Tag Archives: hotels

Wheel-free weekends

I love the idea of leaving the car behind for a weekend – not only is it less stressful, it also feels eco and carefree to be car-free. Sawday’s has also spotted the trend for travelling by train to escape the Big Smoke and has just launched a collection of properties dedicated to ditching the wheels – here are a few of my favourites.

The Potting Shed
The Potting Shed

A potting shed in Kent
There’s something about a potting shed and this one is exceptional. In the prettiest part of Kent, it stands in the former kitchen garden of Benenden Grange where plantsman Collingwood Ingram once lived. Largely open plan, on three floors, you’ve a sitting room, a natty little kitchen and a double bed up on the mezzanine. Tour the topiary garden, stroll to the idyllic village pub, visit sweet villages and gardens; Sissinghurst and Great Dixter (two of my absolute favourites) are close. Take the train to Headcorn and bus or taxi to Benenden.

The Potting Shed , Benenden, Kent, from £264 for a 4 night stay (sleeps 2), www.sawdays.co.uk / 01580 240 308



Step out onto the beach in Sussex 
Miles of white sand and shoreline are yours. Rooms are sprinkled with wrought-iron candlesticks, portholes and shells. Awe inspiring to be so close to the sea, as dramatic views encircle the driftwood bed.


The beach is an extension of the living room and the neutral palette does not compete with those views. Indulge in a spot of pampering: book a massage or reiki session. Take a train to Rye and a bus or taxi to Camber.

Seascape, Camber, Sussex, from £125 per night (sleeps 3), www.sawdays.co.uk / 01797 224754


The Treehouse
The Treehouse

Sleep at tree level in Hertfordshire
While looking out at lofty pines, imagine Henry VIII thundering by… This whole area was part of the hunting estate of nearby Hatfield House. An attractive, white-tiled, living area awaits through the stable door and there’s a small pitch-ceilinged sitting area with Velux window, L-shaped sofa, faux fur throw and magazines to relax with. Look into birds’ nests, and watch deer forage below! Take the train to Ware and hop on the bus to Essendon.

The Treehouse, Essendon, Hertfordshire, from £495 per week (sleeps 2), www.sawdays.co.uk / 01707271794


The Dundas Arms
The Dundas Arms

Canalside in the North Wessex Downs 
This classic inn sits in a stunning spot at the junction of the Kennet river and Kennet & Avon Canal. Check out the papers by the log fire in the Library, a civilised space with leather wing chairs, or have a drink in the modern-traditional bar before tucking into a pork sharing-board, local game pie or whole baked sea bass. Comfortable bedrooms open to gorgeous riverside terraces.Take the train direct to Kintbury and you’re just a stroll away.
The Dundas Arms, Kintbury, Berkshire, from £110 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01488 658263


The Barn at Roundhurst
The Barn at Roundhurst

Beautiful barn stay on the South Downs
This 17th-century barn is contemporary with leather sofas, beautiful sculpture and cow hide rugs. Upstairs, there’s an honesty bar, then a library for books and maps, playing cards and poker chips!

20131011-_dsc9694.jpg_gallery_previewChic rooms spiral around a pretty courtyard with boarded floors, blond wood furniture, smart fabrics and the odd exposed beam. Great walks from the door and Petworth and Goodwood are close. Take the train to Haselmere and bus to Lurgashall.

_dsc1910.jpg_gallery_previewThe Barn at Roundhurst, Lurgashall, Sussex, from £130 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01428 642535


Fox House
Fox House

Cotswolds country idyll
In this big stylish house, guests can relax in one of two super sitting rooms and take their pick from three immaculate, sunny bedrooms. Wake up to local produce, homemade bread, jams and juices from the orchard. The garden leads to pasture and horses, the countryside is dreamy in every season and footpaths radiate from the door. Take a train to Kingham and bus / taxi to Holwell.



