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News & Advice

Katy Holland: Accommodation that's geared up for kids

Are We There Yet? Who needs a plain old ensuite with sea view when you can have a converted cave

How long does it take for your kids to utter those predictable words "I'm bored" when you take them on holiday?

Mine managed a record-breaking 28 seconds last time – they'd only just set foot in the hotel room. (A simple lack of a working flat-screen TV was all it took.) No, bog-standard, four-star hotel rooms just don't seem to do it for my little darlings. They require something a lot more inspirational. So, being the devoted mother that I am, I've been on the lookout for some accommodation to meet their requirements. And I'm delighted to report that there are some very interesting child-friendly alternatives out there.

Who needs a plain old ensuite with sea view when you can have a converted cave, for example? Aspiring troglodytes of all ages can try living underground, Spanish style, at the Cueva Carramaiza (0034 938939875; cuevacarramaiza.com), aka the Fairy Grotto. This cosy hole-in-a-rock comes with all mod cons, and rather amazing views of the Sierra Nevada await you when you emerge into daylight. It's an ideal retreat for summer or winter family getaways (the subterranean temperatures keep it at the perfect living temperature) and the novelty should keep the kids content for well over their usual boredom threshold.

Then there's the cute converted 18th-century windmill in Provence, on offer with Abercrombie & Kent as part of its villa portfolio (0845 0700 6127; abercrombiekent.co.uk). La Badelle Moulin, which still has its internal mechanisms in working order, is nestled in a vineyard and comes complete with a private pool, providing a lovely little alternative home for families who want to explore the countryside and the beaches. There's lots to do with children, from hiring bikes to horse riding and canoeing.

Of course, no child could fail to be impressed by the idea of sleeping in a tree house – so England's first five-star abode in the branches of an old cedar tree in Somerset, close to Exmoor National Park, will have them jumping for joy (01823 431622; treehouseholidays.com). Set on a small farm where your mini farmhands can help to feed the baby lambs, this two-storey luxury wooden house in the sky is beautifully designed, with decking areas all round as well as a cedar hot tub, squishy sofas, a wood-burning stove and a luxury bathroom. It sleeps up to five and is totally geared up for kids, with everything from bottle warmers to double buggies available to borrow.

But for fusspots like mine, who like their creature comforts in the shape of flat screens, I reckon a solar-powered spaceship-shaped retreat in Ireland is just the trick. The Ecolodge (01273 600030; responsibletravel.com) is a UFO-shaped ring fort in County Sligo, which comes with its own private cinema. And with a plethora of archaeological sites, cycle hire and surfing courses in the local area, I challenge any little treasure to complain of boredom here.