The Ickworth Hotel
Horringer Bury St Edmunds Suffolk IP29 5QE
Ickworth House may be one of the most venerable country estates in the country, but there's no standing on ceremony there. Built in the late eighteenth century, and famous for its central rotunda, which connects two curved wings, Ickworth is a country house hotel par excellence – and more so than most because (almost uniquely) its aim is to make you, your kids, even your pets, feel as at ease and as at home as possible, and thus make everyone feel to-the-manor born at least for a few days. Situated at the end of a very long drive, which winds through this 180-acre Ickworth estate just outside Bury St Edmunds, it was the home of the same family that built it – the Herveys – until as recently as 1996, after which it was entirely turned over to the National Trust and part was remodelled as a hotel.There are 27 guest rooms in all, all equally open to couples, families and their dogs, with a good choice of doubles, suites and family-sized rooms in the main house that can accommodate parents and up to three children. Some are traditionally furnished, others more modern, but all are spacious and have large bathrooms. There's also the Lodge at Ickworth in the grounds, which houses one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments (some with kitchenettes). There's an indoor heated swimming pool too, located in the old stable block, and de-stressing parents can enjoy this and the spa treatment rooms on their own if they want – because they've thought of everything as far as kids go, with up to two hours' free childcare (a day), baby-sitting and baby-listening services, a kids clubs and a cinema showing family films. Plus of course the park and woodlands of the grounds are a fabulous, safe environment for families, with everything from cycle routes to geocaching and more. Don't get us wrong: Ickworth would make a very nice place indeed for a romantic coupley weekend away: there's a very good, child-free restaurant, Frederick's, and you can just as easily have a romantic walk in the grounds as hare about like mad things. But it is nice – and refreshing – that Ickworth doesn't think that comfort and elegance is just for grown-ups.
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