Fox House, Burford, Oxfordshire, from £100 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01993 823409


The coach house at Colchester Hill House
The coach house at Colchester Hill House

Listed wooden coach house
This listed brick Coach House is rather special: light and airy with pale beams, oatmeal carpets and merry gingham blinds. Downstairs is a private entrance hall; upstairs a generous open-plan bedroom/living area with a queen-sized bed and en suite bathroom. Find two cream sofas that open into double beds and a balcony with stunning views across the Colne Valley. Take the train to Chappel and Wakes Colne, changing at Marks Tey.

Colchester Hill House, Colchester, Essex, from £95 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01787221561


Waterlock House
Waterlock House

Kent village meets Provencal style 
A stylish Georgian town house with an airy loft apartment on two floors.

hallway-kitchen-sawdays-013_gallery_previewThe vast bedroom/sitting room has French antique quirky pieces (owner, Sophie, has an antique shop next door), a painted black and white diamond floor, a sink-into sofa and a very comfortable big bed with a colourful cover.

garden-shots-009_gallery_previewTake some time in the fantastic, authentic Provençal-style walled garden behind. Take a train to Canterbury and bus or taxi to Wingham.

Waterlock House, Wingham, Canterbury, Kent, £120 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01227 721792


Blue Door Barns
Blue Door Barns

If you must have wheels, borrow better ones
Four charming flint barns hug a candle-lit courtyard, each has been stylishly restored for a relaxed, pampering stay; two have kitchens and living rooms; all are decorated in warm whites, with splashes of colour and vintage pieces.

bluedoor014.jpg_gallery_preview Al-fresco heaven with a rustic table under a rose-covered pergola, and a twinkling outdoor fireplace in the evenings. If you simply must have wheels, hire the stunning 1966 Triumph Spitfire MK1 to cruise the country lanes. Take a train direct to Lewes and walk / taxi to the barns.

Blue Door Barns, Lewes, Sussex, from £110 per night, www.sawdays.co.uk / 01273 858893



Related Posts

  • 43
    Steeped in a hazy morning mist, between the rolling Sussex downs, between Alfriston and the sea the sun is twinkling on Rathfinny’s vines, which cover the valley like a blanket, as we drive in. They seem to go on for miles, but then Rathfinny is no hobby vineyard – Britain’s…
    Tags: sussex, barns, room, rooms, £, british, uk, weekends, hotels, country
  • 42
    Yes folks, we did it. Last week, we went camping en famille - after the rain and thunder had passed on Tuesday, that is. At midday on Wednesday, with the car packed and an hour to till we were due to set off, we still didn't know where we were heading…
    Tags: weekend, night, travel, garden, uk, weekends, british
  • 36
    Want to go to a festival but worried you can't now that you have little ones? Don't worry, try these out for size. Have kids, will party Wilderness What: Set in the rolling Cotswolds, on an 800-year-old deer park, this is possibly Britain’s poshest festival with food from St John,…
    Tags: £, area, stay, weekend, uk, weekends, travel
  • 36
    Grab your Barbour jacket, pull on your Hunter boots and get outdoors for a bracing winter walk – and you can reward yourself with amazing grub and a gorgeous room for the night at the end of it There's nothing more exhilarating on a frosty, clear winter's day than a…
    Tags: £, rooms, open, country, room, views, house, weekends, uk, travel
  • 30
    This gorgeous, romantic bolthole in the English Lake District has been converted so beautifully that it's hard to believe it was once used as a coach house. Subtly blending into the landscape, it’s a secret luxury escape beneath a creamy vaulted ceiling. With spa treatments in the cabin and a…
    Tags: weekend, www.sawdays.co.uk, £, sleeps, house, room, travel, weekends, country

Why I can’t resist hotel bathroom goodies

What do you check out first at a hotel? The view from your room? The myriad of TV channels, the mini bar, or the bounce factor of the bed? Me, I’m straight into the bathroom to stake out the toiletries – and then, if they’re any good, they will be straight into my bag.

I hide them and then wait for the bathroom to be re-stocked either at turndown or when the room is cleaned the next morning, and then I repeat the process until I’ve gathered a hoard that I can only just squeeze into my burgeoning bag. I don’t think I’ve had to pay for shampoo for years and I’ve never needed to buy body lotion (really, who does? It’s a product that I’m sure people only bother with when it’s on offer for free in hotel rooms!).

