From coastal retreats, to city centre streets, these are the best hotels in the UK for families young and old
To paraphrase Dickens, family time with youngsters can be both the best and worst of times. With summer holidays on the horizon, we’ve found some of the best family hotels in the UK to ensure your time away together is memorable for all the right reasons.
From babysitting services, to fun and creative activities for kids of all ages, these are some of the best places to stay to ensure a good time is had by all the family.
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Fowey Hall Hotel, Cornwall
Simply arriving at Fowey Hall is enough to take your breath away – and not just because the walk-up is steep should you not come by car. The imposing Victorian mansion and its aspect over the cobbled medieval town, the glinting Atlantic, and Fowey Estuary below is stunning, and said to have inspired Toad Hall in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. Parents can take a seat on the vast terrace and enjoy the view with a peaceful drink while their children make friends at the new playground on the grassy slope below, including wooden climbing houses, tyre swings and zipwire.
Refurbished last year, the 36 rooms across the mansion and courtyard are luxurious and contemporary, decorated in whites and teals with quirky details. Many are family-friendly, offering cots, bunks, and additional beds. Interconnecting suites in the courtyard provide extra space for families; our children were delighted to find an assortment of age-appropriate books in their room (although you can also select books for yourself and children from the well-stocked library), as well as specially designed White Company pyjamas.
Make the most of the 90 minutes’ complimentary babysitting per day; our children enjoyed scheduled activities including marshmallow-toasting and crafts. A plush cinema room offers daily screenings and popcorn, while games rooms provide entertainment for teens. Even the spa is family-friendly here: the indoor pool is warm and four-foot deep, with plenty of floats. Eating is flexible; opt between a children’s High Tea, served from 5pm-6pm, or a family dinner from the all-day menu. Child-pleasing options include breaded chicken fillets, a fish goujon sandwich, and jelly and ice cream. But if you want time as a couple, video monitors are available on loan.
It’s worth walking to the picturesque Readymoney Cove for shallow paddling and a swim – although prepare to carry children on your shoulders on the uphill return.
Address: Hanson Drive, Fowey, Cornwall PL23 1ET
Telephone: 01726 833 866
Price: Doubles from £179
Lygon Arms, Cotswolds
The beauty of this 14th-century country retreat, where you’ll find the signatures of Prince Philip and Charles I in the guestbook, is its location in the Cotswolds. It’s set on the chocolate-box-pretty Broadway that’s packed with toy, gift and book shops, while a huge playground for all ages is located just up the road. A 15-minute drive away you’ll find the Cotswold Farm Park, which makes the ideal family day trip with its farmland trail, animal feeding areas, and plenty of activities including pedal tractors, sandpits and a log assault course. Or stay on the hotel site and make use of the well-kept gardens, and children’s swimming slots at the bright and airy 14-metre pool. Book into the spa later for some peaceful relaxation.
You’ll find plenty of period features such as beams and fireplaces in the cosy tweed-filled Lygon Arms. The best rooms for families are the roomy (38m2 to 48m2) private courtyard open plan suites on the ground floor where you don’t have to worry about children’s noisy heavy footprints. These spacious and luxurious rooms, where children sleep on the sofa bed, overlook their landscaped terraced gardens with seating, and the manicured courtyard. Turn left and you’ll reach the beautiful gardens for children to run around, including a maze and tree swing. Or choose a suite with separate interconnecting rooms.
Options on the children’s menus at the impressive banquet hall-style Lygon Bar & Grill range from the typical: burger, fish and chips, to the optimistically sophisticated Heritage beetroot, quinoa, soft cheese, chard and hazelnut pesto or catch of the day with spinach, and sticky toffee pudding.
There are plans afoot to add children’s activities, but the location certainly makes up for any lack of these.
Address: High Street, Broadway, Worcestershire WR12 7DU
Telephone: 01386 852 255
Price: Doubles from £260
Four Seasons, Hampshire
There’s an equestrian vibe at this Four Seasons country-manor resort in the heart of Hampshire. With its location near Winchfield, where trains go direct to London, it’s ideal for a weekend break.
Children are welcomed with a gift and dish of home-baked equine-themed cookies adorned with their names. Set in 500 acres of countryside full of ancient oak trees, the hotel offers plenty of space for children to let off steam, but there’s also a super playground, and a kids’ play house packed with toys (and games rooms for teens); let yourself in for them to have some playtime (the supervised kids’ club on weekends and holidays is suspended due to Covid). Horse riding is popular and our five-year-old loved grooming the “unicorn”, Dougal (a docile Shetland pony).
The ultimate highlight for children and fun-loving parents, however, is Sharkie’s Reef, a family adventure pool with bubble jets, fountain and the pinnacle – a four-metre slide. Older children love the Highwire Adventure obstacle course featuring zip wires, tree-canopy bungee jumps and high ropes, and a giant seesaw. There are also floodlit tennis courts and the opportunity to learn falconry with owls and hawks.
Dining is beautifully geared towards families: while you choose and order in the restaurant, Wild Carrot, there’s no hunger meltdown as youngsters can help themselves to the buffet.
