The best family hotels in the world, from Cornwall to the Caribbean… and how to keep your children happy in them

They say you only have 18 summers with your children before they desert you in favour of their own adventures. So, how to make the most of your time off together?

Luckily, at most well-run hotels, it’s no longer a case of raised eyebrows at youngsters in the dining room, no matter how upmarket the establishment.

The vast majority of resorts across the globe have aced the family holiday formula, offering amazing kids’ clubs, thoughtful menus, activities galore and spacious accommodation. But which are the very best ones to try?

Here we’ve narrowed the search to 20 of the finest family-friendly places to stay. And we’re well aware it’s not just parents with children in tow that comes into consideration regarding what makes a great family getaway.

A recent study conducted by the Family Travel Association found that more than half of grandparents (54 per cent) are planning a multi-generational break, often (rather usefully) having money saved to help finance trips.

So here’s our selection of the 20 best family-friendly hotels — for all.


Cornish charmer

Fowey Hall is an elegant 1899 manor house perched above the charming Cornish port of Fowey, boasting Ofsted-registered childcare, a milk butler, menus to please both foodie grown-ups and mini fusspots, an indoor and heated outdoor pool and, hallelujah, a spa. Cornwall’s simple pleasures, crab nets and coastal walks further heighten the charm.

Family crowd-pleaser: The spa’s Little Ishga menu for over-threes; kids can chill too y’know.

Book it: Family rooms from £500, based on May half-term prices (

Divine in the Lakes

The playful, punchy interiors at Another Place, a Georgian hotel in the Lake District with a contemporary wing plus shepherds huts, cottages and a treehouse, are likely lost on anyone knee-high to a grasshopper but there’s plenty to woo them too. This swish resort, on 18 acres around glinting Ullswater, serves up outdoorsy adventures – via kayaks, paddleboards and bikes, as well as age-specific kids clubs.

Grown-ups sneak off to Swim Club, a sleek spa and pool flanked by two walls of gleaming glass. Dinner? Choose from three restaurants, including The Glasshouse, which fires up pizzas by the lake.

Family crowd-pleaser: Let them stay up, the stargazing is phenomenal.

Book it: Family rooms from £450 (

Lovely Loch Lomond

Play at being lords and ladies of the manor, try falconry, take a seaplane ride or whirl down the indoor pool’s slide; just some of the ways to fill the time at 200-year-old Cameron House. On 400 rolling green acres close to Loch Lomond – so you can put Nessie-spotting on the itinerary too, accommodation is in the hotel or roomier, scattered lodges. Two of the five restaurants are particularly child-friendly, with foolproof menus including make-up-your-own pizzas and spectacular sundaes.

Family crowd-pleaser: Sunset kayaking on Lomond.

Book it: Family rooms from £470 (


Sardinian success

FORTE Village in Sardinia comprises 116 acres of stellar family entertainment on Sardinia’s southern coast. The resort has been perfecting its formula since 1974. There’s now a whopping eight hotels plus villas and suites, and 21 restaurants, including one that has three Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck’s name above the door. The kids are the real VIPs; with a Real Madrid camp and Barbie Academy among the many collaborations likely to make them never want to leave. Parents will love the Acquaforte & Thalasso Spa, big enough to be a resort in its own right.

Family crowd-pleaser: Head to Leisureland for bowling and go-karting.

Book it: Seven nights in a deluxe family bungalow from £1,231pp, based on May half-term departures ( Fly to Caligari from £65 return (

Italy all-rounder

WELCOME to la dolce vita, baby (and tots, and teens). The Beckhams and the Bransons are among famous broods who’ve checked in at five-star Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, at the top of Italy’s heel in Puglia.

Designed like an authentic local village crafted from Tufa stone, albeit one with a Michelin-starred restaurant, this honey-hued resort has a laser focus on showing the kids a good time. There’s cookery lessons, their own pool and a cute farm – even the Vair spa caters for youngsters. Parents will love the ‘wine at 5’ rule.

Family crowd-pleaser: Bambinos get their own restaurant, Da Frisella, serving fresh pasta.

Book it: Two-bed family houses from £917 ( Fly to Bari from £98 return (

Oh la la in Paris

THE French capital, just 2hrs 16mins by Eurostar, is an inspired first city break, with famous sights and crepe au chocolat sellers on every corner. But there are obstacles — cobbled streets, steep steps on the Metro — so you’ll need the right hotel.

Get a warm welcome at five-star boutique bolt-hole Maison Bréguet, in a tranquil portion of the Right Bank in Paris. They’ll lay on buggies, baby-changing mats and cots, plus there’s a babysitting service.

Family crowd-pleaser: Few Paris hotels have pools, there’s a small one here.

Book it: Family rooms from £446 ( Eurostar to Paris from £39 return, under threes go free, with discounts for under 11s (

Terrific Tenerife

Styled like a Moorish citadel, the Ritz-Carlton Abama in Tenerife is a striking terracotta-coloured hotel is enormous, with 462 rooms and suites fitting comfortably on 160 verdant hectares of the Canary Isle’s south coast.

