Going on holiday with kids, whether they're yours or friends', can feel tantamount to climbing Ben Nevis. You need SO MUCH paraphernalia, and just when you think the end of the planning and packing is in sight you realise that you've only just scaled the first of many painful summits. It's relentless. You hear yourself muttering "never again" before you've even set off.
Fortunately, a number of holiday services have sprung up over the years to address such challenges, most recently Premier Cottages' collection of baby-friendly and child-friendly UK accommodation. This launch couldn't be better timed. Following the Brexit referendum, 2.5m more British people are expected to book a staycation this year, and early indicators seem to support this prediction, with Airbnb reporting a 122% rise in domestic bookings since the vote.
But back to the case at hand. What do we like about Premier Cottages' answer to the kiddy accoutrement problem? Well, firstly, they've really thought about what will actually make parents' lives easier. For example, at Wallops Wood, one of their recommended baby-friendly properties, in addition to the standard cot and high chair (Stokke!), there are strollers (both single and double), a carrier, blackout blinds, sterilisers, blenders, various potties, a toilet-training seat... And then there's the plastic plates, cutlery, cups, the baby bath, a non-slip bath mat, the baby monitor, the play pen... That's a LOT of space you've saved in the boot of your car already.
And that's just the practical bases they've covered. Tell them the age of your child and they'll leave out a basket of appropriate toys for your little one, plus there's a choice of 3, yep 3, walkers, and rockers and ride on toys for toddlers. Those ride-on toys will see a fair amount of action in the lovely little garden out the back too.
What the outside space lacks in size and privacy it makes up for in ambience. It's been child-proofed so you can properly relax, wine in hand, enjoying the view while the kids busy themselves collecting stones and the like. And ouff, what a wonderful view it is. The garden backs straight onto a no-filter needed beautiful meadow. I've filed that scene in my memory for posterity under "happy place".
The vista isn't the only thing that will appeal to the grown-ups guests about this property. The kitchen was well equipped, the toiletries high-spec, the beds ginormous. We were particularly taken by the hot tub. Our concerns about it being gimmicky were quickly dispelled. It was a brilliant way to wind down after wrestling the children into bed. We were so enamoured by it that at the end of the trip there were lengthy and serious conversations about how we didn't think we could actually holiday now without one (#firstworldproblems). Fortunately for us though, you can filter Premier Cottages' family collection by feature. Which is just as well because while we no longer have to pack all the usual baby stuff, there's still not enough room in the boot for a jacuzzi.
Premier Cottages' collection features almost 1,000 four and five-star self-catering cottages across the UK. Properties range from small, romantic boltholes to large family-friendly country estates. The collection includes baby friendly and pets welcome accommodation. Many properties have onsite facilities like swimming pools, gyms, spas, indoor games rooms and children's play areas. A week's stay at Wallops Wood's property Glenside, which sleeps 6, starts from £785 and a three night stay from £550. To book go to www.premiercottages.co.uk or call the owner on 01489 878 888