Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents


Browns’ Hotel in Mayfair was, back in my Conde Nast days, a regular post-work pitstop for a cocktail and catch up with girlfriends after a day at work. On more than one occasion, that one cocktail turned into five (or seven!?) and a bleary cab ride home. So it was odd and delightful, all at once, to be checking in (sober) to that same West London beauty with my husband and two girls in tow last weekend.

Discreet but extremely luxurious, Brown’s Hotel has been a home-from-home for many a big name over the years. Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book while staying there (my daughter was particularly taken by that fact) while Winston Churchlll, so legend goes, once said: “I don’t stay at hotels. I stay at Brown’s.” Lola wasn’t quite so blown away by that historical reference.

Brown's Hotel exterior

And so it was on a dark and cold London day we arrived at the warmth and cosy elegance of Browns’ for a night. And I really can’t recommend it highly enough, especially if you’re hitting the capital with your kids. At check-in, our handsome and extremely eloquent concierge George greeted all of us, including the kids (something parents know doesn’t happen often). Lola was given her own Brown’s “passport” to document her stay and, upon arriving in our beautiful Dover Suite, cookies adorned with the girls names were ready and waiting, as was a teddy called Albie, story books and DVDs. Lola, particularly, was made to feel very welcome (as were we thanks to our spoiling confines and the lovely bottle of white waiting on ice, which was particularly appreciated after the traffic jam we endured en route through Knightsbridge). The hotel’s new Families R Forte programme aims to make young guests feel just as welcome as their parents, though I’ve always found the family-friendly offerings of this particular hotel to be of the highest standard. We are Londoners ourselves but the hotel offers a fantastic Kids’ City Guide which, were we new to the place, would have proven very useful. Lola received her own check-in card and comments card so felt very much a part of things.

Children at Brown's Hotel

The Dover suite (which we stayed in) is just one such room that offers huge space for the entire family but also has the option of interconnecting with a neighbouring room if you want even more. Though we were sitting in the midst of Mayfair I was particularly taken by the immense sense of calm and quiet that resulted, I assume, thanks to some seriously good double glazing. Despite being a few floors above Dover Street we could have been in the middle of nowhere. It was that quiet and, given that we had a four month old with us, it was one of the first things I noticed.

Brown's Dover Suite

The suite itself was divine. The attention to detail given to families was unrivalled. Firstly, we were met in the bathroom by a baby bath for Maya and a bevy of Child’s Farm and Burts Bee’s goodies for the girls. The hotel had gone as far as to source the right size of nappy for a baby of Maya’s age and, at the end of our bed, was a beautifully-made (all pink) cot for her to rest in; adjacent to that was a floor mat with toys perfect for her age. Lola had a fabulous bed of her own made up in our ridiculously large and very luxurious living room (complete with personalised television, sweeping writing desk and sofas more comfortable than those I enjoy in my own home). She had her own robe and slippers; Maya had her own hooded towelling poncho. Had we stayed for longer and required babysitting services that would have been no problem and, should you request one, the hotels provides a Kids In-Room Bar complete with healthy snacks and drinks.

Brown's Hotel Dover Suite bedroom

Hix Restaurant downstairs was our dining spot for the night and, as a big fan of Mark Hix, I was particularly excited about our reservation. Being a Saturday night I was well aware, even though we ate early, that we were surrounded by couples on dates. Maya slept the entire way through dinner and Lola was immaculately behaved but I could sense the presence of a buggy raised eyebrows as we walked in. The staff, however, were so welcoming. Lola got a children’s menu that was lengthier and offered up healthier offerings than many I’ve encountered for children. She dined on mini Mark Hix steak burgers, while we shared a Porterhouse steak and a beautiful bottle of Chablis.

And the trip couldn’t have ended on a higher note because Lola spent Sunday morning in the stunning Brown’s hotel spa. In the basement of the building, it is an inner sanctum of calm and tranquility. Again, peaceful and beautifully designed, one feels more zen for just for stepping out of the spa lift and it’s as lovely for children as it is their parents. Lola lay on a warmed treatment bed while the lovely Pru gave her a mini “twinkle toes” pedicure over milk and cookies. (Manicures, facials and massages are also available for children and, though I didn’t hit the spa myself, I’ll definitely be back).

Teenagers are no less loved and, if you’re staying with children aged 13-16, they can enjoy everything from cocktail-making courses to their own specially designed spa treatments (and, yes, there are games consoles for the bedrooms, too). The concierge will also design itineraries across the city should you need them.

