Features editor Anna Shepard stayed at Lime Wood Hotel, New Forest, with Toby, two
Before setting off to Lime Wood Hotel & Spa, we realised my partner would need to stay behind with my older son, leaving me to take the trip on my own with my two year old (and a stack of CBeebies magazines).
Once I’d come to terms with our trip à deux, I realised it would be a true test of the place’s baby-friendly credentials. I expected to spend the time policing my tot Toby, and wondering if I’d ever get to have a massage. But, actually, I’d hit the jackpot.
Greeted by expert childcare and a travel cot in my room, I noticed everything was geared to kids. There were little ones propped up in highchairs in the restaurant (run by Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett), lounging in their prams in the Courtyard – a less formal café – and darting around beautiful grassy grounds.
In an adjoining building, Herb House spa is another impressive Lime Wood wing. But, to truly enjoy it, I was reliant on the hotel’s babysitting service working out. Nicknamed The Koala, Toby is one of the clingiest toddlers I know, so I was anxious about how he’d cope with being palmed off on a total stranger. But the moment I met Phillipa, an experienced babysitter, I could tell she got him. He waved me off, and I headed over to the spa without the usual niggly feeling.
Despite the liveliness of the hotel, this haven was blissfully peaceful. As well as the hot outdoor plunge pool, I loved the Scandi-chic sauna that overlooks the forest. When reunited with a very happy Toby, I was the most zen mum ever. Next time, I won’t worry about leaving my partner behind – all I need is Phillipa.
Why you’ll love it
From doubles and cottages, to cabins in the grounds, the rooms are all extremely spacious, so you feel properly rested.
Why your baby will love it
There’s a great kids’ menu – Toby had sausages and beans for supper. The kitchen even managed to rustle up a banana.
A double Eaves room at the Lime Wood Hotel & Spa with space for a cot, including breakfast and full use of spa, costs £255 per night.
Also check out…
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With a new ‘Healthy Living’ spa programme, including YogaAqua – think yoga on a surfboard – and Ofsted-approved childcare, this is the ultimate family-friendly beach holiday.
Lucknam Park, Bath
This 500-acre estate not only houses a swanky spa and Michelin-starred restaurant, but there’s also an equestrian centre for pony rides, an adventure playground and go-karts.
Asia Gardens, Spain
Asia comes to Spain at this Far East-inspired spa hotel. You’ll find an impressive collection of pools, a child-friendly jacuzzi, four restaurants, kids’ club and a pirate ship, alongside stocks of nappies, baby food and snacks available on site.