Mr & Mrs Smith is all about romantic boutique hotels and dirty weekends away, right? Well, no actually. We’re just as proud of our family-friendly collection – proof that little ones needn’t stop (hotel) play. To inspire your travel en famille for 2010, here are 10 tot-friendly stays in the UK…
Fowey Hall, Cornwall
The stately building that inspired Toad Hall in Wind in the Willows is now a hotel with a list of child-friendly credentials longer than a sleepless night with a newborn. Children’s high tea, an Ofsted-approved crèche, a Beach Club for over-eights, and an outdoor play area are just some of its attractions.
Hotel Endsleigh, Devon
Imagine having friends who have both an incredibly smart country pile, and a laid-back approach to little ones. That’s pretty much the set-up at Hotel Endsleigh, a 16-room fishing lodge set in acres of woodland. Opt for a suite, with a separate sitting room, or the Gatekeeper’s Lodge, with a private garden. There’s table tennis and plenty of board games for rainy days.
Babington House, Somerset
Babington’s split-level Stable Block rooms are family winners – a good size, and well stocked with bunk rooms and children’s beds; parents with babies will appreciate the sterilisers, changing mats, baby baths and microwaves. Wear out mini-Smiths with tennis, swimming, woodland walks, and family films in Babington’s cinema.
Woolley Grange, Wiltshire
This 26-room country house brims with facilities for little ones: a crèche, indoor and outdoor play areas, a pool, giant trampoline, and bikes to borrow should keep even the liveliest of children amused. Most rooms, save standard doubles, are spacious enough for extra beds, and children stay for free – you only pay for their meals.
The Elms, Worcestershire
A traditional manor in the Malverns, the Elms takes an 18th-century country seat and furnishes it with thoroughly modern children’s facilities, without compromising on style. There’s high tea every day, a crèche, an indoor pool, an outdoor play area, a trampoline and table games, keeping kids entertained noon and night.
Llety Bodfor, Cardigan Bay
This boutique B&B, aka an eight-room townhouse in Aberdovey, welcomes mini-Smiths. Book the self-catering apartment, or ask for rooms that join to form a family suite. Sandy Aberdyfi Beach offers entertainment on the doorstep – on rainy days, there are games, toys, kids’ DVDs and books to borrow.
The Chester Residence, Edinburgh
Three Georgian townhouses in New Town have been converted to create capacious apartment-style suites, with home-from-home kitchens, generously portioned seating areas, and plenty of space for extra beds. Enjoy the flexibility of being able to cook for yourself, or dial the concierge for takeaway, as the mood takes you.
Calcot Manor, Cotswolds
The child-friendly innovations at this converted farmhouse near Tetbury have made it a long-standing Smith favourite. Family-designed bedrooms, an all-day crèche, an over-eights’ entertainment area, and a kids’ tea every day – the list goes on. Its indoor facilities are only matched by the cycle trails, and hot tub and pool in the grounds.
An arty and eccentrically decorated Queen Anne Palladian villa seems an unlikely place to cart the kids along to, yet this Swaffham boutique hotel makes family stays a pleasure. A children’s menu, dedicated teatime sitting, baby listening, and wealth of accessories make it a particularly astute choice if you have younger children.
This boutique hotel’s place in our top 10 is hard to fathom at first glance. But don’t be fooled by its National-Trust-property exterior, or duke-worthy parkland. Inside Ickworth, there’s an excellent supervised playroom and crèche. Outdoors, adventure playgrounds, bikes and nature trails will delight energetic Smith juniors.