We were looking for the perfect place for a pre-Christmas weekend away and the five-star Celtic Manor Resort ticked all the boxes that we were looking for.
Not many hotels in the UK can offer a Christmas experience like the Celtic Manor and we couldn’t wait to start our festive weekend at the hotel.
Watch the Video
The Celtic Manor Resort occupies more than 2,000 acres of the Welsh countryside at the gateway to Wales. If you have ever driven down the M4 it’s hard not to miss this giant property which dominates high above junction 24 of the M4 in Newport.
The hotel is the vision of Welsh tech tycoon Sir Terry Matthews who bought the site in 1980 – he was born in the original manor house on the site in 1943 which was the local maternity hospital and is now part of this huge 5 star property.
He set out to create one of Britain’s best 5 star resort hotels, taking inspiration from some of the best hotels in the world and it does remind us of similar 5 star hotels in the USA. When you arrive you are struck by the sheer scale of this luxurious resort, I love the fact that it feels like a little little staycation bubble away from the outside world.
The Christmas theme starts as you drive into the grounds of the hotel, with the girls spotting the trees on the long winding drive into the hotel lit perfectly for Christmas.
The elegant six-storey atrium lobby at the Celtic Manor is impressive at any time of the year especially with its gigantic wooden Celtic Dragons straddling either side of the room, but at Christmas it’s even more spectacular.
If the stunning Christmas decorations and iconic centrepiece tree with its toy train set going around it doesn’t get you in the festive mood then nothing will.
As we walked into the hotel for the first time the look on the girl’s faces was a picture and this was a popular picture spot for guests at the hotel. We lost count of how many Christmas trees that we came across during our stay, all of which were beautifully decorated.
Our Family Room
The hotel has 330 rooms and there are several room options for families here, ranging from interconnecting rooms to family specific rooms. The entry level family room is the deluxe king with sofa bed, superior rooms feature two double beds whilst at the top end the Grand Deluxe Family Room are the rooms to choose if you want the most space – it can easily accommodate two adults and four children.
With the girls getting older we would typically book interconnecting rooms but as it was a Saturday night in December room availability was limited. Our home for the night a spacious superior family room, which was perfect for an overnight stay.
I loved the newly renovated interiors which made for a warm and welcoming environment, plus having the added bonus of a small balcony, provided views over the hotel grounds and golf courses.
As you would expect at a five star luxury hotel our room had top of the range bed linens, marble clad bathroom with separate shower and deep soaking tub along with toiletries from Elemis (my favourite) – the vibe of the hotel is one of understated luxury, yet really family-friendly.
As nice as our room was, we had a packed itinerary of activities to enjoy – it’s a place that a child should never get bored at because there is so much to do here. In fact, what is the WiFi password is typically one of the first things the girls ask about when we check-in, so they can use their iPads – however at Celtic Manor there was so much to keep them occupied they never asked to use them.
Soon after settling in we went to the first of our pre-booked activities Forest Nets, the latest attraction at the hotel (£12 per person) – I would highly recommend pre-booking activities before you arrive as spaces can fill up quickly.
This is an adventure playground with a difference, where we got to navigate through a maze of nets high in the tree canopy.
Once you cross the wooden suspension bridge and make your way through the trees you experience vertical slides, ladder tubes and a huge giant bounce zone with a forest lookout post.
We spent nearly an hour here and the kids loved it, so much so they didn’t want to leave, we could only coax them away with the lure of swimming at one of the two swimming pools at the hotel.
Whilst we were waiting for the family swim times (3pm to 8pm ) at the Forum Spa pool we had a late lunch at the Forum Café, the cakes here are really good and well worth stopping by for.
Family Swimming at the Forum Spa
One of our favourite parts of staying here is always the impressive pool and spa facilities at the hotels Forum Spa. After a quick change in our room and donning our complimentary white fluffy robes and slippers we made the short journey from the fifth floor down to the pool.
The pool here like the rest of the hotel is an experience, swimming under its dome with night sky effect ceiling is always memorable and whilst Ian and the girls enjoyed having fun in the pool I took advantage of the peace and quiet visiting the Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
Dining at Pad
For food there are plenty of restaurants on offer, in fact there are seven to choose from however they are popular especially over weekends, so reservations are essential.
We dined at Pad, the hotels newest restaurant located in the Manor House, serving contemporary Asian cuisine.
