This year, I booked a destination elopement in Ireland. How cool is that? Well you guys know me, I am kind of like an extreme couponer in the travel world. And it's not like I charge my couples travel fees for my son or my husband haha. So if they are going to join me, I really have to budget like a madman. I tried a million different flight options and scenarios... I started with direct, and then I tried some other ideas which included everything from flying Southwest (who we have a companion pass and many miles saved with - learn more here.) to a gateway city like NYC, Boston (great for Ireland!), Atlanta and more.
This typically a great option for us because we live deep in the heart of the United States in Colorado and often times we stop in one of these cities anyway. Another thing I spent a lot of time looking at and messing with was Google Flights... you can look at the overall calendar AND you can look at multiple destination cities in Europe. It's a little tricky to get it to do what you want, but it works. So I looked at flying into every city from Paris to Rome and then how much it would be to fly from those cities to Dublin or Belfast. (I promise, I will do an in depth blog on finding the best flights). I finally landed on London.
I found a flight DIRECT from Denver to Heathrow with United for less than $600 a person for Tyler and I and less than $500 forJake totaling up to be $1664 and then a about a week later flights fromHeathrow to Dublin with Aer Lingus for less than $400 total for all 3 of us.This saved us about $1000 vs flying from Denver to Dublin with 2 layovers in between. AND we were able to spend time in one of our favorite places for a few days. England.
Now this was my 3rd stay at the Dumbleton Hall Hotel which sits on the North West edge of the Cotswolds in England. I could just leave it at the fact that we've been back so many times and you would know it's awesome. BUT instead, I am going to share a gazillion photos with you and explain why we will continue to go back year after year.
I am ONLY going to share photos from our trip this spring. I could share a million more, but I will save them for other blog posts.
1. How CHILD friendly it is
Okay, so I will admit... Jake is not their usual guest. But we have seen other families with young children each time we have stayed. They have an amazing family room with beautiful views of the property (with 3 beds and a wonderful big bathroom with a shower and a bath!) Really the two biggest reasons I say Dumbleton Hall is so kid friendly is because of the property size and setup and the wonderful staff. I will elaborate on both subjects below.
2. The Property
Like I said above, one of the reasons Dumbleton is so kid friendly is the property. Dumbleton Hall Hotel is a 19th-century Cotswold stone manor House with set on 19 acres with gardens, a private lake, walking trails and forest land. As you drive up the half mile driveway through the field that is usually dotted with sheep, your whole experience begins. During this visit, the fields beyond the manor were covered in blue blooms. As a gardener, I was entranced. I never imagined a place with wildflowers so thick that you actually have to mow paths through them. And many of the rooms are situated to have views of this area. Dumbleton also has more formal gardens to walk through, pastures for sheep and their lake where there are always black swans swimming around. I cannot even begin to describe how much I personally love this property, but I will tell you Jake loves it and Tyler says it's the most relaxing place on earth and his favorite hotel we've ever stayed at. (That includes the Broadmoor guys.) I've always been a better photographer than writer, so I will just show you instead of going on and on. I added some aerial drone shots this time! Make sure you pay attention to the details, you may catch the blue wildflowers or the white dots are sheep!
3. Dinner on the Terrace
Every time we go to Dumbleton, we try to maximize every second there... and we are always sad to leave. So we ALWAYS eat on site. They have a more formal dinner you can make reservations, but starting in the evening you can get 'pub food' on the terrace. Which is perfect for us anyway. In the times we have visited, it has been Spring or Fall, so it is definently chilly out. But we prefer to just bundle up and sit out on the patio. I have also discovered a few of my favorite Cider Beers at Dumbleton - Rekorderlig and Koppaberg. We usually carry one around while we walk through the gardens and visit the sheep. The food is typically locally sourced. Our favorites are the Fish and Chips and the Cheese Platter. YUM. Fresh cheese in the Cotswolds is so delicious. And their fresh tartar sauce is so good, I always have to ask for a second side of it. You can also eat inside in one of the sitting areas near the bar if it is raining or too chilly. We also love doing this because we always enjoy the other guests and the staff. But our view on the terrace is one of my favorites. The gardens lining the walls of the manor are beautiful.
4. The Staff
I don't have any photos of the staff, but I will tell you that it's always the same people and they are always so kind and welcoming. They treat Jake like a king and do a fantastic job. The food is great, the service is great, the rooms are always clean and neat, the property is loved and even more than that, the staff members actually take the time to have great conversations with you.
5. The Company of the Other Guests
Part of our love for Dumbleton stems from it's small nature. It's not as small as a Bed and Breakfast... but it isn't as big as an American hotel that's for sure. The thing about Dumbleton is that it is a destination. Like I said earlier.... there is so much to do in the area, but we try to maximize every moment at Dumbleton and save our other activities for another day. You'll notice that many of the guests do the same. They come to Dumbleton, not just for a bed to sleep in, but for the whole experience. The property is big enough that you don't feel crowded or like you can't get away from your neighbors, but the hotel is small enough where you get to know the other guests in the library over a drink or when you say hi in the gardens. And Jake makes friends everywhere he goes, so we generally get to meet most of the guests when he introduces himself. One of our favorite things is that many of the older British Military regiments meet up with each other here. There is nothing like having a beer with a bunch of retired British military men and their wives. We have been paid such wonderful compliments by many of the guests on what a wonderful, polite but still spirited boy Jake is.
6. The English Breakfast
With every stay, you get a full English Breakfast. Complete with your eggs, British Bacon (back bacon which is thicker like sliced ham), beans, cooked tomatoes and hashbrowns. They also have an assortment of yogurts, juices, fruits, cereals, pastries and toast.
7. The Sheep
We LOVE seeing all the sheep when we visit. Of course its common all over the Cotswolds, but visiting them in the pastures is one of our favorite things. When we just visited at the end of April, the lambs had already arrived and it was so cute to see them running around after their mommas. Jake really enjoyed the 'baaaaaby sheeps" and scared a few of them away from the fence with all of his BAAAAAAAA-ing.
8. The Entire Experience
I could write all day and tell you every detail about Dumbleton, but really you need to experience it for yourself. Because it's not really one thing or the other that makes it special. It's all of it. It's the way it looks when you come up the drive, it's walking around with a cider and saying hi to the sheep. It's sitting on the bench up by the lake or overlooking the wildflowers. It's hanging out in the library with a bunch of new friends. It's waking up and looking out your bedroom window to the fog rolling out over the forest. It's the heated towel racks. It's the crown moulding. It's crawling into a cozy bed at night with a fully tummy and a tired body from exploring all day. It's the pouring rain and green grass. It's the delicious breakfast. It's the way the light hits the building when it's a sunny evening. It's the air... some of the freshest air I've ever breathed. It's the building, it's the property, it's the people...
It's all of it. I just love all of it.
To Book your stay at the Dumbleton Hall Hotel in the Cotswolds of England, please visit their website at: https://www.dumbletonhall.co.uk/
Please let them know you were referred by Callie Riesling <3 Thanks guys!
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