Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Monthly Archives: April 2014

The idea of heading to Africa and embarking on a safari with children may not appeal, but the new luxurious adventures being organised by Luxury experiential travel company, andBeyond, offer families exciting, safe and extremely well-curated safaris across Africa. With its new WILDchild programme and, in particular, a new bush and beach itinerary ‘Black Spots and Beach Balls’, a luxury safari holiday that keeps kids well and truly in mind is now an absolute reality. 

andbeyond safari holidays with children

After landing in South Africa, you’ll enjoy a four-night safari at the family-friendly andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge, which is nestled in the renowned Phinda Game Reserve. Boasting the Big Five, over 400 species of bird and even the elusive Cheetah, this is a wonderful way to introduce little ones to the spectacular delights of a safari in a world-renound area of the world. And while you may be in the middle of the African wilderness, this is as luxurious and family-friendly as it gets, thanks to the spacious and comfortable family suites and expertly trained staff. From here you’ll head on to a four-night beach break on the Umhlanga coastline.

andbeyond safari holidays big game

And if your children are too young for a full-on game drive, or you fancy a morning to yourself on a drive of your own, a nature walk or a river cruise, kids are kept captivated and very well entertained with a variety of age-appropriate adventures. From fishing trips and scavenger hunts to shorter (and absolutely safe) game-drives, this is the ideal way to introduce your little ones to the great outdoors. Once at the Umhlanga coast for the second part of your African adventure, you’ll stay at the charming and colonial Oyster Box Hotel for four nights of beachside activity, or relaxation, depending on what you’re after. This scenic stretch of coastline is on KwaZulu-Natal’s spectacular Golden Mile, just 20 kilometres from the bustling port city of Durban. With gentle and balmy ocean waters, this will give you your fix of sun bathing and water sports.  There is a very well organised Kids’ Holiday Club at The Oyster Box, which offers the requisite board games and a playstation, but also boasts face painting, and special events around the holidays such as carol singing at Christmas and Easter egg hunts in the springtime. As well as caring for your children by day, there are professional child-minding services if you want an evening out to yourselves.

andbeyond safari holidays luxury accommodation

And for that extra personal touch, children aged six and up will be made very welcome with andBeyond’s bush-focused WILDchild programme. Available in all of the company’s African lodges, each young guest receives a backpack on arrival filled with goodies designed to prove useful during their African safari adventure, from a special scrapbook to record each day’s sightings, a solar torch, a magnifying glass and a compass. You may think safari holidays are out the question, but there really is no better time to introduce young children to the delights of Big Game without sacrificing your own personal sense of adventure, relaxation and luxury.

andbeyond safari holidays children on jeep
andBeyond’s 8 night “Black Spots and Beach Balls itinerary” starts from £1953 per adult sharing, with children under six staying free.
This itinerary includes one complimentary night at The Oyster Box Hotel and free flights between Johannesburg and andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve. Children under six stay free at all andBeyond lodges. Those between six and sixteen pay half price. For more information visit

When The Pig opened in the idyll of Hampshire’s Brockenhurst, it did so with a bang. Ever since, folk in-the-know have covered many miles to check in to the gorgeous and very family-friendly hotel in the New Forest for a long weekend of gorgeous food (we’re talking garden to table in the most literal sense), rooms decorated to shabby chic perfection, and a sense of utter relaxation and informal luxury. Since then, the clever people behind The Pig have opened a small sister hotel in Southampton and, just last month, the Pig near Bath opened its heavy doors to a roar of applause. I recently went for an overnight visit with Lola and, having also been to the original in Hampshire, can safely say this is no less fabulous.


The Pig Near Bath bedroom

Shabby Chic Country Style.

In a land where country house hotels can equate to dreadful carpets, dark hallways and squeaky old beds (not to mention Walls’ bangers for breakfast), the up-to-date and effortlessly cool way in which The Pig has redefined the classic English country house hotel is a breath of fresh air. The rooms are hand-curated with a wonderful mix of silky smooth wooden floors, beds that hug you and sweeping bathrooms (our room had a roll top bath at the foot of the bed which delighted Lola and I, no end). The soft furnishings are a sensational array of soft tweeds, velvets, silks, corduroys and linens, all thrown together in effortless perfection.

The Pig Near Bath dining room

Garden-to-table dining.

