Gretta Schifano writes at Mums Do Travel. She recently took her family to Milsons Kesgrave Hall and shares with us their fantastic time.
Our first glimpse of Kesgrave Hall is through a pretty scattering of trees twinkling with fairy lights at dusk. As we drive through the woods on a late afternoon in December the Suffolk hotel looks magical. We leave our car on the gravel drive next to the mansion and walk through the pillared entrance. I’m with my husband, our two children and the family dog and we’re staying at the hotel for one night.
The beautifully proportioned Georgian building looks gorgeous inside. Potted trees glitter tastefully with tiny lights and black and silver baubles. Elegant Christmas trees are hung with simple red felt stars, reindeer and hearts. Everything looks stylish, homely and welcoming and it turns out that this first impression encapsulates the atmosphere at Kesgrave Hall.
This Grade II listed building is home to a contemporary restaurant and bar as well as the 23-bedroom luxury hotel. Kesgrave Hall stands in 38 acres of parkland on the outskirts of Ipswich. The restaurant, bar and lounge look out across sweeping lawns which must be great for kids and dogs in the summer. Built in 1812, the mansion opened as part of the Milsom Hotel Group in 2008 and is now rated as a 4-star hotel.
Our interconnecting rooms are in some beautifully converted outbuildings next to the main house and are perfect for families with children. The children’s room has two single beds and the adults’ room one huge bed where the whole family, apart from our snoozing teen, ends up on Sunday morning. The hotel also offers cots and extra foldaway beds for children who are 12 years old and under.
Each room has its own spacious bathroom with a free-standing bath and a shower cubicle as well as lovely REN toiletries, cotton waffle bathrobes, thick white cotton towels and a heated towel rail. I love the way the rooms are decorated. The pale walls, thick oatmeal-coloured carpets, heavy red and green textured curtains and sofas and white cotton bed linen create a cosy and luxurious atmosphere which is very relaxing.
There’s everything we need for our stay: a flat-screen TV, a kettle with a tray of hot drink options, a hairdryer and a mini-fridge stocked with soft drinks and fresh milk for tea and coffee. Best of all, according to my children, is the superfast broadband on offer via the hotel’s free WiFi. When we get home my fifteen year-old daughter says: ‘It didn’t feel like a hotel because it was so comfortable and relaxing. The WiFi was really good and the room was really nicely done.’ My eleven year-old son agrees: ‘It was all good. The WiFi was the best thing because it was really fast and I loved the dinner.’
We’re all happy with dinner at Kesgrave Hall. With its scrubbed wooden tables, galley kitchen and cheery red paper balls and bells hanging from the ceiling it’s all very unstuffy at the restaurant. We could eat at any time here but our children are keen to watch the X-Factor final so we opt for an early sitting, leaving the dog in our rooms. A couple take it in turns to gently rock their baby in a car seat at the next table and I spot a stack of highchairs in a corner but this is a place which welcomes everyone rather than being aimed at children.
There’s a fun and unusual way of placing food orders: a notepad and pencil on each table for diners to write their selections. My hoummous and pitta starter is very tasty and I enjoy the grilled plaice with new potatoes, salsa verde and vegetables. The menu is wide-ranging and there’s a separate children’s version which my youngest is thrilled with. He chooses a starter of chicken risotto followed by spaghetti carbonara. Just to make sure he gets enough carbohydrates he asks for chips as well and eats everything before rushing back to our rooms with his sister to watch X-Factor with the dog.
Suddenly my husband and I find ourselves alone in a restaurant enjoying a glass of wine together. This is highly unusual and a lovely surprise. We take our time. The kids check out the puddings on the menu in the room and text us their choices which our helpful waitress then arranges to be delivered to them while we finish our wine.Back home I ask my husband what he thinks of our stay. He says: ‘It was great that when we finished dinner the kids could just go back to the room safely on their own.’
Back in the restaurant the next morning, breakfast is a relaxed, leisurely affair. We help ourselves to fruit, cereal and croissants from the buffet table and then order hot food from the menu. We’re given the Sunday papers to read (I was asked which I wanted at check-in). The boys tuck in to full English breakfasts while my daughter opts for a bacon sandwich. The portions are huge. As I don’t eat meat I ask if I can have scrambled egg and mushrooms even though it’s not on the menu. The answer, of course, is yes.
Kesgrave Hall is a hotel where staff go out of their way to make sure that guests feel relaxed and at home and I’d definitely recommend it to families with children.
Rooms at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall cost from £125 per night including breakfast. Cots (£10/ night) and foldaway beds (£20/ night including breakfast) are available.
Disclosure: Gretta Schifano and her family were guests of Milsoms Kesgrave Hall for a one night stay with dinner and breakfast for the purposes of this review.