It was really family friendly with a great children’s menu to choose from and the staff were so welcoming and friendly toward the girls.
The children’s menu offered a good range of dishes even for the fussiest of eaters and the girls selected the Katsu Chicken Skewers with rice and Crispy Fish with fries, Asian greens, sweet and sour sauce.
To start, I chose the Chicken and Sweetcorn Spring Rolls and Ian selected the Korean Fried Chicken Bao.
Moving on to mains, I couldn’t resist the Chicken Katsu with Edamame beans, oyster mushrooms and stem broccoli, curry sauce and my husband chose the Singapore Noodles with Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly, both of which were delicious.
To finish, make sure you leave room for dessert – the chocolate bar I had was marvellous.
After dinner it was lovely to return home to our room to find nightly turn down, one of my favourite things when staying at 5* hotels.
Breakfast at the Olive Tree restaurant
After a busy first day we all had a great sleep and the next morning we couldn’t wait to start the day with a Celtic Manor Breakfast.
Served in the Olive Tree restaurant which like the rest of the hotel had the most gorgeous Christmas decorations along with many Welsh touches my favourite of which was the talented musician playing the harp as we dined.
The breakfast here is extensive with many of the items locally sourced, some of our favourites were the Welsh tea, yogurts and Welsh cakes – yum!.
Inspired by the world class golf courses that surround the hotel (it was the host venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup) we had our own family golfing challenge at the adventure golf course.
Consisting of two 9 hole courses inspired by famous holes in golf including St Andrews and Pebble Beach, it was great family fun and brought out all of our competitive sides.
Apart from a hole in one for Chloe, their highlight was when we had to float across the lake on a Celtic inspired raft to complete one of the challenges.
The Great Skate
One of the girl’s favourite parts of our stay was ice skating at the Great Skate which has opened for the Christmas season and brought back great memories of skating in New York last year. There are various skating packages available at this all-weather undercover ice rink in the spectacular setting of the resort’s Rooftop Garden.
We pre-booked the 11am Great Skate Sizzler Package which included skating, hire of skates and a drink and food voucher for afterwards. It’s been over 12 months since we last took to the ice so I was glad to see that for the non-skaters there were lots of skating aids available to hire (£6 each and needs to be pre-ordered)
We tried out the polar bear and penguin aids plus the ride-along seals where children can sit on and adults push which was great fun. We found that by hiring the skating aids really helped the girls regain confidence (although Ian and I also needed them as we attempted to skate!) and by the end of the hour-long session the girls were like little skating experts as they glided around the rink.
After finishing our skating we warmed up afterwards with delicious hot chocolates which was served with lashings of cream and marshmallows much to the delight of Chloe and Holly.
We sat at the beautiful festive themed setting of the Baileys bar next to the ice rink and laughed at our skating exploits. There were a selection of Christmas market favourites including delicious German Bratwurst from the open grill at the Bratwurst Hut which added to the experience and we left feeling really Christmassy.
Nutcracker on Ice
One of our favourite parts of our Christmas break at the Celtic Manor was watching the Nutcracker on Ice at the International Convention Centre Wales and I highly recommend getting a ticket before the show ends on the 5th January.
The Nutcracker on Ice is a spectacular version of Tchaikovsky’s ballet that all the family will enjoy over Christmas.
The way they have managed to combine a clever mix of skilful skating, acrobatics, special effects and opulent costumes against a backdrop of colourful projections and fabulous storytelling is just magical. This is one of the best shows that we have seen and the new 1,500 seat tiered theatre at the Celtic Manor is just as impressive.
We spent our last few hours at the hotel with family who were checking into the hotel that evening. After exploring the hotel and doing a little window shopping at the Celtic Mall we found one of our favourite places to spend time as a family in the private seating area of Merlin’s.
Sitting by the fireplace in the gorgeous wood panelled room complete with another beautiful Christmas tree was the perfect place to end our weekend break at the hotel.
With lots of family-friendly activities, The Celtic Manor is one of our favourite resort hotels for a pre-Christmas break.
You certainly won’t hear the word “I’m bored” from your children during your stay at the Celtic Manor Resort, there is so much for them to see and do.
If you are looking for a luxury family friendly hotel then the Celtic Manor Resort will be very hard to beat. We can’t wait to return.
Family rooms at the Celtic Manor Resort start from £136 including breakfast