I’ve just sat through a Saturday evening anniversary dinner with my husband at a renowned hotel in Cornwall and suffered the interruption of a child of around 9-years-old constantly toing and froing to his parents at the table next to us.
We were sat in the main restaurant and he kept coming in from the dedicated ‘kids zone’ next door. Then, when he did sit with his parents, he was on a tablet computer while his parents were on their phones.
I’m not against children being in hotels and restaurants. I have a 3-year-old and two older step-children. It’s just that when I get away with my husband on our own (which we try to do 3-4 times a year) we want some peace and quiet. Granted, we were staying at the ‘family-friendly’ hotel during the Easter holidays so should have expected the high volume of children but it got me thinking about how times have changed.
People are coming away to these places where they welcome children and it’s to the detriment of people who don’t have children or who don’t have children with them. So, in the past, people with children would have felt that they were the odd ones out, but now the boot is on the other foot: we’re the ones walking round feeling like people are thinking, ‘where are your children?’
In fact, it’s not just happening in hotels – pubs and other visitor attractions are becoming more ‘family-friendly’ with a multitude of things to do for the kids. How on earth did we survive childhood without the ‘treasure hunt’ around the castle we were visiting or the interactive exhibit at the museum? We got bored and we made a lot of our own fun. We are breeding a generation of children who are never in a position where they have to use their imaginations to make their own entertainment as it’s all on a plate for them.
When we were kids, we never went to a hotel. My memories of Cornwall are staying in a caravan or tent surrounded by other families. In pubs, we sat in the garden and had a coke and a packet of crisps. What has happened? Did our generation (Generation X) grow up feeling so neglected that we have now swung too far the other way and indulged the next generation?
Back to our ‘family-friendly’ hotel. As my husband and I sat in the relaxed bar/lounge, (drinking our G&T from glasses that looked like goldfish bowls) we noticed that the atmosphere resembled a (posh) ferry or airport lounge with everyone sprawled on sofas and chairs on their individual screens, ignoring their families around them.
I guess, if we had been with our kids, it would have felt like we fitted in but I don’t think we would spend that much on a hotel if we came with our family. We left Ed at his Grandma’s house making a den and playing with sticks in the garden.
I get it: there is a market for this and hotels are making it all about the children now as parents are happy if their children are happy – my husband said it’s like a, ‘home from home but a bit more luxurious.’ But I don’t think it’s for us.
Maybe we need to stick to B&Bs in the future which are much quieter and, in our opinion, offer better value for money. There are also usually no children around!