The aim at The Pig is that at least 90% of what you eat is from the grounds of the hotel itself and, at the very least, from a local supplier. The dining area of The Pig near Bath is a sort of outdoor-indoor eating experience, because the recent renovations included adding a conservatory to the back doors of the house. Having filed it with terracotta pots bulging with delights such as lemongrass and rosemary, lots of inviting wooden tables and a home-from-home sense of space, the views across the Somerset fields are gorgeous and one finds it easy to forget the area recently suffered devastation from near Biblical weather. Children can enjoy a very well-curated “Menu for Piglets” (think home-smoked ham, homemade ice cream and apple jelly) or they can order a half size portion of anything on the adult menu. The menu for grown-ups is a beautifully designed array of delectable dishes that read so beautifully it’s nearly impossible to choose, and all ingredients come from within a maximum local radius of 25 miles. Under the “Literally Picked This Morning” section of the menu you’ll find kale, quail eggs and home cured pancetta. There are delicious small plates of slow cooked pig cheek, beetroot and garden walnut soup, or home soused sardine fillet, to name but a few. The wine list is seemingly endless and I slowly sipped on a beautiful Domaine De Muret Syrah from Languedoc while Lola gulped down the locally pressed apple juice with equal enjoyment.

The Pig Hotel Bath bedroom

The Pig with kids.

Lola hasn’t stopped talking about The Pig since we left. Not only are the staff incredibly inviting no matter what your age, but the general sense of relaxation and informality made it a delight with a nearly three year old. Though she was the only toddler dining that night, no one cared and I sensed that the other guests expected children to be there, rather than simply tolerating them. She awoke the next day (late I’m delighted to add, thanks to the blackout curtains in our stunning room), raring to head outside and meet the local pigs (one of whom is suitably named Truffle), see if the quails had laid eggs overnight and explore the adjacent deer park. Breakfast was no less impressive than supper (the personalised Pig milk bottles were a lovely touch) and the surroundings of green grass, fresh air and gardens in which to roam make it an utter delight with children.

The Pig Near Bath lobby

Next month promises the opening of The Pig at the beach, very close to where we live in Dorset, just on the edge of Studland Bay, and I’m extremely excited to see what gorgeous touches that will add to the already beautiful Jurassic Coast. Now, if only I could entice the owners to come and decorate my house, À la Pig, while they’re down here renovating the newest Pig premises……

For further info on The Pig see here.


Barcelona will long hold a very large part of my heart. I moved there back in 2006 with my now-husband and a considerable expense account with which to research the city’s hotspots for The Hedonist Guide’s on-line version of the city. For three extremely entertaining (if a little exhausting) months, there wasn’t a bar, club, restaurant, tapas joint or all-night swinging hotspot I didn’t experience first hand. So it was with slightly mixed feelings I boarded a flight last weekend from Gatwick to revisit that spectacular Catalan capital. Jamie and I hadn’t visited together since we left there for Madrid seven years ago, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew those few days would be loaded with nostalgia and memories, but would it be a very different experience returning as a married mother? Of course, I knew I wouldn’t be tottering along the cobbled lanes in my stilettos as the sun came up, but I wasn’t sure how accessible I would find this notoriously naughty city. Well, I can safely say it is an astonishing city no matter what your age. Whether you’re a teen or towing twins with you, Barcelona is as unique as it is fabulous and there are some wonderful ways to enjoy the city’s very best bits as a family.

The Hotel Claris

As places to stay go, The Hotel Claris, (a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World), is ideally located and has everything one could want if traveling as a family. Just a brief walk north of the Placa de Catalunya (Barcelona’s most central spot) along Pau Claris, and you’ll find this gorgeous and intimate hotel. Thanks to a recent refurbishment, it is very much up-to-date in terms of decor but it is far more spacious than a lot of Barcelona hotels that are extremely narrow and have to remain so thanks to the city’s strict laws around development. The two-storey apartment style family rooms make travelling as a pack very do-able and the hotel runs along the lines of helping with whatever they possibly can. So rather than getting a list of amenities and services that are available on arrival, feel free to ask and, if the concierge can do it, they absolutely will. Whether it’s booking restaurant tables or suggesting things to do with children, the lovely staff will help. The rooftop swimming pool makes a fabulous respite from the heady summer heat that, quite literally, envelopes Barcelona and the hotel will arrange babysitters should you need one.

