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Best family-friendly hotels in the UK for style, location and value for money

Check into a hotel that welcomes children, rather than tolerates them

Natalie Paris
Friday 02 June 2023 13:16 BST
Treat the whole family to a fantastic break
Treat the whole family to a fantastic break (Chewton Glen)

With more and more of us discovering the joys of holidays close to home – from England and Wales to Scotland and Northern Ireland – there’s intense demand for hotels that treat children as mini VIPs, not a huge hassle – meaning parents can relax properly.

Whether you’re looking for a city break with plenty of museums and attractions to keep the kids entertained, a rural adventure in the countryside, or a seaside escape with scope for rockpooling and water sports, we’ve scoured the country to find the perfect place for you and your clan. You can even stay in a luxury treehouse – surely a dream come true for many kids (and those of us who are still young at heart).

We’ve covered all kinds of locations, too, from Scotland to Cornwall and myriad places in between. Wherever you’ve set your sights, here are the UK’s best family-friendly hotels to make time away with your loved ones that little bit extra special.

These are the best family-friendly hotels in the UK:

Best hotel for lakeside living: Another Place

Location: Cumbria

Enjoy a pool with a serious view at Another Place (©Anna Blackwell)

The sight of Ullswater’s dramatic lakescape through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the swimming pool here got everyone’s attention when Another Place – a contemporary country hotel – opened in 2017.

Joyously, it’s not just spa bunnies who will enjoy this shoreside retreat. The hotel piles on fun for families, and its relaxed, non-chintzy atmosphere makes it a firm favourite for modern-day Swallows and Amazons.

Days can be spent wild swimming, paddleboarding or kayaking on Ullswater. The Ofsted-registered Kids Zone offers free childcare each day and there’s babysitting available too. Even the tiny but gorgeous shepherd huts, out in the grounds, have bunks for younger children.

Price: Doubles from £225

Book now

Best hotel for seaside and spa: Fowey Hall

Location: Cornwall

There’s a kids club for under-eights, with up to 90 minutes of free childcare provided daily (Fowey Hall)

Situated above Fowey estuary, the lawn of this Victorian hotel looks across rooftops that spill down to the harbour. Fowey Hall has recently completed a multi-million-pound expansion and refurbishment, including new spa suites and an outdoor pool, providing panoramic views of the ocean. Children are allowed in the spa, which has an indoor pool and offers health treatments. Most of the spacious bedrooms take extra beds for little ones, too.

While parents read or sip cocktails on the terrace, kids can burn off energy in the Wind in the Willows-themed play area. The Four Bears Den is a kids’ club for under-eights, with up to 90 minutes of free childcare provided daily. If you fancy going further afield, grab a picnic and discover the idyllic coves nearby – one of which is less than 10 minutes away.

Best boutique hotel: The Victoria Inn

Location: Norfolk

Kids can run free in the glorious parkland and nearby dunes (Holkham Estate)

Set between glorious parkland where kids can run freely and the undulating dunes of Holkham’s beach, “The Vic” has an appealing setting for families.

The two period buildings (housing 20 bedrooms) are attractive, with creeper-clad brickwork and the air of a welcoming inn. The rooms are simply dressed, with some featuring wooden beams, and include large family suites.

The fabulous restaurant is a boon, serving seasonal food made from quality produce, such as local seafood and vegetables from the Holkham Estate’s walled garden. Children can expect a dedicated menu for both lunch and dinner.

Best hotel in the capital: The Resident Kensington

Location: Kensington

Kids will be made up with the bunk beds at The Resident Kensington (Resident Hotels)

If what you want from a London hotel is good looks, a convenient location, a kitchenette – should you need one – and super value, The Resident in Kensington ticks all those boxes.

Taking over a white Edwardian townhouse on a leafy mews, just four minutes’ walk from Earls Court tube, the handsome rooms are design-conscious, with Paul Smith Anglepoise lamps and furniture made locally in West London. In-room amenities include coffee machines and interactive TVs. Kids are sure to appreciate the Luxury Bunk rooms, which come with bunk beds, of course, and private bathrooms.

The hotel’s just a 15-minute walk to the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the V&A.

Best hotel for rockpooling: Cary Arms & Spa

Location: Devon

Seaview cottages come with working fires, gardens and dining terraces (The Cary Arms)

This traditional seaside hotel caters for families in the old-fashioned way, by providing ample buckets, spades and fishing nets for guests to borrow, followed by dinner (with a kids’ menu) in a stone-walled inn afterwards.

Over the years, The Cary Arms has renovated a range of family-friendly accommodation beside its original hotel, which has a small spa. Alongside the two-bedroom suites in the main property are seven seaside cottages of various sizes, with their own working fires, gardens, dining terraces and barbecues.

Families can walk the South West Coast Path together or ride the clifftop railway. Kids will lose track of time pottering between rocks in Babbacombe’s bays.

