Looking for the best family friendly hotels in the UK? We’ve rounded up the best child friendly hotels to stay for families for family weekend getaways. Whether you want luxury family hotels, or cosy country hotels, read on to find out where to stay as a family…
Watergate Bay Hotel, Cornwall
Looking for a family friendly hotel in Cornwall? Owned by two generations of the Ashworth family since the 1960s, Watergate Bay Hotel has gradually been transformed since then (most dramatically over the last decade or so), with a modern Ocean Wing, several distinct eating spaces, a stunning 25m swimming pool, a run of self-catering apartments and Extreme Academy (watersports hire and tuition company) down on the brilliantly wild two-mile long beach below the hotel.
Family rooms at Watergate Bay Hotel: The result the Ashworths wanted was a coastal (Cornish) answer to a ski resort and they’ve succeeded, with a family-friendly feel for good measure. Family suites with sea views have a separate bunk room for children, with the largest bedroom sleeping up to six. Every morning and evening, the kids’ zone has supervised sessions, where children can get crafty with woodwork, learn how to make their own smoothies and learn to surf.
Children’s menu at Watergate Bay Hotel: Where food is concerned, children are catered for just as well as adults, with the relaxed Beach Hut restaurant offering a separate kids’ menu (think carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus and hearty slow-cooked beef lasagne). Families can also dine at Zarcy’s, the hotel’s more formal restaurant, between 6.30 and 7.30pm, where simplified versions of main courses are served for younger guests.
Child-friendly activities: There’s a dedicated Kids’ Zone (play rooms, an outdoor play area and a games room for older children) adding to the Beach Hut café.
Shabby chic is the name of the game at all the Pig hotels and Combe is no exception, combining original features (portraits of the building’s previous owners, original oak floorboards and marble fireplaces) with a casual edge – staff wear jeans and pink shirts. Well-dimpled armchairs and antique embroidered sofas look like they’ve been doing their jobs for centuries.
Family rooms at The Pig at Combe: The hotel’s 27 bedrooms combine elegance with practicality: gold mirrors turn into flat-screen TVs at the touch of a button, and antique chests and cabinets picked up by Robin’s wife, Judy, on her travels fill the rooms. The family bedroom in the stable yard boasts a super-king four-poster bed with a separate children’s bunk bedroom and two monsoon showers, plus a larder stocked with British produce (we loved the Chase popcorn, Burt’s crisps and Cracking Nuts).
Children’s menu at The Pig at Combe: There’s a dedicate ‘piglets’ menu, starting with piglets vegetable bites, squash soup or cured meats. Mains include simple but well-sourced dishes such as home-smoked ham with egg and chips, fish fingers with lemon mayo and chips, or Pipers Farm sausages and mash. Fun desserts include honey and apple jelly topped with popping candy, or chocolate brownie with homemade ice cream. If you’re looking for a celebratory, all-generations feast, both the Georgian Kitchen and The Folly can be booked for private dinners, where local, seasonal, sharing-style food is the focus, as well as pizza.
Cross the rattly Victorian bridge to Eriska and you immediately feel a sense of island zen. A little way up the Scottish coastline from Oban, this 350-acre private island hotel has views to Lismore and to mountains. There are seals on the shore, badgers coming to the door to be fed milk at night, fat sofas beside big fires and a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Family rooms at Isle of Eriska: Most of the rooms can accommodate children, and the three-bedroom self-catering house can sleep up to six guests, too.
Children’s menu at Isle of Eriska: While the formal restaurant does accommodate children, a High Tea menu is served earlier in the day for families, or choose to eat en famille in the Deck restaurant, which has a more relaxed feel and views across the loch.
Child-friendly activities: A babysitting service is available in the evenings, and the 17m swimming pool is a great place to spend rainier days if you have children in tow.
To seriously recharge your batteries, simply head for Hell Bay on the tiny island of Bryher in the tranquil Isles of Scilly. It’s no surprise the island sells itself as ‘the ultimate escape’ – located around 30 miles off the coast of Land’s End, Bryher is a very small, very beautiful dot in the vast Atlantic. No wonder loved-up couples and young families head here, all seeking a mini holiday (four or five nights is the norm) away from the hordes.
Family rooms at Hell Bay: The hotel’s dramatic location overlooking the Atlantic breakers means each of the hotel’s 25 suites comes with dazzling sea views and there are a number of dedicated family suites.
Children’s menu at Hell Bay: In the summer, the hotel’s Crab Shack opens up a little way apart from the hotel. Perfect for families with older children, it’s a relaxed and fun spot to cosy up on communal tables and eat your fill of crab, mussels and fresh fish.
Child-friendly activities: Finding stuff to do on Bryher is surprisingly easy – considering the entire island is only one mile long by half a mile wide. Sail round the island, explore the myriad rocky coves on a kayak or ramble along the coast – the spankingly clear waters are also wonderful for snorkelling, if you fancy braving the chilly sea temperatures.
As decadent as you would imagine of classy Chewton Glen, the 12 contemporary treehouse suites here are a hit with families. Set 200m from the hotel, the lofty suites have huge windows and decks, hot tubs, ambient lighting, rainforest showers, feature baths – and clever little hatches for breakfasts to be delivered.
Family rooms at Chewton Glen: In the main building, most of the bedrooms and suites are large enough to fit families with younger children in, but the Coach House suites are tailormade for families, with space for up to six including special beds and bunks for children.
