Birch is very near us, and therefore when I say a weekend away, from where we are, it fells like a misnomer. It is only half an hour drive down the road. In fact I have been three times now, two with my friend Kate who runs an Artful Life Studio, and one with the kids, spending the night there. I was lucky enough to get invited by Birch on this occasion, and show my family why I disappear to Birch some days to work and swim (maybe more swim than work).
I already knew that the facilities at Birch were incredible – the outdoor swimming pool, the gym, classes and everything to do with wellness. It was lovely to be able to go round the actual hotel, discover the different areas and rooms, to work or just sit down. However I would say that we spent the majority of our time at the pool table or the games room with the kids.
One of the big highlights for us, as parents, is the number of activities we could sign up our kids to. The concept is not dissimilar to that at the Ickworth which has a dedicated kids club on site. And I am all for it. My kids love meeting other kids, they are hyper social – especially Luc. He will make friends everywhere and very quickly. So he was super excited to go to a club, even though he had no idea what the activities were. As it happened, I chose a graphic design session. They got to spray paint a t-shirt and paint on a canvas. It was right up their street. Louise had fun too, and is wearing a T-shirt whenever she can.
Because a majority of members come to work at Birch, the aim of these activities is to remove the children from the working areas, so that guests and members are able to get what they want from a space like Birch. It is well thought out, and the kids really enjoyed it. We managed to get a coffee in peace and walk round the grounds.
So we all got to play as I went to the pottery studio – and I cannot wait to show you my masterpiece (or not). Marc was working at the time, and the kids at some activity. It was thoroughly enjoyable to know we could all do something separately but reconvened at Valerie’s for lunch.
Birch is like an open house, you can come and go through every door, and just use what is available. There is no closed doors because it is a fire exit, or this section is reserved for members only. It is like a community, like the name suggests. It is harder to describe than I thought. It was like a retreat for us as parents, for the one night. The fact it is so near to us is great. We do not necessarily arrange additional childcare if we are not working. However, it was nice to have a couple of hours to explore the grounds, and just get a drink and a chat.
Will we go again? I have already been to swim. We have not had a chance with the kids, but it is definitely on our list for when life gets a bit too much and we need a quick getaway – minimum fuss – with everything on site including a cafe, restaurants (we went to Valerie’s) and a bar. I love airbnb and I have a lot of reviews here, and to write still. But when the football and rugby seasons are on, we probably only have time for only one night away, and we now know where we will go!
Anyway we need to try the Zebra Riding Club, I was very excited about it but the restaurant was closed, so the perfect excuse to come back!