If you’re looking for a break which offers a little dash of indulgence for everyone,
try our top-notch family destinations!
which offers a little dash of
indulgence for everyone, try our
top-notch family destinations!
SELF CATERING, PICARDY, NORTHERN FRANCE
Our top tip for a relaxed start to your getaway in France
is to book a cabin, as we did with Brittany Ferries on
the Portsmouth to Le Havre route. It means that you all
arrive refreshed in the morning.
From Le Havre, it was less than two hours’ drive through pretty French countryside
to the Résidence Les Terrasses de la Plage. Our self-catering apartment was on the
seafront at Cayeux-sur-Mer, booked through Madame Vacances, a self-catering specialist
in France who offer accommodation with a high standard of cleanliness, and onsite
(English speaking) representatives. Properties come with fully equipped kitchens,
sheets, towels and an optional welcome pack.
All the Résidence Les Terrasses de la Plage apartments in Cayeux have toddler-safe
terraces for al fresco dining and sneaky
sun-downers. Book a sea-facing one for the fabulous view.
When the tide is out, vast tracts of sand are revealed, perfect for
sandcastle building. You can, of course, go for a paddle, but there’s a nice indoor
pool on the ground floor of the apartments and children are welcome there at all
Cayeux has everything you need within a five-minute walk
– supermarket, bicycle hire, restaurants and that all-important
beach. You’ll also want to visit St Valery, about 10 minutes away
by car, for the steam train around the bay, to meander through the Sunday-morning
market and to take a boat ride to see the local seals. There are also plenty of sandy,
dune-backed local beaches to explore. This is France made easy.
A studio apartment with sea view sleeping up to four starts
from £289 for seven nights; a two-bedroom apartment
sleeping up to eight for seven nights starts from £399. Visit
www.madamevacances.co.uk or tel 01273 358 071. Return
Portsmouth-Le Havre ferry crossing with Brittany Ferries for
a car with 4 passengers costs from £320, including en suite
cabin on the outward overnight crossing.
Visit www.brittanyferries.co.uk or tel 0330 159 7000.
LUXURY HOTEL, CENTRAL LONDON
St James Court is a four-star Taj hotel and it makes a
particularly welcome retreat on a chilly, grey weekend. It’s
just around the corner from St James’ Park and Victoria
stations and there’s a good variety of shops and restaurants on the doorstep. With
kids in mind, the hotel is well placed for
visits to the Natural History and Science museums, as well as
Buckingham Palace and Theatreland.
From the opulence of the hotel lobby to the top-class service, this venue is everything
you’d expect from a luxury hotel. Children are given special attention from the word
go with the Kids@Taj welcome pack, complete with drawstring bag, sketch book and
journal, passport, colouring crayons and cuddly toy. There’s also
a special turndown experience at bedtime, where children are
served hot chocolate with a giant cookie in their room.
Family rooms are elegantly decorated and spacious, with two
double beds and a separate lounge area, so parents can relax and
enjoy some time together while the kids are asleep. Guests have
complimentary use of the gym, saunas and steam rooms in the
Wellness Centre, which also provides bespoke spa treatments.
If food is high up on your menu, you’ll appreciate the exceptional
range of dining options, from British to European to Indian, plus a choice of cocktail
bars. There’s a special Kids’ Dining menu and any dietary or allergen requirements
can be catered for. We can recommend the charming Afternoon Tea in Wonderland, based
on the enduringly popular Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
A family room starts from £325, including breakfast – or take
advantage of the extended stay offer, with per night prices
from £268.50. The Wonderland Tea is £30 per person.
Visit www.stjamescourthotel.co.uk or tel 020 7316 1600.
SELF CATERING, KENT
Looking for a staycation where a sandy beach is a two minute
walk away? The Lookout, a second-floor flat with unobstructed views to the sea in
the pretty Kent town of
Westgate-on-Sea, could be just the ticket. It’s done out in quirky 60s retro style,
but the amenities are 21st century, including a large bathroom, well-equipped kitchen,
WiFi and DVD player. There’s a pull-out sofa that sleeps two and the bedroom can
be configured as two singles or a large king.
It’s booked through Host Unusual, a website full of interesting holiday accommodation,
from windmills to lighthouses to follies and castles.
There’s a large, grassy communal garden in the back, perfect for games and picnics.
