[AD/GIFTED] 2020 has definitely been the year of the staycation. Like a lot of other families we decided to spend the summer in the UK and had a few mini breaks. We were lucky enough to be invited to spend a weekend at The Manor House Hotel near Okehampton in Devon, a craft and activity resort that promised to entertain the whole family. So if you’d like to see what we got up to and what we thought of it read on!
The Manor House Hotel
The Manor House Hotel and it’s sister hotel The Ashbury are the only sport, craft and spa hotels in the UK. Located in the heart of picturesque Devon, the two hotels are only 2 miles apart, and guests can use the facilities in either hotel.
I was familiar with The Ashbury Hotel, as for the past few years my husband has been there to play golf (it boasts the 9th largest golf resort in the world), but I was otherwise picturesque with the activity resorts.
The hotel is vast! Orginally it was a manor house, and the main house still contains the reception area, bar, lounge and restaurant. There have been numerous additions to the building to house the accomodation blocks and the many sports halls, activity rooms and the craft centre.
It felt like a little bit of a maze to start with, most of the buildings are all linked with corridors, and you turn a corner and come across another large section you didn’t know was there! The sports halls that housed the activities were huge, think 4 times the size of a sport centre hall, and there were tons of them, the place really did feel like a tardis.
It felt a little overwhelming at first, with so much to do and explore, but it didn’t take long for us to get our bearings.
One of the great things about having lots of interlinked buildings was you didn’t have to worry too much about the weather. Which was a very good job because boy did it rain! Most of the activities thankfully were indoors, and there was enough space to bring some of the outdoor activities inside.
Covid-19 Restrictions and Safety
The hotel has put numerous measures into place to keep visitors and staff safe and minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
On arrival we had our temperatures checked at the gate before we were allowed to enter the building. Face masks had to be worn in all the communual areas including the bar, buffet restaurant, toilets, games zones, cinema, corridors, reception and between activities and in the craft work shops. Obviously these could be removed when seated if eating or drinking. The hotel provided each guest with a mini bottle of hand sanitiser when checking in, and there were stations were you could top this up if needed. There were also wall mounted hand sanitisers at every entry and exit point of the building, and at the entry and exit of each activity room.
As mentioned before there are lots of corridors, but there is a one way system in the narrower of corridors to keep the flow of people going in the same direction.
I also noticed the Clean Team working extremely hard throughout our stay, cleaning toilets, surfaces and door handles frequently.
It did feel safe, most of our time was spent in the craft rooms and doing activities and as I said before these areas were vast. Occasionally there was an issue with social distancing, but this was largely due to other guests ignoring the one way system or being too keen to get to the buffet! Not the hotels fault, and unfortunately you get that everywhere. On the whole the other guest were respectful, as like us they were just there to enjoy time with the family.
If i’m honest I was a little apprehensive about staying in a room with 3 children ages 14, 8 and 7! However, I needn’t of worried. Firstly we were literally only in the room to quickly get changed for dinner and to sleep. As we were having busy fun filled days and late nights we tended to go to bed as soon as the kids were asleep.
The room was a decent size, and each child had there own full sized single bed, not a make do sofa bed, which meant they all slept really well and were able to have their own space.
The main negative was that the room decor, like other parts of the main hotel, were a little tired and dated. It was clean enough but could have done with a little bit of a spruce up.
The strap line of the hotel is a 3 star hotel with 5 star facilities, and I think that’s a fair assessment.
Food And Drink
Staying at The Manor House Hotel is full board so you get 3 meals a day during your stay. You also have the option of adding on lunch on your day of arrival or departure too.
The dining room is very large, and you have the same table throughout your stay. So social distancing is no problem. It also means you don’t need to book a time slot for your meals just show up during the service.
All the meals were on a served buffet system, with seperate queues for the hot and cold buffets. The choice was a little limited due to COVID restrictions (normally they would have a larger self service buffet), and I would say the food was mediocre. However, the kids loved it! They loved being able to go up (sometimes numerous times) to pick their dinner and try new things. None of us were left hungry, even my fussy 8 year old.
The bar and lounge area was also large and spacious. There was also plenty of outside seating on the patios should the weather have been kinder. In the evenings there was entertainment in the longue. During our stay we enjoyed a magic show for the kids, a quiz (which we came second in and it was all down to a tiebreaker!), bingo and a live acoustic singer. We were able to sit a relax after dinner with a drink, and it was the perfect end to our busy fun filled days.
