Does a part of you still yearn for the days when you could jet off to beautiful destinations at the drop of a hat, relax in the finest surroundings and enjoy romantic meals gazing into your partner’s eyes? Wouldn’t it be great if you could still holiday at those fancy places with the kids in tow, knowing you wouldn’t be scowled or tutted at? That they might actually be welcomed with open arms and looked after like the top-class guests that they are?
These places exist! And today we’re taking you on a tour of some of our very favourites. These are once-in-a-lifetime child-friendly luxury holidays where your every need is catered for, and the kids are at the heart of the experience. If you’re looking to make truly magical memories with your family, then these could be for you.
Aphrodite Hills, Cyprus (pictured above)
Look out of your window and see acres of rolling hills and the sun sparkling on the Mediterranean sea at this beautiful private estate just a short hop from Paphos. If you’re staying in one of the super-elite ‘Mythos’ villas, you can enjoy 4-5 bedrooms (and up to 7 bathrooms!) plus a full welcome hamper, complimentary breakfast, and your own private heated pool.
If your budget is a little more modest, there are in fact eight villages to choose from on this impressive 578 acre estate, and all guests can enjoy the extensive facilities. There’s a crèche for under-threes and a kids' club for 3 –12 year olds, plus plenty of shaded play areas for when the sun is blazing - and if you’re travelling in the summer it gets gorgeously hot! If you’ve got an active bunch then you’re in luck – there's a horse riding, tennis and football coaching available, plus a world-class 18-hole golf course.
For those of us who enjoy their holiday activity levels at the other end of the spectrum, there’s the luxurious Retreat spa, a stunning outdoor pool complex to lounge by with a good book and – of course – the beach, which is right on your doorstep.
What’s better than an infinity pool? An infinity pool with added château, of course! A stay at Château Les Carrasses is about as classy as it gets, without ever compromising on laid-back, family-friendly vibes.
Self-catering accommodation is spread across the 19th century estate, ranging from suites to apartments to larger villas - many having panoramic views, private gardens and pools. Facilities on-site really are a cut above: dine on seasonal produce in the on-site Brasserie, let the children escape to enjoy outdoorsy crafts and activities at the fantastic kids' club, or go and explore the estate’s beautiful nature trails together as a family.
Wine fans are in for an absolute treat – Les Carrasses have their own vineyard and produce their own wine! Try it for yourself in their salon bar, or sip a glass at the poolside as you take in your fairy-tale surroundings.
If you’re after a secluded child-friendly retreat in an idyllic setting with your every need catered to, this is the one. Imagine Roussillon consists of five beautifully high-end apartments and one villa on a luxury gated complex with its own gym, studio and two heated pools. Enjoy your post-Pilates morning croissant (it’s all about balance, right?) as you relax on your terrace and take in the view. Then set out for a day playing on the sandy beaches nearby, or take a wander through the luscious Roussillon vineyards and countryside.
Imagine Roussillon is a family-run venture with a personal touch, and owners Phil and Emma have designed everything with children (and their grown-ups!) in mind. Watch your little ones explore the playground while you relax under the nearby trees, or drop in to the on-site kids’ club and leave them in expert hands while they treasure hunt, craft or enjoy stories under the enchanted tree. You can even escape for a romantic meal thanks to the night’s babysitting included in your package! Just see if you can get through it without talking about the kids...
Looking for the wow factor? Go no further. This beautifully restored Italian villa set in 750 acres of rolling Tuscan countryside is simply spellbinding. Take advantage of your heavenly surroundings and let the children loose in the nature-focused kids' club, where they can explore, build dens and paint using natural dyes found in the flowers and spices grown on the estate.
Nature lovers of all kinds will love the behind-the-scenes tours on offer. Learn more about the farm, visit the bee-hives and find out about honey production, or take a trip around the herb garden and discover how perfumes, oils and soaps are made by hand in the Borgo Pignano laboratory. Horse-riders will be right at home with stables on-site and plenty of activities to sign up for. There are lessons for beginners and guided horseback tours for you to enjoy your stunning surroundings from the saddle.
This really is an eco-luxe holiday of dreams – no wonder Conde Nast awarded the resort ‘Best Sustainable Hotel in Europe’ this year!
A luxury haven for families, Sani is a cluster of five-star hotels lining five miles of golden sandy coastline. Beach lovers – this one is absolutely for you. The resort is set on a 1,000-acre ecological reserve and the beaches stretch as far as the eye can see! The beautiful, crystal clear blue waters are perfect for little paddlers, and for the bigger ones there are heaps of water sports to get involved in – scuba diving, water-skiing, snorkelling, sailing and more.
In fact, the full programme of organised activities at Sani is enough to tempt the most reluctant family member off their sun lounger. There’s everything from bird-watching to bee-keeping to lego robotics. Sign me up for the paddle-board yoga please!
After all that activity, have a well-earned break and chill out in the spa, or take your pick from the resort’s restaurants and tavernas. You’ll be thoroughly spoilt for choice.
Want to do the traditional English family holiday in serious style? Try this grand 5-star country house hotel on the edge of the New Forest, just moments from the sea. All the rooms are absolutely stunning and spacious, but our favourite has to be the treehouse loft suite, a luxurious studio set high up in the leafy canopy with its own hot tub on the terrace. Can it get any more magical?
This hotel really knows how to look after families, with their ‘Children’s Club’ providing supervised fun ranging from painting to puzzles to train-sets and story-time. Better yet, budding chefs can practise their skills with a kid’s cookery class in James Martin-endorsed restaurant ‘The Kitchen’. You won’t need to cook another meal at home again (probably)!
Dining is a real star attraction at Chewton Glen - their philosophy ‘live to eat, don’t eat to live’ is something I can definitely get behind. Most of the fruit, herbs and vegetables used in the hotel’s restaurants are grown on-site in the kitchen garden – they even produce their own honey!
Rockcliffe Hall, North East England
This splendid luxury child-friendly hotel sits right on the border of County Durham and North Yorkshire, an ideal spot for exploring the wild, beautiful moors and coastline of the North-East. Take a trip to the higgledy-piggledy seaside town of Staithes (a must-visit for little fans of ‘Old Jacks’ Boat’) or venture into the historic city of Durham for the day.
But, honestly? You might not want to leave the hotel! There is so much to do here. Little ones will delight at the whimsical ‘Wonderland of Curiosities’ inspired by the works of local legend Lewis Carroll, with its adventure playground, interactive fountains and nature trails. Then there’s the award-winning spa, the championship golf course and three restaurants to dine in - plus on-site childminders meaning you can enjoy some time in all of the above by yourself.
Our favourite part of all? Little guests are provided with their very own mini robe, slippers and toiletries. Just imagine! It’s those little touches that really elevate this gorgeous hotel to next-level holiday status.
I don’t know about you, but I could gaze at these stunning hotels and hideaways all day. What an unforgettable treat it would be to take a trip there with your family this year! If any of you are visiting one of these gorgeous spots, or taking a trip to anywhere else on our website, don’t forget to tag us #awaywiththekids so we can hear all about it!