Take yourselves down to Pav’s Café, where the road meets the sea, and treat everyone
to a full English, a bacon butty or an ice cream. Explore the pretty Victorian town
or, when the tide is out, get out the bucket and spades and head for the great swathes
of sandy beach.
Margate is within easy reach, and it’s definitely worth taking the buggy-friendly
walk along the promenade there. At Margate, you’ll find more beaches, the refreshed
retro Dreamland amusement park (entry free) and the Turner Contemporary gallery (again,
free entry), which has drop-in activities for all the family.
For an old-fashioned British seaside holiday, the Kent coast has it all.
The Lookout sleeps four and costs from £65 per night. Other
family-friendly accommodation is also available nationwide
through Host Unusual. Visit hostunusual.co.uk/categories/
family-friendly or tel 01702 567928.
LUXURY FAMILY HOTEL, CASCAIS, PORTUGAL
The name Martinhal is synonymous with great holidays for
families, so we were delighted to hear that the Martinhal
group has spread its wings and in 2016 opened two new
destinations in Portugal, one on the stunning west coast at
Cascais and the other in Lisbon city centre.
Cornerstone of the Martinhal ethos is to offer families with children of all ages
the very height of comfort and luxury, with
every need met so everyone can relax.
Cascais has 72 spacious hotel rooms and 12 two-bedroom villas set in stunning landscaped
grounds, with three pools (one outdoor and two indoor); a choice of three restaurants
and a family bar; a spa with sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and family treatments; innovative
playgrounds, plus a huge and funky Kids’ Clubhouse. Superbly-appointed, the hotel
rooms overlook pretty water gardens an d boast big beds, family-sized bathrooms,
nice smellies and all those little touches that make you feel special. If you prefer
to stay closely en famille, rooms with bunk beds for families are available.
For mums and dads who want some time out, there are three kids’ clubs (Baby Room
for 6 months – 1 year; Kids’ Club for 3 to 5s
and Fox Club for 6 to 9s). Open from 9.30am to 5.30 pm daily, they
promise kids the time of their lives! Babysitting is also bookable.
You’ve a range of restaurants to tempt your taste buds: O Terraco is fine dining,
Portuguese-style, while Os Gambozinos serves traditional pizza/pasta in a relaxed
vibe. Or grab a mouthwatering snack at the M-Bar. The best part is that children
are not just welcomed, but encouraged to be everywhere. There’s even a play area
for your child to hang out, safely supervised, while you enjoy your breakfast buffet.
Don’t be surprised if ‘Mr Fox’ puts in an appearance to light up your child’s day!
A full children’s menu is, of course, available with healthy and tempting options,
including some yummy baby purees.
Family fun – such as boat trips and cycling – can all be arranged, but you may just
wish to relax and chill out in paradise!
Low season rates from £152 per night in a double room, with
breakfast included. High season from £211 per night on same
basis. Transfers can be arranged from nearest airport, Lisbon
(40km), at additional cost. Visit www.martinhal.com/cascais,
tel +351 211 149 900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
LUXURY FAMILY SUITES, LISBON, PORTUGAL
Chiado Family Suites, which opened last year, is self-styled
‘the world’s first family-friendly elegant hotel’. Housed
in a characterful renovated building, right in the heart
of the old town, it’s open year round so you can take a city break in the cooler
months, if that works for your family. Or you can team your visit with a stay in
Cascais to make a seaside-and-city holiday.
It prides itself on being the only place in Lisbon to have a kids’
club: the ‘Pyjama Club’ is open until 11.30pm so parents can even sneak in a dinner-a-deux
in town! Babysitting services are also available – the aim is to make sure parents
do get some time and opportunity to experience the city as a twosome if they wish.
There are 37 individual apartments, including studios, one-bed
and two-bed apartments, all with contemporary decor and fully equipped kitchenette
including full size oven and dishwasher.
Each apartment is different, so accommodation is flexible and very much tailored
to families’ needs. So, whether you can’t live without a large bathroom, or you prefer
open plan living, or you like the kids to be in their own bedroom, or it suits you
to be all-in-
together with bunks, there’s a place just for you!
A thoughtful touch is that all apartments feature ‘curved’ furniture to keep kids
safe from bumps and bruises. Preparing breakfast before a big day out can be a bind,
so it’s nice to know that the
M-Bar is on site for delicious and nutritious breakfasts and light
lunches (at an additional cost).
