This post is in partnership with Luxury Family Hotels.
I have always dreamed of visiting Dorset. I used to visit Cornwall and Devon a lot as a child and a lot of my family live near Portsmouth… but I never managed to quite make it to the Dorset part of the coast.
When we were invited by Luxury Family Hotels to stay at their gorgeous hotel Moonfleet Manor, I jumped at the chance. How could we not?
It was our first little holiday as a family of four. Alfred, in particular, was very excited at the idea of going on holiday and staying in a hotel. He’s at such a brilliant age, where he gets everything - so it was perfect timing for our first proper trip away with him.
Moonfleet Manor is one of Luxury Family Hotels’ six hotels, which are all tucked away in some of England’s prettiest locations. Each of their hotels are family inclusive, where every detail is thought about, to make it a fun trip for the whole family.
On arrival, we walked through the stunning entrance and were greeted by super friendly staff. We were given a quick tour around the hotel and then shown to our bedroom.
We stayed in the lovely John Gould room, situated on the top floor. It was a really cozy space, with a lot of charming original features, such as the wooden rafter beams. It had two spacious bathrooms and two sleeping areas - one with a super king size bed and one with a twin bed. The room was also completely prepared for hosting a toddler and a baby - a travel cot was already put up for us before we arrived, as well as a bed guard for Alfred. It was such a nice touch and it meant that we didn't need to pack any bulky bits of baby paraphernalia to bring with us.
Alfred immediately made himself at home and was chuffed that there was a hidden goodie bag in the room, waiting to be found by him. The bag was filled with little treasures, such as a bucket and spade and some books. The ping pong set was the biggest hit though and Alfred refused to let go of the bat for most of the holiday.
The room had four old windows, each with an impressive view of the lagoon and coastline. It was such a treat, waking up every morning to the sight of the sun shining on the sea.
The hotel was so close to the water and one of the things we were looking forward to most, was going for a walk and exploring the waters edge.
When I think of family holidays, the word “relaxing” doesn’t really come to mind. Maybe “fun”... but not “relaxing”. However, there were many moments on this particular trip that did, indeed, feel relaxing. This was because Moonfleet Manor, along with all of the hotels associated with Luxury Family Hotels, is all about family. It lives and breathes family. Everything was thought out, to make life easier for parents and to make things extra fun for children. The toilets had toddler toilet seats, which was such a bonus for our toilet trained three year old. There were “fairy doors” hidden throughout the hotel, for the littles ones to find, which really cracked me up because one of the fairies was called Neil and Alfred shouted "I'VE FOUND NEIL" every time we walked by. There was a playcentre, with trampolines and a climbing wall, which was perfect for rainy days and for killing some spare time.
There was also a “baby listening” service, where you had the option of putting your baby down for a sleep and then slipping away downstairs to enjoy a quiet, adult dinner. (If your baby starts crying, a member of staff will come and find you.)
Dinner times were especially fun. Because everything at the hotel was designed with family in mind, there was no anxiety about the children mucking about or crying. There was no judgement from staff or nearby eaters, when Freya was repeatedly making a rather loud noise/growl. There were only friendly staff and other people who were relaxed about it all and it really put us at ease.
As soon as we were seated at our table each evening, crudites were immediately placed on the table for the children. You also had the option of ordering straight away for them, because as we all know, small children often have trouble waiting for food when they are hungry. All the little details were thought about, to take the stress away.
The food itself was absolutely delicious and cooked to a high standard. I wish I had written down everything that we sampled, but I was enjoying it all too much to remember! I did, however, take a couple of photos, as the dishes were really well presented.
The breakfasts were wonderful too. Every morning there was a help yourself buffet, where we had our fill of eggs, pastries and fruit.
On the second day that we were there, we took up the offer of the children being looked after at the Ofsted-registered creche, whilst Dan and I had some time out. I was nervous about leaving Freya there, as she doesn’t always like being left with other people, nevermind complete strangers. I needn’t have worried though - Alfred had a great time and Freya was completely fine!
While they were happily playing with the ladies at the creche, Dan went for a hike, to soak in all of the stunning surroundings and I went to get my nails done at the spa.
The spa at Moonfleet Manor does a range of Elemis treatments and I must say, I was torn between having a hot stone massage and what I ultimately chose, a hot hand soak and Jessica gel manicure.
It was so nice to just sit and have a bit of pampering. The last time I had my nails professionally done was about 3 years ago!
My beauty therapist, Phoebe, was so chatty and warm and made the whole experience extra enjoyable. She did a perfect job on my nails too!
Once Dan and I had both had a bit of quiet time on our own, we met up with each other to enjoy some coffee and conversation in the sun, before we picked Alfred and Freya up from the creche, feeling very rejuvenated.
The hotel is a Georgian manor house that was immortalised in by J Meade Falkner’s novel “Moonfleet”. The nearby village of Fleet is a well loved destination for families and literature lovers alike. It’s a wonderful area for outdoor lovers too. Dan and I love a good hike and the whole area was so quiet and peaceful! We took the kiddies for a walk down to the lagoon, via a fun route of hidden pathways and a hole in an old stone wall. It felt like such an adventure and Alfred was in his element.
Because we really lucked out with the weather, we spent most of the afternoon outside in the grounds, playing football and enjoying some more coffee, before Alfred insisted on going to the playcentre for more trampolining and air hockey fun.
On our last day, Alfred was pretty gutted to be leaving and to be honest, so were Dan and I. Alfred wanted to stay “forever at the hotel” and carry on trying to find the resident dog, Snoopy. We made leaving a little sweeter for him, by making the journey home a part of the holiday. We swung by the steam engine train near Corfe Castle and had a ride from there to Swanage and back. I think it was the perfect ending to our first mini holiday together.
If we'd had more time, I would have loved to visit Corfe Castle properly, as well as Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. Next time, perhaps! There are so many areas of natural beauty in Dorset, it's hard to cram it all in.
Ever since we got home, Alfred has asked daily to go back to the hotel. I think the whole thing had a real impact on him and I know he learnt so much on those three days away.
I know I will never forget seeing his eyes light up whilst he was exploring all of the rooms, how he was very gentle with Snoopy the dog and how Freya smiled and chatted with the waiters. I will always remember how lovely it was to sit and look at the view with Dan, the warm sun keeping the Autumn chill at bay. I will forever think of how Alfred’s little hand clutched mine, as we walked down to the lagoon and how sweet his and Freya’s faces looked as they slept.
I will forever treasure the memories of this little adventure.