I never presume people’s budgets; some readers live the five star lifestyle. I don’t. So if I was going to stay in a luxury establishment I wouldn’t take my two gorgeous, noisy, pukey, poopy cherubs with me. I love them, but no. Thankfully there are ways of bringing your little wreckers to the sparkly side of life without breaking the bank.
So this is how it works. We woke up in our ace, reasonably priced Irish B&B. We woke up early, of course we woke up early, we have two under two, and we were on the road by 9.30am embracing the long drive to Dublin and hoping they’d sleep till lunch. No. Mr Toddler and Mr Baby disagreed with our plan, they snoozed briefly then started crying – they meant business. It was 10.45am, too early for lunch. We all needed what’s known in the parenting world as a ‘snack’. We were approaching the town of Adare and thought we could do our new 5 star magic so we swept up the grand driveway of Adare Manor in our hire car full of children, broken ricecakes, toy dinosaurs, suitcases and water beakers and unloaded the car seats to take tea. To the manor born, not.
This is why it works to take five star tea with tots:-
1 What’s wonderful about this time of day – i.e. 10am-noon – is that the fully-fledged guests, the guests paying the five star prices and living a life of luxury are OUT. They’ve had breakfast and are sight-seeing, or they’re still in their rooms enjoying things forgotten to parents, like lie ins, brunch in bed, morning delight, long baths, getting dressed/made up slowly. This means we walk in to grand, five star halls, which are often totally, completely empty and our little family have coffee in style. Mr Toddler can run around a little (there’s usually lots of space in these grand dining halls), and he can chatter as there’s nobody else there.
2 You can feed in relative solitude. I breastfed Mr Baby in perfect peace. I don’t mind feeding in public but who wouldn’t prefer to latch on in secluded opulence taking tea in front of a roaring fire in a 19th century pile. Adare Manor is a lush five star property that looks like something straight out of Northanger Abbey – gothic is a bit of an understatement. It was built in the Georgian style then transformed into its gothic splendour by the 2nd Earl of Dunraven who pursued this reconstruction as a distraction from his debilitating gout. I thanked him as I sipped on a hot chocolate and rammed a scone delicately into my mouth.
3 Parking is easy and free at five star establishments – gallop up the long drive and slowly unpack your baby detritus at your leisure. No meters, no hassle, high security, no worries.
4 You’re part of something more when you visit a five star property. Usually they are converted country houses so they ooze history, architecture, art, quality furnishings and furniture. You have an experience, as well as a drink and a road stop.
5 The staff at quality hotels are LOVELY. They are trained to deliver excellent service so if you or I order morning tea we’ll receive the same level of service as any other guest. This is a lovely experience after hours of looking after other small people.
5 You won’t spend much more than a typical Starbucks/Neros/Costa/Pret – coffee or tea isn’t cheap anywhere these days so for a few more Euros you can ‘upgrade’.
6 Another small detail, but when you’re changing nappies it matters, the toilets are always gorgeous. Why visit a service station and grimace when you can have luxury?
7 The grounds. Often a horticulturist’s dream, very relaxing and a lovely opportunity to utterly exhaust tiny legs.
8 The Perfect Recce. One day I will go on a short break with Mr Husband again, and it will be amazing, so right now I’m on the look out for that special place. In the meantime I’m going to take tea with my children like a lady (if you just ignore the dribble on my left shoulder please).
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