Parents, here’s our foolproof guide to family holidays for every age group, whether you’re toting a newborn, trying to keep junior entertained or travelling with tweens and teens. These child-friendly hotels and school-holiday heroes are for the whole family, where ages, fun factors and the length of parental tethers have been taken firmly into consideration.
FOR BABIES: DOTING NESTS FOR NEWBORNS
Antonia’s Pearls, Cornwall
As if family holidays in Cornwall weren’t charming enough, Antonia’s Pearls have upped their winsome factor with a petite village’s-worth of cottages, cabins and studios, for seafaring family breaks by Charleston’s shipshape harbour. Each is dressed in white (hello, coastal light), has its own character (vintage, artsy, romantic) and is well kitted out with pre-school gear, from food whizzers to rubber ducks.
Ekies All Senses Resort, Halkidiki
Headier than a shot of ouzo, this Greek chill-out retreat has pattern-zhuzhed rooms with quirky murals and a breezy, beachy feel. Book the Family Suite with a private pool for gentle afternoons of paddling and swaying in a hammock with your wee one. Or find a shaded sandy spot at the talc-soft private beach, which has plentiful sunloungers and shallow waters for little waders.
Avalon Palm Springs, California
Designer Kelly Wearstler dressed this desert hideaway in black and white with flashes of sunshine yellow – a low-key look to highlight the dramatic San Jacinto mountain backdrop. It’s on a health kick with perfectly paired protein and veggies to dine on and Pilates classes. But it’s caring for babies, too, with shady cabanas to retire to around the shallow kids’ pool and trusted sitters.
FOR TODDLERS: GETAWAYS FOR FLEDGLING FLÂNEURS
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand
Experience all the fun of this, frankly vast, 6,000-acre working sheep and cattle farm. Under-fives can stay for free in their parents’ room (if using existing bedding) – and there’s a special children’s menu, bags of baby kit and utterly unique experiences, too: walks to see kiwis, ATV drives to see gannet hatchlings, shepherding and peaceful picnics to keep all tots engaged.
God bless the hotel pool for kids: alongside Almyra’s cool, clean, modern sensibility, it has space for all to swim, including a shallow spot for armband-toting tots. Childcare at this Cypriot stay runs from four months to 11 years, and its fee includes nappies, freshly made meals or purées and snacks. All tailored to tots’ needs, the capable nannies will even match your home-nap routine, too.
Chewton Glen, Hampshire
This classic English stately home has all the airs and graces: a long winding approach through the grounds, ever-so-charming staff, a croquet green… But, it’s not too lah-di-dah for kids, who can enjoy painting, puzzles, story-time, toys, games, spy New Forest ponies (and go for rides), check in at the Bug Hotel and toddle down to the peaceful beach nearby. For a windfall of Brownie points, book one of the tiny-mind-blowing Treehouse Suites.
FOR JUNIORS: FUN FIXERS FOR CURIOUS MINDS
Bovey Castle, Devon
Hear ye, hear ye – your little lords’ and ladies’ presence is requested at this Dartmoor-set manse. But, pack their rough-and-tumble gear because this isn’t a stay for Fauntleroys. The Bovey rangers get kids out into the grounds and National Park’s wilds for campfire and shelter building, archery, apple-pressing, air-rifle practice, off-roading and a spot of falconry. On the more genteel side are rounds of crolf (croquet meets golf), bike rides and brass-rubbings.
North Island, Seychelles
An heir-to-the-throne honeymoon was hosted on this paradise isle, but with just 11 outrageously luxurious villas to stay in, there’s room for kids and couples to co-exist. Under-16s stay for free, and a personalised Beach Buddy programme gives parents a break as juniors make pizza, go on pirate treasure hunts, snorkel with expert guides, play beach volleyball, learn about local ecology and get pampered in the spa.
Marbella Club, Spain
This glamorous historic hotel has welcomed Golden Age A-listers and royalty, but it extends its impeccable hospitality to little ones, too. Its beautiful kids’ club has its own perfumery, kitchen, garden, crafts corner, music room, a small pool and more, where fun and learning play on the same turf. The beach club is sociable for parents and progeny, and mums and dads have a champagne bar to prop up, as the kids are entertained.