The Hotel Claris BarcelonaThe Hotel Claris Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia

Gaudi’s never-ending cathedral wouldn’t previously have landed on any list of things I wrote relating to kids but, having just been back for the first time since the interior was completed, I would highly recommend this if you’re in Barcelona with older children. What was, quite literally, a construction site last time I visited is now a completed and utterly breathtaking space with giant carved stone pilars that resemble tree trunks (it’s like walking into a surreal ceramic forest). The light is ethereal and this is far beyond the requisite cultural “must” with kids. There is nowhere like it anywhere in the world and it’s the perfect place to introduce older children to architecture and Spanish history.

The Parc Guell

If you want to instil some Gaudi in your children but the Sagrada Familia is a tad too grown up, the artist’s Parc Guell to the north of Barcelona is a far lighter, and almost entirely outdoors alternative. The surrounding gardens are idyllic picnic spots (and there are lots of shady sections so don’t be put off if you have young ones and it’s very hot). The large mosaic lizard will thrill little ones and the views out across the city are unrivalled.

Castelldefels and Sitges Beaches

Barcelona may have a beach that fringes its edge, but it’s not the most family-friendly. While children are certainly welcome it is littered, often invites young adults who spend the day drinking in the sand and the sea water, thanks to its locality to the city’s port, is pretty polluted. There are, however, some lovely beaches just a short train ride away. Two such examples are Sitges and Castelldefels. A short jaunt out of the city centre by train, they are both totally doable as day trips and well worth considering if you or your little ones need a change of scene.

The Hotel Claris Barcelona

La Bodegueta

While the Spanish are very family-friendly and all restaurants welcome children, there are a lot in Barcelona that fail on the high chair front and children’s menus seem to be found most often in hotel restaurants. If some cheap (but seriously good) tapas is what you crave, La Bodegueta, a brief walk up Rambla de Catalunya from Place de Catalunya, is the one I recommend the most. The outdoor seating is shaded, the jamon bellota is mouth-watering, and the staff adore children. The inside space is the Spanish equivalent of a greasy spoon (and smoking is permitted) so the outdoor section is, of course, a better (and far prettier) alternative. In terms of tapas, you won’t find better.

Rambla de Catalunya, 100. +34 93 215 48 94

One top tip: most exhibitions and places of interest can be booked in advance on line, including the Sagrada Familia and the Parc Guell. If you can commit to a time and date it is highly recommended, Not only is it usually cheaper but it will, invariably, save you a good hours(if not more) of waiting in line for tickets.

Superior Rooms at Hotel Claris with Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) are from £135 per night based on two people sharing. To book, visit or call 0800 0482 314

For more information on the hotel, visit


THE HEDONIST’S GUIDES are the quintessential travel guides for those wanting nothing but the finest in eating, clubbing, sleeping, drinking, shopping and spa-ing the world over. They have taken some time out of their busy travels to give us their top places to dine out with tots in New York.

Going on a holiday to New York without experiencing the bevy of culinary destinations on offer can feel like an incomplete trip. But with kids in tow, suddenly eating out can become a tricky equation. Between wrangling buggies, securing high chairs, praying for good behavior and seeking out kid-friendly menus, it can all seem like a little too much effort.

Luckily, a number of top restaurants in cosmopolitan New York are well prepared for guests of all ages. This is a city where whole families dine out together and parents expose their young ones to New York’s culinary wonders at an early age. Whether you’re seeking a high-end eatery or a neighbourhood café, you are after trendy Brooklyn fare or a decadent afternoon tea, these six restaurants pride themselves on their exceptional family-friendly service as much as their menus.

Smorgasburg, Brooklyn


In the last 20 years, Brooklyn has gone from being a borough that was avoided by most travellers to one of New York’s most talked about hotspots. Families who are eager to take a trip out of Manhattan have a slew of dining destinations on offer – and we mean destinations. Both a main event and a giant eatery rolled into one, Smorgasburg is located right on the waterfront in trendy Williamsburg on Saturdays, and at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays. Regarded as one of the city’s top foodie spots, its casual, open-plan format means kids can select whatever their heart desires from dozens of stands – from brisket and Chinese bao to ice cream and doughnuts.