Brown's Hotel spa

Lola floated back up to our suite, her sparkling purple toe nails out for all to see, and we had a fabulous breakfast in our room before (very reluctantly) checking out. What makes Brown’s such a fantastic choice for families is how easy they make everything. Lola was considered every single step of the way, as was her baby sister. I needed her nightdress thrown in a dryer at one point – that wasn’t a problem at all. Warm milk was brought to our room before she went to sleep and our car was taken by the valet on arrival so all we had to do was grab our bags and head inside. Because they provide so much for the children, we could pack light and, had I needed bottle warmers or sterilisers, they would have provided those, too. Discreet as Brown’s is, the levels of luxury, thought and service really are second to none. It’s long been a favourite of mine in London and, while that was once thanks to my love of the Donovan Bar, it’s now the experience I’ve had there as a parent.

With Families R Forte, children are divided into age groups. ‘RBabies’ is designed for children from newborn to three-years old, ‘RKids’ is designed for children aged four to 12 and ‘RTeens’ for teenagers aged 13 to 16, with entertainment and gifts throughout their stay. For more information click here.


Crete’s Daios Cove has long reigned as a family-favourite. And it’s a favourite for many others, in fact, thanks to its insanely well-curated kids’ programs, highly technical details that make this perfect with even the tiniest of babies for a holiday and, of course, its Greek location. And this upcoming season is no exception.

Daios Cove main pool

Budding young chefs, artists and marine biologists will have the chance to put their talents to good use, because Daios Cove have teamed up in conjunction with the renowned Worldwide Kids to create some new and fun, yet educational, Greek-inspired activities for children.

New Summer Programs

The first new activity theme – Mythical Greece – is a nod to the obvious rich history of Crete such as its stunning ancient temples, while the second new theme – Under the Sea – draws inspiration from the luxurious hotel’s turquoise-hued sea views, (which really are as gorgeous as the images suggest).

Daios Cove swimming pool

Mythical Greece

Younger guests aged between 4 and 12 can get as messy as they like with the arty, creative Greek Mosaic classes on offer or get a bit more physical with the organised Hellenic Olympics. If they love time in the kitchen, the Meze Chefs classes will appeal; children will learn about healthy eating while creating delicious Greek dishes using ingredients that make the most of the island’s rich natural produce, including olives, tomatoes and Greek cheese.

Under the Sea

If your children are under four and decide to opt for Under the Sea, you can relax knowing they are in excellent hands. (This is aimed at younger children). The Seaside Atlas Activity is a chance for intrepid young guests to make their own secret treasure map with brightly coloured paints, string and other craft materials. They will then be taken on a beach safari where they will follow the trails plotted on their new friends’ maps and head off in search of glittering treasure.

Daios Cove diving school

Or, if the heat is getting a bit much and they prefer an afternoon of relaxation, they will adore the underwater tales in which the Worldwide Kids’ expert childcare team will recount famous and lesser-known underwater stories and sing fishy-themed nursery rhymes.

Travelling with bigger kids? Fear not. Children over four-years-old, meanwhile, can learn to use “aqua scopes” that they will have made in the kids’ club to explore the shallow, crystal-clear water of Daios Cove’s private beach.

And for you?

Well, if you don’t know Daios Cove personally, it’s a fabulous choice with over 300 rooms, suites and villas set against a rugged mountain backdrop with views over a sheltered, private bay. This modern resort excels in keeping little guests happy without compromising on style or attentive service for the grown-ups. In-room desirables such as wi-fi, air-con and satellite television are standard, and the decor is a gorgeous blend of glass, natural stone and handcrafted furnishings. The two and three bedroom villas, each with their own pool, are perfectly sized for the family. Features such as safety fences around the pool and temperature-controlled water make them ideal choices for a stay with babies and small children.

Daios Cove bedroom

And this year, Daios Cove is launching new 84m2 Premium Sea View Suites, which will sleep up to two adults, two children and one infant so they are ideal for families. Perched on ancient hilltops with sweeping views of the cove, the suites also house spacious verandas, obvious hotspots for outdoor dining.

If you’re travelling with young babies, Daios Cove will equip the rooms with all the necessary gear so you can travel light, including baby baths and changers, high chairs, strollers, bottle warmers and sterilisers, toilet seats and baby potties.

Daios Cove Gran Melia

Or, if your children are old enough to get stuck into the fabulous array of 2016 summer programs, the hotel’s highlights for adults include weekly yoga and pilates classes and a watersports instructor, on-hand, should you fancy learning to waterski, dive or wakeboard down on the private beach. Babysitters are bookable so get one and reserve a table at Migames restaurant in nearby, very cosmopolitan Agios Nikolaos. With an outstanding view over the bottomless lake, it’s arguably the best restaurant in town. If you don’t feel like moving from Daios, there are excellent on-site dining options too, boasting gorgeous, local Cretan cuisine.
Daios Cove outdoor dining
To book this hotel click here.
Or, for more family-friendly holiday ideas in Crete, click here.

