For as long as I can remember I've been abroad on holiday each year, however this time we decided not to! After much deliberation we decided on Crieff Hydro in Scotland. Quite a few people had recommended it and I'm so glad we went as it turned out to be one of the best holidays I've had.
I'm going to be writing this post from the perspective of someone using a mobility scooter as I borrowed one from a friend rather than taking my wheelchair. I had spoken to them at the Hyrdo to discuss access and felt quite happy that it was all going to be ok. I was looking forward to the independence that a scooter brings, rather than being pushed around in the wheelchair which isn't the most fun for any of us!
We were staying at a Premier Inn in Glasgow on the way up and I'd also spoken to them to request a room on the ground floor close to reception, which is what we got. We decided to stay over and travel up to Crieff the following day. That way we wouldn't spend all day travelling and I get really uncomfortable sitting for any length of time, so it made more sense to break it up. I nodded off for a while too so the journey didn't feel as long!!
It took four hours to get to Glasgow but that included a short stop and being stuck in traffic a while. I hate traffic!! The views were stunning though.
I'm so glad we decided to stay over as I was pretty shattered (the joys of having M.E), so after something to eat we got an early night. A friend of mine who lives close to the hotel came to join us for breakfast so that was a lovely start to the day. The drive to Crieff was only around an hour and then the holiday could begin!!
I had seen photos of it and read reviews but you never really know what it will be like until you're there. It's a luxury family hotel with a huge array of things to do and my first impressions were good. We found a disabled parking space near the front and then it was time to breathe in some Scottish air! The reception area was lovely. We had arrived before the 2pm check in time and our room wasn't quite ready so we went for a wander. Other than the outdoor activity centre, everything is within the hotel so it was nice and very accessible for me.
Our room was great and there was plenty of room. Despite it overlooking the back of the hotel where the delivery lorries arrive in the morning, we didn't have any problems with noise which I'd initially been a bit worried about.
We had booked the Freedom Dining package which gives adults £26 per day and children £10 to spend on food. I hadn't expected it to cover all meals (full Scottish breakfast was included in the price prior to adding the dining package) but it did. There are several restaurants there and you can use any of them. Some serve lighter snacks and others full meals, but even choosing a more expensive lunch still allowed plenty of allowance for the evening meal. On the first night we went to the Piccolo Italian restaurant but it was apparently going to be quite awkward to get to on the scooter. One of the people who work there kindly took us down through the staff area and I didn't feel like it had been a burden to them either for having to take us! I hadn't been feeling too well prior to going for dinner (wiped out to the max!) and had been a bit upset, so the fact they'd made it less stressful for us helped and we had a really nice meal.
We asked how much we had left to spend on our last night and it was almost £100 so we splashed out! Three courses and some of the most expensive stuff on the menu later, we still had allowance leftover so we bought sandwiches and cakes for the journey home the following day!!
You had to pay for drinks but that's totally expected and I don't drink much anyway (alcohol wise!). You could also use the allowance for snacks during the day including cakes and ice cream as well as hot drinks. They have an extensive coctktail menu too as well as a few mocktails which went down well with little Miss!
Each day there was an activity timetable with different things going on for different ages. Garden games went down well and they had a mini Sports day which Little Miss loved as she had missed her school one due to being poorly! They had a drawing class with their resident charicature artist Pedro and another day there was a Ceilidh dance class as well as a petting zoo for the kids which was great.
This was alongside the various things you could do outdoors on the hotel site. Pitch and Putt, boules, mini golf to name a few.
The activity centre is a few minutes drive from the main hotel and the ground was fine for the scooter for a bit but wouldn't have been ideal had I wanted to go very far. Fortunately for me it was drizzling so I opted to go and have a hot chocolate in the Clubhouse whilst watching my crazy girl on the zipwire from the window!
I made sure I rested in the room during the day a few times (which is essential when you have M.E, for me anyway) but I generally felt really relaxed the whole time. Some of our Scottish friends came to stay for a night which was lovely as we've not seen them for a few years. My friend and I spent a really chilled few hours at the spa, which at £10 for 3 hours was well worth it! Again a member of staff took us down to the spa as it would have been too tricky otherwise.
They have a fantastic children's club there called Big Country and you get two free 3 hour sessions per day if you want to use it. I had seen reviews and people had said how good it was. We had booked little Miss in for some sessions but thought if it wasn't that good or she didn't enjoy it we wouldn't use it much. However, it was brilliant! They have a really secure system in place so it would be impossible for someone else to collect your child. You get given a card and cannot take the child out unless you produce it. Each card has a unique number and you have to sign two sheets for them to be released! They do various activities with them and all staff are fully trained as well as DRB checked.
They have a high tea for children which they can have before the kids' club so a couple of evenings we ate on our own while she was there. Making friends and having fun.. what more could a child want whilst on holiday?! Having the scooter meant I could take or collect her which we both enjoyed as I usually miss out on stuff like that so it was nice.
They had some sort of entertainment in the evenings whether it was a band, ceilidh dancing or a magic show. Little Miss loved the dancing and even managed to convince her daddy to get up and dance with her (which I think he secretly enjoyed!!).
There is something for everyone at Crieff Hydro and it can be as chilled or as action packed as you want. Usually when it's time to leave a holiday I feel ready to go home but I could have happily stayed longer. The post holiday blues kicked in not long after we got back and we started looking at when we may be able to return. We decided to have a look for around my birthday and managed to get a good price so we booked it!! Another 5 nights of luxury to look forward to. I can't wait.
I would like to thank everyone at the Hyrdo for making it such a lovely holiday. It's a fantastic family friendly place in beautiful surroundings. Even when it rained, it didn't bother me as there was still lots to do or it was as nice to just sit and chill with a cuppa and some cake! Their staff are a credit to them and I actually spoke to one of the managers before we left to pass on our thanks and to say how impressed we had been. She was grateful for my comments and it felt nice being able to praise rather than complain which so many people do these days. Can't recommend it enough! Currently counting down the months until we are back...