It’s not hard to find my child free posts in the Bavarian Sojourn “back catalogue” as they are typically called things like “The Perfect Quiet Weekend” or “Birthday Castles” (which wasn’t a strictly child free weekend, but as Schloss Elmau does such a good job at entertaining your offspring, you can pretend if you really want to!)…
As an early birthday treat we had been given a “get out of parenting card free” by my Mum for the weekend. Not having wanted to go so far, we headed for Lainston House on the outskirts of Winchester (mostly so we didn’t have to use up too much of this luxurious free time on getting somewhere on this occasion!).
Lainston House has a respectably lengthy heritage, with the first building on the land (the now ruined but very sweet chapel) dating back to 1191… The house itself wasn’t built until the 17th century, and changed guises many times over the years before becoming a hotel back in the 1980’s when it was sold to the ex Managing Director of The Dorchester. Since being passed to the Exclusive Hotel Group (also owners of Pennyhill Park and South Lodge amongst others) It has grown to a 50 room hotel, but still one where it’s possible to walk down several corridors without seeing a soul even though there’s a huge wedding taking place (as there was when we visited).
I had been watching the forecast for the few days before our Lainston House stay in the hope that it would rain as given the recent ridiculously hot weeks we have had, I secretly wanted the excuse to do absolutely nothing, and someone listened, because rain it did… I should have realised that being married to Mr R this wasn’t going to stop him exploring however, and actually I should have been grateful that he insisted on borrowing some Hunters (there’s a fireplace full of different sizes for guests) and a hotel brolly before heading out to explore some of the outside space. It would have been a real shame not to (thankfully though the rain put him off exploring Lainston House’s entire 63 acres!)…
Our first stop was the Sundial Gardens found surrounded by the circular car park (far more romantic than it sounds, believe me!), this is filled with clouds of lavender and other purple flowers that thanks to my ridiculously small knowledge of plants, I can’t actually tell you the names of.
Beyond that garden lies an outer ring of ancient fruit trees, and a wall where you will find the door to the vast hexagonal kitchen garden. This supplies the restaurant kitchens, the cookery school (which sounds excellent by all accounts!), and a lot of the flowers for the hotel. In one corner lies the hotel falconry with many of its resident owls. I don’t think I have ever ventured into such an impressive and very traditional working garden before – half of me expected to see a robin hopping about followed by Mary and Dicken from the Secret Garden…
Not fancying a walk all the way down through the avenue of Lime trees (if you are wondering where the hotel restaurant “The Avenue” gets its name from), we settled for a quick walk in the woods (if you are here having a wander, look out for the sweet pet cemetery – also a lot more romantic than it sounds!) and a bit of beehive spotting, before heading back to our room. I say room, but I think you could have fitted the biggest of our old London flats inside it at least three times – it’s honestly the largest room I have ever stayed in (so far). The bathroom was equally huge, and as for the bed itself – four-poster heaven…
I have to say I was slightly worried about whether the designer had been a little drunk given the slightly loud wall paper combined with the massive swirls of the carpet, together with the Moroccan tiles of the bathroom, but then maybe I am still slightly obsessed with all things “interior” given the new house and all that (remind me of my critical eye when I get carried away with that won’t you?). It was still a really lovely room and very peaceful place to relax and actually hear yourself think – not that we did much lounging about.
It seems that as a parent, when you suddenly find yourself child free and given a free rein to enjoy yourselves, the thought of being 100% lazy is overtaken by trying to cram in as much as you possibly can in seeing a place, catching up on conversations (without any interruptions) that you should have had months ago, and simply just being yourselves again. It really doesn’t happen that often nowadays, not that I am moaning. I wouldn’t change a thing apart from maybe fitting all three of them with volume control buttons, especially at this stage of the summer holidays!
Anyway, before we knew it, it was time for dinner in The Avenue. When it comes to hotels and restaurants, I like to pretend I am some kind of critic. One of my main bug bears is being shown to a table without being asked if it’s OK. My second is being seated in the centre of the room (I know it doesn’t bother other people, I just don’t personally like it), so when we were shown to a table in the centre of the room without being asked if it was OK, I had wondered how the evening might proceed. Having chosen to move seconds afterwards, I wondered whether I had incurred the wrath of the head waiter for shifting when we weren’t handed a menu for what seemed like quite a while. Happily though, I think this was more a reflection of the fact that they were incredibly busy (did I mention the wedding? I was slightly worried about it being a little noisy given the fact we were looking to escape noise and all that, but we weren’t bothered by any of the celebrations which is also a sign of a good hotel!) and once the dishes started to arrive, they were really great quality with plenty of seasonal produce – plus the sommelier went above and beyond, bringing us a wine that he especially wanted us to try as it went so well with what we were eating (scallops, turbot, raspberry millefeuille (which I can never say) and lots of lovely cheese in case you are wondering!)…
Happy and full, we headed back to our vast room, where we even had the energy to read for a while (a Le Creuset Magazine found in the room – I didn’t even know there was such a thing!) before nodding off to the gentle sound of owls chattering outside, and the lovely prospect of waking up at a decent hour with no sort of child shaped alarm clock in sight. For those of you about to become parents or thinking about the prospect, please be aware that you are likely to wake up at 6am wherever you are in the world with or without family most probably for the rest of your life.
