There is so much pressure on us all to "do" something special on New Year’s Eve, but once baby arrives you can’t really boogie all night with your friends around a spangly handbag at a night club or waltz your way round the floor at a posh dinner dance. Or can you? Here are a few great ideas to get away from the madness of London and have some fun this New Year’s Eve with the family in tow.
1. A perfect, glamorous New Year’s Eve Party
Put the children to bed, meet the qualified babysitter who will care for them while they sleep, slip into a stunning gown and glide down to a sumptuous gala dinner and then dance the night away!
Head out to the Surrey countryside to the Runnymede Hotel and Spa for a stunning New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance. This hotel and spa boasts four stars and enjoys a reputation for modern facilities, light airy lounges and of course the stunning riverside location. The staff are exceptionally good, with genuine smiles and helpful dispositions when it comes to the children.
The facilities are sumptuous; the pool is beautiful with a great shallow pool for the kids, there’s a wooden outdoor play area and children get milk and cookies before bed plus a cuddly duck on their pillow and colouring packs.
The buffet meals are always a sumptuous and extraordinary affair overlooking the river Thames and the hotel’s manicured gardens. There’s unusual salads, sushi and seafood to start, all sorts culinary delights for main course – some cooked right in front of you – and a dessert display to swoon over! Crème brulée, strawberry mousse, chocolate brownies, tarts, pies and chocolate petit fours plus more!
Runnymede Hotel & Spa, Windsor Road, Egham, TW20 0AG
01784 436171, www.runnymedehotel.com
2. An inspiring woodland retreat
Stroll through the woods for dinner in the Bistro, then back to the woodland lodge and sit out on the veranda with a mug of steaming hot chocolate and watch the foxes, badgers and deer scurry round the woodland.
Don’t be put off by the dodgy name; Sandy Balls, in Hampshire, is actually a rather classy woodland retreat set in 120 acres of the New Forest, where you stay in a glorious, private, self-catering wooden lodge.
This is a very “green” place stay. Apart from being in the heart of the leafy New Forest, (you may wake to find roe deer nibbling the shrubbery), the park works closely with the local council to be environmentally friendly and it has been awarded eight David Bellamy Gold Awards for Conservation.
They have thought of everything and each lodge has all you could need for a stay including fluffy bath robes, a roll top bath, a mock real flame fire in the living room plus DVD and CD player and the all important dish washer.
There’s a kiddie playground, swimming pool and leisure centre, pretty riverside walks and wildlife all around.
Sandy Balls, Godshill, Fordingbridge, SP6 2JZ
01425 653042, www.sandyballs.co.uk
3. A tasty night in!
Put the children to bed, slip into a cocktail dress and have a dinner party at home. All you have to do is choose the menu, pop it in the oven and wait for your guests to arrive.
COOK is an inspiration! They prepare delicious home-cooked food, freeze it and deliver it to your door no matter where you live! There is a great range of dishes to choose from including Vegetable and Chickpea Tagine, Lamb Bordeaux with red wine and port, plus the accompanying side dishes, puddings and seasonal specials.
Prices vary according to your menu, but come out pretty reasonable! They will even send along perfectly proportioned dishes so you can decant the piping hot food in to a ceramic dish and pretend you cooked it yourself!
COOK Clapham, 37 Abbeville Road, Clapham, London SW4 9JX (Clapham) 020 8675 5369, (home delivery) 01732 759020, www.cookfood.net
4. A relaxed family celebration meal
Include the kids in your New Year celebrations by heading to a great, family restaurant for a hearty, fun and carefree meal.
By day it’s the cafe at the Old Royal Naval College, but by night it’s transformed into a glam restaurant. In the magnificent surroundings of this Grade II listed building, with huge copper tuns, the menu of modern British food embraces its historic setting.
The Old Brewery is somewhere to meet up with friends and enjoy a creative, and heartily good meal to share over some locally brewed ale! Beer is integral to many of the starters, mains and even desserts and it is woven through the menu. However, children are welcomed and can eat from the adults menu at half portions (always a sign the food is freshly cooked!) The Fish and chips is legendary and the best you can find.
The Old Brewery, The Pepys Building, The Old Royal Naval College, London SE10 9LW
0203 327 1280, www.oldbrewerygreenwich.com
5. A perfect family hotel overlooking wild animals
Wake up on New Year’s Day to a zebra milling around outside and an antelope prancing in the savannah underneath your window. Then, mosey on down to a feast of a breakfast.
Chessington Holiday Inn Resort is a super place to bring children. With specially designed family rooms, a kids pack on arrival, a swimming pool and Wii play room, it’s ideal for children. They will get a special meet and greet session with the keepers of some of the animals. Listen to the parrot who talks and answers questions, and the bear cat who’s just like a cuddly teddy bear. Plus, included in the price is entry to the zoo itself to see the lions, gorillas and all the other animals.
All the family rooms have a separate alcove where children sleep. They even have their own tv.
Holiday Inn Chessington, Leatherhead Road, Chessington, KT9 2NE
01372 734 600, www.chessington.co.uk
6. Champagne and fireworks overlooking The Thames
Sipping an ice cold glass of Champagne, munching a selection of canapes while perched on a window seat overlooking The Thames as London’s fantastic fireworks explode up river.
The Four Seasons Canary Wharf has a breathtaking view of London and will impress even the most well-traveled family. This beautiful hotel is well versed at caring for the intrepid business traveler but during the holidays they turn their attention to making families feel welcome and they excel at doing so. There are interconnecting rooms plus spacious family rooms. All are beautifully presented with large, well stocked bathrooms (complete with step up stools, mini dressing gowns and rubber ducks for the children.)
Special treats for children include cookies before bed and excellent activity packs, plus families can enjoy the sumptuous delights of Quadrato Restaurant with its sumptuous northern Italian menu, fine cuisine and superb service.
Four Seasons Canary Wharf, 46 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, E14 8RS
020 7510 1999, www.fourseasons.com/canarywharf