They don’t come much grander than The Elms. Built in 1710, the imposing Queen Anne Mansion is set in ten acres of beautiful gardens in the heart of rural Worcestershire. Recently refurbished, the hotel is the newest member of the Luxury Family Hotels stable and boasts sumptuous interiors with each room fitted with state-of-the-art baby listening technology.
The Ofsted-registered children’s club at The Elms is called the Bears Den and offers a multitude of activities, including cookery and puppet making. The activities for children spill out into the picturesque grounds with a spectacular outdoor adventure playground, croquet, football nets and the perennial children’s favourite, the trampoline.
The magnificent Aquae Sulis Spa is a haven for mothers in need of relaxation, offering a range of superb treatments such as thermal bathing and hydrotherapy. The Pear Terrace Brasserie offers all-day family dining with spectacular views across Worcestershire’s Teme Valley for added serenity. If you want a romantic meal out, you can book a babysitter and head to The Brooke Restaurant, or for sunny days, alfresco dining is available in the Pear Garden. Visit www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk
London may be busy and sprawling, but it’s stuffed with exceptional children’s attractions. The West End is always a good place to start, and the Athenaeum in Piccadilly makes a fabulous base. Families of four can stay
in either two adjoining rooms or an apartment, and a family package includes an afternoon tea hamper for four and tickets for both the London Eye and a top family show.
Children are treated like mini VIPs receiving complimentary slippers and bathrobes, a toy box, access to unlimited children’s movies, and milk and cookies at bedtime. Experience the city’s history with a visit to the Houses of Parliament, plus the capital’s best playgrounds are on the doorstep too, with St James’s Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens all within easy reach. Visit www.athenaeumhotel.com
Bovey Castle on Dartmoor in deepest Devon has all the ingredients for a fairytale getaway with the children. 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, children enjoy fun-filled activities such as rock climbing and kayaking. They can also play in the Playbarn, collect eggs each morning for breakfast and visit the miniature-pony centre.
Aside from the baronial splendour of the castle itself, there’s plenty for parents to enjoy including the Elemis Spa, cricket, tennis, archery and pistol shooting. Visit www.boveycastle.com
For a truly stylish back-to-nature experience visit Natural Retreats. Dotted around the UK’s National Parks, our favourite is in the Yorkshire Dales which has just opened nine new residences, all fabulous for letting children enjoy the simple pleasures of the countryside.
Conceived by Matt Spence, the luxurious self-catering residences can accommodate up to six people and blend in with the local environment. “I wanted to challenge the way people saw and experienced the countryside,” explains Matt. “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 buildings have extensive glass-wall frontages which allow views of the surrounding meadows directly into the open-plan living room. There are solid wood floors throughout and state-of-the-art kitchens
and bathrooms. Visit www.naturalretreats.com
How excited would your child be if you told them they were going to stay on an island alongside a lighthouse? Mermaid Cottage, alongside Alderney Lighthouse in the Channel Islands, is the perfect destination for children and is perfect for families. It’s very stylish and there’s a travel cot and high chair for toddlers. The garden is fully enclosed and there are two of the island’s finest beaches either side of the cottage.
The town of St Anne’s has quaint cobbled streets with cafés and restaurants, many offering delectable seafood which has been caught only hours earlier. Bicycles and mini mokes (small jeeps) can be hired to get across this tiny island and children will love spotting the black rabbits and blond hedgehogs. Alderney is also an angler’s paradise if you fancy a spot of fishing, and there’s a nine-hole golf course, as well as excellent opportunities for sailing and bird watching. Visit www.ruralretreats.co.uk
Check out Ireland's Famous Five locations, Wales's Famous Five locations and Scotland's Famous Five locations.