Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Monthly Archives: November 2014

It was while living in Barcelona – pre-babies – that I first discovered the joy that comes from plodding around a good European Christmas market. Originating in Germany and the Alsace region, Christmas markets spread to other parts of the continent and most European capital cities now boast squares, churches, cobbled lanes and parks dedicated to that glorious time of year. The size and quality of them does vary, but there are a few stand outs that are fabulous and will make for a wonderful winter getaway as a family in the coming months.

Lake Garda

This is a good three and a half hour drive from Lake Como but we suggest seeing both, with a stay in Como and a day trip to Garda. Set within magical wooden huts, the Lake Garda market offers a gorgeous array of high quality crafts, candles, lanterns, decorations and toys.  Expect lots of Christmas carols and and, on December 8th, an advent calendar will be projected on the buildings in the town centre, followed by an impressive firework display.

Need a family-friendly hotel in Lake Como? Click here.

Villa Serbelloni, Lake Como


A captivating city at any time of year, Christmas sees the Eternal City’s piazza swamped by a bustling multi-coloured market selling everything from trees to cribs, decorations to cakes and sweets. If you can visit over the New Year, make sure to visit on the the night of January 5th with children as that is when the “Befana” (The Good Witch) flies around Italy, delivering presents to well-behaved children and coal to the naughty ones.

Need a family-friendly hotel in Rome? Click here.

The St Regis Rome, study


Rather than having one key Christmas Market, Amsterdam has festive market stalls dotted throughout the city in various neighbourhoods. The largest of these is the Albert Cuypmarkt, which has no less than 300 stalls. After shopping, you can ice skate at Leidseplein, which offers gorgeous Christmas market stalls alongside an ice rink. In the centre of Amsterdam on the Beursplein, you can stay warm at the Winter Market with delicious mulled wine while shopping. This is a veritable winter wonderland and children will adore Amsterdam during the colder months as much as they would in warmer months.

Need a family-friendly hotel in Amsterdam? Click here.

Conservatorium Hotel, Berlin



Being a country of such religious zest, it’s no surprise that this Catalan capital comes alive with yuletide glitz in early December and stays in such a festive state well into the New Year. Again, this European gem boats a plethora of different Christmas markets but two stand out, from my memory, as being both wonderful and perfectly located. Firstly, there is the Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market, which is outside the mesmerising Barcelona Cathedral.  There is an Artesania section (which sells things like jewellery and leather goods), and the stalls generally sell items of a higher quality, making them a little more expensive than the very touristy alternatives that neighbour this beautiful and very authentic market. Come evening time, the lights of the market twinkle in the dark against the backdrop of the Cathedral and the yuletide vibe is only enhanced by the endless rows of Christmas trees, decorations and mistletoe for sale.

Another noteworthy Christmas market is the Fira de Nadal at the iconic Sagrada Familia. The Sagrada Familia should be visited when in Barcelona, no matter what time of year you go, but at Christmas, it simply glows. Running around the edge of the gardens outside the Sagrada Familia, market sellers offer much of the same Christmas offerings as any other in the city, but it’s the location of this particular market that pops it to the top of my Barcelona list.

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La Florida Barcelona bedroom


Again, this is a city that should be visited by all and it’s not only for young lovers. There is so much for children to do in the City of Light, and Christmas is as wonderful a time as any to visit as a family. There are markets spread across every corner of this great city but two, in particular, stand out as much for their atmosphere as for their astonishing location. The christmas market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysée is the largest Christmas market in Paris. Along with the stunning illuminations on the world’s most beautiful avenue, there are no less than 160 authentic, Vosges-made chalets that line the Champs-Elysées between the Rond-point and Place de la Concorde from mid November to early January. And another not to be missed is the Saint Germain des Pres Village of Father Christmas, which resides temporarily on the boulevard Saint Germain. With about 30 chalets selling gorgeous Christmas wares, it is a bit smaller and less daunting than that on the Champs-Elysée (so maybe better with tiny tots), but it’s no less magical.

Need a family-friendly hotel in Paris? Click here.

Terrass Hotel bedroom


It’s that time of year again. Department stores have had a Christmas floor since August, the jingle jangle of merry music is flooding my local supermarket and Lola is already planning her list for Santa. But the bit I really look forward to is the opening of London’s winter ice skating rinks which, for me, are the real barometer of Yuletide celebrations starting. Here are the ones we suggest you try if you’ve not been before….

Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf ice rink at night

Having opened just last week, Canary Wharf is ringing wiht skaters who are flocking to the financial district for ice, both on and off their skates. The rink is now in use, as is the pop- up bar, Q on Ice. Open until 28th of February 2015, this enchanting space has transformed Canada Square Park into a cosy, Christmas landscape. This particular rink features London’s only skate path, a passage through fairy-lit trees around Canada Square Park’s iconic ‘Big Blue’ sculpture by British designer, Ron Arad. At 1100m2, this is one of the capital’s largest ice rinks.

Canary Wharf rink welcomes those aged aged four and above, with doors opening every day except Christmas Day. And if a post-skate cocktail or seasonally-inspired snack beckons, check out Q on Ice. Following the success of their On the Roof with Q pop-up at Selfridges this summer, the menu at Q on Ice is packed with lots of locally sourced ingredients and secret seasonings. Canary Wharf also offers up the delights of Roka, Tom’s Kitchen Deli and Obika Mozzarella bar.

Adult: £14.50, Children (Under 13): £9.50
Family: £39.50 (2 adults + 2 children/ 1 adult + 3 children)

For further information click here.

The Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum ice rink at night

Now in its 10th year, the infamous rink right outside of London’s magnificent Natural History Museum will, this year, be perched in its usual spot beneath 80,000 twinkling fairy lights. Aside from the rink, there is an interactive Christmas chalet loaded with chocolate treats, giveaways and activities in partnership with chocolatiers Lindt. The Cafe Bar on-site is a lovely spot for hot chocolate, snacks and a few minutes off your feet.

Adults: From £12.65 per ticket and kids from £8.80 per ticket, from October 30th to January 4th 2015.

For further information click here.

Somerset House

Somerset House by  James Bryant

Photo by  James Bryant

Somerset House is an iconic spot on the edge of London’s Strand, known by most for hosting the drama of London Fashion Week. However, come winter, it transforms into a veritable winter wonderland and houses one of the capital’s most beautiful, not to mention popular, skate rinks. Even better, this year sees Somerset House rink sponsored by the one and only Fortnum and Mason, meaning some heavenly food options, such as Skate & Classic Cream tea. This involves, unsurprisingly, a classic Fortnum’s cream tea after your skating session in the cosy Fortnum’s Lodge in The Christmas Arcade at Somerset House.

Ticket prices from £7.50 for skating. The Fortnum and Mason Skate & Classic cream tea costs £35 per person, plus booking fees. The ice rink is open from 11th November 2014 to 11th January 2014.

For further information click here.


Eyeskate at The London Eye

In arguably one of the coolest locations for a London ice rink, Eyeskate is situated directly beside the London Eye on the River Thames. Ticket prices include a 45 minute skate session and ice skate hire, and the Winter Cocktail Experience is also available, which may not sound very kid-friendly, but actually children just one, but two rounds on the Eye (parents get the cocktails, obviously) which, given the glittering view across London at Christmastime, will make some seriously good memories for you all.

Winter Cocktail Experince: £45 each for those aged 4 and above.

Eyeskate: £10.50 for adults and £7.50 for children (aged 4 – 15 years of age). Book online for a discount.

From November 15 until January 4.

For further information click here.