Words Jemma Slevin
Reviewed in March 2017
This was my third visit to a Luxury Family Hotel. From our previous trips I knew we would be in for a treat – good food, friendly staff and exceptional service, pampering, fun clubs for the children and a cosy room that would be big enough to accommodate us all for a good nights rest. However this trip was slightly different in that I wasn’t travelling en famille for a weekend away, instead it was a Tuesday and I just had my two littlest with me, my 3 and 1 year old pre–schoolers. Meeting us at Moonfleet Manor in the heart of Devon was my oldest and dearest friend along with her two little ones. I couldn’t wait, it had been over a year since we last saw each other. We had been trying to plan a get together for ages but with both of us having moved house, both with busy husbands travelling all over the place, and both part of a big family with all the commitments that entails, it finally dawned on us what was needed was to tear ourselves away from our usual routine to enjoy a proper catch up without the distractions of our home lives.
Leaving the home counties behind, two little voices in the back seat of the car were full of excitement as we trundled down the M3 and enjoyed the scenic drive to Weymouth though the New Forest. Glimpses of the sea and the dramatic horizon meant that we were now on the Jurassic coast. As we passed signs for Lulworth Cove and Old Harry’s Rock, memories of school geography field trips came back to me and I was reminded how awesome and exciting this part of England is.
At last we arrived at the gates of Moonfleet Manor, a delightful Georgian manor house set on a hill overlooking Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon. It was windy but the sun was out and the lagoon sparkled.
After a warm welcome at reception we wondered into the lounge to find my friend and her children. A quirky, colonial décor gives Moonfleet its own identity that sets it apart from the other hotels in the chain, and yet despite its grandeur, this hotel feels very familiar and homely.
After hugs and shrieks of delight to see each other, we set off to explore and discovered that we had both been given beautifully large rooms on the second floor. Although they didn’t have the elegant high ceilings of the first floor accommodation, the views over The Fleet, were amazing. I seemed to have a whole side wing of the house for my little gang, with my room and bathroom one end, and the children with their beds and cot the other end alongside another bathroom. If I had hubby and the older two in tow, we would have still fitted in, with room to spare!
No matter what the weather, there is lots of fun to be had at Moonfleet. Apart from the mini cinema, the indoor play area is enormous complete with a five a side football pitch, air hockey, trampolines and areas for little and big children to run, climb and jump until their hearts content. The bright new indoor pool is located adjacent to the main Georgian building and shares it’s location with the Ofsted-registered crèche. Here our kiddies had a fabulous time, listening to stories, playing with the multitude of toys on offer and they even made key rings and paintings to take home.
Whilst the children were engrossed in their activities, us mummies escaped to the spa to enjoy an hour of pure relaxation. My massage by the lovely Celia was bliss, whist my friend opted for a soothing facial which she said was heaven. A treatment is an absolute ‘must’ when staying at a Luxury Family Hotel, and I suggest to have it soon after arrival – it helps one disconnect and sets the tone for a relaxing break.
“The bright new indoor pool is located adjacent to the main Georgian building and shares it’s location with the Ofsted-registered crèche.”
The area around Weymouth offers an abundance of day trips and exciting activities but our short time at Moonfleet meant we had no need to leave. Walks along the beach of The Fleet, surrounded by beautiful Dorset countryside, were invigorating and wholesome for the soul as we nattered away whilst the children picked up shells and paddled in the sea thanks to the selection of wellies the hotel offers to all its guests.
Content from all their activities and fresh air, at 6 o’clock the children’s tea time was met with glee and they tucked into a hearty supper of Fish Cakes (£6.50), Penne Pasta Treasure Chest (£5) and Homemade Sausage Roll (£5), followed by an Ice-Cream sundae (£4).
Tummies full, it was then upstairs to bath and bed. By now the wind had got up but we felt incredible cosy in our room. A bottle of warm milk sent my littlest straight off to sleep and his brother followed soon after as his head hit the pillow, despite his best efforts to stay awake and watch a video that he had chosen form the vast selection on offer in reception.
Kiddies asleep and the baby listening service on meant I was happy to leave them so us mummies could enjoy a pre-dinner drink next to the fire in the main lounge. As old friends do, we picked up from where we left when we last saw each other, and the year that had separated us soon faded as we nattered away!
Giggling just like we were 13-year-old girls back at school, we finally drew breath and got a chance to study the menu – and thanks to the patience of our wonderful waiter and his great recommendations we settled in for a delicious meal.
My Twice Baked Barders 1833 Cheddar Cheese Soufflé (£8.50) was light, fluffy and so deliciously creamy, while my friends starter of Baked Scallop with Smoked Haddock Boudin (£9.50) was cooked to perfection. The scallop was soft and sweet and the accompanying creamed leek and crab sauce vierge was a delicious savoury addition.
The laughter continued, no doubt with the help of a Carafe of deliciously crispy Sauvignon Blanc, Isabella da Silva (£17.60) recommended by our waiter and ideal choice for both the first and main dishes we had chosen.
Fish and shellfish features heavily on the menu which suited us a treat. Whilst a Chateaubriand or Rib-Eye Steak ticked our fancy, we decided to stick to fish for our second course and I chose the Roast Fillet of Cod with Chorizo, Calamari and Sliced New Potatoes (£17.50) and my friend chose the Whole Pan Fried Plaice with prawns, picked samphire and garlic butter (£18.50). Both dishes were enjoyed thoroughly.
The idea was welcomed for us to return to the lounge and enjoy our dessert on the soft sofas next to the fire. It was lovely to see my friend so relaxed and although we had enjoyed a wonderful day with the children, the chance to be able to chat and enjoy each others company without the interruptions was priceless. After a cheeky little ‘digestif’ whilst putting the world to right, we decided we ought to call it a night. As I wondered into my room to hear the soft breathing of my babies, I felt very lucky to have this opportunity to spend such quality time with a special friend and vowed this is the way forward for future get togethers. Moonfleet Manor thank you and see you very soon!
For more information and bookings for Moonfleet Manor or any of the Luxury Family Hotels
visit www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk or call 0844 482 2152