Monday, 4 November 2013

Weekend at Hampton Court & The Foley Hotel

Much as I love Bristol I also love the occasional weekend away. Weekends away with kids do, unfortunately, bump up your expenditure quite considerably so any prior planning you can do to bring costs down a bit is well worth the extra legwork. I picked up the tip for our recent visit to The Foley Hotel, in Claygate, Surrey from the Times travel section which recommended it as a good value option for tying in with a visit to local attractions such as Hampton Court Palace, Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park. 

Scouring the supplements for travel tips and special offers is something I do religiously and while some newspapers and magazines don't always interpret the word 'budget' in the same way that I do, they're definitely worth a browse to find out about lesser-known accommodation options across the UK.


The Foley Hotel 

The Foley is part of the Young's hotel group, owned by the brewery of the same name and operating mainly across London and the South East (although there is also a hotel in Exeter.) Located just 3 miles from Hampton Court and just over a couple of miles from Chessington, it makes a really convenient choice if you don't want to confine yourself to a day trip. 

We travelled from Bristol first thing Saturday and headed straight to Hampton Court; it's a motorway drive that you can easily do in under two hours. Family tickets for the palace will set you back £42 - not cheap, but compared to the cost of a day at a theme park or similar attraction, and considering the educational value of the experience, it's a pretty fair price to pay. Aside from the obvious attraction of exploring the grand halls and haunted galleries of Henry VIII and co's stomping grounds, there's A LOT to see here. 

There's loads of 'history in action' and walkabouts from a stellar cast of Tudor dignitaries. We didn't, sadly, bump into Hezza himself, but we brushed past a very authentic looking Sir Walter Raleigh and you will stumble upon all sorts of other characters during your day, from ladies-in-waiting to courtiers and servants. They're not just there to make the place look pretty but to offer some historical insight, too, in a fun and child-friendly format. Your kids will absorb all sorts of interesting historical info from these lovely people, plus they'll get to live like a Tudor themselves, particularly in the kitchens where our kids helped to turn roasting meat on a spit and learnt a bit about Tudor table manners. 

Take a packed lunch and enjoy it in the lovely gardens surrounding the Palace. Don't forget to seek out the famous maze and the Great Vine, the world's longest grape vine. A wonder just outside the palace gates leads you to tranquil walks along the river front, or you could continue on to the expansive Bushy Park, former hunting ground of Henry VIII and home to a children's playground and a wealth of wildlife, including the red and fallow deer for which the park is famous.

After our busy day we were looking forward to relaxing at our hotel and we were not disappointed. Our family room was spacious, with a massive, comfy king-sized bed. There are 17 rooms at the Foley including rooms that can accommodate children on sofa beds. If I had one complaint it would be that the sofa bed in our room wasn't quite a double and it was a bit confined for our (average-sized) 9 and 5 year-olds. Despite the fact that rooms are adjacent to the restaurant and pub we had a surprisingly tranquil night's sleep. The general style of the place is comfortable chic - think textured throws, tartan armchairs and fixtures and fittings with a retro touch to them. I loved the old-school phone in our room and little touches like the vintage-style ceramic milk bottle in our mini bar and the 1950s mirror in the bathroom.


The exceptionally comfy bed

We made use of the restaurant for dinner which offers good value, gastro-pub style food and a well-priced kids menu. A highlight of our stay was the breakfast which is included in the room rate. Alongside full English and continental style breakfasts, the breakfast menu includes more imaginative choices - I opted for a delicious cinnamon-infused French toast, served with a sweet stewed apple sauce. Servings were hearty and the friendly staff were happy to top us up with extra toast and slices of bacon. 

We paid £109 for our room, which while not 'bargain basement' is good value for this standard of accommodation in what is traditionally an expensive corner of the South East. We experienced very friendly, efficient service, our room was clean and stylish and we loved its convenient, pretty setting.

Here are some other photos of our stay to give you a taste of The Foley's ambience...






If you'd like to find out more about The Foley click here, or visit the Young's Hotels website for details of similar hotels in London and the South East. 

For information about Hampton Court Palace click here. 

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9 comments

  1. Sounds a great trip! Would you recommend a trip to Hampton Court for younger children or would it be a bit lost on them? My kids are 6 and 4. The hotel looks great, too.

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    1. Yes, I think I would recommend it for younger kids. They may not get quite as much from the experience as an older child - we took our two as our eldest (age 9) had been doing the Tudors at school so it tied it nicely with that. I would perhaps visit the summer months when you can make the most of the outdoor space - the gardens and surrounding parks are lovely. And don't miss the maze - little kids will love this, but don't let them go in on their own or you might lose them in there!

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  2. Hannah Lightfoot6 November 2013 at 07:40

    Fabulous! Your blogs are fab. I am definitely going to look into going away for a weekend there in 2014.

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  3. What a lovely trip and great value. Looks fab #ThriftyThursday

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    1. Hi Mummy Tries! Thanks for your comment. Hope you've found some useful info on my blog!


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  4. Looks like a great place to stay. I love the bedroom decor. Thank you for joining in and linking up with #ThriftyThursday :-)

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    1. Thanks, Gina. It's a great place for a weekend away with the kids. I fell in love with the interior design, too! Lots of lovely wallpapers and vintage touches.

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