The excitement of finding some really amazing products – C.O Bigelow at the Bowery hotel; Bamford products at Limewood; Pen and Ink at the Hoxton Holborn and Bramley at The Pig – is way more thrilling than a freestanding bath or a four-poster the size of a London studio flat.

My husband hates it: “isn’t our bathroom full of stolen hotel stuff already?” he’ll protest. “But we’ve paid for this in our room rate – it’s ours!” I insist. He’s right though, we have enough mini White Company bottles to open our own shop.

But why stop there. There’s almost always an individually wrapped Scottish shortbread biscuit taken from a hotel room languishing in the bottom of my handbag, I literally never buy pens and pencils. Slippers? Of course. Fruit, nail files, shower caps and even flannels have all made it into my luggage.

From Paris I took an especially nice corkscrew, in Morocco I came home with a full-length djellaba and a pair of leather slippers from the riad I was staying at, and a friend of mine smuggled a woollen Nina Campbell blanket from a country hotel in Devon that we stayed at because she loved it so much (and then later had to deny it when the hotel called to enquire of its whereabouts).

While towels and linen are the most commonly stolen items from hotel rooms, hotel managers complain that everything from kettles (suddenly just taking the Nespresso pods doesn’t seem so bad, after all) to batteries are considered fair game by light-fingered guests. One manager at a five-star luxury hotel once told me that they were considering replacing their swanky Bang and Olufsen TVs because so many remote controls, at £235 a pop, were being nicked.

Perhaps most ironically, the tenth most stolen hotel item is the bedside bible – I’d never stoop so low. But you’ve got to admire those sinners that are so brazen.


This article appeared in Metro on  2 March 2015

Related Posts

  • 46
    ... without replacing your bath suite! Replacing a bathroom is a costly business, but you can transform the room you’ve got without changing the suite, for a fraction of the time and cost with these simple tips and tricks… 1 Change your towels If your bathroom features plain, greying white…
    Tags: bathroom, design
  • 40
    I love this shot from the latest H & M campaign – it taps into so many key trends right now, from the rough luxe walls to the rustic hewn wooden stool and the industrial style shelves. And if that wasn't enough it's even got the dreamy beach-chic shower curtain (with…
    Tags: design, bathroom

10 of the best welly weekends

Grab your Barbour jacket, pull on your Hunter boots and get outdoors for a bracing winter walk – and you can reward yourself with amazing grub and a gorgeous room for the night at the end of it

There’s nothing more exhilarating on a frosty, clear winter’s day than a country walk over fields and hills, and given you can burn up to 400 calories an hour on a good hike, it’s little wonder the likes of Jessica Biel, Matthew Mcconaughey and Reece Witherspoon are fans. Aside from the amazing views, fresh air and vitamin D, our favourite walks include a welcoming inn at the end, with a roaring fire and delicious dinner. So pack your wellies, kids and dog, and make a weekend of it, as we’ve found the best places to enjoy a rural, rambling escape.


The Milk House, Sissinghurst

This rustic-chic pub and restaurant with rooms is brilliantly located just across the fields from Sissinghurst Castle in Kent (it’s a pleasing 30-minute ramble away). Welly boots and dogs are practically uniform at this timber-framed building. All exposed beams and open fireplaces, there’s a lounge-y bar with comfy leather sofas and a more formal 9though still relaxed) dining room with a menu that sources 80 per cent of its produce from within a 20-mile radius. The four bedrooms are a tribute to Farrow and Ball and the local theme continue with a range of bath products from Kent, too.

Doubles from £90, www.themilkhouse.co.uk


Woolley Grange, Wiltshire

This homely small manor hotel welcomes families and dogs – if you haven’t brought your boots, you can borrow one of the many pairs lined up in the entrance hall. And if you haven’t brought your dog, you can even borrow the resident King Charles Spaniel puppy Rex and take him for a stroll around the grounds or over the fields down (or down the lane if you’re pushing a buggy) to Bradford on Avon, or head even further a-field to Ilford Manor which is surrounded by hanging woodlands and then walk back along the river.
Rooms at Woolley are eclectic and homely, combining antique furniture with modern design, while the relaxed lounges are the perfect place to warm up with a hot chocolate after a long walk.

