Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Holiday ideas

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:  

“Ohhhhh the Vineyard! It’s an institution,” recalled virtually everyone I told about staying in one of Cape Town’s most iconic hotels on a recent family holiday. Whether it’s hunting for tortoises in the meandering gardens, piling in for Sunday brunch or the welcoming smile of a special staff member everyone, it seems, has a soft spot for this green corner of Cape Town. And I can see why. The Vineyard Hotel isn’t perfectly polished (although it’s newly refurbished rooms are spot on) and it’s still got an old-fashioned whiff about it, but that quickly becomes part of its charm. When it comes to comfort and a warm welcome, hotels don’t come much better than this.  And that’s before you’ve taken in the view.

The Vineyard Hotel exterior

As with most hotel arrivals, our two boys (aged 1 and 3), were clinging to our legs and threatening tantrums. Thankfully, within five minutes of entering the hotel driveway, a valet had unloaded our luggage, taken away the car and whisked us into the hotel lobby. Before toddler melt downs materialised, Cheryl (aka the kid-whisperer), presented gifts of rubber ducks and ‘Mandela and the Hare’ books to the boys, providing enough distraction to get us to our vast family suite stress-free.

Two interconnecting rooms gave the suite the feel of an apartment, with balconies overlooking a babbling stream, plenty of living space and bathrooms with walk-in showers and large tubs.

The Vineyard Hotel gardens

Mini bath robes, jelly beans and colouring-in kits kept the kids content, while we got stuck into some hotel info over coffee and handmade truffles.  Nick checked out the gym schedule, including personal training sessions by a former Springbok coach, and I marvelled at the hotel’s outward sustainable ethos — with notes, shower timers and rubber ducks instead of bath plugs, to raise awareness about the Cape Town’s drought. 30 minutes in and we had each found our happy place.

The Vineyard Hotel pool

The beauty of the Vineyard Hotel is that it’s just 20 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD, though there’s plenty to do on site or nearby, too. First up, a tour of the hotel’s riverside gardens was a relaxed distraction for everyone. Worth a gander for the views alone, the hotel’s gardens are award-winning for their eco credentials, restoring and preserving indigenous flora and fauna so close to the city centre. True to the name, there’s also a miniature vineyard of 100 vines, which supplies grapes to the Waterford Estate just 30 miles away in Stellenbosch; the kitchen garden does its best to keep the hotel stocked with fresh herbs. None of this would be quite as enjoyable if not for the spectacular views of Table Mountain’s Eastern Slopes peeping into view wherever there was a break in the vegetation.

When the rain started to fall, it didn’t stop us jumping into the irresistible outdoor pool, made all the better by its proximity to the heated indoor plunge pool when the chill started to bite.  Pilates, yoga and personal training sessions were all on offer, while the Angsana spa was a tempting reason to tap into the hotel’s babysitting service. But as the rain clouds cleared, a glass of wine on the hotel terrace beckoned just in time to watch the sun dip and pink skies light up uninterrupted views of Table Mountain.  The kids were well catered for with The Garden Lounge’s snack menu (fish goujons, corn fritters and sliders) and the zesty house favourite (Waterford Pecan Stream Sauvignon) did an excellent job at smoothing over any teatime dramas.

The Vineyard Hotel turtle

That evening, once the babysitter was happily installed, we headed straight to the bar. Martinis seemed the obvious choice when surrounded by the decadent gold and mahogany décor of the bar.  Samson serves our drinks with big smiles as we prop up the bar and discuss the many sides to Cape Town; if it wasn’t for the hushed tones of a slightly older clientele, we could well have settled in for a few more.  Dinner in The Square Restaurant was a jolly civilised affair, with live piano music and wine pairings to sample Cape vintages. Locally sourced mussels and oxtail combined with seasonal flavours of beetroot, fennel and Spekboom rouille, were washed down with Klein Constantia Pinot Noir and Meerlust Chardonnay. To finish, a warm lemon and almond cake was served with Waterford Heatherleigh, which was enough to tip us both towards bed.

Sunday morning breakfasts at the Vineyard Hotel are a lazy and lingering affair. The buffet is so vast, and so beautifully crafted, that families come from all over Cape Town to tuck in on the lawns and terrace overlooking the mountains. The ‘kids’ breakfast table kept our three-year-old entertained, enjoying the freedom of going about the buffet on his own, and when the pastries caused peak sugar rush, the lawn provided ample romping space.

The Vineyard Hotel bedroom

Before we headed off to Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town’s answer to Kew Gardens just down the road from the hotel, we took in the art and artefacts that provide the personal touch.  The old kitchens at the back of the house are now a gallery dedicated to the history of the property.  The boys marvelled at images of Lady Anne and her family outside the original country cottage in 1799, and then started shooting their rubber ducks out of antique cannons. I rushed to stop them, but Cheryl jumped in and quickly silenced the boys with tales of where the cannons came from and how old they are.  One of the Porters popped a rubber duck on his head and there were laughs all around; that’s the moment you know you really are in a first-class, family-friendly hotel.

To book this hotel click here.

For more family-friendly holiday ideas in South Africa click here.

The half-term holidays are heaven in this house. Everyone is shattered, overworked and the kids are usually snotty (let’s be honest) with the ever-changing outdoor temperatures. Lola sleeps late and I revel in not doing the school run. But if we aren’t jetting off it’s lovely to inject a little culture amidst the sleepy, sofa-filled afternoons and blustery beach walks we all so love. And this half term that’s easier than ever. Best of England, which launched with the aim of providing a carefully curated portfolio of independent businesses throughout the country (think pubs, restaurants, vineyards, places to stay, antique treasure troves and family days out), have come up with their top English favourite family-friendly museums, which we thought we’d share in case you need a little inspiration……

The Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

Jerwood Gallery Hastings

The Jerwood Gallery is a modern building located in the utterly charming and historic old town of Hastings. Home to the Jerwood Collection of modern British art, the gallery is fabulous for art fanatics, but it is also suitable for less experienced visitors and families visiting with younger children. There’s even a children’s trail to help you explore the gallery, its collection and exhibitions so they won’t feel they’re being dragged around a grown up exhibition and are much more likely to get involved with what they’re seeing.

The Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne

The Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne

The Towner Art Gallery is an award winning contemporary art gallery and museum in Eastbourne. Every summer, they present a major exhibition, with recent shows including Eric Ravilios, John Piper and Peggy Angus. Open since 1923, The Towner collection now numbers over 4,000 art objects including oil paintings, watercolours, works on paper, etchings, prints, sculpture, wood cuts and ceramic objects and is one of the most significant public art collections in the South East. The museum is very welcoming to kids and families with regular activities and workshops to keep the little ones busy. There is a cafe on the top floor with views over Eastbourne and entry is free. (Note the gallery is closed on Mondays).
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

 Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Pallant House Gallery is located in the historic town of Chichester, tucked away behind East and South street. It may not have the reputation of The Tate but this gallery holds one of the most significant collections of Modern British Art in the country. Aside from its exhibition programme, it also offers an array of talks, workshops for both children and adults, tours, a specialist on-site bookshop and an on-site restaurant with courtyard garden.

The Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Ditchling

The Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Ditchling

Situated in the attractive town of Ditchling, The Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft is an unmissable stop for those on the art trail in Sussex. The Museum has a fantastic collection of local artwork and artifacts that focus on showcasing Ditchling’s finest artist’s work. In 2012 the buildings were part of a massive renovation project and have been beautifully finished. The Museum also has a large open café and shop, serving delicious locally sourced cakes and drinks. As well as exhibitions and galleries the Museum also hold a variety of workshops and events including regular art clubs for young people.

The De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill

The De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill

The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea has become a modernist icon on the South Coast and provides a fantastic program of contemporary arts, renowned musicians and learning activities. The building was the result of an architectural competition held in 1934 and, as well as browsing through the art work or watching live music, you can enjoy some delicious food in the Café Bar, which overlooks the beautiful coastline. A large veranda is gorgeous on summery days and, as family days out go, this is a fabulous option.

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.

It’s only round the corner but there are some fabulous hotels, both near and far from home, that offer lashings of luxury for both you and your children that are still available. So, if you’re in need of some last minute half-term ideas, look no further…

The Royal Mansour Marrakech, Morocco

Why Go? Made by and fit for a King, this stunning hotel is welcoming families this half-term to ‘holiday like royalty’ for less. Experience an authentic way of Moroccan living by staying with your family in a spacious and opulent riad in the heart of one of the world’s most exotic cities. The kid’s clubs offers an array of unique activities including mosaic painting, bead workshops, mask painting, arts & crafts, discos and dance classes, promising to delight all the little ones.

Family Offer: 50% Saving (available until 31st March 2016):

  • 2 Adults and 2 or 3 Children
  • Book a Premier One Bedroom Riad for the parents and a second Premier one bedroom Riad for the children at 50% and receive an upgrade to a Privilege Two Bedroom Riad including breakfast.

Bookings:, +212 529 80 80 80

For other family-friendly holiday ideas in Marrakech, click here.

The Royal Mansour spaThe Royal Mansour, MarrakechThe Royal Mansour terrace

Loews Regency, New York

Why Go? Situated in Midtown Manhattan, the Loews Regency is conveniently located within walking distance of Central Park, iconic attractions and some of the city’s finest dining and shopping experiences, making it the perfect place for families to stay and explore this half-term. Featuring 379 renovated guest rooms including 58 suites, Loews Regency offers the perfect combination of luxury, comfort and style. There is a kid in all of us and Loews Regency New York celebrates this with their Loews Loves Kids initiative offering little ones a kid’s closet on arrival filled with toys and treasures to keep them entertained throughout their stay

Loews Regency New York Hotel is offering 15% off room rates when you stay 2 nights and 20% when you stay three nights or more. Even better, the offer is valid for any day of the week (based on availability).

Bookings:, +212 759 4100

For other family-friendly holiday ideas in New York, click here.

Loews Hotel Vogue roof terrace by nightLoews Hotel Vogue regency bed

The Nam Hai, Vietnam

Why Go? Older children (seven and above) will relish the opportunity to learn about Vietnamese culture with one of The Nam Hai’s experiential adventures including a Minority Village Tour deep into the Central Vietnamese Highlands and A Day in The Life of a Farmer or Fisherman learning all about ancient Vietnamese fishing and farming methods as well as the opportunity to catch their own fish.

The Nam Hai is situated on the picturesque 1 kilometre stretch of pristine white sand beach of Ha My, near the historic town of Hoi An, and successfully combines the unique and gracious culture of Central Vietnam with innovative design, state-of-the-art technology, first class facilities and impeccable service. The Nam Hai boasts sixty one-bedroom villas as well as forty one-to-five bedroom pool villas, each enjoying a serene beachfront location with unobstructed views across the East Sea and nearby Cham Islands

Rate: Kuoni offers 6 nights with breakfast at the 5-star The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam in a one bedroom villa, including flights with Singapore Airlines from Heathrow, and internal flights and private transfers in resort. Prices for 13 February 2016 are from £6,881 per family, based on two adults and one child (under 12 years old) sharing one room.

Bookings:,  01306 747008

For other family-friendly holiday ideas in Hoi An, click here.

The Nam Hai interiorNam Hai pool