If your children are of a certain age, you may feel a break away over the May half term break is out the question, thanks to the hours they’re expected to revise for upcoming exams. Surely studying by the pool or expecting any reading to be done beachside is out the question? Well, maybe not.

The Peligoni Club Assimi villa

Thanks to its new partnership with innovative mentoring and private tuition company Oppidan Education, The Peligoni Club’s stunning Greek surroundings will serve as a classroom so you can enjoy some much-needed sun and a family holiday totally guilt-free.  Oppidan’s team of mentors will provide fun group seminars and one-to-one tutoring sessions to students preparing for common entrance and summer exams, so you can read by the pool knowing your children are, in fact, studying. They’ll, in turn, thank you for their new found friends and a break from the confines of their bedroom.

The Peligoni Club living room

The Peligoni Club itself is on the Greek island of Zakynthos, where it has established itself as a leading lifestyle club. It’s a small, family-owned place and the accommodation is villa-based rather than defined by hotel rooms, but that only makes it more inviting for family holidays somehow. With everything from a kids’ club to a creche, endless water sports activities to a spa, gym and on-site restaurants, there’s also plenty of reason to book in when not on studying, too.

The Peligoni Club Figari decking

So, how does all this work exactly? Well, though their ‘invisible learning’ approach, Oppidan will swap desks for sun loungers, hone trigonometry formulas around the tennis court, refine ebb and flow understanding on the beach and challenge students to scrabble by the pool. And this does, before you scoff, yield impress results. Oppidan boast an impressive 95% success rate at placing children in their first choice of school, so even the most panicked of parents will be able to relax and take a break themselves.

The Peligoni Club Assmi pool

And once the studying is done, what better way to celebrate than with London’s infamous, pint-sized party goers, Sharky and George, who will also be taking up residence at The Peligoni Club for the first time this summer. Guests aged 4 – 14 will be able to enjoy activities including treasure hunts upon the club’s Odyssey boat, building a lookout tower, Sharky & George’s own version of Battleships with boats, raft making and water sports which, for those who have been studying with Oppidan, will be particularly appreciated.

The Peligoni Club Figari villa


And where will you be? Relaxing in the sunshine, congratulation yourself on having achieved the ultimate in multi-tasking – holidaying and studying all in one hit.

Ok, so a romantic family break with kids in tow doesn’t smack of fun, but if you’re after a last minute break away with the children (and it doesn’t have to be over Valentine’s weekend) that also nourishes an itching for a bit of romance, consider our top picks for luxurious, family-friendly hotels in the most romantic of spots.

Le Bristol, Paris

One of the most famous luxury hotels in Paris, you may recognise its lavish interiors from Woody Allen’s Midnight in ParisBut here, even the youngest guests get the star treatment with an array of family-friendly goodies available. In the gorgeous 8th arrondissement, you can treat yourself with a visit to the onsite Spa Le Bristol, which comes complete with a beautiful heated indoor pool and has an adjacent kid’s club. The hotel has no less than two Michelin-starred restaurants (Epicure is triple Michelin-starred). Kids will adore Hippolyte, the hotel’s rabbit mascot, who’s likeness can be found on everything from souvenir stuffed animals to the Porthault baby bed linen, while ‘Les Amis d’Hippolyte’ is a space filled for children with a variety of books and activities.

Le Bristol gardenLe Bristol poolLe Bristol terrace

To book this hotel, click here.

For other family-friendly hotels in Paris, click here.

Claridge’s Hotel, London

Jaw-dropping from the second you walk through the front entrance, the level of service at Claridge’s Hotel is utterly exceptional, the accommodation spoilingly luxurious and the family-friendly facilities top notch. Just a stone’s throw from world-class museums, sweeping parks, endless shopping possibilities and bountiful art galleries found only in capital cities like London, this is a fantastic option if you are travelling as a family. The sumptuous decor and Michelin-starred dining facilities may not smack as family-frendly but, take it from us, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and your little ones (unless really tiny), will never forget staying in a hotel of this calibre. All the rooms are as large and luxurious as one can reasonably expect to find in the middle of London and, whether you opt for a room or a suite, you’ll have plenty of space to breath. Luxury family picnics can be made to order and enjoyed in any of the nearby parks, theatre tickets can be arranged, and family-friendly restaurants suggested and booked for you, all thanks to the impeccable concierge service at Claridge’s Hotel. The Petit afternoon tea for young guests is as beautifully ornate as the infamous adult afternoon teas of this capital city grande dame of a hotel and, being such a beautiful place to check in, you’ll be hard pushed to exit its front doors again until check out.

