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Hip hotels (that love children too)

Junior’s round-up of the hippest hotels for families


Posted: 20 April 2010
by Sue Bryant


A COOL HOTEL means something different to everyone. It could be beautiful decor, anun-stuffy atmosphere, stylish artefacts, contemporary cuisine, sexybedrooms, rainforest showers, a great Martini, an infinity pool,outdoor yoga… Everybody has their own definition. The problem is, theseare rarely compatible with families and children. However, there arehip hotels that are family-friendly. Here’s Junior’s selection of 10hip hotels that not only welcome families, but are uber-cool too…

Amanjena, Morocco
Fourmiles from Marrakech, with the same pinky-terracotta facades as theImperial City and views of the snowy Atlas mountains, this is likestaying in an opulent Arab palace. Youstay in either a lavish pavilion or a maison (like a Moroccantownhouse), with a separate living area and touches like ornatearchways, colourful lanterns and rich Berber carpets. Eight of thepavilions have their own pool and extended private garden and severalhave a minzah (a gazebo) and a courtyard with a splashing fountain. Restaurantsserve Moroccan and Thai cuisine, and there’s a pool terrace wheredinner is served in summer. There are also two pools, a spa and Turkishbath, a library and tennis courts, and all the colour of Marrakech ashort drive away. The hotel welcomes children but doesn’t have achildren’s club, and it is promoted as ‘calm and serene’, so take thatas a gentle warning.

Abercrombie & Kent. Tel: 0845 0700610; www.abercrombiekent.co.uk.

Amanjena, Morocco
Amanjena, Morocco
Crazy Bear, Oxfordshire
PhilippeStarck meets leather floors and silver ceilings at this design-madhotel, originally a coaching inn during the 16th century, in theOxfordshire countryside. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll probably want todash back without your children and hole up in one of the gorgeoussuites, done in shades of white, peppermint, jet black or purple andcopper, each one with a double bath at the foot of the bed. But ifyou’re travelling as a family, there are two cool cottages in thegrounds, one sleeping five and one sleeping six, with spirallingwrought ironwork, juke boxes and sexy Italian bathrooms. Children willbe impressed by the neon-lit Routemaster bus in reception. Thehotel has two restaurants, one English and one funky Thai, as well asan atmospheric bar with children’s menu. Country pursuits, punting andthe joys of Oxford are nearby and the hotel is an easy drive fromLondon or the Midlands. It gets incredibly booked up and is popular forweddings at weekends, so plan well ahead.

Tel: 01865 890714; www.crazybeargroup.co.uk

Crazy Bear, Oxfordshire
Crazy Bear, Oxfordshire
Hell Bay, Isles of Scilly
HellBay, on tiny Bryher in the Isles of Scilly, has a definite flavour ofNew England-meets-the-Caribbean. It’s the perfect place for a carefreebucket-and-spade holiday, overlooking a beautiful bay and sandy beach,with no sound except the birds and the breaking waves. The whole placeis reminiscent of our own childhood beach holidays but with splashes ofcool style – rooms with big terraces overlooking the sea, oodles ofnatural light streaming in and a soothing colour scheme of pinks,mauves and greens adorned with local art. Nobody minds if your childrenleave sandy footprints. The water, too, is the colour of the Caribbean and there’s plenty to do here, fromboat trips to rock-pooling and fishing. Gentle watersports, boules,rambling, birdwatching and cycling can also be arranged, and the hotelhas an outdoor play area and a heated pool. Food is classical but contemporary, with a children’s menu, too, and special high tea. Evengetting here is an adventure, either by helicopter from Penzance (20minutes) or on the ferry (two and a half hours). The hotel staff meetyou in a boat at St Mary’s.