I’ve saved the best bit to last! The activities and work shops were second to non. There was such a massive range of things to do, and something for all the family. From crafts, to sports, areas to run and play, swimming pools and a spa to relax in.
We fitted a lot into our 2 night stay, zipping from one thing to another, yet I don’t think we barely touched the surface!
Whatever sport your into, there really was something for everyone, and all age ranges. There were specific organised activities that you needed to book like the competitions and coaching sessions, or you could just book a time slot for things like the ten pin bowling, ice skating, roller skating, swimming and water slides.
You could also hire for free the courts, halls and equipment for activities such as basketball, bowls, tennis, football and badminton to name just a few. There was also a large playing field with a footbal pitch and rounders pitch on, and you could get equipment from recption. I saw people flying kites and playing frisbee on it too.
I was impressed that the courts and pitches were all full size in massive sports halls. Even the ten pin bowling lanes were normal sized, felt like we had a bowling alley all to ourselves!
I couldn’t possibly mention all the activities they were on offer, it would take me all day! However during our stay we tried out pedal carts, archery (both junior and adult), tennis including a tennis competition for Daddy, swimming and lots of the play activities.
Time To PLay
As well as obvious sporting activities there was also plenty of time for the kids to play.
A large games zone with table football, pool, skittles and computer games all included in the price.
There were also seperate snooker and pool rooms; table tennis; mini golf and adventure golf; a fun house; indoor and outdoor play areas for little ones; 2 swimming pools; and a highlight for the kids the water slides.
The kids also really enjoyed the Fun House, and Oliver spent a lot of time in there with Daddy when me and the girls were busy crafting.
The Craft WorkShops
One of the main reasons this hotel appealed was the wide variety of craft work shops that they offered, and for once proper crafts aimed at adults as well as children.
I was not dissapointed at all, and I was hugely impressed with the craft centre. The whole craft centre had loads of different workshops, all of which were very large and well equipped. The variety of crafts on offer was also very impressive including woodwork, pottery, glassware and fabric based crafts.
Some of the classes were for 14+ due to safety (for instance the glass fusion and pyrography classes), but most allowed children of all ages to take part if supervised. Obviously you know the abilities of your own child, and it’s at your descretion as to whether you think a work shop is suitable. Isla was delighted that she could join in with me and Jamsine, and honestly I was so impressed with both girls who executed their craft projects beautifully, and sat and concentrated on them for up to 90 minutes at a time.
We took part in lino printing, glass fusion, pyrography, silk painting, candle making and glass engraving. My favs were the two glass work shops, but I think Jasmine liked the pyrography best, and Isla the candle making.
They also had work shops designed specifically for kids, such as the teddy bear creation and bisque painting. Oliver liked the teddy creations so much that he did it twice!
I absolutely loved all the craft activities, and came home buzzing with loads of ideas and new hobbies I want to take up! I’m going to write a seperate post on the craft centre and the work shops as there really is so much to write about and show you.
And The Rest
As I said before, we barely scratched the surface but felt like we had done so much. If we had longer then I definetly would have done the 2 day pottery work shops and checked out the spa. The kids would have liked to try out the roller skating and ice skating rinks, and I’m positive James would have quite happily skiped off to The Ashbury to get a round of golf in.
The best bit is the activities are all included in the price you pay for your stay. There were a few surcharges to cover materials in the craft workshops (I’ll go into that in more detail in my second post), but hire of equipemnt, use of swimming pools, bowling alley etc and all the planned activities were all free. Even use of the golf course at The Ashbury was all included.
Prices are really reasonably for what you get, and its a really affordable way of having a family break and letting the kids pretty much do whatever activities they want without worrying about additional costs.
I also want to highly praise the staff. Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly. In particular the girls in the craft centre that were so patient and helpful with the girls, and me when I dropped my candle in the pot of wax!
If your looking for a fun packed, full to the brim, family activity holiday in the UK, suitable for all ages then The Manor House Hotel might just be for you. You can find out more details including availability, prices and activities on The Manor House website.
Overall, I think we would all highly recommend a family stay at The Manor House Hotel.
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What do you think? Have you been to The Manor House Hotel before? Is it something you think your family would enjoy? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Disclaimer: We were gifted our stay at The Manor House Hotel for the purpose of this review, but all photos, words and opinions are my own.
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