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?
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
The Microsoft mogul told fans a few home truths during his Reddit AMA
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 3 Dad attempts revenge on teenage daughter, plan backfires spectacularly
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...
£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...