When family life gets a bit tough, even the shortest of escapes can really help. We’re big fans of family hotel breaks in this household; give us a pool for the girls, golf for him and a spa for me, and we’re all happy.
Sprowston Manor, just outside Norwich, is now our top spot a quick family getaway. It’s just over an hour from Cambridge, has top facilities and is just 10 minutes drive from Norwich city centre for exploring all the thriving independent shops, cafes and restaurants there.
We stayed on a foggy Sunday night in early November – the hotel’s grand, long driveway and golf course was covered in mist and gave it a really magical feel. We all felt like we were arriving at a large country pad to retire from the horrible weather and hum-drum realities of everyday life.
Our studio suite made the ideal family base – a large kingsize bed for us, with all the fluffy white pillows you could want, a cosy sofabed for Tilly and the hotel kindly provided a cot for Grace. Two TVs meant we could watch Monday morning news while Tilly caught up on CBeebies. The bathroom was large with separate shower and bath – a family of four could easily all get clean at once!
The pool was a complete winner for us. There’s a baby pool, large pool divided up for lane swimming and children’s play area, a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna and small cafe area right next to pool for those who don’t want to swim all day long like Tilly. We enjoyed a pre-dinner swim and lovely Monday morning dip and both times had to almost wrestle our big girl out of there.
The hotel has two places to eat on site, 1559, a traditional sit down restaurant for fancy dinners and where breakfast is served, and Zest cafe and grill for more informal dining. We booked in for an early dinner at 1559 on the Sunday night. It is always a bit nerve-wracking to go for dinner with two small children because you don’t want to disturb other diners or be made to feel un-welcome. Our friendly waitress, Michelle, made us feel so at ease – learning Tilly’s name and making her feel like an important big girl and doing everything to help us have a relaxed and enjoyable meal. The food was really great – hearty but refined. My slow cooked skirt steak just fell to bits and the dauphinoise it came with was spot on. Pete’s lamb shank was devoured greedily and at speed so must have been good and Tilly ate handfuls of tender stem broccoli with her chicken goujons so we we’re all happy.
We’d pushed our luck far enough and both girls were getting steadily noisier but my eye had been drawn to the chocolate orange fondant dessert option and I couldn’t pull them away. Luckily the lovely Michelle told us we could simply have it delivered up to our room. I can safely say that laying on a white, crisp bed, TV remote in one hand and spoon diving in to this beauty in the other made this new mama happier and more relaxed than I have felt for a while!
Breakfast put a big smile on my face too. (Yep I am food obsessed, I know!) Who doesn’t love a breakfast buffet though? I love picking and choosing just the bits I want – in my case one egg, a few mushrooms, a well-done piece of bacon and a hash brown. You can keep your sausages, beans and blood pudding thank you very much. With that we were set up for another day of exploring. After a swim of course.
Our jaunts into Norwich really opened my eyes to how vibrant the food scene is in the city. There are independents cafes, bars and restaurants on ever corner in the Norwich Lanes area. Biddy’s Tearooms was our lunch spot before we headed home. I love finding little independent beauties like this and with it’s counter of cakes to choose from and fabulous decor and atmosphere it was the ideal spot for us.
We had a wonderful two days away, we all came back feeling rejuvenated and ready to face real life again until Christmas. The hotel is simply perfect for young families and we couldn’t recommend it higher.
Sprowston Manor, Wroxham Rd, Norwich, Norfolk NR7 8RP.
01603 410871; marriott.com/sprowston-manor.
Tw: @sprowstonmanor Insta: @sprowstonmanor
* We stayed at Sprowston Manor as their guests but paid our way for our meal and leisure experiences. All views are independent and represent our true experience at the hotel.