England's best family hotels

by Jane.Anderson

Looking for a family-friendly hotel in England? Whether you're after grand, urban, fairytale, rural or coastal, you'll find one to suit here

Keep your carbon footprint to a minimum and take a family holiday right on your doorstep. England has something for every family, whether you like funky country house hotels, a chance to explore the capital, a luxury castle in Devon, an innovative self-catering haven in a National Park or a lighthouse all of your own.


They don’t come much ‘groovy grander’ than The Grove, an innovative country house hotel near Watford with fabulously decadent yet child-friendly rooms (in the West Wing), the gorgeous Sequoia Spa with superb treatments for yummy-mummies and a fabulous black tiled pool, Anouska’s, its Ofsted-registered children’s club, and, in summer, a specially created beach in the walled garden, complete with luxury huts, a wigwam and beach volleyball court. There’s also golf and an adventure playground to keep everyone amused. There’s a wide choice of places to eat. For a romantic meal out, parents can book a babysitter and head to Colette’s, while children are very welcome at both the Glasshouse, known for its ‘Theatre of Cooking’ as all the kitchens are on display (kids love it), and the cosy Stables restaurant, where comfort food is served with panache.


London may be busy and sprawling but it’s stuffed with exceptional children’s attractions. The South Bank is a great place to start and the Park Plaza County Hall hotel makes a fabulous base, with the London Aquarium, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Tate Modern all on the doorstep. A very reasonable family package offers families of four its spacious studio bedrooms with kitchenette and separate living area with sofa bed. Kids are treated like mini VIPs, receiving complimentary slippers, a bath duck filled with soap, access to unlimited children’s movies, Park Plaza money (£10 vouchers per room, to be used in the hotel for food and drinks) and a gift bag with a map of the area, toys and pencils. Back-of-house hard-hat tours with the GM are available; there are also tea parties on Saturdays and children’s breakfast buffet at the weekend.


Bovey Castle by Dartmoor, in deepest Devon, has all the ingredients for a fairytale getaway with the kids. Families can stay in stunning three-storey, three bedroom granite lodges, which are dotted around the 420-acre estate. In the safe hands of the fully supervised Bovey Rangers, kids enjoy fun-filled outdoors activities such as rock climbing, kayaking and survival skills. They can also play in the Playbarn, collect eggs each morning for breakfast, explore the estate’s hidden treasures with tree adventures, and visit the miniature pony centre. Parents also have a wealth of treats: aside from the baronial splendour of the castle itself, there’s Bovey's championship golf course, the Elemis spa, cricket, tennis, archery, pistol shooting, fishing, art classes, cider-pressing and bee-keeping -  just to name a few.


For a true back-to-nature experience that doesn’t scrimp on style, check out Natural Retreats Yorkshire Dales, conceived by Matt Spence, who says, “I wanted to challenge the way people saw and experienced the countryside. I wanted to show them there was more to the breathtaking and varied landscapes we have in this amazing country. But more than anything, I wanted to do it in a way that had never been seen in the UK before. The creation of truly luxurious residences that blend in with the immediate environment and local community is unique.” There are Natural Retreats dotted around the UK’s National Parks, but our favourite is in the Yorkshire Dales, which has just opened nine new residences, all fabulous for letting kids enjoy the simple pleasures of the countryside. They have extensive glass wall frontages, surrounding woodland and meadows directly into the open plan living room. There are solid wood floors throughout and state-of-the-art kitchens and bathrooms.


How excited would your children be if you told them they were going to stay in a lighthouse – on an island? Mermaid Cottage by Alderney lighthouse, on Alderney in the Channel Islands, is ideal for families. It’s also very stylish and there’s a travel cot and high chair if you’re taking babies. The garden is fully enclosed and there are two of the island’s finest beaches on either side of the cottage. The town of St Anne’s has quaint cobbled streets with cafes and restaurants, many offering seafood selections that have been caught only hours before. Bicycles and mini-mokes can be hired to cover this tiny island, and kids will love spotting the black rabbits and rare blond hedgehogs. Alderney is also an angler’s paradise if you fancy a spot of fishing, and there’s a nine-hole golf course, excellent bird watching and sailing.