Go on, spoil yourself

 

 

Go on, spoil yourself!

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 times.

 

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.

 

Essential info

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.

 

Essential info

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.

 

Essential info

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!

 

Essential info

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 info@martinhal.com

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!

 

Essential info

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

info@martinhal.com

 

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 family.

 

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 also available.

 

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.

 

Essential info

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

many attractions.

 

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.

 

Essential info

Prices from £180 B&B per room per night based on two

sharing. One child sharing the parents’ bedroom stays

complimentary, plus breakfast (£15).

Visit hamptonmanor.com or tel 01675 446 080.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July/August 2017

All information is correct at time of publishing

Lifestyle