Travelling with newborns and young children can be a challenge, but armed with the correct knowledge everyone yes, everyone can have a stress-free and relaxing break. We spoke to the Luxury Family Hotels group whose portfolio of five luxurious, country house retreats (including The Ickworth and Woolley Grange ) go right to the top of Juniors’must-visit lists. Whats more they are celebrating their 30th Birthday this year, as really who knows better than them how to ensure that parents and their children get the most out of their UK hotel getaway?
Luxury Family Hotels Top Tips for travelling with babies and young children:
CHOOSE A LUXURY HOTEL: If you are wanting a real break, do choose a family hotel over self-catering for a truly indulgent treat. After all, who deserves this more than new (and exhausted) parents. Choosing the right family hotel means they will provide freshly pureed baby food, baby listening or sitting (so you can enjoy a date night!) and even offer you childcare in the day so you can actually read the paper, have a (hot) coffee or even have a relaxing spa treatment.
BEFORE YOU BOOK: Firstly, ensure that the destination is baby friendly (although, not an issue with Luxury Family Hotel group – as its one of its main draws how baby/young child friendly they are). Many places say that they are ‘child friendly’ but what they really mean is that they tolerate children. There’s a huge difference. If they ask about yours AND your baby’s needs when you book in, you can be pretty certain you are on to a winner!
DOUBLE-CHECK: Ensure you read the small print… check out all the tabs on the hotel website to see what activities and facilities they offer for the little ones and for you – then everyone will be happier and more relaxed. Also, check out the menus. As there is nothing worse than treating yourself to a luxury stay, only to find that family friendly means basic food for mum and dad too. Most luxury hotels will offer a varied and healthy menu for babies and children and many serve at a more dinner-friendly hour so parents can eat later.
MIDWEEK-TREAT: Do take advantage of midweek offers – you can often get a good deal when holidaying with babies and young children not tied to school dates, if you can be flexible and take a midweek stay or say arrive on a Sunday as it is often quieter and can feel like more of an escape. See below for a special Baby’s First Stay Away package for new parents.
THE BEDROOM: If possible try to book Family Suites as those with separate rooms within rooms means everyone gets some space and sleep. Especially, if you have a baby and small children.
WHAT TO PACK: If you choose the right destination you DON’T HAVE TO TAKE THE KITCHEN SINK. Truly baby friendly places provide the lot…bottle sterilisers and warmers, potties, in room fridges, baby cots, baby cutlery, baby beakers etc. It takes all the hassle out of going away and will remind you of pre-baby get-up-and-go times! Also, check online or telephone ahead. Clothing wise we alway say pack for an extra day (day and night clothes) so you have spares.
READY TO GO: Pack the car up the night before, if you can. Get up early and get going do you can get there asap. This let’s you all enjoy the afternoon at your destination, the pool and grounds etc. Basically, to wear the kids again out as kids will always fall asleep in the car. If they nap too late in the day then forget getting them to bed that evening evening, this can then mean tired children first day of holiday. But, you can hopefully pop then to bed earlier the following night! Swings, roundabouts…
THE JOURNEY (BY ROAD): For journeys try to time them around nap or sleep times or have lots of snacks/things to do! Bring snacks that last a long time i.e apples. Equally, if your are going on a long journey, try to plan any breaks and suitable feeding stops along the route. It will make the journey less stressful for everyone!
Plan, but don’t be surprised if things don’t go to plan! Have more food and changes of clothes to hand than you need, throw out the screen time rules on long trips and make the journey part of the holiday adventure with games, sticker books and drawing. Above all, don’t expect a holiday with young children to be the same as one without children – it’ll be better.
THE JOURNEY (BY AIR): Snacks, snacks, snack and more snacks!!! And if flying we have found night flights better as they usually pass out for most of it. If you’re travelling by air, take a ‘present’ (don’t wrap it though!) for every hour you’re on the flight that’s something to do. We took a magazine, a sticker book, colouring, chocolate buttons things like that! Also pack a portable blackout blind, they never seem to have them in hotels / apartments!
MAKE IT FAMILIAR: Try to keep bath and bedtime routines similar if they’re young, it just helps if they’re unsettled in a new environment. Think about how they sleep at home – if a very dark room bring a gro blind or any other comforters likes teddies or favourite pillowcases etc. Think about packing their favourite bedtime books , toys, bath bubbles and blanket. They will sleep better in a strange bed if the bedtime routine is the same as at home and if they have familiar items with them. For babies something that smells of home (blanket/cuddly/muslin etc) will help them settle at night.
BUT, ALSO THROW CAUTION TO THE WIND: Don’t stress about routine and throw the routine out the window for a few days (yes, we did just say that!) as often no matter how much you organise it never really does go to plan on holidays. Just try to enjoy the break and go with the flow, this avoids you getting stressed out and ruining the getaway for everyone – but, especially for yourself. Set time aside each day to have some down time and just be. After all, its good to get away and rebel a little!
About Luxury Family Hotels:
Luxury Family Hotels is a group of five luxurious country house style hotels across the UK. Each hotel offers all the baby equipment you need from cots, highchairs, books and toys to pureed food, milk warming and a free baby monitoring service, so you can even have the chance to relax and enjoy an adult meal à deux. The properties in the group are:
- The Ickworth, Suffolk: Opened in 2002 this magnificent 18th century estate is owned by the National Trust, surrounded by 1800 acres of parkland with 27 bedrooms, 11 apartments in The Lodge and a three-bedroom apartment in its Butlers Lodge.
- Moonfleet Manor, Dorset: Opened in 1997 this is a handsome Georgian manor overlooking Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon with 36 bedrooms, extensive gardens and in a magical West Country setting.
- New Park Manor, The New Forest: Opened in 2013 this is the newest of the portfolio and is in 17th century hunting lodge in the heart of the New Forest reputed to be King Charles II’s favourite, with 25 bedrooms, an outstanding spa and wonderful views out over the surrounding wildlife and forest landscape.
- Woolley Grange, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire: Opened in 1989 is the original Luxury Family Hotel, a Jacobean Manor House which has 25 individually styled bedrooms, a great spa and pool and 14 acres of gardens to enjoy complete with tennis, an outdoor pool and lawns just perfect for cricket or football.
- Fowey Hall, Fowey, Cornwall: Opened in 1998 is an impressive Queen Anne mansion thought to be Toad’s original ‘Toad Hall’, with 36 rooms, rambling gardens and spectacular views of the estuary and coastline.
Baby’s First Stay Away Package is ideal for those who can take advantage of a midweek break, particularly as there is no need to come away with everything but the kitchen sink, plus there is milk, pureed food made to order. All of the Luxury Family Hotels are great places to go for the first time away with a baby without having to worry about disturbing other guests! All the staff are really friendly and hands-on too.
Baby’s First Stay Away package includes:
- A two-course candlelight dinner each evening for two adults whilst taking advantage of the hotel’s complimentary baby listening service
- Two hours in the Ofsted-registered creche (called The Den)
- A special Baby Breakfast Club so parents can have a lie-in if they wish
- A personalised welcome hamper and all the baby equipment needed to ensure the stay is a home away from home
- A 30-minute Spa treatment
- Rates from £369 for a dinner inclusive two-night break. Suitable for babies 3-18 months.
For bookings, please telephone 0844 482 2152 or visit Luxury Family Hotels