Tel: 01720 422947; www.tresco.co.uk

Hell Bay, Isles of Scilly
Hell Bay, Isles of Scilly
The Hudson Hotel, New York
Keeping up with where’s cool in New York is almost impossible, but you can’t go wrong with the gorgeous, stylish Hudson Hotel. TheHudson is a veritable temple of design. Enter by ascending aneon-yellow escalator to a cavernous lobby (see main picture, previouspage), with ivy covering the ceiling, deep leather sofas, exposedbrickwork and a futuristic chandelier. Everyone in the bar looks like amodel and there’s a cafeteria (a chic restaurant, in other words) and abeautiful roof terrace for sunny days. Rooms are ultra high-tech buttiny; sadly, that’s a feature of most designer hotels in the Big Apple.It’s simply assumed that you won’t spend much time in your room,particularly if you’re cool enough to stay at the Hudson. If you’rereally pushing the boat out, the Penthouse and the Apartment havePhilippe Starck furnishings, wood-burning fireplaces and amazing viewsof the Hudson River and Manhattan. Bestof all about this hotel, if you’re travelling with children, is itslocation, right by Central Park and a stone’s throw from FAO Schwarz,the world’s most famous toy shop. Childcare can be arranged.

Tel: 001 212 554 6000; www.hudsonhotel.com

The Hudson Hotel, New York
The Hudson Hotel, New York
Jaci’s Safari Lodge, South Africa
Stone,canvas and a thatched roof give this cosy, rustic-chic South Africansafari lodge a tented feel and although hipness was probably the lastthing on the owner’s mind, it is featured in the Hip Hotels guide. TheLodge is in Madikwe Game Reserve, four hours’ drive from Johannesburg,malaria-free and perfect for spotting lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena,wild dogs, rhino and buffalo. Under-eights even have their own gamedrive every day, and if you want to pay a bit extra, children’s safariscan be arranged, with lessons in animal tracking and bushcraft. There’sa jungle pool, a jungle gym for adults, and a children’s gym/playroomwith a trampoline, toys and books. Children can eat at six and beentertained by a babysitter while parents eat later, or can eat withthe adults. There’s no TV and the rooms have no telephones, and guestsare encouraged to mingle, so this is a true escape. Stay in the main Safari Lodge, the two-bedroomNare Suite (ideal for a family) or the more luxurious Tree Camp, astructure of glass, timber and thatch on stilts, with wooden decks andoutside showers.

Bushbaby Travel, tel: 020 8780 0363; www.bushbabytravel.com

Jaci's Safari Lodge, South Africa
Jaci’s Safari Lodge, South Africa
Jakes, Jamaica
Recentwinner of Elle magazine’s ‘Chic Shack’ awards, Jakes is a collection of30 rooms in 10 pretty cottages, created by designer Sally Henzell andnamed after a local parrot. It’s located at the remote Treasure Beachon Jamaica’s undeveloped south coast and is ideal for an adventurousfamily and anyone who wants a taste of the ‘real’ Jamaica rather than agated, all-inclusive resort. Decoris shabby-chic Jamaican, with touches of India and Morocco thrown inand hammocks and day beds for lounging on. There’s wireless internetbut no TV or phones in the rooms, only CD players. Two restaurantsserve fresh seafood and Jamaican cuisine and there’s a saltwater pool(as well as the beach) and massage onsite. Local family-orientatedexcursions centre around the local community – trips to the market,football and farm visits. Family cooking lessons can be arranged, too,as well as boat trips up the Black River, a waterfall with a ropeswing, cycling and fishing.

Caribtours, tel: 020 7751 0660; www.caribtours.co.uk

Jakes, Jamaica
Jakes, Jamaica
Le Moulin d’Aure, Provence
Sometimes,what makes a hotel cool is the fact that hardly anyone’s discovered it– and it’s heavenly, welcoming, amazingly-priced and stylish into thebargain. The three-star Le Moulin d’Aure, located about 10 miles fromAvignon and 45 minutes from Marseille airport, is a gorgeous old Frenchmanoir, adorned with old Provençal tiles, pretty wrought-iron work andall the effortlessly rustic chic touches you’d hope to incorporate inyour own fantasy French bolthole. It has exposed wooden beams, louvreshutters, which filter the sunlight and snowy white bedspreads. Thereare only 15 rooms, five of them in a separate house, ideal for largefamilies or small groups of friends.

