It is the perfect weekend to escape London.
The boys are recovering from some horrendous nursery virus, which has put me in bed for a day too.
We are pale and exhausted and in need of some tlc yet the drive from London to my parents’ in Devon is all too much.
So we pack up the car and drive 45 minutes out of town to the Garden House, a new hotel in the grounds of Beaverbrook, a wedding cake of a Victorian mansion in the Surrey Hills.
Any worries I have that it isn’t going to be enough of a change of scene disappear as we meander up the drive, which winds for more than a mile through 400 acres of open fields and woodland.
I always thought this part of the world didn’t have proper countryside but I’m wrong. My husband, who grew up in Surrey, is gloating hard.
We are met by two guys in tweed plus fours and caps and shown in to a red brick house that could belong to a friend, if any of our friends owned a large country cottage in a walled garden, decorated with gorgeous fabrics and flowers, deep paint colours and quarry stone floors. And a small bar, with enticing bottles of artisan gin and whiskies.
Of course the boys by this stage are itching to run around outside so we have only the briefest moment to admire our interconnecting bedrooms with their cushion-strewn beds.
We demolish a plate of homemade chocolate cookies, glance longingly at the piles of magazines and head off to find the playground.
I should, at this stage, tell you a bit about Beaverbrook.
It used to belong to Lord Beaverbrook, who owned the Daily Mail and was one of the most powerful men of 20th Century Britain. After taking on a number of different guises over the past few years the house and ground are currently being turned into a luxury hotel.
Think Soho Farmhouse but more intimate and, by the sounds of things, more decadent, with an enormous spa and a cocktail bar decorated with parrots. The house has been designed to reflect the guests and characters who stayed in the rooms throughout the 1900s – there’s even Churchill’s bedroom.
Children will also be well looked after, with playground, a tree house, riding and a Sharky & George kids’ club, which thank God is already open. The house itself and spa are opening in late July.
We all love the playground. It’s beautifully built of unpainted timber, with a woodchip floor and a large sandpit. The boys caper around here for a while and then we head off into the woods where we discover the enormous tree house and wigwam, which is Sharky & George’s HQ.
It’s getting late by the time we return to the hotel. We spend some time admiring the immaculate vegetable patch and planning the one we are going to create a home, which will never happen, and then take up position in the dining room for kids’ tea. I’d forgotten about this particular joy of a hotel stay.
Needless to say, my husband and I eat almost as much as they do. How could we not when faced with cheese burgers and spag bol at 5:30pm? Then it’s upstairs for baths, in an enormous freestanding bath, in a bathroom tiled with deep blue Moroccan tiles.
Afterwards, with hair smelling of Bamford botanical shampoo, the boys relax on their bed in their robes and watch cartoons, while my husband and I read magazines, drink gin and tonic and photograph every aspect of the rooms for interior inspiration.
The restaurant is clearly very popular locally as there isn’t a spare table to be seen when at last the boys are asleep and we go downstairs for dinner.
The menu is seasonal, contemporary, light, using herbs and veg from the kitchen garden…. things like English rack of lamb, grilled lobster with garlic and basil butter and goat’s cheese gnochillini. Dishes that you’d cook yourself if only you had the time, inclination and ingredients in your fridge.
We stay up way too late, as is always the way when there’s a dimly lit bar, and wake up feeling less fresh than the boys. This is fine though as after a full English breakfast in dining room we can palm two thirds of them off on Sharky & George.
While they get stuck in to den building and dinosaur bone finding, we mosey around the seriously grand gardens with the baby, imagining what it would have been like to be a guest of Lord Beaverbrook.
No one much wants to leave.
The children have to be forcibly removed from their camp, having enjoyed a picnic of sausages and chips, and the baby is obsessed by the sandpit.
The only thing missing for me was the spa experience – when the Coach House Spa opens later this summer there will be a pool and people to massage the Octonauts soundtrack out of your head.
A great excuse to come back soon. https://beaverbrook.co.uk
Oh, and I made a silly video….