Combine a visit to the new Mary Rose museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with a short break at a recently opened boutique hotel in Portsmouth. The Number Four is walking distance from the town and seafront and offers designer bedrooms, complimentary breakfast, free parking, flat screen tvs, high speed wifi.
The new £27 million Mary Rose museum http://www.historicdockyard.co.uk/maryrose2013/?gclid=CJWOjve87bcCFUfLtAodQiUA3A opened at the end of May this year. The museum is built around the Tudor ship that was raised from the seabed in 1982 and is the only sixteenth century warship on display in the world complete with artifacts. The museum is located next to Nelson’s HMS victory and the ships of the modern Royal Navy.
Family rooms at Number Four sleeping two adults and 2 children are available. A typical price on a week night during the school holidays is £145 for a family room and £86 for a double room. Children under the age of two stay free of charge in cribs/cots. Children under the age of 16 stay for free when using existing beds in other rooms. The hotel is a ten minutes drive away from the museum. The Blue Reef aquarium is also a major attraction.
If you are looking for an affordable and fun Easter escape then look no further. Here is i-escape.com/kids top five picks in the UK and abroad.
1. Marine Villa, Charlestown, South Cornwall
A World Heritage site, Charlestown will delight children of all ages with tall ships in the historic harbour, and a Shipwreck Centre to evoke tales of sea-faring skulduggery. Rock-pooling, crabbing, kayaking are all on your doorstep, and the Eden Project is just a 10 minute drive (a Great Eden Egg Hunt is scheduled over the holidays where kids follow clues through different botanical habitats). Each guest staying over Easter in this nifty (and well-equipped) three-bedroom Grade II listed cottage receives a Lindt chocolate bunny and a cute buttercup picture.
This 19th-century Normandy chateau hosts superb family holidays in the form of laid-back house parties. This Easter they’re organising an egg hunt each day over Easter weekend plus a Bucks fizz breakfast for the grown-ups. The mansion has been converted into four large two-bedroom suites, and the four-acre grounds include a woodland den, sandpit and swings. There are bikes to borrow, croquet to play and the owner has devised a regional treasure hunt through churches and abbeys for you to try out.
For families into the great outdoors, head to South Snowdonia whose unrivalled scenery, both mountain and coastal, provides nature reserves, zip-lining, hiking, riding, climbing and abseiling. There’s a steam railway nearby, quirky Portmeirion to explore, and lovely pubs for lunch. We recommend this beautifully restored Victorian rectory turned boutique B&B (with family suite and interconnecting rooms) as an ideal base to discover this undervisited part of the UK.
Families will love staying in this fairytale castle set in magical rolling hills. Choose between large Suites in the main castle or the more rustic self-catering apartments (which have special rates for week-long stays in April) and cottage in the grounds; you’ll feel as if you’re in your own private medieval hamlet. Kids have a playground, tennis courts, mountain bikes and guided pony trekking to keep them amused, and there’s a children’s menu for lunch and dinner.
5. Merlin Farm Eco-Cottages, near Newquay, Cornwall
Get back to nature at these barns (converted to four chic contemporary pads with high quality fixtures and fittings) whose floor-to-ceiling windows give onto views across the whole valley. Kids can groom the donkey and feed the chickens; freshly laid eggs can be found in your fridge. The kitchens are open-plan and well-kitted out and the beach is just a 10 minute stroll. And you get a welcome pack on arrival detailing kid-friendly restaurants and attractions nearby.
i-escape.com/kids has chosen FIVE OF THEIR FAVOURITE AFFORDABLE PLACES IN FRANCE TO TAKE THE FAMILY
1. Les Sardines aux Yeux Bleus, near Uzes, Provence
Set in a tiny 12th-century hamlet, this elegant bijou B&B has original decor, a (fenced) courtyard pool and three self-catering apartments, which are justly popular with families. Kids under 12 stay for free and babysitting and cots are available on request.
Great value chalet which can be either B&B or catered rental in the ski season, it sleeps up to 14 with kids. If the excitement of the ski slopes, zip wires, bathing lakes and biking should pall, there’s a Nintendo Wii, playroom and electric piano to keep them entertained. Under 5s stay for free!