Brooklyn Farmacy

Another Brooklyn family-favourite is located in nearby Cobble Hill: Brooklyn Farmacy, a cute boite modeled on an old-fashioned soda fountain. Here, kids have the chance to nibble on pretzel sticks at the counter while their orders are being prepared. When they do arrive tableside – whether it’s melting grilled cheese sandwiches or frothy egg creams – they’re sure to be pretty pleased.

Brooklyn Farmacy


No trip to New York would be complete without sampling the city’s famous pizza – and we don’t mean the $1 slice shops that abound across the city. For a taste of authentic, traditional New York pizza, made with fresh ingredients and more than a touch of Italian inspiration, families should head to Fornino. Its Brooklyn Bridge Park location – a huge space, outfitted on the inside with picnic benches – is particularly family-friendly, while add-your-own-toppings allow everyone to customize their perfect pizza. Its location right on the park also means kids can let loose after their meal.

Hill Country

Another venue offering large open spaces and a friendly ambiance is Hill Country. Those in the know value the eatery as Manhattan’s barbeque Mecca; named after the region in Texas that’s famed for its BBQ tradition, you can bet that the food here is worth writing home about. The original location on West 26th Street is a buzzing and popular option, and the volume means kids’ voices won’t bother fellow diners. In addition to the brisket and chicken, a number of sides – from mac and cheese to cornbread – are perfect for children.


Of course, travelling families after something a little more upscale also have a number of dining options at their fingertips. One that we love is the resolutely family-friendly Balthazar, a great option for those after a well-made Martini and steak frites but also impressively equipped to host kids. Buggies can be checked, crayon kits provided, and kids are even treated to bread from the bakery next door. Those in need of an early dinner can also stop by in the late afternoon, where dishes like the Balthazar Burger and macaroni au gratin will suit young palates nicely.

Alice’s Tea Cup

And to cap off your family holiday in New York? Make sure you save an afternoon for Alice’s Tea Cup. Grown-ups will appreciate the phenomenal, colossal scones on offer, as well as an extensive menu of teas, but there’s no doubt that this venue is first and foremost targeted toward children. Between its whimsical, fairy tale-inspired décor, huge range of sweet treats, and the tradition of sprinkling kids with glittering ‘fairy dust’ upon arrival, this one’s a stellar bet for families.

Smorgasburg, Brooklyn

For more family-friendly New York ideas click here.

There’s nothing like leaving travel plans to the last minute. The idea of staying at home sounds wonderful and then, as the school Easter holidays kick in, the idea of heading away suddenly seems like a fantastic idea, especially if your children are stuck indoors thanks to heavy rain. (As I write this my hyperactive two year old is swimming with her father; thanks to this terrible weather we have been visiting our local swimming facilities quite a lot lately) The great news is there is still good availability in some fabulous properties both near and far and herewith are our top three.

Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club, England.

With the ‘Easter Escapes’ package, children stay for free when sharing their parents’ room. There’s a huge selection of outdoor pursuits to keep the kids active during their stay including croquet, tennis and a putting green. And, of course, there is the requisite indoor swimming pool if the weather doesn’t improve any time soon. On top of that, the Easter package also includes complimentary access to nearby Ashdown Llama Park and Drusillas Zoo.

Book this hotel here or visit

Ashdown Park hotel Sussex

Carmo’s Boutique Hotel, Portugal

Idyllic Ponte de Lima in Portugal’s north is home to the fantastic Carmo’s Boutique hotel. For kids, the ‘Mini-Easter Vacation’ package offers a two day equestrian workshop over Easter weekend, where younger ones will learn about both the theory and practice of horse-handling (20€ per session). The Spa and aromatherapy offerings will keep parents more than happy, as will the delightful locals and gorgeous sunshine.

Book this hotel here or visit

Carmo's Boutique Hotel Portugal

Gran Hotel Son Net, Mallorca

This is already listed on our Mallorca places to stay as it’s a firm favourite. Babysitting services are available and there are interconnecting rooms, while the suites are large enough for up to three extra beds. There’s also a great selection of activities throughout the area, from cycling, horse riding, rock climbing, canyoning and hiking, to exploring the nature reserve just a ten-minute walk from Gran Hotel Son Net.

Book this hotel here or visit

Gran Hotel Son Net Mallorca