What can Ritz kids (their words, not mine) expect? A smorgasbord of carefully considered activities including art, crafting sessions and water sports. Concierges can book Tenerife’s best family day trips too, including whale watching, exploring lunar-like Mount Tiede and Siam Park, Europe’s biggest waterpark.

Family crowd-pleaser: The ‘fun-icular’, which trundles to Abama beach.

Book it: Family rooms from £546 ( Fly to Tenerife from £157 return (

Greek hit

A thousand acres on Greece’s Kassandra peninsula is room enough for five Sani hotels, all nestled in pine forest, with the lapping Aegean close by. Ready for some big names to entertain?

You can hit at the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre, master keepie-uppies at the Chelsea FC Foundation or hone bushcraft skills in the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. And baby food guru Annabel Karmel has had a hand in the restaurant menus too.

Family crowd-pleaser: Kids under 12 stay free at the Sani Beach Hotel.

Book it: Seven nights’ half-board in a family suite costs £2,561pp, based on summer holiday departures and including flights (

Top-notch Algarve

THE awards cabinet for top-notch family facilities bulges at Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve in Portugal. This 72-hectare five-star resort in Albufeira has an entire village, Porto Pirata, for younger kids, with a bouncy castle and mini-golf and plenty of water-based thrills for tweens and teens too.

Where are the grown-ups? Pinballing between the nine-hole course, Serenity Spa and Annabel Croft Tennis Academy.

Family crowd-pleaser: Namaste! Enjoy parent-and-child yoga.

Book it: Seven nights’ self-catering in a family suite costs £1,673pp, based on May half-term departures and including flights (


Dreamy Dubai

THE most famous luxe mega-resort on the planet? Welcome to Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai, a 1,500-room goliath the colour of amber desert sand overlooking the Arabian Gulf. The Explorers Club here is, as your offspring might say, ‘epic’, with a Play Zone, Command Centre for gamers and aquarium tours in the mix. Parental lounge poolside, window-shop couture in the boutiques and book tables for dinner, including at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen.

Family crowd-pleaser: Free entry to The Lost Chambers Aquarium and Aquaventure waterpark

Book it: Seven nights’ half-board in a family room costs £2,254pp, based on October half-term departures and including flights (

Maldives for all

THE Maldives is finally – why should the loved-ups have all the fun? – making this paradise more welcoming to families. Five-star Angsana Velavaru, an immaculate line-up of overwater villas in the Southern Nilandhe atoll, is all-inclusive to make things super easy. The Rangers Club is mightily impressive, with activities for both grown-ups and children including night-fishing, banana boat rides and a kids learn-to-dive programme.

Family crowd-pleaser: A personal villa host is assigned at check-in.

Book it: Seven nights’ all-inclusive costs £3,291pp, based on October half-term departures and including flights (

Abu Dhabi surprise

HUGGING six miles of custard-coloured beach and with its own waterpark; island resort Saadiyat Rotana Resort in Abu Dhabi is a natural alternative if you loved Dubai. The drill is similar, mind: posh health club vibes, with luxury sports and spa facilities, and eight global restaurants. The Aladdin’s Cave kids club was refreshed last year and has a Cinema Zone and dedicated water park areas for smaller children. Culture? Louvre Abu Dhabi is right next door.

Family crowd-pleaser: Spot hawksbill turtles and dolphins from the beach.

Book it: Seven nights’ B&B costs £1,322pp, based on October half-term departures and including flights (


Mexican rave

When an Oscar-winning art director designs the children’s club, you know you’ve dealt a killer blow to holiday boredom. Brigitte Broch, who worked on Moulin Rouge, is behind the fantastical 3,900-square-metre KidsOnly club at the One&Only Mandarina in Nayarit, Mexico, where energy is burned off tackling climbing walls and a jungle playground.

Meet the parents for lunch at family-friendly Canalan Beach Club. Palm-strewn Mandarina sits on a gloriously private portion of Mexico’s Riveria Nayarit; book a tree-top lodge to really immerse.

Family crowd-pleaser: Beach canter? Horse-riding is easy to arrange.

Book it: Seven nights’ B&B in a villa costs £2156pp, based on summer holiday departures ( Fly to Puerto Vallarta from £1,157 return (

American beauty

Oh, you know this is going to be a blast, just by the name. Set on 37,000 acres of Montana wilderness, Paws Up in Montana is an independently-owned ranch resort with hotel rooms, glamping and self-catering stays, so it’s ideal for multi-generation groups. Sign budding cowboys/girls up to the Kids Corp of Discovery and then listen to them recount tales of fly-fishing, river rafting and paintballing over a ‘chuck wagon’ dinner. Rustic luxury at its most exhilarating, and all with the usual sunny service.

Family crowd-pleaser: S’mores and songs by the campfire.

Book it: Four nights in a three-bed self-catering lodge, sleeping eight, costs £444pp, based on May half-term departures ( Fly to Missoula via Salt Lake City from £1463 return (

Marvellous in Miami

JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in Florida is a Med-inspired resort enjoying 300 tropical acres in the north Miami enclave of Aventura.

