With travel abroad looking unlikely this summer following the coronavirus, many of us have turned our attention to a staycation in the UK with our families. And thankfully, the UK is heaving with gorgeous places to stay where little ones are as welcome as a glass of Merlot at the end of the day.
Whether you’re after a bubba-friendly bolthole with staff who’ll happily keep an ear out while you dine in peace (remember that?) or who won’t raise an eyebrow when your brood makes themselves at home, we’ve rounded up some of the best staycations in the UK.
With a fully staffed creche for children over three months that's FREE for two hours a day, every day of your stay, baby listening, kids' club and cinema, this is the ultimate in kiddie-friendly hotels. Sitting on a clifftop overlooking Cornwall’s unspoilt Lizard Peninsula, The Polurrian Bay Hotel has 12 acres of grounds to explore, a swimming pool, tennis court, sports field, spa, and two fab restaurants.
Despite being one of the most luxurious boutique hotels in the UK, Babington House is also surprisingly, and impressively, baby-friendly. Set in the rolling Somerset countryside, it’s every bit the plum hideaway you’d imagine with sumptuous interiors, a tip-top Cowshed spa, two swimming pools, cinema, tennis courts and an amazing restaurant. For your smalls, there’s The Little House, open daily offering creche facilities for guests. Where do we sign up?
This working farm is situated in 30 acres between Bodmin Moor and the North Cornwall coast.
It features five cottages and five Scandinavian lodges on the site of a 16th-century watermill. Coombe Mill has been set up with babies, toddlers and growing children in mind. There are daily tractor rides, and the chance to feed the animals, including deer, miniature donkeys, rabbits and chickens. There are also indoor and outdoor play areas and free daily rides on a miniature railway.
Located in one of Yorkshire’s prettiest market towns, the luxury Black Swan in Helmsley is the ‘daddy’ (pardon the pun) of baby-friendly boutique hotels. Why? Where do we start....the children’s DVD library and DVD player in each room, the separate children’s dinner menu – the Little Adults Menu – but the thing that really swings it is the mini bathrobes they provide for your littlies – how cute is that? But don’t think grown-up needs are overlooked – there is a stunning walled garden, two great restaurants and a tearoom.
Set in the heart of the New Forest, Hampshire, Lime Wood is just 1.5 hours from London making it the perfect hop, skip and jump destination for a mini-break with the brood. Little ones are well looked after – cots are £10, extra beds are £30; there’s a children’s menu and bikes and scooters on loan. Plus babysitting with a local nanny can be arranged for £55 an evening with 48 hours notice. Oh and did we mention there’s also a spa, with 10 (10!) treatment rooms. Quite literally, heaven in a hotel.
According to Emma Barnett, Founder of Totstoo.com, Woolley Grange in Wiltshire is the go-to boutique hotel for parents with little nippers. 'Not only does it have a beautiful spa, with an amazing view over the walled garden, but the staff welcome families with no restrictions,' she says. 'The Woolley Bears Den has a team of brilliantly creative staff for kids and although free, you’d do well to book in advance as it is hugely popular and they operate with limited spaces.'
If you want to keep the animals a little further away, try Old Oak Cottages just outside the pretty village of Little Thirkleby, on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors.
Eight luxury cottages have been converted from barns and stables. They’re surrounded by 400 acres of stunning farmland where the owner’s sheep graze. There is a heated indoor swimming pool on-site and an outside playground with a fort, climbing frame, trampoline and seesaw for toddlers plus lambing in the spring and goats to feed.
The Red Lion
Situated on top of the Red Lion in Leytonstone pub, this boutique hotel is the perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle of London. The pub hotel has 11 lavish rooms, including a family room that is perfect for little people. It has a bunk bed in a separate room - alongside a bookshelf of children's books and cutesy beanbags. The adult section of the suite houses a grand bespoke made king size bed underneath the stars – plus necessities such as a Nespresso machine, luxury fabric, and supplies from Aromatherapy Associates.
Set into a cliff above the dramatic Cornish coastline, the walk down to the beach from the hotel is a great adventure for little explorers. As well as the natural entertainment, there’s plenty to do at the hotel. Water babies will love it, with one indoor and three outdoor pools. The hotel caters really well for kids – from the Jungle Tumble soft playroom to toddlers’ outside play, tennis court and giant trampoline. But it’s also geared up for grown-ups, Ofsted-registered kids’ clubs for all ages (two hours of free childcare daily) mean parents can curl up with a book in the adult-only sanctuaries or use the sea view spa.
Brilliantly set up for families, you can only stay at this 500-year-old working farm if you have at least one child under five. And, if yours is obsessed with tractors, animals and general farm gear, it’s toddler heaven.
In the mornings, kids can help feed the farm animals, collect eggs for breakfast, bottle-feed orphan lambs, groom and ride the ponies and even have a pony and trap ride. Then it’s time for a trip on a tractor from the farmer, followed by a play in the farm-themed playgrounds. Farmers Andrew and Lucy are always on hand with interesting facts about what’s going on.
Depending on the season, your little one can also hold newborn chicks, help with the pigs and pet the goats. With so much to occupy the kids, parents can treat themselves to some proper holiday downtime.
Rent one of two cottages (sleeping five to nine), complete with baby and toddler equipment, such as safety gates, fireguards and toys.
Cwmcrwth Farm, Brecon Beacons
This small rare-breed farm with cottages is situated on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in the beautiful Towy Valley in Wales.
You can stay in the old hayloft, milking parlour or coach house – or if you’re feeling really adventurous, camp out in an old pig ‘ark’. The cottages are fully equipped for families, with highchairs, travel cots, changing mats and more. Toddlers can help farmer Rob on his feeding rounds, meeting the animals and collecting eggs.
The farm offers midweek stays specifically for families with young children, three nights from £350 for two en-suite bedrooms, cwmcrwthfarm.co.uk
The 14th-century Calcot Manor is a perfect place to unwind. You can have a grown-up stay and take advantage of the Aromatherapy Associates spa, outdoor hot tub, roaring fires and five-star food but this is one of the best family-friendly hotels in the UK, with an Ofsted-registered crèche, called The Playzone, where nannies will take care of your little one while you have a break.
You can explore the estate by bike, child carriers are available, or take a dip in the heated outdoor pool. If you fancy an adults-only dinner, the baby-listening service will give you a quiet (fingers crossed!) evening while the kids are asleep
The best thing about staying at The Elms – one of eight hotels in the Luxury Family Hotels group – is its open layout, sociable spaces and a general house party vibe. It feels less like a hotel, more like an enormous family home, somehow managing to be grand, but also relaxed and low key.
Set in an elegant Queen Anne mansion in Worcestershire, with 10 acres of grounds, it has a large entrance hall and lots of reception rooms with huge sofas where families can hang out during the day. Outside, there are lots of play areas, plus organised games in the gardens at the back – think croquet, football and hide-and-seek. There’s a professional and friendly (not to mention free) crèche, plus The Den caters for kids from three months to eight years. Honestly, it’s hard not to make friends here.
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