In the final instalment of our series looking at hideaways that cater for a particular age group, Kids Collection Editor Nadine selects 10 of the best for babies – and shares some tips for travelling with the newest family member.
Babies can be easy to travel with: portable, light, generally immobile, and asleep for good chunks of the day. You can also venture forth outside school holidays, and wherever you go you’ll attract legions of helpful admirers. Conversely, babies need constant feeding and require lots of equipment, even for the simplest of outings. What’s more, parents often worry about crying disturbing others, especially on long flights. Luckily, there are plenty of baby-friendly bases to make your first family holiday as hassle-free as possible…
Val de Grace Apartment, Latin Quarter, Paris
One strategy to minimise stress is to take the train, so you can feed and change when suits. Scheduling journeys and arrival times is often much easier, too, and you’re free to walk up and down the carriage to soothe your little one when nap time nears.
The City of Light is easily reached by Eurostar, and via connections from all over Europe; perfect for a first outing with baby, and romantic too. This beautiful one-bedroom bolthole is a short taxi drive (or an easy RER ride) from the Gare du Nord, and well-placed for most sights. The kitchen is stocked with basic provisions, and groceries can be pre-ordered. The helpful owner can baby-proof the interiors and will provide an information booklet listing local markets and restaurants.
Made in Louise, Ixelles, Brussels
Equally well connected by rail and Eurostar yet more compact than its Gallic neighbour, the Belgian capital is ideal for relaxed sightseeing. For a tranquil stay, head to this supremely well-run boutique hotel in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Its Charming and Executive Rooms work well for families, and the extensive breakfast buffet will set you up for the day. Staff can arrange babysitting, and there are plenty of restaurants nearby for evening meals.
The Chester Residence, West End, Edinburgh
Another tactic is to holiday within your country of origin, avoiding borders and their queues. Renowned for its art, architecture and history, Edinburgh is the UK’s 2nd most popular tourist destination and is also easily reached by rail (including the Caledonian sleeper train from London) if you’d prefer not to fly. This swish apart-hotel is a great family-friendly option: excellent kitchens, a 24-hour concierge service, high-quality beds for a blissful night’s sleep, and well-placed for exploring.
Polurrian Bay Hotel, Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall
For flexibility, easy access to sights and scenery, and the ability to bring oodles of gear if desired, a destination you can drive to works well. We rate this coastal haven for its spectacular clifftop setting, indoor pool, Med-Cornish restaurant (there’s a free baby listening service), and excellent family rooms and facilities. There’s also a pampering spa that’s perfect for post-baby recovery. Best of all is the terrific crèche: 2 hours a day is included in the rates for kiddies aged 3 months and upwards.
Portixol, Palma, Mallorca
If the brief is guaranteed sunshine and a relaxing break away, seek a short flight time. Head to Mallorca (just over 2 hours from the UK) and chill out at this popular Scandi-chic harbourside hotel, a mere 15 minutes from the airport. Baby monitors work between the bedrooms and the excellent restaurant, and there’s a pool and spa. Bikes are available to borrow, and the long promenade is ideal for pushing a stroller.
Hotel Martinhal, Sagres, Portugal
Exhaustion is the most cited downside of having a baby. So staying at a designer resort, where everything is provided, will allow real relaxation and rejuvenation. Here, on the lower Algarve, you get an endless beach, a decadent spa, a choice of restaurants and bars, a host of watersports, no fewer than 4 pools and, most pleasingly, a baby concierge who can pre-book equipment. There’s also a fully-staffed crèche for young’uns from 6 months upwards.
Villa Guatiza, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
A 3-generational holiday may take some adjustment, but grandparents can be a real asset when there’s a new baby: an extra pair of hands to help cook, plus built-in babysitters so new parents get a night out à deux. The Canaries are blessed with year-round sunshine and are easy to navigate. This 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom villa is only 25 minutes from the airport, with a lovely pool, lush gardens, a sauna, bicycles, surfboards and even a gym.
Monteverdi, Tuscany, Italy
A new baby doesn’t always mean first child. For those with older bambini as well as an infant, an Italian country retreat will be heaven. And this one has it all: a romantic setting, a foodie restaurant championing local produce (with pasta for kids), wonderful terraced gardens, a cool infinity pool with toys and floats, a spa, and bicycles and helmets to borrow (with training wheels on request). As well as hotel rooms, there are 3 self-catering villas for any size of family party.
Manoir du Moulin, Loire Valley, France
The baby bubble can be a blissful time for new parents, so how lovely to hole up off-season in a romantic rural manor house? Your Canadian hosts have provided everything you need: spacious and spoiling suites with sumptuous super-kingsize beds and deep bathtubs for two, heavenly gardens, contemporary styling, homemade gourmet breakfasts, and cookery classes on request. Shops and 3 restaurants are a stroll away.
Tankardstown, Co Meath, Ireland
Consider this gracious Georgian country house for its short drive time from the airport, the flexibility of self-catering plus a restaurant and bar on site, and its choice of elegant rooms or stylish 1-2-bed cottages (so there’s space for other children and/or grandparents). Ireland is a super family-friendly destination (if you can forgive the weather), and there are 80 acres of parkland to romp around, plus horse riding, hot tubs and treatment rooms.