Children’s menu at Chewton Glen: Food-wise, an all-day children’s menu is served in The Kitchen restaurant (think gnocchetti tomato, basil and parmesan; buttermilk halloumi burgers; and prosciutto and mushroom pizzas). During school holidays, a children’s buffet supper is also served between 6pm and 7pm.
Child-friendly activities: If the little ones want to get stuck into their food more directly, the hotel’s Kitchen cookery school, run by James Martin, offers junior and teen courses during the school holidays (anyone for an Easter holiday ‘cookery camp’?) and ‘Bake with me’ workshops – a chance for children and parents to cook savoury muffins and loaf cakes together. To work up an appetite first book into the kids’ club (running at weekends and during school holidays) and let the children head out on treasure hunts, play croquet, have a go at painting or just play with the hotel’s toys and games.
It’s rare to find a place that features both a gastro dining room and the feel of an authentic local pub, but The Bel and The Dragon in Kingsclere manages both. Part of a small chain of seven pubs in the south of England, the culinary focus at this one is on updated British classics served on boards, straight from the Josper grill or rotisserie.
Family rooms at Bel and the Dragon: The bedrooms are as cosy as the pub, with a modern country vibe (think exposed wooden beams, chalky green walls and a hint of tweed). Family rooms are available, with two double bedrooms, and complimentary bottles of Sipsmith sloe gin are waiting, on arrival, for the parents.
Children’s menu at Bel and the Dragon: For younger guests dining at the hotel a children’s menu is available, serving the likes of pea and sweetcorn risotto, and roast corn-fed chicken. If you’re there on a Sunday, the children’s Sunday lunch offers smaller portions of the adult menu including chicken, beef and pork with all the trimmings. Keep them happy while they’re waiting for their food with the pub’s tabletop boards (they come with wordsearches and games for them to scribble on).
Right opposite the beach in seaside-chic St Mawes, Cornwall’s St Mawes Hotel has seven smart, nautically influenced bedrooms and a relaxed, breezy feel that makes it restful for guests with small children.
Family rooms at St Mawes Hotel: There’s a family room that sleeps up to four, though most rooms have space for a travel cot.
Children’s menu at St Mawes Hotel: Food is more family-friendly than hotel dining can be; think local fish (or lobster) and chips, stone-baked pizzas and burgers plus a separate kids’ menu.
Child-friendly activities: For more decadent dining, book a babysitter – and a table at sister hotel The Idle Rocks, five minutes’ walk away, for mussel tortellini, or beer and miso rump cap. Better still, go for lunch on the Idle Rocks’ waterside terrace and let the children loose in the hotel’s brilliant playroom. Back at the St Mawes, there’s a 25-seater cinema room that shows children’s films during school holidays – or on demand if the room is free.
Bought by the group behind Hoxton Hotels three years ago, most of a wholesale renovation of Gleneagles is now complete. No longer aimed so squarely at the huntin’, fishin’, golfin’ brigade, the feel is more The Pig, albeit on a grand scale. De-tartaned bedrooms are softer and prettier (not least the Royal Lochnagar suite with its blush velvet sofa and dove grey bathroom panelling).
Two Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie aside (always a destination in its own right), the resort’s restaurants and bars are much improved – seriously glamorous, atmospheric spaces, with menus that cater to the brunch and burger crowd (and their children) as well as finer diners.
Child-friendly activities: With 850 acres to explore – and a vast programme of supervised activities within them – Gleneagles has always been popular with families. New for this year, however, is Little Glen, a supervised play space for children up to nine, and The Den, an unsupervised area for older children and teens, stacked with games and a cinema.
A scrubbed-up modern take on the classic English country house hotel, Beaverbrook was once owned by newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook. Food is taken as seriously as the decor, from the Dining Room, an exceptional Japanese restaurant (try the yellow tail tiradito with yuzu soy, wasabi and aubergine), to the Garden House restaurant (think crowd-pleasing Cornish crab linguini with samphire, chilli and garlic and a kids’ menu serving moreishly meaty heritage beef sliders). There’s also a glamorous Twenties-style bar, a cookery school, and plans for a kitchen garden and spa.
Family rooms at Beaverbrook: The estate’s 29 bedrooms and suites are split between a grand Victorian manor house and a farmhouse-chic Garden House (best suited to families, with inter-connecting rooms and an adjoining two-bedroom cottage).
Child-friendly activities: Kids can join a weekend kids club, explore the Hide Out playground, watch films in the cinema room or chill out in the Orangery with board games, air hockey, beans bags and books.
Set in 220 acres in Gloucestershire, historic Calcot is an imposing pile but the atmosphere is far from stuffy, making it very welcoming for families of all ages.
Family rooms at Calcot Manor: Family bedrooms and suites are available at Calcot with double beds and bunk beds (cots are also available).
Children’s menu at Calcot Manor: Most families eat in the Gumstool Inn, enjoying dishes such as local sausage ‘n’ mash with red onion jam and crispy shallots.
Child-friendly activities: There are two play-zones with entertainment for kids of all ages and outdoor activities from football to horse-riding, which those visiting to dine can tap-into like residents (rooms from £199). A babysitting service is also available and there’s a play zone for younger ones who want to spend the day doing arts and crafts.