The heart of Lisbon is literally on the doorstep and you’ll find
all the shopping, sightseeing and restaurants of your dreams!
Don’t miss the Timeout Market, just five minutes away, a historic
market transformed into a lavish food court. For kids, top spots
are the Zoo, Oceanarium – and a trip on a classic number 28 tram
which rattles its way through the narrow streets in grand style!
Low season from £171per night in a studio apartment (selfcatering). High season
from £256 per night on same basis. Breakfasts are available at the hotel, price £13
for adults and £6.50 for children. Transfers can be arranged from nearest airport,
Lisbon (10 km), at additional cost. Visit
www.martinhal.com/chiado, tel +351 210 029 600 or email
FAMILY FRIENDLY HOTEL, NEW FOREST
Deep in the New Forest National Park at Brockenhurst, New Park Manor hotel, part
of the Luxury Family Hotel collection, promises a truly relaxing bolthole for parents
– and for children, the time of their lives.
New Park dates from the time of William the Conqueror! Shunt forward 500 or so years
and you’ll find a hotel still fit for a king (not to mention a queen and little princes
and princesses), with beautifully appointed family suites; an award-winning spa with
heated outdoor pool, sauna, steam room and treatment rooms, plus a 16m indoor pool
with panoramic views and an outdoor hot tub; along with fine dining for all the
Breakfasts, snacks and children’s high teas are taken in the airy
conservatory, while parents are in for a treat in the magnificent
‘grown ups’ dining room, serving fine food with locally sourced
products. There’s an early evening family-dining slot, where kids
can enjoy their own menu or small portions from the full dining
menu. Chef will even produce a purée if you ask.
There’s a baby listening service, or babysitting by arrangement, and the hotel will
supply changing mat, nappy bin and travel cot. There’s even a baby kitchen with steam
steriliser, bottle warmer and fridge, with a bottle cleaning and sterilising service
For kids needing to let off steam, The Den is an Ofsted registered
supervised playroom for babies from 12 weeks to kids up to eight and one session
there is included in your hotel package. When the weather behaves, there’s plenty
to do outdoors in the grounds and beyond: arts, sports, crafts and team games, a
children’s playground and bike hire.
Further afield you’ll find Long Down Activity Farm, Peppa Pig
World, Alice’s World of Adventures and Marwell Wildlife Park,
Frankie’s Fun Factory or Splashdown Water Park – or simply chill
out in the forests or on the lovely beaches in this very special area.
Rooms start at £115 per night based on two adults sharing on
a B&B basis. Children up to the age of 16 stay can stay free of
charge in their parents’ room and pay for breakfast depending on their age. Visit
www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk or tel 0844 482 2152.
COUNTRY HOUSE HOTEL, NEAR SOLIHULL
Once the stately home of Sir Robert Peel, twice Prime
Minister of Great Britain, Hampton Manor is in the very pretty Midlands village of
Hampton in Arden. With only 15 bespoke bedrooms and staff who have been awarded the
first Michelin star for service, there’s little chance you’re going to feel anything
but spoiled during a stay in this delightful hotel.
As well as its beauty, comforts and delicious food (the in-house
restaurant, Peel’s, also holds a Michelin star), the stand-out feature of Hampton
Manor is how quickly you’ll forget you’re in a hotel and start feeling like you just
happen to live there! That’s because of its wonderfully relaxed vibe and the friendliness
of everyone who works there.
Children are welcome everywhere – and they have plenty of chance to let off steam
with 45 acres of well-tended estate to explore. Nearby, the pleasant town of Knowle
is home to a delicious bakery, independent shops and restaurants. A half hour
drive, or a short train ride, takes you into Birmingham with its
Top family outings include Cadbury World and the Ikon Art Gallery, which has regular
events and activities for young ones. Do take time to visit Brindleyplace, the regenerated
area around Birmingham’s historic canal-riddled centre, which is full of restaurants,
cafés and waterway boat rides.
At the end of your adventures, head back to Hampton Manor to enjoy a soak in the
deep bath or book yourself a spa treatment.
Highchairs and cots are available on request, and local nannies can be arranged if
you want a completely carefree grown-up evening or some time off.
Prices from £180 B&B per room per night based on two
sharing. One child sharing the parents’ bedroom stays