of little feet – and paws too and makes you feel at home (even for a few days!)
Family time is at the heart of a stay at Ickworth – together and apart. There is two free hours of childcare included for each day of your stay giving tired parents time to relax and unwind knowing there are safe with the Ofsted-registered Four Bears Den (for children up to 8 years old). Older children have Club Blu where they can meet friends and play on the Wii, X-Box, Play Station or games of air hockey, table tennis and table football. Each night the latest children’s blockbusters are shown in the cinema room at 6pm and there is also a Sunday Breakfast Club, where the creche staff will collect your children from your room, so you can enjoy a lie-in. Bliss.
THE PACKING LIST:
Get ready to hit the outdoors when you arrive at The Ickworth. A good pair of play pumps or scratch trainers will ensure children can roam freely and hit the park with ease. A stylish backpack will be ideal for country walks to hold maps, water bottles and a spare jumper. Don’t forget a waterproof family picnic mat too. For quieter moments this country house garden sticker book or this classic National Trust book will keep them occupied. And, when all that activity is done ensure there get a peaceful night’s sleep with some soothing pillow mist (which means you can enjoy your uninterrupted dinner downstairs, too!)
Website: The Ickworth
Address: The Ickworth, Porringer, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP29 5QE
Phone number: 01284 735350
Prices start at £155 a night
** The Ickworth is part of the Luxury Family Hotels Group