Best hotel for active thrills: Crieff Hydro

Location: Scotland

Action Glen adventure park at Crieff Hydro (Julie Howden)

Wrapped in the Perthshire countryside, this grand Victorian hotel is perfect for adventurous families who want to let off steam. With on-site activities including alpaca trekking, archery tag, treetop ziplines, an adventure park, swimming pool, a three-storey soft play and a den of retro games, children won’t have time to be bored. You can even take them off-site to paddleboard on nearby Loch Earn.

Stay either in the main house or in self-catering lodges amid trees in the grounds. Grown-ups can escape to the adults-only Victorian baths and spa.

Best hotel for water sports: Watergate Bay Hotel

Location: Cornwall

Watergate Bay, in front of its namesake hotel (Holly Donnelly)

While parents watch waves crash over Watergate Bay’s two-mile beach from a hot tub, older children can sample a range of water sports at the hotel’s popular surf school. Surfing lessons are offered from beginner level, or kids can try paddleboarding too.

Expansive sea views and brightly stylish furniture combine to make the hotel’s luxurious Loft Suites particularly tempting for families. The Family Suites are more traditional, coming with a bunk room.

A supervised games room and play space takes care of bad-weather days, plus there are four restaurants to choose from, satisfying even the pickiest of eaters (parents included).

Price: Doubles from £345

Book now

Best hotel for wildlife: Bovey Castle

Location: Dartmoor

Kids will love exploring nature trails and spotting deer in the hotel’s grounds (Bovey Castle)

Set within 275 acres of countryside in the Dartmoor National Park, Bovey is an imposing house with plenty for active families to get stuck into. Children will love exploring nature trails through ancient woodland, spotting deer in the grounds and the many organised activities, such as archery, bushcraft, falconry and meeting ferrets.

For adults, there’s the Elan Spa to retreat to, with an Art Deco pool that has views across the hills. Alternatively, enjoy an afternoon tea or just the sound of silence when wild swimming in the lake.

Family rooms are available or, for more space, luxurious granite lodges have kitchens and are a short walk away. Hot meals can be delivered if you want a night off from cooking.

Best country house hotel: Woolley Grange

Location: Wiltshire

Kids will love Woolley Grange’s heated outdoor pool (Woolley Grange)

Part of the Luxury Family Hotels group, Woolley Grange is a shabby-chic manor house that’s a 10-minute train ride from Bath and half-an-hour’s drive from Longleat Safari Park.

Set above the charming wool town of Bradford-on-Avon, the hotel has a creche with free childcare and a children’s den, plus gardens filled with games, a fairy garden and a heated outdoor pool.

A luxurious tented camp is set up for glampers in the summer, when staff lay on all manner of activities – from football championships to scavenger hunts.

Children eat early, so adults can enjoy their dinner alone, thanks to a sleep-monitoring service. The spa even offers mini-me treatments alongside those for parents.

Best hotel for luxury treehouses: Chewton Glen Hotel

Location: Hampshire

The Beehive kids’ club at Chewton Glen (Chewton Glen)

For five-star family-fun, Chewton Glen in the New Forest is hard to beat. Children stay for free during the school holidays and budding chefs, aged eight and above, will rave about the hotel’s state-of-the-art cookery school. The children’s club is supervised, while outdoor activities include tennis, mountain biking, falconry, duck herding and wild swimming.

For larger family groups – or for those wanting to seriously splash out – the treehouse suites sleep up to 14 people and have beautiful features, such as wrap-around wooden balconies between the branches and special hatches for food hampers to be delivered.

Best for safari: The Bath Arms

Location: Wiltshire

Longleat Safari Park is just a short drive from The Bath Arms (The Bath Arms Inn)

This traditional, ivy-covered inn occupies a corner of the Longleat Estate, meaning 9,000 acres of towering forest and parkland are right on your doorstep (plus a less grand but handy sand pit in the garden), as is Longleat Safari Park. Use this pub-with-rooms as a base for visits to the nearby lions and hippos, and you’ll find a relaxed atmosphere that is ideal for families.

The restaurant is inventive in its use of strictly local, seasonal produce, and offers a kids’ menu. Large, stylish rooms accommodate an extra child’s bed or cot (both are available on request).

Price: Doubles from £130

Book now

Best hotel for bike rides: The Ickworth Hotel

Location: Suffolk

Opportunities for walking and cycling stand out during a stay at the Ickworth Hotel (The Ickworth Hotel)

Little ones are especially well catered for at this hotel, which takes over the wing of a National Trust-owned manor house in Suffolk. As with other hotels in the Luxury Family Hotels group, 90 minutes of free childcare per night is included in the stay. Children rule the pool (though parents can nip to the spa) and there is an Ofsted-registered creche.

What stands out are the opportunities for walking and cycling through woodland, past roe deer, a magnificent Rotunda and the Italianate gardens. The National Trust has bikes for hire – including balance bikes for toddlers – and you can even borrow all-terrain pushchairs from the hotel.

Children eat early, so parents can dine in peace, with a complimentary baby-monitoring device.

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