Two Sundays ago the husband, two little A’s and I set off nice and early straight after breakfast for our 1 night break at Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire. The car was crammed full with baby food, milk, bottles, nappies and clothes, my husband reminded me that Stoke Park was still near civilisation and probably had a Tesco 5 minutes away from it. Only an hour away from London meant we arrived there in no time, the kids napping on the way. We decided to have a quick lunch in nearby Slough at an authentic Punjabi restaurant called Exotic Karahi. This had been recommended to me by one of my friends. We opted for all vegetarian dishes, kadi pakora, aloo tikki chaat, dhaba daal. Everything was delicious and we washed it all down with a pink milk and jelly drink called falooda (kind of the bubble tea version of South Asia – google it!).
Driving up the green grounds, it was like expecting a Duke to coming riding on a horse, a fitness instructor on a Segway, and a swish hotelier in a Ferrari to come welcome you all at the same time! This was a place that has that sort of old/new feeling.
We had booked a junior suite in the Pavilion Building. This opened in 2008 and was contemporary in style compared to the Mansion House. With kids I would recommend staying at the Pavilion because of the relaxed atmosphere and the casual and child-friendly San Marco restaurant. Another benefit is that as the spa and swimming pool are in this building, you can walk to it from your room in your robes and slippers. Our suite was spacious and homely. The view of the grounds from the large windows was breathtaking. The 300 acres of beautiful green at Stoke Park is indeed splendid. It was a shame on that particular Sunday we couldn’t take advantage of the beautiful grounds or the children’s outdoor playground as it was raining and quite cold. However, the next morning the sun was shining and we really enjoyed walking around the estate.
We spent the afternoon lazing around in our room enjoying the beautiful view. The children were so happy doing the same. An activity pack with crayons, stickers and colouring book had been provided for Aiden and he enjoyed that and exploring the room especially pressing the buttons on the safe. The swimming pool has plenty of family times available but we didn’t fancy getting wet when we were so cosy in the room. Aiden’s bed had been made up with Disney character bed linen. A children’s gown and slippers had also been placed on the bed for him and this we thought was a lovely touch.
We had an early dinner at San Marco- the hotel’s Italian restaurant. A big convenience the hotel offered was to keep Arhaan’s home cooked food that I had bought with me in their fridge and warm it for me when I wanted to feed him. A bit later on we had dinner at The Orangery, the hotels all day dining restaurant in the Mansion House. It was a bit difficult getting into the Mansion with our heavy double buggy as it did not have a step-free access. However the staff were really helpful in helping to lift the buggy- lucky there weren’t too many steps! My husband and I both went for the roasted lamb steak which was lovely, unfortunately we had to rush back after our main as Aiden was getting quite cranky and the vibe here wasn’t as relaxed as San Marcos. Arriving back in our room we were surprised with lovely personalised cookies for the children. A brownie (or cookie) point indeed!
In the morning after a comfortable night sleep we all awoke fresh. Breakfast at San Marcos consisted of Weetabix for Aiden and eggs Florentine for us. Straight after breakfast we headed to the crèche where we dropped the children off so that we could enjoy some relaxation at the spa. The staff seemed nice and the room was large and airy. The charge was £8/ child per hour. I was worried as this was the first time for both the kids that we had left them with strangers. The lady assured us that if the children got too distressed she would call us.
The spa treatments were sublime and the therapist highly experienced and excellent. After a thalgo facial and a terrake massage I understood why this spa had won a whole host of awards and voted consistently as one of the best spas in the UK. The kids were dropped to us at the spa as my husband’s treatment went on for a bit longer than anticipated. The crèche staff were not too impressed with him and he apologised profusely. The children were really happy and had had a great time at the crèche. They both looked exhausted and fell asleep instantly in their buggy. We had a light lunch which was included as part of our spa package and left soon afterwards.
The short distance from London, the excellent staff, beautiful surroundings and most importantly child-friendly elements made this a great weekend trip.