Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents


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.


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.