Doubles from £120, www.woolleygrangehotel.co.uk


The Lord Crewe Arms, County Durham

With properly hearty, country food – think shins, hocks, and shanks of meat – Simon Hick’s modern British menu is as robust and humble as this 12th-century former Abbots Priory. Delightfully understated, but in a very stylish way, this pub with 12 bedrooms is warm and welcoming – grab an armchair in the enormous inglenook and settle in with the weekend papers and a pint of Lord Crewe Brew before heading out to the hills. The pub sits at one of the highest points on the North Pennine Hills and is surrounded by heather-clad walks, but fishing and shooting are also available if you really want to give your Barbour a workout.

Doubles from £105, www.lordcrewearmsblanchland.co.uk


Askham Hall, Cumbria

Askham Hall makes a very glamorous home from home – owner Charlie Lowther and his wife Juno have renovated and transformed his family home, a Grade I-listed manor house, complete with a medieval tower, to create a 13-room hip-yet-unpretentious hotel with history. The rooms are relaxed yet grand; a winning cocktail of antique beds, dinner-plate showers and jaw-dropping Lake District views. Sitting in the middle OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAof the 70,000-acre Lowther Estate, you’re literally surrounded by walks, from challenging fell climbs to a gentler walk across the estate to the George and Dragon pub in Clifton where most of the food is sourced from the estate itself, or a potter around the Hall’s romatic gardens and woodland and into Askham village.

Doubles from £150, www.askhamhall.co.uk.


Wild Rabbit The-Wild-Rabbit_Stylesight6

The Wild Rabbit, Kingham

Since opening last summer this immaculate pub with rooms, owned by Lady Bamford (the brains behind nearby Daylesford Organic), has recently won Michelin Pub of the Year. Behind its alluring honey-hued Cotswold stone walls and sage green paint, the handcrafted interior has antique furniture, stripped walls and open fires – while the menu stocks artisan ales and wine from small vineyards. Expect thoroughly stylish, and seasonal, food such as pot roast partridge or cacao nib crusted venison with girolles, celeriac and figs. While this may be the poshest pub in Britain, it is also surrounded by fields and farms – dogs are most welcome (they even provide dog beds for free). There are walking maps to borrow and you can hoof it over the fields north to Daylesford Organic to visit the spa, farm shop and restaurant there. Chipping Norton, Burford and Stow on the Wold are all close by.

Doubles from £135, www.thewildrabbit.co.uk

Bar area and dining room, Bel and the Dragon, Churt, Surrey BelDragon_churt3

Bel and the Dragon Churt, Surrey

Less than an hour from London, but a welly’s throw from the National Trust-owned Devil’s Punch Bowl – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offering incredible views, this fabulously-restored country inn has 14 bedrooms, a restaurant and bar – complete with a cosy lounge with an open fireplace and an inviting sofa. The new pizza oven and chalk-topped tables are proving a huge hit with families, while the josper grill (for the juiciest steaks) and wine served by the magnum – you just drink what you can – keep grown-ups more than satisfied.

Doubles from £95, www.belandthedragon-churt.co.uk


Ockendon Manor, Sussex

Surrounded by the South Downs National Park, this Elizabethan Manor House welcomes guests with a roaring log fire and a cosy, wood-panelled bar. Set in nine acres, and with the South Downs Way, Wakehurst Place and Sheffield Park all on the doorstep, you’ll be spoilt for choice for walks. And at the hotel, you can spoil yourself in the state-of-the-art spa and at the Michelin-starred restaurant.

