When we embarked on my son's pilgrimage to Alton Towers, we took friends' advice and avoided the hotels at the theme park.
We broke our journey a 45-minute drive away at the Priest House in the village of Castle Donnington.
The four-star Handpicked Hotel is a pretty stopover, set at the end of a country lane along a serene stretch of the Trent. Taking tea on the terrace or watching the blue dragonfly nibble the bushes on a riverbank proved ideal respite after a hard day's rollercoasting.
The river below was visible through the leaded windows of our suite in the Gothic tower (originally a Norman mill tower), reached by a spiral metal staircase. Its minimalist interior was lightened by hints of gold and Romanesque features.
While we relaxed in our comfortable bed, next door our son Joshua settled down to Nightmare at Christmas once a helpful member of staff had sorted out the DVD player.
Cheaper rooms are available in a row of refurbished 17th century cottages, compactly and brightly furnished and with modern accessories such as free Wi Fi.
You can eat in either the wood-beamed brasserie or an intimate fine-dining room with a double AA rosette menu.
We loved our starter of grilled mackerel on a potato pancake, The champagne and elderflower sorbet that was served between courses as a palate-cleanser was so good that we ordered it again for dessert.
Rates: from £85
Tel: 0845 072 7502