Hey mum, let's run away to the seaside

A few weeks ago, I found Stanley at his bedroom window, peering through his binoculars. This panicked me slightly - the little old lady in the flat opposite doesn't take too kindly to being spied on - but Stan was looking through a tiny gap he'd spotted between two tower blocks, in an attempt to find the sea.

I gently pointed out that as we live in London, he'd need bionic bins to see as far as the coast. But he wouldn't give up. He says he wants a bedroom with an ocean view, just like the protagonist in his favourite story, Tim the Sailor, who escaped to sea.

Short of upping sticks and moving to Southend, poor old Stan is just going to have to make do with the odd weekend on the coast for now. We're always on the lookout for seaside hangouts, and recently found a great hotel in Brighton, which boasts views of "the best boats ever", according to my son. The stylish Alias Hotel Seattle (01273 679799; aliashotels.com) is set right on the harbour of the marina, and from our room we could lie in bed and watch the millionaires coming and going in their yachts.

This hotel is very Stan-friendly; its quirky ocean-liner design gives it a real nautical feel. The kids were welcomed with a selection of games, which left me free to sit on deck and sip a cocktail for a while. Bliss. And the children loved nipping into town on the Volks Railway, the world's first electric train, which still runs between the marina and the pier. (For more on family weekend breaks in Brighton, check out visitbrighton.com.)

The Seattle may be one of my kids' favourite hotels, but there are lots more seaside establishments across the country that will keep them just as happy for a weekend or more.

Take the Rockside Hotel in Scarborough (01723 374747; rocksidehotel.co.uk), a small family-run place which overlooks the rugged Yorkshire coast. There are some good weekend discounts for families here, and Scarborough has everything a child could desire, from cliff tramways to a theme park (flamingoland.co.uk), and, of course, Scarborough Castle.

How about a short water-themed break in Scotland. For beautiful beaches and great views of the Firth of Forth, head for Greywalls in East Lothian (01620 842144; greywalls.co.uk), a delightful, old traditional country house just half an hour out of Edinburgh. This place is very elegant, but don't panic, it welcomes children - check out its own self-contained family hideaway in its grounds, the Colonel's House, which is particularly geared up for families.

No list of family seaside hotels is complete without mentioning Bedruthan Steps on the Cornish coast (01637 860555; bedruthanstepshotel. co.uk). With babysitters, kids' clubs, swimming pools and a spa for exhausted parents, you're highly likely to want to move in permanently. You can watch the fishermen go out, or better still, join them on a trip - it's the perfect place for my little mariner to practise his escape to sea.

As for me, I think I'll just lie on the beach and watch him - if he'll let me borrow his binoculars.

Katy's top tip

Discover some great ideas for weekend breaks, by getting yourself a copy of Take the Kids: England by Joseph Fulman (Cadogan, £14.99).

Katy Holland ( k.holland@independent.co.uk) is acting editor of 'Pregnancy and birth' magazine

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