We loved our Lazy Lainston weekend, and I hazard a guess it won’t be our last whilst we are in this part of the world…
Ps. Don’t let my post make you think that children aren’t welcome here, they really are. I spotted lots of child friendly things dotted about the place to make any family stay a pleasant one. I am not telling my own offspring that though.
PPS. The breakfast is excellent, try the porridge with whisky and brown sugar, and the eggs benedict but not together obviously!
PPS. The combination of a travelling husband, the summer holidays at home with three children plus the house move has been terrible for my blogging output. Hope to be back on a more regular basis shortly. x
Zena's Suitcase says
I love the gardens and the hotel sounds lovely. I totally get what you are saying about being shown to your table and checking if it’s OK. I’m exactly the same.
It’s just courtesy when you are paying for a meal isn’t it? I don’t care where I sit when I am not! Thanks Zena! :D
Looks heavenly – the flowers look like they really appreciated some rain.
Lots made me laugh in this post – I don’t know names of plants either, nor am I able to pronounce millefeuille.
Glad you enjoyed your child-free break. We love ours! xx
It was such a lovely quick get away. I know you would approve of Lainston! Thanks Trish xx
Karen N Beddow says
Oh my word what a treat to out whisky and brown sugar in porridge!! Sounds like a lovely stay.
It really was. Thanks so much Karen!
Chloe: Picture Taker Memory Maker says
I love places like this, even just for a day visit. Wandering around gardens like this and taking photos is my idea of heaven. Looks gorgeous!
It was really lovely, despite the rain! Thanks Chloe! x
This looks like the ultimate place to chill out, relax and unwind xxx
It really is. Thanks Laura! (: xx
Beth Owen says
I love places like this and it’s so nice to have a child free break now and then isn’t it! x
SO nice, and very very rare! Thanks Beth! :D x
This sounds like the most wonderful weekend! I’m not sure I’ll be telling my kids that they accept children either ;) I’m so pleased that you had such a lovely time away!
It’s a wise plan Katja! :D Thank you x
Lisa (Travel Loving Family) says
Lainston sounds perfect for a lovely lazy weekend! Hope your house move went well;)
Thanks Lisa. We are getting there! :)
A child free stay!!! sounds heavenly :) and it looks such a perfect place to stay – love the sundial gardens!
A necessity every once in a while! :) Thanks Katy! (:
Jenny - TraveLynn Family says
It’s so important to take time out to ‘catch up’ with your partner. And what a special place to do it!
Really important! :) Thanks Jenny! (: x
I love such lazy weekends, this place looks lovely, I am definitely adding it to my list of places to explore.
I think you would love it Anosa. Thank you! (:
Claire at Tin Box Traveller says
There’s nothing like reading about a child-free weekend to make you feel a little chilled out and a lot jealous ;) Lainston sounds fab for just such an occasion. I like the sound of falling asleep to the call of owls too!
It was lovely despite the rain! :)
Bella at Dear Mummy Blog says
We love visiting Pennyhill Park and have had a wedding there. If it’s anything like that venue we’d love to stay. We live just around the corner from Lainston House too! Perfect!
Thanks Bella. The last time I went to Pennyhill was years ago, much change that! Whereabouts are you based? We are in Winchester at the moment! :)
Sarah Christie says
I love the secret garden its a real Sunday afternoon in winter movie, I still watch it when its on to this day, I totally get you about being sat in the middle of a restaurant I like to be near a window. I am so fussy about where I sit, or a nice booth !
Glad it’s not just me! :D Thanks Sarah! :) x
What a stunning location, the gardens look like the perfect place to relax.
Thanks Gemma! Such a beautiful place to explore! (: x
Angela Ricardo Bethea says
I heard a lot of positive reviews about Lainston. I am planning to visit it soon. I can’t wait!
Thanks Angela! (:
I would so love a child-free weekend but it’s never going to happen. Looks like you made the most of it, this place looks divine.
Thank you Jenny. It happens rarely in this house too! :D
Rebecca Smith says
That looks utterly perfect, especially that room. I love weekends away like this and it looks like a lovely location.
Thanks Rebecca. It is in a truly lovely location!
vicky hallnewman says
This looks like such a beautiful place to visit, the gardens look so beautiful. I can usually get a night away in a pretty hotel if I am working away and its feels so much better with it being child free. I’m glad you had a lovely lazy time away. Hopefully your batteries are recharged.
Thanks so much Vicky. It was nice to hear myself think for a while! :D x
Midlife Singlemum says
Love these photos of your new house. ;)
Ha ha ha ha (must do the lottery again very soon!!) :D x
Sounds wonderful. I think I will need to go there for a rest next time! :-) x
You must!! Thanks again Mum, it was so lovely xx