Katy Holland: Why the Barbie hotel suite has made me a nervous Shrek

Am I imagining things, or has the world been taken over by kids' fantasy icons?

The latest craze among hoteliers suggests it has. Family suites furnished with everything from Barbie wallpaper to Toy Story pillowcases are springing up quicker than you can wave a Harry Potter Magical Illuminating Wand. Speaking as an experienced pestered parent, I know better than anyone how important it is to make room in your life for dodgy Disney socks and cutlery with ants from A Bug's Life painted on it; I've been well and truly had by the marketeers over the years. But this rather cynical craze to lure icon-mad kids to hotels is ringing more alarm bells than Fireman Sam on a busy day. Is there nowhere left to escape to?

Marriott Hotels, which struck a deal with Nickelodeon last year to create themed packages for families including SpongeBob Square Pants-style rooms, were one of the first to cash in on such ploys. Now, the US-based hotelier Gaylord has announced a deal with DreamWorks Animation. Plans are afoot to brand entire family hotels with characters such as Kung Fu Panda's Po, while penguins from Madagascar might join you at breakfast, or a giant Shrek may pop up and greet you at reception.

It's not only the large hotel chains that are getting in on the act. Last week, came the shock announcement that the luxury Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris has just opened two new "Barbie" suites.

Yes, you can choose the "Modern Princess" room, with a pet-grooming table and royal linens, or the "Fashion Icon" room, with designer furniture and a computer. Pillows have Barbie hearts on them, the furniture is embossed with her logo, and there are Barbie dolls strategically scattered around in case you forget where you are.

And for those who prefer "boys' toys", Mattel has also worked with the hotel to create a "Hot Wheels" room.

Is there no sanctuary from all this? Well, I thought I'd found one when I booked our usual rustic no-mod-cons cottage in a remote part of Cornwall – the perfect place to dodge the hype. It was all going so well until I spoke to the owner, who proudly told me that they've just refurbished – with Jungle Book wallpaper for the kids' rooms.

Ah well, if I can't beat 'em, I suppose I'll have to join them. Now, where did I pack those Shrek pyjamas?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luton – £25k

    25,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luto...

    Investigo: Group Financial Controller

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty