Thursday, 30 July 2015
Nine dream stays for tots
We all have an idea of what makes a great holiday - but what will get your children excited? Alison Tyler has found nine stays tots are bound to love
WHAT Germany's car-manufacturing city is home to Motorworld – part car museum, part factory, part theme park for petrolheads. Dads will be in their element and car-mad youngsters will simply love the V8, a fun, automotive-themed hotel bang in the middle of the attraction.
WHY Imagine walking onto the set of Top Gear, and then being able to stay the night – that's what the V8 hotel feels like. Classic cars dot the lobby and, best of all, there are ten themed bedrooms, including one that looks like the inside of a car wash!
USP The Herbie petrol station-themed suite has to be our favourite, with a bed created from the front of the famous beetle, a seat made from the boot, and a table fashioned from an oil drum.
DON'T MISS Stuttgart is heaven for car fans – from guided tours of the Mercedes Benz factory to museums dedicated to cars, as well as Motorwold itself, entry to which is free while you're staying at the V8.
BOOK IT Doubles from £91, themed rooms from £127.
WHAT An apartment right in the heart of one of Europe's hippest cities, close to the parks, playgrounds, pavement cafés and independent stores of the leafy Schoeneberg neighbourhood.
WHY Your children won't want to leave the fantastic children's bedroom and playroom that has a mini kitchen, wooden ride-on toys, a doll's pram and a rocking horse. You'll appreciate the apartment being on one level, and the fact that it's on Berlin's transport network means it's easy to get about.
USP The apartment is perfect for parents of twins as it has two cots, two high chairs, and a fun playroom with two single beds. A stroller is available on request.
DON'T MISS Berlin's incredible Tiergarten park and city zoo should be number one on your tick-list for a family outing and are easily reached from the property. On a sunny day you can hit the lake beach with its shallow water at Strandbad Wannsee; but don't miss the Green Mango café just round the corner for their kids' karaoke afternoons, too!
BOOK IT Sleeps up to eight, from £87 a night.
WHAT If your children like Lego, they'll love Legoland – and the hotel is better still.
WHY Children can choose from Adventure, Pirate, Kingdom and the new Friends rooms. Once inside, the carpet holds clues to help children track down a treasure chest containing a Lego surprise that's waiting for them. The children's section of the room is separated from parents for privacy and features bunk beds and a roll-away bed.
USP If the pirate-themed indoor water play area isn't exciting enough, there are quirky lifts, treasure trails and dragons – and a stay at the hotel also gets you entry to the resort before anyone else.
DON'T MISS If you can bear to leave the resort, nearby Windsor is brilliant for little ones – take a picnic and visit Windsor Great Park, a huge natural playground for children to release all that excitement and energy. At Windsor Castle you can look out for real-life soldiers... and occasionally a queen.
BOOK IT Themed family rooms (two adults and up to three children) from £289, including breakfast and two days park entry with early bird access and a Lego gift.
WHAT Sleeping up to 14 people, and with the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons National Park on the doorstep, this is the perfect place for big families who love the outdoors, but also want quirky, fun home comforts in a light and airy space. Kids will love the fact that there are 12 luxury bunk beds so they won't have to fight over them.
WHY You can stay for just one night or rent the Beautiful Bunkhouse for a longer stay – this contemporary barn conversion is set up for families and big groups, with bikes (and even Vespas) to borrow. The large, fully-equipped kitchen makes rustling up meals easy or just order bowls of tasty food from the restaurant next door. Packed lunches can also be easily arranged.
USP We guarantee that your children will be talking for years to come about the holiday house where you can use a slide instead of stairs. A tough attraction to top.
DON'T MISS Take a walk (or drive if little legs are tired) up Hay Bluff to admire the view – you'll be rewarded by the ice cream van at the top. Feeling really wild and adventurous? Hire a Canadian canoe from the boat house next door and cruise the river Wye – or you could just roll up your trousers for a paddle and a picnic on the river bank.
BOOK IT Sleeps 14, £38pp per night.
WHAT Kay Thompson's magical children's stories of six-year-old Eloise, who lived in New York's Plaza hotel, are legendary. And, sitting on the corner of Central Park, this famous retreat is a Manhattan institution.
WHY Now you can book your own princess into the Betsey Johnson-designed Eloise Suite located on the 18th floor featuring artwork from the books, Eloise dolls, a dressing-up cupboard and an Eloise bathrobe – and yes, it's all pink. Order a Super-Duper sundae from room service and live like Eloise for the night (with a second room for parents). Not into pink? Try the Knights of the Plaza in the Tower Suite, tucked away in one of the hotel's iconic turrets, which comes with a gift bag including a prince or princess robe and a book about knights; also in the package is a picnic lunch to take to Belvedere Castle in Central Park which offers the best views of the area.
USP Your little ones will feel like royalty with mini bathrobes, their own bath products, an Eloise Tea just for children in the Palm Court, in-room pizza parties, and even free BMW bicycles to borrow to explore the city.
DON'T MISS With several playgrounds, a carousel, lakes and a zoo, Central Park makes a whole day out. Borrow bikes from the hotel and take a picnic, or stop for lunch at Loebs Boathouse overlooking the lake.
BOOK IT Double rooms from £494; packages for the Eloise Suite from £1,394.
WHAT One of the on-site hotels at Universal Orlando, this is an Italian-themed hotel based on the village of, you guessed it, Portofino, right down to the cobbled streets and pavement cafés. What child doesn't love Italian food?
WHY From lending libraries of games to childproofing kits, the Portofino Bay hotel is designed around children – they'll get a welcome gift as soon as you arrive, while a 'kids' closet' of toys, books, individual DVD players with children's films and even buggies can be borrowed for your stay, so you can travel light.
USP The world's first Despicable Me suites opened last year. Let your little minions play in Gru's laboratory and sleep like Margo, Edith and Agnes in their very own custom-made missile beds. The two-bedroom suites also have an adults' room with a king-sized bed in Italian style.
DON'T MISS While the spa, three opulent swimming pools and nightly live music in the hotel's Harbor Piazza are all fabulous, it's the early bird access to Universal Studios (impress the kids and take the water taxi) and express lanes for the rides that are crucial. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, here you come!
BOOK IT From £201 a night; Despicable Me two-bedroom suites from £405.
WHAT The perfect base for exploring the west coast of Ireland and Galway City, this family house will be great for a family with a young child and a baby.
WHY From the garden to a playroom bursting with toys and a blackboard wall in the kitchen, kids have the run of this stylish home that has a toddler bedroom and a nursery, as well as a master suite.
USP The two brilliant children's bedrooms – no hotel would offer you a bedroom with a toddler bed, stacks of books, exciting toys and art on the walls, or a nursery with a cot, changing station and a sofa for comfortable late-night feeds.
BOOK IT Sleeps six, from £73 a night.
WHAT This gorgeous three-storey home, right in the heart of Amsterdam, will have you feeling like a local with its relaxed and modern interiors.
WHY Children don't always stick to hotel schedules and menus so a super-stylish townhouse where you can suit yourselves and enjoy an unrivalled location is a great alternative. This house is perfect for families, with two children's rooms containing two cots and a first bed, and a huge playroom.
USP Show us a child who wouldn't jump for joy at the sight of a swing hanging from the living room ceiling!
DON'T MISS Borrow the house bikes – a cargo bike which holds three little ones, and two adult and two toddler bikes.
BOOK IT Sleeps seven, from £362 a night.