Chesford Grange, in Warwickshire, England, is a hotel that’s difficult to leave. With 17 acres of land, the quiet setting of the QHotels country house is deceptive. It’s right at the hub of some major English attractions. Warwick Castle is just five miles away, and you’re only a twenty minute drive from Stratford-Upon-Avon.
My partner and I, along with our two children (5 and 7) used Chesford Grange as a base while exploring Warwickshire. The quintessentially English county offers a lot to sightseers, ramblers and history or culture buffs. But we’d probably have been just as happy holed up at Chesford Grange for the two nights and three days of our stay.
Here’s a little video I made, showing our room and some of the hotel:
Autumn was a good time to visit the hotel. It’s surrounded by deciduous trees, whose leaves made a crunchy carpet on the lawn and footpaths. We arrived in the late afternoon after a visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, when it was almost dark; but the next morning turned out to be crisp and cloud-free. I took myself off to explore the hotel’s grounds.
The hotel encouraged young guests to make the most of their natural environment. A board near the entrance displayed a ‘nature trail’: pictures of a birds and wild animals, which could be spotted in the wooded areas and pathways nearby. In Chesford Nature Corner, a man-made warren gave wild rabbits a place to play, and hedgehogs a hidey-hole for Winter. I spotted a bug hotel along my way down towards the Avon river, which weaves its way through the grounds. Although it was well-maintained, the trail leading away from Chesford Grange was left a little wild in places. It connected up with a public footpath, so guests could roam further if they liked.
Inside the hotel
Chesford Grange has parking space for 650 cars, but you wouldn’t know it when you were inside the hotel. Even though the car park was full when we stayed (it was the school half-term holiday), the guests all seemed to melt away into the spacious interior of the hotel. Low-level, elegant piano music played in a few of the public spaces, and despite the slightly trippy carpet, the place felt calm, and peaceful.
Health club and spa
Chesford Grange was a relaxing place to stay. There were plenty of cosy corners for families to congregate, or for businesspeople to hold meetings (the hotel is a popular conference centre). As a busy parent, though, I was most excited about checking in at the hotel’s health club. Our schedule was busy, so I didn’t have time to book a spa treatment, or to use the gym. I did, however, get the indoor swimming pool all to myself when I popped down for an early bird dip on our second morning.
The pool opens at 7am and children aren’t allowed in till 8. So it was a nice, relaxing start to the day, with swimming, sitting in the steam room, and unwinding on the heated loungers. When the little monkeys did arrive, there was a shallow baby area, and a cordoned off area for lane swimming. Although there’s no lifeguard the pool felt safe, as it was small and relatively shallow throughout.
Facilities for children
I could imagine having an equally good time at Chesford Grange if I came without children. There was something about the spaciousness of the place that seemed to soak up the shrieks and squabbles that come with children.
Having said that, it was family-friendly. The hotel’s large games room was stocked with giant Jenga, table football, colouring stations, Hungry Hippos and a big stack of board games.
Given that it was half-term, I was surprised at how quiet the games room was. Also quiet was the film club room, which we had all to ourselves. It was a small room, with around 15 chairs, where you could choose a DVD to watch. Young film-goers even had free popcorn and biscuits to go with their film. The only hitch was that the remote control for the player didn’t seem to work. Other than that, we enjoyed our evening with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We could have left the children there by themselves if we’d wanted, but as they’re only five and seven, we decided to stay.
Our children seemed to be at the younger edge of the hotel’s clientele; a lot of the youngsters looked over seven. But the hotel catered well for younger children. When we arrived, the friendly reception staff gave us two colourful cups with animals on the side, which Austin and Gwen enjoyed taking to the bar for unlimited refills of squash. There was a QHotels activity pack, and our hotel room came stocked with Pom Bear crisps, Fruit Shoot drinks and a bumper pack of Skittles.
QHotels have a partnership with the NSPCC, and encourage guests to donate when booking their stays. Although Chesford Grange attracted a broad range of different clientele, they clearly made a big effort to keep their younger guests happy, and we felt very welcome there.
We stayed in a superior family room, which was almost as big as a suite, with two double beds. The children collapsed into a fit of giggles about having to share a bed, but we all slept well, as the beds were incredibly comfortable.
A large box of Lindt chocolates and a bottle of red from the restaurant’s wine list were waiting for me and D. Next to them were the children’s goodies, and a mini fridge lay underneath. Tucked away under the Freeview TV were a kettle with tea, coffee and biscuits; and the immaculately clean bathroom sported a small supply of toiletries.
Our room was number one, and I’d recommend it if you like a nice view. It overlooked trees, and was so spacious it even had its own small entrance hall, with a walk-in closet for clothing and luggage storage.
Food and drink
Chesford Grange offered room service. A wide range of dishes were on offer, from soup or tabbouleh, to burgers, pies, pizzas and steak. Most of the eating took place in the dining hall, though, and this is where you could see just how busy the hotel was. We ate breakfast early on the first morning, but by about 9 am the place was heaving, with waiters serving coffee, fresh juice pouring from large kilner jars, and a buffet offering a steady stream of bacon and eggs, pastries, pancakes and waffles, or cereals.
We stayed in October so the restaurant’s French windows were closed, but there were plenty of tables on the verandah and lawn, for dining al fresco in the warmer months. It was easy to imagine sitting outside, eating a fresh fruit salad with yoghurt while birds sang in the trees.
We dined in the restaurant on one evening of our stay. The food was decent; D’s chick pea curry was flavoursome, and my pasta was satisfying, although I wouldn’t describe it as above the norm.
What was exceptional, though, was the attention the staff gave us. The team of roving waiters were all enthusiastic, friendly and polite without crowding us. Chesford Grange’s setup for children was appealing, too. For £7 they could help themselves from a buffet with a wide range of kid-friendly choices. Although some people did dress up for dinner, the restaurant was a relaxed place. If families preferred something more casual, they could eat in the cosy bar area. We did this on our first evening, when D and I were too full from our lunch at The Bell to want much dinner, and it was just the children who ate, from their buffet.
Although we were guests of Chesford Grange and Shakespeare’s England for this stay, I would pay to come back to this hotel. Key highlights were its tranquil setting, great location, and good offer for children. It was family friendly without being offputting for people without children.
Chesford Grange is next to Kenilworth in Warwickshire, just off the A46. The nearest airport is Birmingham, and the hotel is accessible from both the M40 and M69.
Look out for posts on this blog about attractions in the local area:
You can find out more on the Shakespeare’s England website.
Prices at Chesford Grange vary, depending on the time of year, length of stay, and room type. You can find out more on the QHotels website.
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