We have just returned from a two night stay at the Four Star Charleville Park Hotel in Charleville, Co. Cork.
I travelled with my husband and our almost three year old in the hopes that we could have some quality family time and days packed with things to do but time left over to relax. I can honestly say we got all of those things. At less than a two and a half hour drive from South Dublin the location of this hotel is really brilliant. Far enough away to really feel like we were on a holiday but a short enough drive to warrant a relaxing start to the weekend. We were particularly lucky as we left at nap-time and our toddler pretty much slept for the entire journey.
We received the warmest welcome when we arrived at the hotel. It was well sign-posted and had ample parking a mere stones throw away from reception. Every little helps when you are travelling with a toddler. The staff at reception couldn't have been nicer. They welcomed us, interacted with our son and filled us in on the hotel's amenities. We were delighted to hear that the pool opened late and there were several choices for food and dinner options. Eating out is my favourite part about being away for the weekend. The hotel has a restaurant and a lovely bar that serves bar food until 9.30pm each night.
The room was really lovely. Exceptionally clean, fresh and safe for a toddler to explore. The shower was brilliant. What is it about hotel showers? I always enjoy them more. We used the bath too and our son happily splashed about in it. A tray of tea, coffee and biscuits was provided but cleverly stored in a cupboard away from little hands. A nice touch. As soon as we arrived our son had a little chill out on the bed and enjoyed some cookies that the hotel had very kindly left for us. It had been a tough 2.5 hour nap for the little man so he needed to relax.
We hit the pool straight away. We were lucky enough to walk through a ceremony room on our way and we got to see the hotel laid out for a wedding. It was really beautiful and as a side note I would imagine a wedding at this hotel would not disappoint.
The pool was brilliant. The staff couldn't have done enough for us. We forgot swimming nappies and were able to purchase a single one at the leisure centre reception. We also never considered bringing arm bands and as an after thought I asked the life-guard as he passed us in the pool. He actually brought us back a brand new pair and trusted us to pay on our way out. I thought that was a really lovely touch. He was super with our son and was a pleasure to deal with. There is a great sized baby pool where the water is a little bit warmer than the already pleasantly warm large pool. There is also a section which almost looks like a giant jacuzzi and children are allowed to go in there which brought great excitement for some kids at the pool while we were there. I also treated myself to the adult's jacuzzi, steam room and sauna which were all lovely.
Upstairs in the leisure centre is where the Charlee Chums Kids Club takes place. It is suitable from 4 years of age and has a brilliant array of activities for children such as indoor sports and arts and crafts. We dropped by a couple of times and each child seemed really genuinely happy and cared for. I imagine it would be a lovely opportunity for parents to have a swim or grab a coffee together in peace with the reassurance of knowing their children are happy too.
The kids club at the hotel is what stood out the most for us. There were some really lovely options such as a family movie night for €10. You get to choose a movie from a large selection and the staff bring popcorn and hot chocolate to your hotel room. Such a gorgeous idea. They also have a Kids buffet during the summer which works out at €10 for a starter, main course, dessert and a drink. It runs from 5.30-6.30pm during those Summer months. They also run a Kids Movie Night every single night. It's free and runs from 7pm-9pm. They have a room set up like a cinema with the movie on a big projector screen and the kids are given popcorn, cookies and juice. We loved the idea behind this and could see how happy the kids were. We also couldn't help but notice their parents who were really enjoying a meal together while their kids were entertained. A really great idea and one I truly recommend.
We really enjoyed dinner both of the nights. We decided to eat in the bar because it had a lovely atmosphere. We ordered a Children's Pasta and sauce for our son and I loved the fact that it arrived before our starters. It also arrived at the perfect temperature which I've never seen before. It meant that our son could eat it immediately when it arrived and wasn't complaining about it being too hot. This happens constantly when we eat out. A really lovely touch. The pasta sauce was delicious and he ate every morsel of food on his plate. The second night we got him the mini-roast dinner. Both mains work out at €6 and are big portions and lovely food. I was very impressed by the quality. We thoroughly enjoyed our food too. I particularly have to recommend the grilled chicken burger. It comes with cheese and a pineapple chutney/relish and is to die for. My husband is still talking about it. The goats cheese starter is also beautiful and the cheese is from a local farm.
The town of Charleville is just a ten minute walk away and houses a brilliant playground. It's behind Supervalu. We spent a chunk of time there and our son loved it. We also drove to Donerale which is just a twenty minute drive from the hotel. The park in Donerale is a must see. It has a fantastic playground and a number of different walks. We spotted Wild Deer, fish and ended the day with some lunch at the café attached to the park. A really nice way to spend an afternoon.
We also visited The Donkey Sanctuary. What a lovely place. Over 1800 Donkeys are cared for there and it's free. You are welcome to leave a donation. We loved wandering around and enjoyed an ice-cream and a cup of tea in the little shop afterwards. We really loved visiting and highly recommend it.
All in all we really had a great time at The Charleville Park Hotel.
Our son had a ball and we got the family time we hoped for so much. As we ate breakfast we met Charlee Chum himself. Our toddler's eyes lit up and he happily posed for a photo with him.
Thanks Charlee and thanks to the staff at The Charleville Park Hotel for a brilliant weekend. We will be back!
Written by Tracey, mummy blogger and staff writer at www.familyfriendlyhq.ie.
Check out her own blog at www.loveofliving.ie