Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Family-friendly spas

It was one of those mornings when, on a 20-minute countdown before the nursery run, I suddenly noticed an un-mown patch of emails half way down my inbox. Like plunging into ice cold water, my natural reaction is always to hold my breath when launching attack on unread emails – scanning down, I stopped (and may have snorted) at the one entitled “&Breathe”.

Like a fairytale for tired mummies, the email talked of massages, postnatal fitness and pilates, a healthy snack cookery demo and nannies on tap.

Yes, yes, yes and yes. Please.

A few months later my youngest son, Angus, and I set off for 24-hours of heaven at The Four Seasons in Hampshire.

Four Seasons Hampshire &Breathe hotel exterior Four Seasons Hampshire &Breathe class

Pulling up the driveway past a herd of Highland Coos, I parked and braced myself for a mad dash to the door (it was raining) with baby and bags et al. Then a sign caught my attention: “valet parking”. Hmm, I thought, taking an inpatient Angus out of his chair and putting him on my knee to drive to the front door and enjoy the full show.

Greeted by two friendly faces in green country gear, we were ushered in under an umbrella and into The Library where smiley Clio, founder of &Breathe, was greeting parents and youngsters of varying sizes.

Angus, at one year old, was one of the older bambinos. From babies to toddlers, the crew assembled. Some just mummy and babies, some with partners / husbands in tow, others with friends for a short escape.

Four Seasons Hampshire &Breathe bar Four Seasons Hampshire &Breathe pool

Sometimes staying at a big smart hotel can be stressful as a parent as you’re constantly trying to be as low profile as possible, trying desperately not to make too much of a mess or break anything.

It was clear from the start that the Four Seasons is different – there are little signs all over showing that children are welcome: from a stack of high chairs lining the bar to special kiddy menus and an epic new water-world children’s swimming pool, Not to mention the changing tables stocked with nappies and wipes in all the bathrooms: details that make you in-proportionately happy as a parent!

In fact, upon checking into our room I felt like the plus one. There was a “welcome Angus” note written in crayon on the mirror; another in icing on the petits fours, plus a little rubber duck for bath time, Little Prince products and a “Baby Sleeping” sign to hang on the door.

Four Seasons Hampshire &Breathe mother and baby Four Seasons Hampshire &Breathe babies

After sandwiches and salads for lunch (delicious burrata), we had a quick pause before Caroline, Head PT, put us to work. Most mummies tried to coincide afternoon nap with the session so they could get stuck in, but Angus wanted to join in. Starting with a focus on the pelvic floor (super important, for men too apparently), we then did Pilates, before building up a sweat with some cardio.

“Breath out at the hard bits,” chirped Caroline, (invaluable advice for me – I spend whole yoga classes wanting to ask whether we’re on an in or an out).

Clio helped out by playing with any babies preventing their mummies from getting stuck in, and at the end of the session she showed us how to make Cookie Dough Protein Balls – Angus was chief helper at this point; I’m still waiting for him to recreate them back home…

After the children’s supper, baths and stories, I tucked Angus into his cot and two minutes later came a knock on the door from the babysitter.

Slipping into the darkened room, I whispered instructions before heading downstairs to meet Clio and the group for cocktails before dinner.

“This will be the best meal of your life” said an enthusiastic waiter as he showed us to our table. Truth be told, for the parents of the newborns, an uninterrupted meal is exactly that.

Smoked salmon with warm bread, a big glass of wine, steak and the chocolatiest line up of puddings took us through to 10.30pm when it was time to relieve the babysitter from her duties and roll into bed.

The next day was spa day. A flurry of mummies devoured the Four Seasons breakfast buffet before making a b-line to the spa via the creche.

With Angus distracted by toy tractors, I skipped off for my massage. I have always loved massages, and in parenthood they become even better. Loosened up and straightened out, I headed to the creche.

We bade farewell to the group and set off for London – making a compulsory stop on the driveway to say goodbye to the baby Highland Cow.

24 Hours is perfect because it’s short enough to justify taking the time out. But it also flies by very quickly. So, my only comment is to make sure you maximise your time, arriving as early as possible and leaving as late as possible!

The next &Breathe 24 hour retreats at the Four Seasons Hampshire are in April, June, September and November 2019. Please sign up to the exclusive waiting list and be the first to know when bookings open:  

Fringing the cobbled road of hip Colville Mews behind Notting Hill’s Westbourne Grove is the latest and greatest opening for West London parents that has been seen in a while. Cloud Twelve is a member’s club with a difference and it’s set to shape childcare in more ways than one.