Claridges London girl with cakesClaridges London bedroomClaridges London Drawing room

To book this hotel, click here. 

For other family-friendly hotels in the UK, click here. 

The Ritz Carlton, Berlin

The Ritz Carlton Berlin overlooks Berlin’s equivalent to Central Park, Tiergarten, and has really made its mark on Berlin since it opened in 2004. Today, it’s deemed worthy even of a President, with Barack Obama and his family staying there during their visit in June 2013. On one side of the hotel sits the park; on the other side is the busy Potsdamer Platz, where you’ll find fantastic restaurants, shops and even a large Legoland. Utterly spoiling, the Ritz Carlton pays very close attention to big and small guests, alike. Children receive special treatment at the Ritz Carlton from the moment you check-in at reception. They are welcomed with their very own child-size bathrobes and slippers, and invited to bake their own waffles or join a treasure hunt around the building. You’ll find a cosy play area and high chairs at the restaurant, Brasserie Debrosses and, as there are no special pool times for children, they are welcome at anytime. Babysitting, prams, bottle warmers and extra cots are all available for guests on request.

Ritz Carlton Berlin indoor poolRitz Carlton Berlin entranceRitz Carlton Berlin suite

To book this hotel, click here. 

For other family-friendly hotels in the UK, click here.

We spend a lot of time hauling little ones around with us, determined not to make leisure pursuits 100% ‘kid-friendly’ and lose all pre-kid identity. But, sometimes, the most relaxing thing to do is to just give over and head somewhere that caters for your family’s every need. Cue New Park Manor in the New Forest.
New Park Manor exterior
The phrases ‘family friendly’ and ‘luxury hotel’ aren’t instantly harmonious in my mind. It’s hard to appreciate the finer things in life when your (or, worst still, someone else’s) toddler is having a melt down or singing Frozen songs at maximum volume. However, once my mindset about luxury hotels (serene, chic, boozy, romantic) had readjusted, (welcoming, enthusiastic, helpful, homely) I realised that New Park Manor offered something pretty special – time away as a family, where everyone gets a proper break.
New Park Manor spa
On a recent road trip to the West Country we stopped off at New Park Manor in the New Forest – the closest property to London, nestled in the heart of one of the UK’s most family-friendly national parks. Just two hours from our front door, we drove up to an unassuming 17th century manor house surrounded by polo fields with pretty gardens and a hefty but complimentary modern extension. After a whirlwind tour we realised killing time at New Park Manor wouldn’t be a problem – several dining rooms, a snug, playroom, cinema room, creche, spa, outdoor pool, indoor pool, chicken coup, mini football pitch, trampoline and tipi were all at our fingertips.
New Park Manor pool
Our family suite was tucked away in the attic of the old house, where two cosy bedrooms and a huge bathroom were well kitted out for a weekend away. Travel cots, a baby monitor, creche details and even milk delivery and a cleaning schedule were all in place – reducing faff considerably. More time for lunch and exploring the hotel…
With so many kids on site, lunch at New Park Manor was a little more lively than anticipated. Tables were set up for kids as much as they were for adults with high chairs, plastic cutlery and huge plates of spaghetti bolognese in view at every turn. It wasn’t until the evening that I realised that dining at New Park Manor is a tale of two halves. At lunch and tea kids rule the show (between 4.30 and 6pm the hotel lay on a very convenient kids tea); after 7pm it’s all about the grown ups – seriously fine food, wine and candlelight with not a beaker in sight.
New Park Manor kids
The activities on offer at New Park Manor far outstripped our 24 hour visit, although our toddler did his best to tick them off – football, horses, tipi, chickens, trampoline, making ice cream sundaes, cartoons, painting and swimming; (that’s about a month’s worth of activities in the space of four hours). During this time, my husband and I managed to sneak away from the creche for full body massages and a wallow in the outdoor Jacuzzi – a magical spot overlooking the fog-filled forest.
If you can drag yourself away from the hotel (2 hours a day of complimentary creche time make it hard to do so), the New Forest is a haven of family-friendly fun. Gentle cycling paths and walking routes weave across wild heathlands filled with roaming deer and horses. Activities on the doorstep of the hotel also provide year-round entertainment, including numerous wildlife parks and the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. For simple pleasures, Brockenhurst is home to wonderfully old-fashioned tea rooms and sweet shops. For seaside fun head to the pretty harbour town of Lymington for fish and chips and boutique shops and to the huge beach at Milford on Sea for big waves and Solent views.
To book this hotel click here.
For other UK family-friendly hotels click here.