When I first suggested to my husband that we should take our 3 kids away for a ‘minication’ at the start of the summer, his immediate answer was a resounding ‘no.’ However, like most women I was able to nag gently persuade him until he relented and we booked a 5-day stay at Crieff Hydro in Perthshire, Scotland.
Given previous experiences with our kids and hotel restaurants (think Horrid Henry on acid x 3), we opted for a self-catering cabin in the vague hope that I might actually cook something to eat and save the stress of eating out.
We needn’t have worried, however, as Crieff Hydro are geniuses when it comes to kids and serve a kids’ “High Tea” in one of their restaurants every day from 4.30pm to 6pm. This is effectively a huge buffet of the foods your kids will love (mac and cheese, sausages, chips….you get the picture!) and chaos is welcomed. In the 6 years we’ve been parents, this was probably the first time we’ve had a relaxing experience with our kids in a restaurant. Our kids were table hopping and making lots of new friends, while we relaxed with a cold drink, safe in the knowledge that we would be able to have dinner in peace later when they’d gone to bed (you know those dinners where you can finish chewing without having to explain that it is not acceptable to flush Cheerios down the toilet?!) Shouting, laughing, nose-wiping on sleeves, open-mouthed chewing, rude noises, walking instead of running are all on the menu at the kids’ High Tea and it’s amazing.
And what about my skeptical husband I hear you cry! Well he was converted within half an hour of our arrival at Crieff Hydro. He was braced for the usual holiday-with-kids stress and certainly did not expect that we would be sipping chilled wine on the lawns while our kids played gleefully on a giant trampoline nearby. And that’s exactly what Crieff Hydro does best. For every kids’ activity, there is a coffee shop, bar or comfy seat in close proximity for the adults. Crieff Hydro is a family resort that neglects neither parents nor kids. Both are catered for, both get a fantastic holiday.
Crieff Hydro is also an excellent base for exploring the wider area. We found ourselves not really wanting to leave the resort but felt obliged to sample the wealth of activities and attractions nearby, all helpfully described in some detail in a giant booklet in our cabin. We visited Iain Burnett Chocolatier, which was amazing for someone who loves chocolate as much as I do. The poor guy behind the counter in the gift shop did get a rather unpleasant glimpse into our lives when our 4-year old decided to announce to him (and the entire shop for that matter) that he’d been sick in the car on the way over. The same 4-year old also threw a massive strop after we told him off for trying to chew his way into a packet of Canderel in the chocolate cafe on site. Yes, he had award-winning chocolate cake in front of him, but wanted the Canderel. We also visited Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre, where I met someone having a much worse hair day than me (unusual).
Crieff Hydro does not disappoint. It is an absolute dream for kids and adults alike. It’s hard to put into words what exactly makes it work, but the best way I can think to describe it is that they’ve paid attention to the detail. They get the big things right but haven’t forgotten about the little things.
Like the kids’ pool that is beautifully warm and just the right depth for little wannabe swimmers. Like the big tub of water toys and spare armbands that sits beside the kids’ pool for all to use. Like the bouncy castle that goes up daily in the sports hall but is in close proximity to a lovely coffee hub so that adults can enjoy a little R&R while ensuring their little darlings don’t assault anyone else’s little darlings over who can bounce the highest. I haven’t even mentioned the kids’ club that boasts it’s own soft play area, or the endless activities on site daily for kids and adults too.
In short, this place delivered and we were sad to leave at the end of our stay.
Keep the wine on ice Crieff Hydro, we will be back!