Cloud 12 children's area

Anyone with kids can tell you the challenge of sorting good childcare, that which keeps kids entertained and doesn’t fling sad chicken nuggets at them as an excuse for lunch. The ground floor of Cloud Twelve offers huge soft play areas, learning and development programmes, art and ballet for children under 7, all overseen by Ofsted-registered crèche assistants and it’s complete with a beautifully-curated vegan menu for them when they are done. It’s a private members’ club for families and children so you can stay and play with them or saunter upstairs for time to yourself, all without the need of a nanny.

Cloud 12 cafe

As a wellness-focused space, Cloud Twelve offers a variety of holistic health services for the entire family so you can reap the benefits of a variety of consultancy sessions for you and your child. And while this may seem like a trendy babysitting spot (it’s worth noting they do also offer babysitting services at home), Cloud Twelve have actually equipped their crèche with a variety of learning resources to enrich children’s development in language, mathematics and the world around them, through botany and zoology games. Children enjoy regular circle group sessions throughout the day whether through drama, singing or stories, all of which is aimed at building social and emotional resilience. The cost of membership is incredibly reasonable and, given what parents can enjoy upstairs, this is set to be rammed in no time.

Cloud 12 spa

The second floor of this beautiful 10,000 square foot space, located in what was the Brand Museum is, today, a seriously sumptuous wellbeing clinic and spa area. Ross Barr and Eve Kalinik have gone in as the lead experts in the clinic, which offers everything from Cryotherapy and rose quartz treatment rooms to IV drips.

Offering a holistic spa, salon and a state-of-the-art alternative medicine clinic, you can finish up in the nutritionally focused plant-based brasserie. No doubt many will leave their children to play downstairs and simply grab a seat and a herbal tea with their laptops, so tranquil a workspace it is. The food shouldn’t be forgotten though, as it’s beautiful and extremely well curated by Stu Henshall of Alternative Kitchen.

Cloud 12 food

And, all the while, your loved ones are having the time of their life. Cloud Twelve meets every need of busy parents and it’s set to be a smash hit. Hurry and get in while you can…..

Cloud Twelve, 2-5 Colville Mews, London, W11 2DA

For more details click here.


This was the facial that changed my life.

“You feel your skin isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago?” said Isabella with a laugh. “You are having a battle with your skin, thinking if you fight hard enough it will become something it isn’t: accept it and be kind to it.”

The spa at The Grace Belgravia

It’s true – since my teens, I’ve been imagining the day I wake up to find my skin has miraculously re-created itself: impurities gone, spots and blotches a thing of the past and pin-prick clear pores. And most treatments help you believe it, with therapists implying that if only you used their product religiously, you would have the skin of your dreams.

If only there were more Isabellas. Not least, because she gave me an hour of blissful spoiling, lying flat, not having to think about a thing (an evening off from toddler and newborn mummy duties); but, mainly, because she delivered the news – with Polish directness that I couldn’t ignore – that I should accept my skin and stop wasting time thinking it might become something it’s not.

I arrived 25 minutes early at the Grace Belgravia for my QMS Activator Treatment. My initial thought was to see if I could pull the appointment forward; lots to do, always lots to do. Instead, I did something this mother of two hardly ever does: I lay flat for half an hour without doing a thing. Bliss.

Isabella performed the QMS Activator Treatment: cleansing, extraction and face mask, plus a bundle of notes-to-self not to over-stimulate with exfoliator, and to lather on the pollution-proof Epi-Gen serum.

A month later, I went back for more QMS magic – this time to the magical Liberty for an Urban Repair treatment. Often, when you have a facial, you leave filled with good intentions and then quickly slip back into old habits, so I was determined to get a better school report this time (“taught and dry on surface” was Isabella’s resumen).

“I find it hard to believe there’s only one word for skin,” said the porcelain-cheeked Rowen. “You have skin on your face, neck, armpits, legs… and they’re completely different.”

The Grace Belgravia

“Lots of people have your type of skin,” she added. “You have to remember that we live in London, so it’s impossible to be blemish-free, but do try and avoid chocolate and dairy as they’re bad for active skin.” I may pretend I didn’t hear that last snippet…

The good news is my skin is no longer taught and dry – thanks to the QMS night collagen and Epi-Gen serum – but I need to exfoliate more. “Start with 3 times a week and build up to 5”, not with an abrasive exfoliator, with a fluid which dissolves the dead skin cells.