Youcan swim in the large pool or simply doze in the olive grove. The chefis Italian, so expect home-made pasta in addition to delicious localProvençal specialities, made with olive oil from the trees in thegarden, washed down with summery rosé wines. If you can bear to leave, the Camargue, Arles and Avignon are within easy reach, as well as the jagged Alpilles mountains.

Tel. 0033 4 9095 8405, www.hotel-moulindaure.com

Le Moulin d'Aure, Provence
Le Moulin d'Aure, Provence
Malmaison, Edinburgh
TheMalmaison group was ahead of its time, launching in 1994, well before‘boutique hotel’ became buzzwords for anything that had a glimmer ofdesign about it. The Edinburgh hotel is where it all began and stillembodies true boutique chic with its black, white and grey decor andblack leather bar. Each of the 100rooms is individual, some bright, some muted, all of them stylish, allwith CD players, satellite TV, yummy toiletries that you’re encourageto take and minibars filled with jelly beans and tortilla chips.There’s a bar, gym and brasserie serving French and Scottish dishes,and a popular Sunday brunch. The hotel is not bursting with children’sfacilities but they’re welcome and suites have adjoining rooms. Thehotel is in Leith, near the port, in a grand building that was once aseaman’s mission, built in 1883. There are sea views from some rooms,and Edinburgh centre a short bus or taxi journey away.

Tel: 0845 3654247; www.malmaison.com

Malmaison, Edinburgh
Malmaison, Edinburgh
Mykonos Blu, Greece
Greeceis having a revival in cool nowadays, with Mykonos at its epicentre.The island is still hugely popular with gay men (hence its immaculatetaste) but makes a good family destination, too, with lovely sandybeaches. Greece is where you chill, take a siesta and enjoy long dayson the beach. Mykonos Blu is unusualin that it combines designer chic with family-friendliness andaffordability. It’s located on Psarou Bay, about three miles fromMykonos town and a short walk from Plati Gialou, from where water taxisleave for the beaches, although it has its own sandy beach as well. Rooms are dazzling white and soft cream, with muslin drapes and splashes of brilliant blue. Four suites have private pools. There’sa children’s club in July and August, and facilities for babies areprovided. Choose between two restaurants, one by the big saltwaterinfinity pool. If you find a moment, visit the restful blue spa, withits delicious Elemis treatments.

Elegant Resorts Tel: 01244 897 123; www.elegantresorts.co.uk

Mykonos Blu, Greece
Mykonos Blu, Greece
One & Only Palmilla, Mexico
One &Only knows about mixing cool with kids. It sits on the tip of Mexico’sBaja Peninsula, with mountains and desert on one side and the Sea ofCortez and the Pacific on the other. There’s lots of whitewash andred-tiled roofs, the cool breezes and clear blue sea offsetting the hotMexican colours, and all rooms face the ocean. Thehotel has a children’s club, KidsOnly, for ages four upwards, withactivities, including cookery classes, Spanish lessons and children’sgolf and tennis. There’s also a children’s play area and pool, andchildren’s menus in both restaurants. For adults, there are tenniscourts, a 27-hole golf course, scuba diving and a fabulous spa. As afamily, you can try snorkelling, sea kayaking, whale-watching anddesert safaris.

Expressions Families, tel: 020 7433 2665; www.familyexpressions.co.uk

One & Only Palmilla, Mexico
One & Only Palmilla, Mexico

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hip hotels, travel, children, Morocco, Oxfordshire, Scilly, New York, South Africa, Jamaica, Provence, Edinburgh, Mykonos, Mexico
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