Holidays in the sun are brilliant (OK, more than brilliant – they are heavenly) but I think autumn and winter cottage breaks in the UK are massively underrated. Going away to a cottage as a family where you can wrap up warm and go for walks in the woods, come back, kick off your wellies, put the fire on and watch Disney movies, and once the kids are in bed, you can cosy up on the sofa with a glass of red wine. Now THAT is the dream.
Way back in August, we started planning a winter break with some friends who have two daughters. I guess we needed something fun to look forward to as the final days of that amazingly hot and sunny summer drifted away from us. My checklist, when it came to choosing our destination, went something like this:
- The destination has to be far enough away from home to feel like a break… but no longer than a four hour drive. Babies and pre-schoolers generally don’t love eight hour car journeys
- There must be places nearby to take kids to – in all weathers. Farms, parks and beaches for dry weather. Indoor play centres (good ones, not grubby tired affairs) and swimming pool for wet days.
- It must have chic decor and child-friendly features. There’s no point in having Farrow & Ball painted walls and a roll top bath if you’ve got steep staircases and sharp corners everywhere.
- It must supply child equipment. No one wants to schlep away on holiday with a car filled with highchairs, stair gates and cots. I want somewhere that supplies good quality, clean equipment – preferably at no extra charge.
- Nearby shops to buy essentials like groceries and easy meals for the kids.
- Kids’ club or babysitting service, to allow some alone time for the grown ups. Well, it’s our holiday too!
- Oh and things like free wifi is a nice bonus.
Usually, my first port of call for these searches is Baby-Friendly Boltholes. And yes, I admit it, I’m a bit obsessed with holidays and breaks, so I know the site pretty well. In fact, when my friend emailed to ask if I knew of any potential places we could go to, within three minutes, I’d sent her a hefty list of chic child-friendly cottages, farms and hotels that I’ve spotted on Baby-Friendly Boltholes or that I’ve seen other bloggers rave about. She was somewhat taken aback.
Very quickly, we earmarked Clydey Cottages in Wales as one of our top choices. Owned by Dewi and Jacqui, Clydey Cottages is a small family-run business offering self-catering holiday cottages. They specialise in quality high end holidays for families with children – mostly under the age of 10. Clydey Cottages have won a plethora of awards, currently the best in Wales (Visit Wales Awards 2010), the best in Pembrokeshire (2009, 2011 & 2013 Bi-annual Awards), with Tripadvisor Excellence Awards for the last three years. Dewi and Jacqui have three kids themselves, so they’re pretty much experts on how to offer the dream family UK break.
Here are some of the things that appeal to me about the place:
- Indoor heated swimming pool (so if it’s cold and wet, we can just have a splash about for a few hours)
- Outdoor kids’ play area with ride-on toys and sand pit (for those cold and bright winter days everyone hopes for)
- Indoor soft play room – with sofas for us grown ups to curl up on while the kids run riot
- DVD library (hopefully they’ll have some kids’ films as well as some chick flicks that we’ll make the husbands watch)
- Sauna and massage/therapy treatments on offer
- Daily animal feeding on the farm
- Kids’ club (if we fancy a couple of hours child-free…)
Clydey Cottages is also just 25 minutes drive from the coast – I’ve never been to west Wales before but Cardigan Bay and Pembrokeshire National Park sound just lovely to me. I have visions of us on a bright, blustery day, walking along the beach and building some sandcastles in our wellies.
So the countdown is on. We’re going to Clydey Cottages in a few weeks time and I’m in full-on planning mode, researching the local area and making some lists of places to go and adventures to have.
Thanks to Clydey Cottages for inviting us to stay with them for a week. We cannot wait to visit! Full review coming soon…