Children are welcomed with open arms at this chic 5-room B&B in a handsome maison de maitre in a sleepy village. Families can choose Room 1, with two bedrooms, or the charming self-catering cottage Le Petit Tresor, which sleeps 2-4. Kids under 2 are free, there’s a pool table and lovely garden to romp around.
Think weekends in Paris are over once the kids arrive? Think again! This simple airy apartment is filled with natural light, has its own terrace and two bedrooms, the smaller of which is a child-friendly twin. A baby cot is also available on request.
This quiet B&B is centrally placed in quaint olde worlde Honfleur, and has unpretentious rooms, including triples, plus a more characterful self-catering house with small courtyard at the rear. Cots are free if booking through i-escape, there’s heaps to do in the area including beaches and lovely food.
I-ESCAPE.COM/KIDS has hand-picked a further FIVE FAB FAMILY-FRIENDLY AND AFFORDABLE PLACES IN THE SOUTH WEST OF ENGLAND; here’sPART 2
1. The Tide House, St Ives, Cornwall
Seaside-chic retreat that warmly welcomes families in spacious rooms, 2 of which have extra children’s beds in a mezzanine loft above. There’s also a kids den with Playstation, books and games plus a DVD library of family films. Head out for local family-friendly restaurants, surf school, beaches and St Michael’s Mount.
2. Higher Westcott Farm, nr Moretonhampstead, Devon
This large thatched cottage is set in the tranquil Dartmoor National Park and has five bedrooms, a safe enclosed garden, and a playroom with toys, games console, kids DVDs and board games – perfect for an extended family holiday. There’s a miniature pony centre, plus woodland trails, beaches and playgrounds nearby.
Explore idyllic car-free Tresco while staying in these sunny beach cottages ranging from 1 to 4 bedrooms in size with spectacular sea views. Families will be in heaven here with a heated pool, sandy beach, bike hire, sailing school, hidden tree houses and playground at their disposal. You can either whip up meals in house or dine at the Ruin Beach Cafe which has a kids’ menu.
4. Twin Tors Cottage & Barn, nr Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
Proof that eco doesn’t mean scrimping on style, this elegant eco-luxe barn and cottage has great eclectic interiors, and can be rented separately (sleeping 10 & 12) or together, and boasts an innovative freshwater indoor pool. The kids will love the sense of space, games room, nature trail in the 16 acres of grounds, home cinema and imaginative playground.
This cosy, cottagey country hotel is found in classic Hardy country and is very well-equipped for families with heaps of baby equipment, family suites that have a second bedroom for the kids, half-portions on offer in the restaurant, and games and toys for all ages. Take a picnic and go for a walk, or head to the beach and go fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast.
FIVE FAB FAMILY-FRIENDLY AND AFFORDABLE PLACES IN THE SOUTH WEST OF ENGLAND FROM I-ESCAPE.COMPART 1
1. The Rosevine, Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall
Set on a stunning peninsula, this grand Georgian house turned friendly apart-hotel with indoor pool is perfect for stylish family holidays. There’s a kids menu in the restaurant and kitchenettes in the apartment for easy self-catering, and bags of kids gear to borrow. Head to the beach, explore the garden with trampoline and playground or hang out in the well-equipped playroom if the weather should turn.
A colourful coaching inn with two restaurants and convivial bar may not seem the obvious choice for families. But there are three spacious Family Rooms, the kids menu focuses on pizza and puddings and mocktails are on offer, there’s table football plus plenty of toys and games, the beach is a short distance away, and, best of all, an author-in-residence hosts story-telling workshops.
These three contemporary cottages created in an old farm barn are great value, have heaps of baby and toddler equipment, and provide style, serious eco-credentials, and luxury details such as well-equipped kitchens and drench showers. Younger kids will love the pirate ship sandpit, and petting the farm animals. You get a useful welcome pack on arrival detailing local attractions and baby siting contacts.
