‘Are we really going to stay here?’ asked my little boy, wide-eyed, as we pulled up outside Stapleford Park Hotel. It’s a fair question, given the grandeur of this Grade-I listed country house in Melton Mowbray. The mansion’s pristine exterior is nothing short of magnificent, and the approach – through a 500-acre buffer of neat gardens designed by English landscape architect, Capability Brown – certainly makes for a striking first impression.
Taking young children to a luxury hotel is always a bit of a worry, I thought, as my son silently craned his neck to get a proper look at the place. The website had promised family-friendliness, but as his younger sister emerged from the car with a face covered in chocolate and a stray Pom Bear in her hair, I wondered just how geared up for kids a place like this could really be.
The four of us crunched up the gravel path towards the hotel and the concierge swung the door open to reveal a grand reception room with walls covered in delicate flowers and birds (which I later found out were hand-embroidered onto silk wallpaper, no less). By contrast, a rack of muddy wellies sat drying in one corner, and a roaring log fire beckoned us in from the cold. As did a lovely man whose name I’ve now forgotten, but who immediately struck up a conversation with my son about Lego Batman (it happens a lot). My shoulders visibly dropped; perhaps we’d be OK here, after all.
Bedrooms at Stapleford Park hotel
We set off in the direction of our room, past supersized stairwells and rich, mahogany-panelled walls, and felt like we’d stepped into a scene from Downton Abbey. Thinking back to our stay, that’s the one big difference that stands out from the luxury hotels we’ve reviewed in the past: Stapleford Park feels less like a hotel, and more like an incredibly swish family home. My son noticed it too, as he pointed to family photographs clustered on a table. ‘Are these the people who live here, Mummy? And aren’t they going to mind that we’re staying in their house?’
Indeed, Stapleford Park was once a home, but it’s now a Pride of Britain hotel that’s popular for spa breaks, special occasions and corporate stays. We eventually arrived at our room, Osborne & Little (the hotel’s 55 rooms are individually-designed and named after their creators), which interconnects with the room next door. It meant we had a bedroom and bathroom for us, a separate bedroom with en suite for the children, and a lounge area between the two. That’s as good as it gets when it comes to family hotel rooms.
As expected, the bedrooms were lovely – grand but comfortably so, and less ostentatious than the rest of the hotel. Extra touches like a small bottle of sloe gin and packet of biscuits came as a welcome surprise, and the beds were as comfortable as we’d hoped. The hotel supplied a travel cot for the three-year-old, which was great, but forgot to give us any bedding apart from a tiny baby-sized sleeping bag, so it’s worth checking this when you book – or bringing your own.
Leisure and dining at Stapleford Park Hotel
Although we weren’t able to sample the hotel’s spa, we did pay a visit to the swimming pool that afternoon and it’s well worth a visit. As the children splashed away happily below the huge atrium roof, the sky gradually darkened into night above us, and we dried off just in time for dinner.
The hotel’s headline act when it comes to dining is the Grinling Gibbons Room, but as the kids eat relatively early we decided to order from the bar menu in the Drawing Room instead. Thankfully there’s a children’s menu, and they chose pizza and chicken nuggets (which were undoubtedly not called chicken nuggets), while we tucked in to giant Scotch eggs and a slab of Melton Mowbray pork pie.
Besides us, the room was mostly full of mums finishing off their afternoon tea with tiny sleeping babies by their side. It did look really lovely, and as the children scanned tier after tier of tiny, delicate pastries I made a mental note to book us in for afternoon tea if we come back again. And I hope we do, with or without the kids. It would have to be for a very special occasion – Stapleford Park is more of a once-in-a-lifetime kind of place, after all – but this hotel certainly delivers that extra special something for an anniversary or milestone birthday.
Stapleford Park, a 15th century country estate in rural Leicestershire, is a member of the Pride of Britain Hotels collection, which never includes more than 50 hotels to guarantee quality and exclusivity. A similar one-night stay in a family suite with breakfast costs from £378 for four sharing. To book, call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929, or visit www.prideofbritainhotels.com.
Thank you to Stapleford Park for hosting us in return for an honest review.