Doubles from £179, www.hshotels.co.uk/ockenden-manor-hotel-and-spa


The Gunton Arms, Norfolk

You can’t get much more rural than a 1,000-acre deer park, which is where you’ll find this eccentric-yet-unpretentious pub and B&B owned by an art dealer and interior designer. The buzzy restaurant and bar, headed up by chef Simon Tattersall, who worked with Mark Hix, attracts north Norfolk’s finest, from muddy booted walkers and farmers to artists and landowners alike, who come to watch Tattersall cook over a vast 16th-century open fireplace. As you’d expect from a deer park close to Cromer – venison, crab and seafood abound. Just the thing after a misty country walk.

Doubles from £95, www.theguntonarms.co.uk


The Grove, Pembrokeshire

Between the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and the Preseli Hills, the boutique Grove hotel, and its award-winning restaurant makes a chic retreat after a wild winter walk. Nab one of the fire-side seats in the lounge a snuggle up with a spicy glass of red wine and a great book. Book the Winter Warmer package and the hotel will pack you off in the morning with a walker’s hamper containing a flask of traditional Welsh cawl and tasty bites to keep you warm and toasty on your walk. Then head back to a roaring log fire, a soothing bath with a box of Wickedly Welsh chocolates and a full body massage courtesy of The Grove’s In Room Spa before delicious candlelit meal beside the fire in our award-winning restaurant (£200 per person per night).

Doubles from £165, www.thegrove-narberth.co.uk


The Gurnard’s Head, Cornwall

There can be few more rugged or wild corners of Britain than the Zennor peninsula in Cornwall, and after a bracing walk, through cow fields, out to the tip of Zennor Point, you’ll be more than ready for a pint of real ale by the fire in the bar. This is pub-grub at its best and most local, from the ham hock terrine to the venison stew, even the soda bread with locally-churned butter is lip-smackingly good. Rooms are cosy but charming, with brilliant beds – you’ll feel so at home that you won’t want to leave. Dogs are welcome and wellies are practically obligatory round these parts.

Doubles from £110 – or book the fantastically good value Winter Escape: £130 a couple for dinner, bed and breakfast, Sunday to Thursday. www.gurnardshead.co.uk


This article appeared in Metro on 26 January






Related Posts

  • 41
    Somewhere in the northern wilds of Wiltshire and Somerset a hot new area is emerging, SoCo, or South of Cotswolds is, whisper it, beginning to outshine its chic northern neighbour... The green arc around Bath’s eastern side, where the West Country ends and the Wolds begin has long been neglected…
    Tags: country, house, hotel, bar, restaurant, north, rooms, wine, food, best
  • 37
    Make the most of spring's arrival with a new season lodge, Shepherd’s hut or quirky cabin – it’s camping, but weather-proofed for fresh evenings. Swinton Bivouac, Yorkshire Sitting in 20,000 acres, Swinton Bivouac is a cluster of handcrafted, gingerbread house-cute log cabins hidden on the edge of the woods, with incredible…
    Tags: £, beds, antique, walking, uk, travel, weekends, minibreaks
  • 36
    I love the idea of leaving the car behind for a weekend - not only is it less stressful, it also feels eco and carefree to be car-free. Sawday's has also spotted the trend for travelling by train to escape the Big Smoke and has just launched a collection of…
    Tags: £, house, rooms, open, views, room, weekends, hotels, uk, travel
  • 36
    Want to go to a festival but worried you can't now that you have little ones? Don't worry, try these out for size. Have kids, will party Wilderness What: Set in the rolling Cotswolds, on an 800-year-old deer park, this is possibly Britain’s poshest festival with food from St John,…
    Tags: family, £, park, uk, weekends, travel
  • 36
    Steeped in a hazy morning mist, between the rolling Sussex downs, between Alfriston and the sea the sun is twinkling on Rathfinny’s vines, which cover the valley like a blanket, as we drive in. They seem to go on for miles, but then Rathfinny is no hobby vineyard – Britain’s…
    Tags: room, wine, estate, beds, rooms, £, walks, uk, weekends, hotels

Family holiday? Top travel trends 2015

Want to know where to book for the year ahead? Read this ultimate family travel guide to where, and what, is going to be hot in 2015, from country weekends and mini breaks to holiday rentals and multi-generation escapes


Once all-inclusives meant ginormous resorts with bad buffets and dated entertainment, but in recent years the all-inclusive has been given a make-over. Think glammer, better quality and independent.
“New parents are increasingly keen for us to recommend the kind of small, stylish, independent accommodation they holidayed in before having children but with the added benefits of three meals a day and drinks included without succumbing to a typical package holiday hotel,” explains Sian Williams, founder of Baby Friendly Boltholes.

Country Kids Chestnut House


lla Pia, Tuscany
This 17-room house has the relaxed vibe of a home, but none of the cooking – Brit owners Kevin and Morag take care of all that for you and there’s a fully-stocked fridge, bar and coffee machine for any snacks in between that you can help yourself to. Seven nights from £1,070 in a family room which sleeps two adults, two children and has room for a cot.

Villa PIa
Villa PIa

Country Kids Chestnut House, Languedoc-Rousillion
You want the wild beauty of the French countryside, and the privacy and freedom of an apartment, but you also want a free drop-in crèche on tap, included activities like sailing, vineyard tours or tennis, a couple of nights babysitting, suppers, a pool with a bar, and a deli so you needn’t go out to buy delicious local food. That’s just the start of the options that are all part of the price at this luxurious small family retreat. Sleeps five plus room for a cot. From £3,500 per week.

Chestnut House
Chestnut House


Mas de Thau, South of France
This converted French winery opened last summer as a self-catering country estate. Your first supper and daily breakfasts are included along with a bumper welcome pack and a communal meal each Sunday.

Mon-The-Mas-de-Thau1-720x480 IMG_2572_1050_700_s_c1

But unlike other self-catering holidays, this one comes with a daily maid service, two night’s free babysitting, a wine-tasting evening, kids club and crèche and a petting farm, a complimentary massage for parents and a blissful pool. Sleeps four plus room for a cot. From £1,200 a week.




The latest way to get back to nature – hug a tree, quite literally. Now you can play, stay and eat in amongst the tree canopy.

Alnwick Treehouse, Northumberland
This wooden turreted restaurant is reached by a wobbly bridge and trees can actually be seen growing out of the dining room floor. In the evening, it’s lit with candles for a magical, Faraway Tree experience that you’ll never forget. www.alnwickgarden.com

Center Parcs Longleat and Sherwood
The new two-storey, four-bedroom treehouses at Longleat and Sherwood Forest are a real Swiss Family Robinson affair, with wooden bridges and gangways connecting the different wooden cabins and a deck with an outdoor hot tub, sauna and games room. Brilliant for groups or large families. www.centerparcs.co.uk


Forest Holidays Treehouses
Available in Deerpark in Cornwall, Keldy in Yorkshire, Thorpe Forest in Norfolk and in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, kids will love staying in these treehouse hideaways. Some have wooden walkway entrances, others come with outdoor hot tubs, and all have wood-burning stoves and bathrooms. Sleeps up to ten. www.forestholidays.co.uk

Cleveley Mere, Lancashire
W.O.W ­– leave any notion of a DIY wooden shack at the door, or should that be rope bridge. This futuristic tree-top retreat is seriously luxurious and even has its own harbour and boat, as well as bikes, pedaloes and canoes that can be borrowed. Sleeps four. From £129 a night, www.cleveleymere.com


BeWILDerwood, Norfolk
This award-winning forest adventure park is home to treehouses, jungle bridges, swings, slides, walkways and even mazes all set in and around the trees. There’s also storytelling, nature walks, boat trips and a tree-based café to keep the whole family occupied. www.bewilderwood.co.uk


Take the kids, the grandparents, the auntie and uncle, the nanny, even the dog – in the last year, one in six travellers in Britain has been on a 3G holiday, that’s three generations on one trip.
And the trend is growing, as more of us choose to travel with friends or family, either to share the cost of larger accommodation, or to help share the burden of childcare.
More than one in ten 3G-ers said that the main motivation for taking their parents or other relatives on holiday was to relieve to load of caring for their children.
“We took went away with our brother and sister-in-law, their kids and our parents last year,” says Nicola 40. “It was lovely for the grandparents to spend time with all of the grandchildren while they still can, and they got to try things that they wouldn’t have done on their own. It also made our villa much better value for money, overall – we were able to stay in a much nicer place for not much more per person than if we’d travelled separately.”
Want to try it? Serviced villas are a great way to take more than one generation away, or resorts that offer entertainment for both young and old. Make sure you look for somewhere with plenty of variety.

