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Time was when Britain was a terrible place to travel with kids. But hotels, pubs, restaurants are much better at catering for children (and their harassed parents) these days, and there are some hotels that are not only in perfect kid-friendly locations but also put families and their enjoyment at the heart of everything they do. Here are some of our favourites…
Another Place, The Lake, Cumbria
Handsomely sited on the shores of Ullswater, this very stylish yet unstuffy hotel is properly family friendly. The indoor pool is a beauty, and there’s a sauna and outdoor hot tub, and a real focus on the outdoors, with kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding from the hotel’s own jetty. Or grown-ups can just drop the kids off at the very well-equipped kids space and eat in one of two excellent restaurants.
Budock Vean Hotel, Cornwall
Set on a splendid private estate of lawns and woodland above the lovely Helford River, this country house hotel spoils kids and their parents rotten, with a huge swimming pool and spa, sauna and hot tub and its own 9-hole golf course. They serve a children’s tea daily at 5.30pm, and if you don’t fancy staying in the hotel they have a range of very family-friendly self-catering lodges in the grounds.
Calcot Manor, Gloucestershire
We love a country house hotel, but the unusual thing about Calcot Manor is not only that it’s ultra-relaxed and very comfortable, with 35 beautiful guest bedrooms, but that it also positively encourages families, and has all sorts of things for kids to enjoy. There’s a ‘Playzone’ (for little ones), ‘The Mez’, with XBoxes, Playstations and other activities for older children, as well as an outdoor pool, bikes and horseriding to entice the kids outside.
The Castle Hotel, Shropshire
This boutique Shropshire hotel doesn’t quite have the bells and whistles of big family hotels, but it’s ultra-kid-friendly, with 8 guest rooms, 2 of which are family-sized. There are glorious views over the surrounding countryside, and the hotel makes for an inspiring bolt-hole for aspirant walkers and cyclists, and welcomes dogs too, so all the family can come.
Moonfleet Manor, Dorset
They describe themselves as a ‘luxury family hotel in Dorset’, which just about sums it up – certainly this hotel goes the extra mile for families, with everything you need for a fantastic break with kids: large grounds, comfortable family and interconnecting rooms, a games room and indoor pool, a free supervised crèche and a location right by Chesil Beach. It serves excellent food too, which children can either eat with their parents or at a separate late-afternoon high tea.
The Rosevine, Cornwall
This family-friendly Cornish country house by the sea combines the comforts of a luxury hotel with the freedom of having your own studio or apartment. Set in 2 acres of gardens above the sandy cove of Porthcurnick, it’s in a brilliant location for beach days, plus it has its own mini football pitch and and an upper lawn that’s perfect for lazing about in the sun. And when the weather is bad, there is an indoor heated pool, a grown-ups-only lounge and a well-equipped playroom.
Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon
A family-friendly clifftop hotel with one of the best coastal views in the UK – over the gorgeously long stretch of Saunton Sands and the fantasy dunes of Braunton Burrows. Parents will also be pleased that they can book the children into a beautifully equipped creche for up to two hours each day and treat themselves to a relaxing massage or beauty treatment. The hotel also has both an indoor and an outdoor pool, a sauna and gym, plus tennis, squash and croquet, and a fab bar and café down on the beach.
Soar Mill Cove Hotel, Devon
This South Hams seaside hotel has been owned by the same family for three generations but there’s nothing old-school about its rooms, which have good wifi, books and games, and even binoculars for enjoying the spectacular views You can almost hear the waves, but there are also lots of activities right on hand –a decent indoor heated saltwater swimming pool, a spa and gym, games room with snooker and table tennis and tennis and pitch-and putt. You’re also right on the Southwest Coast Path and it’s dog-friendly, so there’s no excuse not to bring the family pooch!
Watergate Bay Hotel, Cornwall
With an emphasis on luxury and comfort without pretension and a liking for the outdoor life, dogs and families, Watergate Bay is a perfect family escape, with a 25m indoor infinity pool overlooking the sea, a hot tub and loungers on the terrace and a spa, gym and Finnish sauna. There’s also an Ofsted registered kids zone and brilliant facilities for teens, and dogs are welcome in many of the rooms – and, crucially, on the beach itself.
The Waveney Inn, Norfolk
Hard to describe, this one. It’s a pub, with a collection of boutique-style rooms, all of which are very comfortable, up-to-date and well-equipped. And it’s also part of the excellent Waveney River Centre, a camping, glamping and self-catering site in an untouched corner of the Broads National Park. Rates include use of the large indoor pool and the foot ferry across the river; there’s a nature trail for kids, bikes, canoes and day boats for hire, and the footpaths through the marshes on the far side of the river are lovely.