I tell myself (and believe it) that it’s more important than ever to book treatments when you have children. It’s the unique combination of sleep deprivation, dehydration from breast-feeding and having less time to follow a proper routine – often I barely manage to brush teeth before a little monster starts demanding something.

So, having a magic night serum to slather on in the wee hours, an anti-pulution serum to battle the London air, and some words of reason to stop me starting a civil war in the mirror, quite frankly, goes a long way.

QMS Medicosmetics at Liberty London
+44 (0) 207 734 1234 ext. 2796

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.


Soneva Fushi is one of the Maldives’ largest island resorts, and one of the most family-friendly. So much so, that it was recently shortlisted for Best Long-Haul Accommodation for Families in the Family Traveller Awards. Holly Tuppen was lucky enough to sample their Robinson Crusoe-style luxury with her two year old in tow.
For people like me (not filthy rich), Soneva Fushi is a once in a lifetime experience. Sadly, my two year old won’t remember what was, probably, the most magical holiday he will ever go on. But that’s not to say it hasn’t had an impact – one month later and he still gets excited seeing sting rays and turtles whenever we go near open water and I’m convinced Blue Planet is watched with a little more intensity. For myself, it is still (and will be for a long while) my happy place when London seems unbearably hectic and life is filled with more chores than joy.
Soneva Fushi son
Whereas some Maldivian resorts are designed for a quick ‘fly and flop’ experience, often tied in with Sri Lanka or Dubai, Soneva Fushi is a destination in its own right. The island takes 45 minutes to circumnavigate by foot (many take only 10 mins) and having been an island resort for over 15 years, the vegetation is lush and dense. The owners, Sonu (who founded Six Senses) and his wife Eva, have been involved every step of the way and they have embedded a sustainable ethos throughout. Within an hour of us arriving at Soneva Fushi, shoes became obsolete and the barefoot luxury vibe was fully embraced.
Soneva Fushi beach
My fear of ‘getting bored’ on a tiny tropical island was completely futile. Sunbathing is not my thing, but I could happily while away a couple of weeks at Soneva Fushi. I spent hours weaving around the island’s sand paths by bike past the giant banyan trees and dodging scuttling lizards beneath a canopy of greenery alive with birdsong. That was my favourite part of every day. Beyond the villas there’s plenty to explore – a house reef full of marine life, beaches for all occasions, an outdoor cinema, a garden growing everything you could imagine, an observatory, a fabulous kids club, a dive centre, a sensational spa, the yoga retreat and eco centre – the list goes on.
Soneva Fushi bikes
Our personal ‘Mr Friday’ worked out our interests and planned as much or as little action as we liked for each day we were there. A key component of said ‘action’ was obviously eating and drinking. With seven dining options throughout the island and much of the produce made or grown on site, food is a serious past time. A special mention should go to fresh sushi, the chocolate room, homemade sorbet, breakfast juices, Fresh in the Garden jungle-top feasts, sunset cocktails and the beachside BBQs. In between such delights, we lounged on our own private beach, snorkelled with a marine biologist, learned to free dive and enjoyed sunset dolphin cruises.
Soneva Fushi villa
Often catering for families that lead busy, urban lives, Soneva Fushi’s ethos is very much embedded in traditional family values. This is a place for kids to be kids again and for adults to switch off and get involved as much as they like. The kids’ club, The Den, factors in ‘family time’ throughout the day and children are made to feel very welcome throughout the entire island. Childcare is top notch, even when kids are too young for The Den which, for those old enough, offers everything from music lessons to snorkelling trips.
Soneva Fushi kids
Villas come in all shapes and sizes, each providing guests with their own slice of island paradise. Living in one of these villas was a complete break from the norm – simple but beautiful inside and out with huge open air bathrooms, sandy gardens and sea views. Our two-bed Soneva Fushi Villa Suite had every luxurious touch we could want, whilst also feeling simple and calming. It was also big enough not to have to worry about a restless toddler. The outdoor saltwater pool offered the perfect respite to the afternoon sun and our upstairs terrace was a little haven for evenings spent stargazing. If holidays are about luxuriating in a more simple existence filled with childlike excitement, then this place has hit the nail on the head.
For more information click here.
For more Maldivian family-friendly accommodations click here.