As the summer draws to a close and autumn approaches we, like many families, begin to rely less on our tent to house us on our regular family adventures. We’ll still get out in itsporadically during the cooler months, but we’ll also look to supplement this by looking for value for money in hotels, hostels, bunkhouses and lodges. These still enable us to explore new areas, walking routes, lakes and waterfalls, but they offer a warmer, sturdier alternative for our all-important cold weather family adventure time. As such, we were delighted when the UK’s leading hotel management company, RBH, got in touch asking us to check out just how child friendly their hotels are. Selecting the Park Royal Hotel in Cheshire for its proximity to the North Cheshire Way walking route, we set off to put them to the test. Here’s how we got on, but, just in case you don’t want to take our word for it; here’s what our kids thought…
So, just like Bear Grylls, leaving the great outdoors to spend the night in a cosy hotel, we finished our walk and headed to the Park Royal Hotel to check in. I’m a big one for first impressions and this one left me in no doubt that kids are treated as equals. While I checked us in, completing the formalities usually required, a few yards away, our two toddlers were standing on tiny stools, accessing a much lower desk designed just for them, and were checking in themselves. Whereas I had, albeit the very friendly face of the hotel receptionist to greet me, they got a giant Woody from Toy Story. They had their own cards to complete with coloured pencils and crayons, and were given mocktail vouchers to hand in to the bar so they could claim their free drinks. Finally, they checked out the children’s information board which detailed what entertainment would be on offer each day. Why can’t adult check-in be this cool?
Our family room was more than big enough for the four of us and had every amenity you’d expect to find in a four-star hotel. While I could have quite happily slipped into the bath after our long walk and put on a bit of background music, the kids, re-energised by all of the promised activities at the children’s check-in, wanted to head straight back out to grab their mocktails and explore the kid’s entertainment room.
With the mocktails devoured, we knew we still had time to catch the scheduled kids’ film, which is put on for families who stay at the hotel. A conference room that would normally play host to boring, stuffy business meetings had been transformed into a cinema, come bowling lane, comemagnificent activity centre. This really was a welcome addition and something I wish a lot more hotels offered. In addition to enjoying the film that was being broadcast, Jesse tried his hand at tenpin bowling, while Amelie spent some time painting and doing jigsaws. All of the toys, paints, colours, paper, games and jigsaws are provided for you and the kids loved it.
The kids went down to dinner content and tired – always a good recipe for ensuring two toddlers don’t embarrass you in public. Occasionally, when we’ve stayed in other hotels, cabin fever has set in and dinner becomes a painful affair. There was none of that here. They chose from the varied children’s menu and we actually got to enjoy our meal without shovelling it down at lightspeed in an attempt to ward off bored toddlers. Everyone’s a winner!
When we got back up to the room a lovely little surprise was awaiting the kids. The Park Royal Hotel bring all kids staying in the hotel milk and cookies before bed. With a personalised note from the Cookie Monster, this was a lovely and veryunexpected touch by the staff.
The next morning, after a delicious breakfast, we decided to go for a swim in the Park Royal Hotel leisure complex. With dedicated swim times for kids it was another great opportunity to let them loose without fearing that a Moody Margaret would give us the death stare for having some family fun. With the provided floats, Jesse worked on his kicks before dispensing with them and spending most of his time underwater. Amelie, still gaining her confidence in the pool, had a few rides around the pool on my back – seriously: a major test of your breaststroke and ability to swallow pool water – and happily splashed around just as a two-year-old should do.
We can’t recommend the Park Royal Hotel enough to other families. The staff really do go out of their way to make children an absolute priority. For outdoor families, such as us, there are extensive grounds that the kids are actively encouraged to explore and, if you check the Green Spaces option on the OS Maps app, you’ll see that there are a couple of country parks very close by and, as mentioned earlier, the North Cheshire Way is just a short drive away. We’ll definitely be back to explore more of this section of the Cheshire countryside.
if you fancy sampling this great family-friendly hospitality check out their website: QHotels The Park Royal, Cheshire.