Time alone as a couple becomes really priceless when you have children. Between dealing with the wants and needs of two young children, work commitments and the general chaos of life; Rich and I have to really grab any opportunity for some valuable "us time" with both hands. Last year we celebrated my 30th birthday and our fifth wedding anniversary with two lovely nights away and having never really been 'mini-breakers' before that, we are now total converts to the beauty of a night away from reality just remembering what came before the children... us.
So when we were offered the opportunity to enjoy an overnight stay with At The Chapel in Bruton, Somerset, we didn't have to think twice. Some time just for us in a beautiful boutique hotel... and a lay in, COUNT US IN!!!
Where do I start...? As soon as we arrived we were made to feel so incredibly welcome by all of the staff. We were shown up to our room (room number 3) and I straight away had that overwhelming sense that I wasn't going to want to go home the next day... and I didn't. I was attending the i-escape blogger event in the hotel that evening (more on that later in the post), and knowing that the staff immediately pointed out things to keep my poor lonely hubby entertained in my absence; letting him know he could have dinner in the restaurant or a drink at the bar, that he could watch movies in our room and that they could even make desserts for us later if we wanted to eat together once the event was finished. Service throughout our stay was second-to-none, the staff were warm and friendly and seemed to genuinely care that we had a lovely time.
At The Chapel is one of the most stunning and unique hotels I've had the pleasure to stay in; from its roots as a restored chapel, to the fact there is an onsite bakery and wine store, as well as a gorgeous restaurant with a really appetising menu; it really is a destination in it's own right. This is a building which has been so incredibly, tastefully converted, and our room had not one but three full-size original windows which I absolutely loved. The decor manages to be clean, bright and modern, while still feeling beautiful warm and cosy; with crisp white linens and a mountain of pillows on the bed, alongside stunning cowhide rugs, rustic wooden stools and masculine leather furniture. The bathroom was huge, with an amazing freestanding bath as well as a separate shower, and stocked with yummy Ren goodies to use. And something which we found to be an especially nice touch, fresh croissants are left hanging on your door in the morning, so you can treat yourself to a really yummy breakfast in bed (with the homemade jam and butter provided in the in-room fridge.) I know that when we have a night away, a lay in and a quiet child-free morning are the biggest perks, so the fact that we could stay in our room and not have to rush around making ourselves presentable for a breakfast in the main restaurant was perfect for us. We originally said between ourselves that we would have a late breakfast downstairs before we left (because the menu for it looked so yummy) but we were so full from our croissants that we didn't manage it. Although we did bring home some absolutely scummy baked goodies from the bakery, and missing the breakfast just sounds like an excuse for us to go back another time.
I cannot speak highly enough of our experience of At The Chapel, I described it as "a little piece of heaven" in a tweet while we were there, and I meant it. Personally I know that I'm a really visual person, and that for me, the pictures often sell things far more than the words. And I took a LOT of photos during our stay... those windows were just begging to be photographed and the whole setting is just so beautiful. So here are my snaps from our break...
^ delicious croissants for breakfast in bed
^ I think Rich was eyeing up his chances of stealing some of my croissant... I didn't share.
^ I spent a good hour turning into a prune while reading my book in this bath... bliss
^ the cheese twists (you can see them near the front) are absolutely to die for!!!
I don't normally attend a lot of blogger events held by brands, and I never really write them up here if I do, but I wanted to mention the i-escape event simply because it was possibly the best one I've been to. We were there to hear about the brand and what they can offer to families, hear about some of their travel recommendations for this year, enjoy a spot of holiday match making, and generally have a nice evening.
I knew about i-escape before the event invite came through. I've followed their Facebook page for a long time and aspired to one day visit some of the beautiful far flung places that they have on their site. i-escape is a great concept; they list stunning and unique accommodation all over the world, helping travellers to find real independent gems and one-off places to stay, and they offer great little perks for booking those places through them while also offering the best prices possible. Until recently I wasn't aware that they had a specific kids branch to the company, but after an evening talking about all things i-escape with kids and seeing some of the amazing places in their kids collection, I know without shadow of a doubt that we won't hesitate to use them to book family adventures in future.
They are a small company, but they feel like a family. Every person I spoke to had taken the time to actually read my blog (shocking I know but a lot of the time when you meet brands you can just tell they have no idea who you are and that you're just a name on their mailing list) and they asked about my children, talked about posts they'd enjoyed, admired my videos and photography... the result was that I felt really special, like they really wanted to get to know the face behind the blog, and hear about how travel featured in my content and in our family life.
The whole evening left me feeling really inspired. Inspired by blogging and the amazing people it can put you in touch with and the fantastic opportunities it can offer. But also inspired to adventure more. As a family we had already dubbed this year "our year of adventures", with kids at great ages to travel and the impending school start in September, we decided that we wanted to make this year count; pack it full of fun times together, be it on simple days out or big exciting adventures. We've started our little 52 Adventures challenge this year, where we make the effort to do something fun each week, and we've already booked some adventures away from home. But the i-escape evening just left me so fired up about wanting to show out kids the world... from showing them some of the fantastic places they have right on their own doorstep and in their own country, to taking that all important first ever aeroplane flight to another country to explore new worlds and find different adventures.
So thank-you i-escape, for a fantastic night away with my husband, for a fantastic evening talking all things travel, and for the fantastic inspiration you've given me to go adventuring with my family.