An unpretentious country gastro pub that welcomes children and is fantastic value for money, this is a great weekender for exploring Stonehenge and Longleat, and it also has a large garden with play area, kids DVDs, and a family suite complete with baby monitors.
Whether you come as one family or two, you’ll feel right at home in these two chic and comfy barn conversions, sleeping 4 and 6 each, which have toy boxes, outdoor games, a safe garden to roam around in with trampoline, and you’re close to fab surfing beaches and Exmoor for hikes.
Guest blogger Susanna of the fab Capital tots website shares her family travel experiences
How to enjoy St-Jean-de-Luz with a toddler
The French holiday resort of St-Jean-de-Luz ticks all boxes in the holy trinity of weekend break requirements with a toddler – easy travelling, gorgeous beach and family-friendly locals. Our long weekend there at the beginning of May was a dream in terms of ease and enjoyment.
Firstly the hour and three-quarter flight from the UK to Biarritz was a doddle – by the time MLA had eaten 2 bags of popcorn, munched an apple and devoured a sandwich we were touching down. It’s then a quick 20 minute taxi journey to the centre of town or a 30 minute bus ride.
After dumping our bags we went straight out and hit the beach. St-Jean-de-Luz sits on a huge crescent shaped beach which stretches for about 2 miles along the coast. The sand is good for sandcastles and the sea although cold, is pretty safe with waves big enough to be fun but not dangerous for little ones. An added bonus is that on weekends there’s an inflatable bouncy castle / slide on the beach for children which our 2 year old really enjoyed.
It’s worth walking along the beach to the very far end (away from the town) where there’s a grassy area which climbs the cliff. Firstly at low tide there are rock pools to explore, complete with sea-snails, crabs, shrimps and the like but more importantly we found a children’s play area next to a bar with stunning views across the water. It became our favourite spot of the holiday as we could enjoy a drink while MLA went up and down the slide and bonded with the locals!
Eating was a real highlight of the holiday – because St-Jean-de-Luz is in the Basque region, the food is superb with lots of fresh fish and seafood and really interesting flavours. There are a few restaurants dotted along the sea-front and we tried each of those. Because we were in Europe there were lots of children around late into the evening and we really enjoyed having our evening meals in “proper” restaurants with our son – he was made to feel really welcome and discovered a fondness for octopus! In terms of accommodation we opted for self-catering figuring it would be easiest in terms of naps / meal-times etc but there are lots of decent looking hotels in the area. We didn’t hire a car but if you’re planning on staying more than a couple of days it’s probably worth hiring one to explore the rest of the area – Biarritz and San Sebastian are both close by and come highly recommended.
Bath may be the perfect weekend break destination with kids. It is a beautifully preserved town with wonderful architecture, great restaurants, interesting museums, lots of green spaces and is small enough to walk everywhere. It manages to feels quirky, interesting and very genteel – even with a toddler.
Despite freezing temperatures we had an absolute ball there. We spent much of our time in Royal Victoria Park, which has one of the biggest free children’s play areas I’ve ever seen, keeping my 20 month old boy occupied for literally hours. It’s also good for older children because of the sheer variety of things to play on. Sydney Gardens is also worth a visit as it has an excellent children’s play area and bridge views where you can watch trains zoom past.
The Roman Baths were great fun with a special audio guide and sticker chart to fill in for children. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable and didn’t seem to mind my toddler walking around and exploring. There is also an open top bus ride around the City which comes highly recommended.
If you have teenagers and are feeling flush with cash a trip to the Thermal Spa is a must – the view from the heated rooftop pool across the City is to die for, I would recommend going just before dusk so you can see the sun setting on the City. Further afield Dyrham Park is worth a visit to burn off some energy – there’s a wonderful hill to run down and a superb café at the bottom. If African adventures are more your thing, Longleat Safari Park with lions, tigers, giraffes and elephants to track down is only a 40 minute drive.
Hotel accommodation in Bath is expensive so we opted for a self-catering property just outside of the City in the village of Freshford. There are lots of self-catering options to choose around Bath most of which are reasonably priced.
If you’d like to know more about adventures with children in and around London please visit: www.capitaltots.com