FOR TEENS: HOTELS FOR THE HARD TO PLEASE
Lime Wood, Hampshire
Yet another esteemed Brit country estate with serious gourmet clout (the restaurant by top chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder is a true destination diner), Lime Wood also packs a superlative spa. As parents are being coddled in Bamford balms, older kids can run carefree, bombing over the grounds on a bike or scooter. If it’s quality time you want, gather in the teaching kitchen for a top-chef-led family cooking class.
Borgo Egnazia, Puglia
As the site of Justin Timberlake’s nuptials, this bellissima Italian stay will impress former teens, but there’s plenty to make today’s youngsters look up from their phones. The family-sized pool villas will be a hit with all, the (two) beach clubs are glamorous yet laidback for sophomore socialites and the tech-y games room will hit all the right buttons. And, it’s another hotel with a very special spa, where treatments borrow from traditional Puglian practice.
Explora Patagonia, Chile
Give your teens some social-media fodder and a summer holiday full of stories in the Chilean wilds. This dramatic lakeside retreat is in the middle of nowhere, but that’s sort of the point because there are more than 40 activities offered in these wide-open spaces. Enjoy catamaran rides, horseback treks, puma safaris, glacier hikes and more. Plus, they can rouse their inner huaso (Chilean cowboy) by learning how to rope a steer…
FOR BIG KIDS: MULTI-GENERATIONAL CROWD PLEASERS
Gorah Elephant Camp, South Africa
Come say hi to these loveable Heffalumps who lumber into this high-end camp on a fairly frequent basis. If you want a bit more biodiversity, well, there’s plenty to be had – kids at heart (and actual older kids) will thrill at the chance to tick off the Big Five on game drives. And there’s the option to up the ante, with mountain-bike rides, horse treks and even a spot of sand-boarding.
The Malabar, Yorkshire
This stay redirects the Spice Route through Yorkshire. Here, the rooms’ serene o’er-hill-and-dale style is pepped up with prints and lively hues. There are national parks, fells and lush lakesides to wander with cream-tea pit stops along the way. This is a true family home from home: owner Graham slaves away over breakfast each morning to bring you wild-boar bacon, venison- and hedgerow-jelly sausages and other treats, and there’s even a trampoline in the garden, too.
Les Roches Rouges, France
The retro Fifties beach chic is so strong at this French seaside stay, you half expect sunbathers to start go-go-ing. But non, this is a stay that accentuates the titular red rocks surrounding it and made a feature of its bedrock, by carving a swimming pool into the coast. When not swimming (or go-go-ing) adventurous teens can snorkel, kite-surf, go pedal-boating and play pétanque.
FAMILY ALL STARS: HOTELS THAT TRULY HAVE IT ALL
One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives
The Maldives isn’t remixed at One&Only Reethi Rah: powder-soft beaches, swaying palms, lavish shoreside and outlying villas are all present and correct. We’re sure you can handle it. But it does have a particularly appealing ‘let its hair down’ side too, with tennis courts, a National Geographic-approved dive centre and the Maldives’ first climbing wall. Kids’ clubs for a wide span of ages keep ankle-biters busy, plus there’s a pool with a slide and eight eateries around the island, so even the pickiest eaters will be appeased.
Beaverbrook, Surrey Hills
This lordly manor ticks all our clan-cosseting boxes. Not content with being a wedding cake of a home, who’s hosted Elizabeth Taylor, Rudyard Kipling and Ian Fleming, it’s roped in entertainers Sharky and George to lead tot-to-teen distractions in its kids’ club. Den building, laser-tag, night safaris and film screenings are up for grabs, plus the glorious grounds are safe to roam and, for grown-ups, there’s fun in the spa, cookery school and bar.
Daios Cove Luxury Resort, Crete
Enjoy a classic sea-and-sand combo at this Greek retreat, plus roomy clifftop luxury villas with views that deserve an intake of breath. Four is the magic number here, with a quartet of both swimming pools and restaurants, plus a spa and private beach to feather Daios Cove’s cap. For kids, there’s fun from crèche to kids’ club and beyond, with childcare from four months all the way to 12 years.
For more crowd-pleasing pads, take a peek at our luxury family hotels and villas.