It makes sense that pregnant ladies and fathers-to-be want to make the most of their last chance at rest, relaxation and pampering before their new bundle of joy arrives and turns their lives on its head. Perhaps you’ve been working throughout your pregnancy while simultaneously attending medical appointments, purchasing the necessary baby paraphernalia and decorating the nursery? Quite often that first week of maternity leave offers the perfect opportunity for a holiday – be it to snuggle up and unwind with your partner, to re-connect with some old girlfriends or your mum, or for some solitary spa treatments to really savour some peace and quiet.
But this is no ordinary holiday; there are several factors to consider. Just like a honeymoon, a babymoon has to be particularly special – it is marking a huge a life event and a new journey you are about to embark on. You’re going to want to stay somewhere exceptional. If you are at the end of your pregnancy you won’t be able to fly – many airlines are not comfortable accepting passengers who are more than 28 weeks pregnant, nor are you likely to have the energy for an overseas trip! So the suggestions here are located in the southeast of England, easy driving distance for London-based luxury-lovers to enjoy a totally blissed out babymoon.
The ‘hour from London’ babymoon: Four Seasons Hampshire
The Four Seasons Hampshire is set on a grand country estate barely an hour’s drive from London – perfect for expectant mums who are nearing their due date and daren’t venture far from their home and hospital. This esteemed hotel is loved for its exceptional Four Seasons service and it is the ideal hideaway to escape the capital for some traditional British luxury and countryside pastimes. Feel yourself physically exhale and relax as you wind along the lengthy driveway leading up to this handsome Georgian mansion, set amid 500 acres of stunning rolling pastures. Settle into your plush Grand Manor Room suite on the top floor of the main house with its far-reaching views, large and comfortable bed (already equipped with a long bolster pillow, just like a pregnancy pillow) and totally black-out curtains for a superb lie-in.
Everything you could possibly desire is within easy reach: the grounds of the hotel are ideal for gentle strolls with a picture-perfect lake and canal walk just a few hundred yards away and fields with cows and horses to amble past. Once you’ve breathed in plenty of fresh country air and explored this magnificent estate, you’ll be ready to indulge in your ‘Mother-to-be Massage’ treatment at the Four Seasons spa. Housed in a converted barn house, the spa is a gorgeous space with white walls, exposed beams and floor-to-ceiling French windows. Unwind in the impressive heated Conservatory Pool and take a dip in the heated outdoor vitality pool with its water-massage features. Dine at The Bistro or Seasons Restaurant for fresh seasonal fare, pick a fireside table at the chic Bar 1086, or eat out on the terrace if the weather is nice. To really push the boat out, take a leisurely cruise through the estate on a vintage canal boat and enjoy a romantic candle-lit dinner on board, just the two of you!
The ‘luxury London’ babymoon: The Corinthia
Unwilling to leave London, just in case your baby puts in an early appearance? I’ve always felt there is something terrifically indulgent and exciting about holidaying in your home city! For an incredibly glamorous babymoon, you can’t beat the Corinthia – one of the world’s most phenomenal hotels, it also has the largest spa in London. Set over four floors, this 2,500-sq-m space features a stainless steel swimming pool, a Daniel Galvin hair salon, a nail studio, movie star make up room, expert treatments with resident acupuncturists, herbalists, naturopaths, osteopaths and physios, and heavenly relaxation rooms filled with elegant white armchairs set around sleek open fireplaces.
Other must-try treats include the Corinthia’s legendary Afternoon Tea, which is served in the hotel’s light and airy Lobby Lounge under its Baccarat chandelier. Tuck into traditional finger sandwiches, cakes and scones, as well as beautiful English Fancies and a selection of ‘Best of British’ cakes including Battenburg, Bakewell Tart and Victoria Sandwich. Come evening, there is nowhere better to savour a delicious mocktail than at the fashionista’s favourite, the Bassoon bar. All the guest rooms at the Corinthia are ultra stylish, but if there’s ever a time to treat yourself to the loveliest suite, surely it’s when you’re pregnant! There are seven penthouse suites, each sublime and unique, but we particularly love the Musician’s Penthouse. Set over two floors linked by a staircase and private internal lift, it has a spectacular private terrace with dining area, gas fire and unparalleled views over the Thames River stretching across London from the London Eye to St Paul’s Cathedral.
The ultimate ‘have-it-all’ babymoon: Lime Wood
With its crowd-pleasing combination of stylish luxury and laid-back, homely atmosphere, Lime Wood is a guaranteed delight, particularly if you’re expecting the pitter-patter of tiny feet. It tops everyone’s favourite country house hotels for good reason: set in a smart 13th century hunting lodge in the middle of the New Forest, it is a place to reconnect with nature whilst also boasting a vibrant, buzzy vibe. With its young self-assured staff, playful sculptures in the garden and ‘fun dining’ rather than fine dining, this 5-star hotel manages to feel chic and exciting, yet unpretentious – which is perfect when feeling relaxed is a top priority. Take full advantage of Lime Wood’s acclaimed Herb House Spa with its outdoor vitality pool, indoor swimming pool and delicious healthy menu café. Sleep off lunch with an afternoon snooze on the outrageously comfortable deck chairs out on the spa’s rooftop herb garden overlooking the forest canopy. Treat yourself to a 60-minute Pregnancy Massage using Lime Wood’s specialised massage oils and wonderfully supportive electrical massage beds.
You could happily enjoy days on end relaxing at this award-winning hotel without wanting to leave, however if you do have the energy for a bit of exploring, Lime Wood is surrounded by ravishing woodland. Don some Hunter wellies – provided by the hotel in all colours and sizes, along with a map of the various walking routes – and set off from a gate at the back of the hotel directly into this magical forest, which is the source of much of the foraged ingredients at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant run by head chef Angela Hartnett. Whilst staying at Lime Wood you must also take a scenic drive through the New Forest, a ruggedly beautiful National Park roaming with wild ponies and the last remaining open pasture land in the UK.
A wonderful place to stop for lunch is The Pig, a warm and friendly hotel and restaurant, just 10 minutes drive from Lime Wood. Eat out in the sun-dappled conservatory, brimming with rustic charm, and devour a truly delicious meal using ingredients from their organic garden and animals from their farm. It is the perfect place to return to for a family holiday with your growing brood; stay at the Pig House, the top category log cabin, which has a romantic master bedroom with monsoon shower and freestanding bathtub, a second bedroom with a bunk bed for little piglets, and a snuggly living room and kitchen with a log burner.
James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel.