How to improve holidays with children

Hey, mum, all the best hotels welcome kids

Have you heard about the hotel in Austria that's declared an outright ban on children? It may sound like the beginning of a joke, but apparently the owners of the swish Hotel Cortisen in St Wolfgang are quite serious. They've decided their establishment will be better off without the clatter of tiny feet up and down its polished floors - a decision which has caused outrage among Austrians (although I'm sure a significant number have jotted down the contact details).

When my kids heard about this, they were rather bemused. "Why aren't children allowed to go there?" asked my youngest. "Is it because it has people in it who say rude words?"

The reasons for the hotel's announcement, and whether or not it's a good or bad thing, is a matter of debate. But kids, there's no need to feel unwanted. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, you're flavour of the day - especially with posh hotels.

Fashionable residences everywhere other than St Wolfgang appear to have cottoned on to the revolutionary notion that children are not only to be seen and heard, but welcomed. It's time to cast aside those images of stuffy places with "do not touch" signs and tut-tutting concierges: hotels are falling over themselves to have your little darlings running amok among their priceless paintings and objets d'art.

Take Le Beauvallon Hotel, near Saint Tropez, for example (00 33 494 55 7888; fivestaralliance. com). Known for its easy elegance, this gem of a place actively seeks families with young children to stay. It's the little things that make it special, from the cartoon character sheets on the beds to the baby bottle warmers they provide; you can expect five-star treatment whatever your age.

Even the Elounda Peninsula (00 30 2810 220088; elounda.com/ peninsula), has decided that being "the most exclusive hotel in Greece" doesn't have to mean asking its guests to leave the kids at home. Marble bathrooms, teak floors and antiques go hand in hand with children's paddling pools and kids' golf lessons - and, as long as the clubs are kept away from the priceless sculptures, it seems to work.

If you fancy staying somewhere a tad more stylish (and more expensive) than your usual child-friendly holiday camp, you can now do so with your head held high. One of my friends discovered this herself when she took her brood to a swanky Paris hotel. She'd booked a night at the George V (00 33 1 4952 7000; fourseasons.com) in an attempt to make a Eurodisney trip more bearable for the adults, and her kids were quite literally greeted with open arms. They were spoilt so rotten with complementary cuddly toys, personalised T-shirts and bedtime cookies-and-milk, that Mickey Mouse and Co looked dull by comparison. My pal seemed almost perturbed by the fact that her children got more attention from the doting staff than she did (after all, who was paying the bill?).

So there you have it: the latest must-have holiday accessory. Kids are in fashion at all the best hotels, so if you haven't got any, you'll have to borrow some. Unless, of course, you plan to spend your time in St Wolfgang.

KATY'S TOP TIP

* Small Luxury Hotels of the World is a collection of stylish hotels in all corners of the globe, many of which actively welcome children. For more info, visit slh.com or call 01372 361873.

Katy Holland is deputy editor of 'Mother and Baby' and motherand babymagazine.com. She has written several books on childcare

k.holland@independent.co.uk

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