It’s a perfect marriage of Floridian beauty and man-made thrills; there’s 40 species of tropical birds and a 100-year-old Banyan Tree cheek-by-jowl with two championship golf courses and, the big draw for young guests, the Tidal Cove waterpark, which boasts spaghetti rides and its own surf simulator. Date night? Book in for butter-poached steak at top chef Michael Mina’s restaurant.

Family crowd-pleaser: Waffle cones with homemade gelato by the pool, please.

Book it: Family rooms from £285 ( Fly to Miami from £648 return (

Stand-out Bermuda

Dubbed the ‘Pink Palace’ and a one-time favourite with Mark Twain, the Hamilton Princess is a Bermudian institution, just a short walk from pastel-painted capital Hamilton.

What the kids need to know? How to stick out their pinky finger, for there’s a children’s afternoon tea every Saturday. Princes and Princesses are also invited to try giant chess, air hockey and sand art at the Kids’ Cottage and under-fives eat for free. Anyone seen dad? Ah, he’s nursing a ‘dark and stormy’ cocktail by the infinity pool.

Family crowd-pleaser: Fudge brownie-laden ‘Knight’ milkshakes in The Duchess cafe.

Book it: Family rooms from £854 ( Fly to Bermuda from £774 return (

Child-friendly Jamaica

Fractious after a long flight? The transfer to Half Moon in Jamaica is 11 minutes by car from Montego Bay airport, and the sight of two miles of soft Caribbean beach, with guest-only access, is an instant balm.

Celebrating its 70th birthday this year, this Jamaican favourite has three accommodation options over 400 acres, and an entire Children’s Village, inspired by island folklore, for kids aged three to 12. There are 11 restaurants, a spa, golf course and equestrian centre to boot too.

Family crowd-pleaser: Under-fives eat free at the buffet.

Book it: Family rooms from £559 ( Fly to Montego Bay from £665 return (


Tempting Thailand

Anantara Hua Hin Resort in Thailand is on one of the first Thai beaches on the 1970s backpacker trail. It’s famous for its colourful elephant statue parades, with an enticing mix of city and sand.

The Anantara Resort, modelled like a Thai village, puts you in a plum spot to enjoy both. Activities for little ones are inventive, from traditional batik shirt making to presenting mum with a gel candle at the end of the day. It’s less than three hours from Bangkok too, meaning flights are direct.

Family crowd-pleaser: Master Thai recipes in a family cooking session.

Book it: Family rooms from £251 ( Fly to Bangkok from £796 return (

Singapore sands

Beachfront hotels barely exist in Singapore, but the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa has bagged a crescent of sand and run with it, offering families a dizzying array of activities and easy access to the city-state’s best attractions.

On site, there’s a two-storey Cool Zone kids club, with a treehouse and ball pit slide. Prise them away too from Nestopia, the sprawling beach adventure playground, if you dare.

Family crowd-pleaser: Universal Studios Singapore is a ten-minute bus hop away.

Book it: Family rooms from £381 ( Fly to Singapore from £924 return (

Laidback Australia

Australia’s Gold Coast is 43 miles of amped-up fun under sunny skies. Laidback Turtle Beach Resort, 300 metres from Mermaid Beach in Queensland, is a great base to enjoy it all from – and good value too. Part waterpark, part hotel, there’s dusk ’til dawn entertainment for little tourists thanks to mini-golf, a toddler splash area, six snaking slides and a 22-seat cinema.

Family crowd-pleaser: Collect shells on Mermaid Beach (with a cold tinnie in hand).

Book it: Seven nights in a two-bed apartment from £1,808, based on December departures ( Fly to Brisbane from £1,800 return (


The prospect of a day out with babies and children can feel daunting, let alone a fortnight-long trip to foreign shores — but there’s lots you can do to help make holidays easier…

Booking a trip

Commit to flights/ferries early: A year in advance even, because fares are almost always cheaper, and if you need to add extra luggage at a later date, it won’t feel as painful.

Skip seat selection on flights: Airlines don’t shout about it but they almost always place families together even if you haven’t picked and paid for seats in advance.

Staycation in the summer: Tied to school holidays? Go abroad in the April, May or October breaks; the Med is warm but not boiling, it’s less crowded and cheaper.

Book meet-and-greet airport parking: Per person, they’re not much more expensive than off-site options and eliminates the stress of the shuttle bus — juggling children, luggage and sharp corners isn’t fun.

What to pack

Learn to travel light: Take the minimum everyone needs – one less case, one less thing to carry, and many resorts will have cribs, bottle sterilisers and buggies to hand.

Use hotel laundry facilities: They’re not just for business travellers, are cheaper than you think and can be a lifesaver if you have babies and toddlers.

Take a mini medical kit for the plane: Especially for long-haul, packing a few items that might help if someone feels unwell can head off a crisis at 30,000ft.

How to travel well

Take their favourites: From tots to teens, entertainment and snacks are the key to stress-free travel.

Make the journey entertaining: Let them play DJ in the car, promise a treat/lunch at the airport and chat about the holiday they’re about to enjoy.

Don’t beat yourself up over routines: If they fall asleep too early, or spend 11 hours in the air wide awake, don’t stress, they’ll soon readjust when you arrive.

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