Coastline, Corsica, Mallorca and Ibiza
For all the freedom of a villa combined with the luxury of a serviced hotel, this is the perfect solution. Have a chef cook for you, book a private nanny for your stay, use the concierge service to arrange excursions, restaurant bookings and have food delivered to your villa, and expect a maid service, too. But the real bonus is a communal living area where the whole family can mingle and a private pool at every property. www.coastline.co.uk

aa4d6cd00c6465029a2f5a40aa1d2b60_420_275 30109fabfca371de78a03751a5acf8ee_510_275

Daios Cove, Crete
Older travellers will appreciate the resort-like feel here (you needn’t leave, there’s so much to do), the smart-but-not-trendy vibe, and the infinity pool and spa. There’s a daily programme of activities for young and old, as well as a crèche, kids club, and teen club. You’ll love the private bay and white-sand beach – and the family villas with private pools are a great choice for bigger parties.

www.daioscovecrete.com or book with www.sovereign.com who often have family discounts.



Belmond La Residencia, Deia, Mallorca
The old-school glamour of this breath-taking resort will wow the grandparents as much as you – though they may be more impressed by the mature gardens and the exceptional views than the fabulous, art-filled manor house hotel and spa. Chill out in the spa, or over a yoga or tai chi session, borrow a mountain bike and head down to the beach, or put the children into the kids club, which offers art and cookery classes, while you read a book by the pool or visit the restaurant, which is the best on the island. Book with Tots Too to take advantage of their private nanny service, Nanny Too, which is available at this hotel. www.belmond.com or www.totstoo.com



Sensatori Resort Aphrodite Hills, Cyprus
Thomson’s luxury all-inclusive resorts are expanding this year, with new hotels in Fethive, Turkey, and Cyrpus. We love the modern rooms and stylish spas, with fantastic entertainment and activities for kids, no matter what they are into. And Cyprus has kitten-soft sandy beaches that make us want to go back every year. The climate is especially good for a spring or autumn break with babies. www.thomson.co.uk



Emma Barnett, Tots Too:
We are seeing the return to traditional family resorts. Despite the appeal of experiential and authentic family experiences, which there is certainly demand for, we have really noticed in recent months that the traditional, full-service family destinations continue to be hot property, and if anything are soaring. Parents tell us that the peace-of-mind and ease of a family resort, like Forte Village in Sardinia or La Residencia in Majorca, make them a fail-safe bet.
At the other end of the spectrum, we’re also seeing families being prepared to travel further than ever. The Maldives, Mauritius, Antigua and Barbados are some of our biggest sellers – that’s even surprised us!

Nadine Mellor, I-Escape With Kids:
Living like a local is a growing trend – people don’t want to feel like tourists anymore, they want to be immersed in the culture and experience of their holiday. So we are seeing more families booking apartments rather than hotels and wanting lots of information about the destination, or perhaps a concierge service, to make themselves feel at home.
We’re also seeing an increase in foodie breaks, where parents want to take the kids somewhere that they can eat well when out sightseeing during lunchtimes, bring good-quality grub back to the rental property, or dine in the hotel’s restaurant in the evenings with a babysitter or baby monitor. Places like Chateau les Merles in the Perigord region of France or Masseria Prosperi in Puglia, Italy, are proving really popular.



GREECE GOES GLAM – The Peloponnese
Blessed with as much sun as LA, but a whole lot closer to home, it’s time to put Greece back on your radar.

Costa Navarino
Costa Navarino

The Peloponnese has seen a raft of chic opening in the last few years, from the ultra-exclusive design den Amanzoe (perfect for a pre-baby glam getaway) to the family-friendly, eco-luxe Costa Navarino and the established grand-dame The Poseidonion in Spetses. Add a new hotel and spa from the club group Nikki Beach in Porto Heli into the mix and it’s no wonder this is where stylish Athenians go to catch some sea breeze. www.visitgreece.gr

The beach club at Amanzoe


If Croatia isn’t already on your wanderlust wish-list, here’s the lowdown: pretty beach towns dot the coastline, pine-covered islands are in easy day-tripping distance; the cosmopolitan UNESCO-listed port town of Split is on your doorstep – and it’s all just two-and-a-half hours from the UK. I-Escape With Kids (www.iescape.com/kids) has it in their sights as a hip destination for families this year; try staying in Hvar or at the Palmizana, a cluster of villas nestled in lush botanical gardens on the Dalmation Island of Sveti Klement, just a short hop from Hvar.

Hvar island

Closer to the action, the new Radisson Blu Resort in Split overlooks the Adriatic sea and has apartment accommodation for families.

IBIZA GROWS UP (but not old)
The sun, the turquoise sea and the blissed-out summer beats… How much fun was Ibiza back in the day? But having a baby doesn’t put this Balearic bolthole out of bounds. The original Ibiza hotel, the Hacienda Na Xamena, that first opened its doors in hippie days of 1971, has been through a major revamp and reopened last summer with a luxurious spa, yacht (for jaunts out to sea), and three pools, but the boho vibe is very much alive and well. Perched on a cliff, 180 metres above the sea, and surrounded by a national park, the views are spectacular.

Hacienda Hotel

Meanwhile Thomson is opening its luxury all-inclusive Sensatori brand on the White Isle this year, with a beachfront setting in Cala Tarida on the west coast. For some thrilling sunset views, head to the rooftop bar – but what makes this work for families is the nursery for babies and free Playhouse club for children over three, there are even supervised evening sessions so that you can have a meal or, dare we say it, hit a club! Family rooms sleep five, while entertainment and a fab spa complete the very stylish package.
Could it be time to dig out your white bikini?

Sensatori Ibiza
Sensatori Ibiza



Locals have always known that this is one of Britain’s coolest cities, and now a new accolade will have visitors heading west. Crowned European Green Capital 2015, the easily walkable, or cycleable, city has an independent vibe and a thriving arts and music scene, as well as magnificent views from the Clifton suspension bridge – could this be the UK’s answer to San Francisco? Take a Banksy tour for an alternative view of the sights, and check into the new Bristol Hotel (from £99 a night, www.doylecollection.com/bristol), which sits next door to the Arnolfini contemporary arts centre. Tots will love the aquarium, and the SS Great Britain on Spike Island where you’ll also find another modern art venue – the Spike Island Artspace.

The Bristol hotel has family rooms on the waterfront
The Bristol hotel has family rooms on the waterfront


With its beautiful beaches, short flight time and gorgeous climate, Portugal is a perennial favourite for families as it is also good value. But new choices are springing up beyond the traditional Algarve package holiday.
Martinhal at Sagres offers the best of barefoot beach luxury and is a villa resort with an eco spa, cool kids club (book ahead!) and a stunning beach, set in a protected natural park.


Head further north to Sintra and Cascais on the Estoril Coast as a chic, less crowded alternative that’s a short hop from Lisbon. Housed in a converted 14th-century monastery Penha Longa is an outstandingly tranquil and beautiful place to shake of the stress of modern life. Children are treated like royalty, or VIKs as the hotel calls them.

Penha Longa, a converted monastry that is now owned by Ritz Carlton
Penha Longa, a converted monastry that is now owned by Ritz Carlton

And the new Conrad Algarve at Quinto do Lago brings Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck to Portugal – but if that’s too fancy, there’s also a poolside BBQ bar. Add a great kids club, Aromatherapy Associates spa and the nearby marina with bustling boutiques (you will buy something!), and it’s a recipe for a top holiday.

Conrad Algarve
Conrad Algarve



This article appeared in the January 2015 issue of Gurgle magazine.