With time being so precious these days (and non-existent it seems!) and now having one of the kids in school so having to work round term times, we are considering UK family holidays more than ever before. We’re lucky to be located in a fantastic part of the UK, with so many beautiful places within an hour or two’s drive and we’re trying to explore as many as we can, whenever we can.
UK Family Holidays – Bolton Abbey
[This overnight stay was gifted to us – however content and views are all my own and as usual, I wouldn’t share, if I didn’t think you would love it too!]
Somewhere that’s just over an hour from Manchester is Bolton Abbey, in Skipton, Yorkshire and it’s the perfect spot for a UK family holiday, be it an overnight stay like ours, or a few days in the half-term.
We set off mid-morning on a Saturday and arrived at Bolton Abbey for lunch-time. We popped our heads into the hotel to receive a parking permit and map of the estate, which spans a whopping 30,000 acres and set-off for an explore. We opted to start at The Cavendish Pavilion, as there was plenty of parking, a “Welly Walk” trail for the kids and a fabulous spot for lunch that overlooked the water. Perfection.
The weather was perfect and we set off on our welly walk with the kids, exploring the climbing frames and nature as we went. It really was the perfect way to blow-away the cobwebs (that had accumulated from a mummy-daddy date night the night before!).
With a 4 year old and 18-month old, we couldn’t cover miles, but we did a good stint of walking, before deciding to break for a lunch-time snack (and a cheeky ice-cream as it was sunny).
The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa
We could check-in properly from 3pm, so after our lunch, we couldn’t wait to explore our hotel which is the perfectly located The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa. The hotel has a warm and welcoming feel right from the off and the lovely staff took pleasure in giving as a tour of the early 17th century building and grounds that had been developed over the centuries, to create the perfect place for tourists and visitors to stop-off and maximise the beautiful scenery and walks surrounding it.
Our bedroom was located at one corner of the building and was absolutely perfect for our family weekend away. It was the perfect suite with two separate spaces: one housing the main double bed and ensuite bathroom and living space and then just up some stairs above it, was an attic room with a pull-out sofa-bed, space for a cot and ensuite shower room. Ideal as the children could sleep safely and securely in a separate room, but well within earshot.
We had a lovely welcome message from the General Manager, alongside some homemade Yorkshire cakes and biscuits (including a gluten-free brownie for the hubster) and the most amazing box of Yorkshire-made chocolates (how have I never eaten Lauden chocolates before?!).
The Devonshire Arms hotel also has a small but perfectly formed spa on site, that provided the perfect spot for a late-afternoon swim with the kids before dinner. We were lucky to have the pool pretty much to ourselves for an hour and the following morning, the hubby made the most of the onsite gym and sauna facilities too.
Time to eat
As we had the kids with us and following a long day of exploring, we knew an early dinner was on the cards and we were given a table at the on-site Brasserie which was the perfect, less-formal dining setting that we needed. Although the kids were a little restless and there were a couple of fraught moments where we questioned our life choices, once the food arrived, everyone was incredibly happy and we all tucked in.
It’s worth saying here, that the standard of kids food was the best we’ve ever experienced. Our daughter had sausages and mash with one of the most delicious gravies I’ve ever tasted and our little boy happily devoured a spaghetti carbonara and garlic bread (which if I’d have received as an adult main dish, I would have been satisfied!).
The hubby and I opted to share the Chateaubriand and some sides, cooked perfectly rare and drizzled with a bernaise sauce for me! I had the house cocktail, which was a rhubarb-gin and Prosecco mix and tasted so good, I had to have another!
Then, as the kids were starting to get over-tired, we realised that staying for dessert, was probably pushing our luck too far. Our wonderful host for the evening quickly realised our quandary and offered to bring our desserts to our room for us, along with a warmed bottle of milk for the baby. Music to our ears!
So 15 minutes later, we were putting the kids to bed and then the hubby and I happily tucked into our desserts and settled-in for a night in front of the telly. Bliss.
It’s worth me mentioning here, that we were so impressed with the Brasserie at The Devonshire Arms Bolton Abbey, that we went back the next day and paid for a lunch ourselves, happily. As it was Sunday we saw some of the best looking roasts we’ve ever seen and the dishes we chose were simply divine. We tucked into the same roast-dinner sides (the best Yorkshire pud I’ve ever tasted and the same goes for the cauliflower cheese…I never knew it could taste so good!). We left very full and happy!
But back to exploring Bolton Abbey…
Naturally, with two young kids that don’t seem to think they need sleep, we were up at the crack of dawn. We watched telly in bed until the 7.30am breakfast service commenced (and for which we were the first down!). I was so happy when I saw that we got to have our breakfast in the Conservatory, which had the most beautiful views over the estate and which the kids were happy to spot the sheep having their brekkie too.
We had a continental-style breakfast spread available to us (perfect for the kids who tucked into croissants, cereal and fruit) and also an a la carte menu option. I can never resist the Eggs Benedict when I’m on holiday and this one did not disappoint. The hubby went for lighter option of scrambled eggs, avocado and smoked salmon.
After breakfast, the hubby went off for a bit of a spa morning, whilst I chilled in bed with the kids. With it being rainier outside that day, I was quite happy that our room was so comfortable to be able to enjoy time in. The kids loved the novelty of being somewhere new too, so it was the perfect lazy Sunday.
We then opted for a wet but wonderful walk to The Priory at Bolton Abbey, before the lunch that I described earlier.
Heading back home…
We were certainly sorry to say goodbye to The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa and to the beautiful Bolton Abbey estate, but being just over an hour from home, we had the most perfect weekend away that felt entirely manageable with two little kids and didn’t ruin the Sunday night bedtime routine (if you know, you know!).
I’d happily spend a few nights there and we plan to go back one half term, but if you are looking for a quick jaunt, then The Devonshire Arms is the perfect choice. It’s incredibly welcoming and comfortable as a family (oh, and they’re dog friendly!), but it would also make a great romantic getaway sans children! (That’s also our plan one weekend next year).
I’m embarrassed to say, that before this little trip, I had never been to Bolton Abbey and hadn’t realised quite what it was or indeed how beautiful it was. It will be somewhere that we’ll be sure to frequent now we’ve made the discovery and thank you to the team at The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa, who made our stay so special! We can’t wait to come back.