The shared interiors have been given a refreshed hipster look, although comfortable bedrooms are more old-fashioned with panelled walls and dark wood furniture. Complimentary roll-away beds, bed guards, cribs, bottle sterilisers, high chairs, baby bath and organic toiletries, nappies and swim nappies and microwave all make things easier for travelling with babies.
Address: Dogmersfield Park, Chalky Lane, Dogmersfield, Hook RG27 8TD
Telephone: 01252 853000
Price: Doubles from £425
Woolley Grange, Wiltshire
This luxurious Jacobean house on the edge of the Cotswolds offers the perfect combination of family fun and romantic time out. Enjoy the daily 90 minutes’ complimentary childcare at the kids’ club, or join in the activities on offer, many of which make the most of the 14 acres of beautiful grounds, keeping children outside in the fresh air. A treasure trail gets them exploring with a chocolate treat as the reward, a magical secret garden promises fairies, while a kitchen play area in a wendy house is hidden at the back of the vegetable plots where children learn about being green-fingered from the expert gardeners in residence. Other outdoor fun includes the famous Woolley model sheep, tipis, fruit picking, collecting eggs from the chickens and ducks, pond dipping, a grass maze and Simon the pet rabbit.
Knowing that their children have had fun-filled days, parents can use the complimentary baby-listening service – you take the hi-tech video monitor with you – to enjoy a romantic dinner or some time in the spa. The children’s breakfast club from 8am on Sundays allows a rare lie in.
Don’t miss the chance to order a picnic hamper and find a spot in the peaceful orchards to enjoy it, or take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool overlooking the gardens.
Address: Woolley Grange, Bradford on Avon BA15 1TX
Telephone: 01225 864 705
Price: Doubles from £119
Bingham Riverhouse Hotel, London
Situated between central Richmond and quieter Petersham, the Bingham is a smart and beautifully kept boutique hotel haven in a Georgian townhouse with a home-from-home attitude and an unbeatable riverfront position. Staff are friendly, easygoing and welcoming, just what you want for a relaxed stay with children; nothing is too much. Need a baby bottle warmed in the early hours? More entertainment for the younger guests? No problem. Appropriate-aged books and colouring pencils were left in our room for the children to borrow during our stay. Babysitting can be organised if you want to spend adult time in the gorgeous Bhuti spa up the road (your stay allows you 15 per cent off treatments), or enjoy the nearby eateries and bars. It’s worth borrowing a baby monitor and staying in to enjoy the tasting menu in Steven Edwards’ restaurant, where high chairs are available – although there’s no children’s menu just yet.
Among the 15 rooms are two sets of interconnecting rooms, while extra beds for children can be added elsewhere. The copper baths are more practical for younger children than the usual showers (although there are fabulous monsoon showers here), and the hotel has two cloakrooms with changing facilities.
Best of all is the large, pretty terrace garden overlooking the river where parents can relax and enjoy a drink with a view while watching their children run around.
Book a trip on the hotel’s rowing boat or borrow bicycles from the hotel and take the cycle path along the river and Richmond Park 15 minutes away, where the children can try out horse riding at Stage Lodge Stables. Or take a casual stroll along the river front directly outside the hotel for a picnic at one of the numerous patches of green grass and Petersham Meadows.
Address: 61-63 Petersham Road, Richmond upon Thames TW10 6UT
Telephone: 020 8940 0902
Price: Doubles from £210
Athenaeum Hotel and Residences, London
Staff at the Athenaeum Hotel bend over backwards to ensure that littlest guests’ every whim is catered for. This is home-from-home, but of the most luxurious and spoiling kind.
Having filled out a form inviting us to detail the youngest guests’ favourite things, we arrived to favourite snacks in large glass jars (think pistachios, Percy Pig sweets, YoYo fruit snacks), delicious fresh fruit, and a fridge full of juices, olives, and cheese – all complimentary. The Children’s Concierge organises bedtime milk and cookies and other activities. Our children were delighted at the generous assortment of their favourite toys (from the hotel’s own toy store) to keep them entertained during their stay, while gifts included quality kites to be flown at Green Park opposite, plus bird food for feeding the ducks at St James Park. The location is perfect for introducing youngsters to London sites such as Buckingham Palace.
Stay in one of the 18 luxury apartments for practicality and space, with the top-notch housekeeping of a hotel. Cots are beautifully made up in the main bedroom and pop-up bunk beds or sofa beds are made up in the lounge, while interconnecting apartments are ideal for longer family stays. Luxury bathrooms include organic toiletries for little ones. Here, kitchens are compact but fully equipped with smart mod cons, and there are both dining area and sitting room. You don’t, of course, have to cook; the onsite 116 restaurant may not have a dedicated children’s menu, but the chef will make requests or youngsters can order from the main menu. Or book one of the hotel’s babysitters and head out on the town.
Address: 116 Piccadilly, London W1J7BJ
Telephone: 020 7499 3464
Price: Doubles from £305