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Our little black book of enchanting places


Relaxing breaks with young children by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

It’s a safe bet that as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge settle into their new home on the Sandringham Estate they will have plenty of help caring for baby Charlotte and her two-year-old brother, George. Not many parents are quite so fortunate – but that’s what child-friendly hotels are for. Here are five that will treat you and your young ones like royalty, even if great-granny isn’t the Queen.

One Aldwych, London

London might not sound ideal for newborns or their older siblings, but easy access from just about everywhere makes it a stress-free destination for a short break. We’re particularly impressed by One Aldwych, just off The Strand, which has six family-friendly, inter-connecting rooms (above) that can be furnished with extra beds, cots and bed rails. High chairs and children’s menus are available in the restaurant, while the room service menu includes organic baby purées. There are welcome gifts, mini bathrobes and slippers and lots of games and toys to borrow plus a chlorine-free swimming pool which children may use if accompanied by an adult. And if you can’t face returning home with a pile of dirty washing, there’s the hotel’s Little Laundry service that uses skin-friendly detergent. From around £300 per night; also check out the current Kids Stay Free! offer.Calcot Manor, Cotswolds

Calcot Manor not only welcomes children, it positively encourages them. For younger children there’s an Ofsted-registered crèche called The Playzone, a bright and airy space filled with toys and fun things to do. Older children can check out the PlayStations, Xboxes, even a small cinema, at The Mez, on the first floor of The Playzone. One of the best things about this lovely country-house hotel is its spa and there are dedicated times when children can use the spa's heated indoor pool. But you might want to organise an hour’s babysitting while you enjoy the outdoor hot tub, surrounded by billowing lavender and scented by an open wood fire. From £174 per night in a family room.

Sands Resort Hotel & Spa, Cornwall

Sands Resort is perfect for that first seaside holiday with your baby. Cot, pram, sterilisers bottle warmers – whatever equipment you need, they’ll provide it (free of charge). The family suites all have a small fridge for liquids and a kettle; the restaurant, as well as offering a wide range of baby jars, will purée any dish from the dinner menu. There is an Ofsted-approved crèche for babies up to two years old, an indoor and outdoor baby pool and a free baby-listening service.  Book that hot stone massage and prepare to relax. From £118 per night; stay 3-7 nights between now and May 21 and up to two children aged four years or younger stay free.Bovey Castle, Devon

Set in a 275-acre estate in Dartmoor National Park, Bovey Castle is one of the most family-friendly hotels in the southwest – it has the only LEGO room service menu that we know of. There are two kid’s clubs – one for young children and one for 7-14 year-olds – as well as a babysitting service. But the best bit is that Bovey Castle works with The Little Concierge Company who deliver all the kit you might need – nappies, milk, food, toiletries – directly to the hotel, so your precious few days away aren’t spoiled by the stress of packing and unpacking. To ensure you return home super-relaxed, there’s a Sundari spa, created by supermodel Christy Turlington, offering Ayurvedic treatments and products. From £144 per night for two adults and two children at weekends (minimum stay required).The Elms, Worcestershire

Part of the Luxury Family Hotels group (read our review of The Ickworth), The Elms instinctively knows exactly what it is that families need for a relaxing break. There are plenty of organised activities for children of all ages, plus an Ofsted-registered Bears Den crèche which can be booked for two hours – just enough time for a stroll in the grounds or a massage in the spa. There’s babysitting and a baby-listening service which means you can have dinner à deux, though if you prefer to eat with the kids, the Terrace room is open from 6pm. Travel cots, z-beds, extra bedding, nappy bins and changing mats are all provided; bottle warmers, sterilisers and mini fridges can also be organised. Accompanied children are permitted in the pool. From £350 for a two-night weekend break, including Sunday Breakfast Club for children aged three years and over.

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