Lots of you are opting to holiday in the UK this summer, but what sort of trip will it be? Do you have waterbabies in tow or are you keen glampers? We’ve identified 10 gorgeous properties for 10 very different family holidays. Act fast – summer dates are in very high demand right now.
1 Best for kids’ activities
Sometimes it can be tricky to find a kid-friendly hotel that’s stylish and appealing to adults too. But not in Cornwall. Enter Polurrian on the Lizard, a handsome sea-facing retreat with breathtaking views, a spa and a whole programme of kids’ activities in the summer months: tennis, rounders, football, arts & crafts and cookery to name but a few. Directly below the hotel is the sheltered cove of Polurrian, with golden sands at low tide, rock pools and gentle waves for splashing about in. The South West Coast Path runs right past the hotel, plus there’s horse riding nearby, crab and lobster chasing trips with local fishermen, and all manner of watersports. No one will be bored here.
2 Best for extended families
Looking for somewhere to stay with space for the grandparents too? OceanBlue Coastal Retreats on the Isle of Wight is a collection of sea-facing cottages (for 2-8) of all shapes and sizes. They’re wonderfully secluded and are surrounded by pretty beach walks and seaside villages. Rent bikes and follow the Cycle Track along an old railway line from Sandown to Newport, hike up to St Boniface Downs for panoramic views out to sea, or stroll to pretty Ventnor to laze on its beach and gorge on fish and chips. The Isle of Wight is said to be one of the sunniest places in the UK so here’s your best shot at summer sunshine!
3 Best for value
Devon isn’t usually the most affordable destination for a summer holiday, but a stay at Hope Cove House is an absolute steal. You get soul-soothing sea views, excellent food with breakfast included, direct access to the South West Coast Path, and some of the region’s best beaches on your doorstep. Owners Oli and Alexandra have two young children of their own so families are made very welcome. There are family rooms, lifeguarded beaches, surfboards and bodyboards to borrow, and you can go swimming, kayaking or paddleboarding in the sheltered bay directly in front of the hotel.
4 Best for beaches
Pop over to the Scillies for pristine white sand beaches and a microclimate that borders on subtropical. With no cars allowed on the islands, this is a fantastic place to bring the children. The Sea Garden Cottages (sleeping 2-10) on Tresco are extremely family-friendly, with stunning empty beaches all around. Go crabbing off the jetties, explore rockpools, enrol the kids in sailing school (July and August) or try windsurfing. The shallow, turquoise waters are perfect for snorkelling, or for taking boats out to neighbouring islands – look out for seals and birds along the way.
5 Best for glamping
Want a back-to-nature holiday this summer but with added creature comforts? Take the kids to Swinton Bivouac in the Yorkshire Dales. Set in a 20,000-acre estate of meadows and woodland, this glamping site is heaven on earth for youngsters. Accommodation is split between luxurious yurts and cosy tree lodges (sleeping 2-7), each with woodburners, proper beds and cooking facilities. There’s no electricity but candles are provided for nighttime – it’s all very cute and cosy. A forest school for kids takes places during the summer holidays, plus there’s falconry (with resident owls and hawks) and a Druid temple on site. Very quirky.
6 Best for back to nature
Just over an hour from London, yet a world away, set in the wilds of the Kent salt marshes is this exquisite hidden gem on the Isle of Sheppey. One of the largest nature preserves in Europe, Elmley Nature Reserve has its own secret beach, enormous skies, reed beds and woodland, plus 3200 acres of land. Stay in your choice of house, cottage, bell tents or cute shepherds huts, order breakfast baskets and picnic hampers, and run wild all day; toast marshmallows around your fire pit of an evening and marvel at the stars. There are plentiful lapwings, hares, waterfowl and even owls hunting at dusk; if the weather is unkind there’s a games barn with board games and film showing sessions.
7 Best for an island escape
If you just want to escape it all this summer, whisk the family off to the Isle of Colonsay in the Scottish Hebrides. With fewer than 150 residents and no other settlements in a 20-mile vicinity, Colonsay is one of the most remote communities in the UK. A perfect place to hideaway! Stay at The Colonsay Hotel – the only hotel on the island, home to a lively restaurant (kids’ meals offered), cosy living rooms and nine simple but artsy bedrooms. Spend your days outdoors, exploring long sandy beaches, winding cycle lanes, birdwatching or trout fishing. If you’re staying over a weekend, head to the village hall to join in a traditional cèilidh – great fun!
8 Best for eco-conscious travellers
Perhaps you’ve decided to holiday in the UK this summer for eco reasons? If so, you need an eco-friendly property to match. Merlin Farm Cottages on the North Cornwall coast are a collection of luxe but laidback lodgings (for 2-4) with a focus on sustainability. They were built from locally quarried stone, run off solar power and have tree-planting projects on site. Kids will love the animals – donkeys, chickens, geese and ducks – and have the chance to become Merlin Farm ‘Eco Rangers’ with a fun worksheet for spotting wildlife. There’s a toddler play area, a slide and a grassy picnic area, plus lots of lovely sandy beaches and Newquay nearby.
9 Best for foodie families
Head to the forest to curb your foodie cravings and stay at The Pig in Brockenhurst. This glorious country hotel is famed for its incredibly fresh and tasty food – 25% of the ingredients come from their own kitchen garden, the rest comes from a 25-mile radius. There are family rooms, kids’ meals, animals to play with (pigs, chickens, horses, bees and quails) and ponds with coy carp. For extra foodie fun, head out with the hotel’s forager to go mushroom picking, hedgerow harvesting or shellfish gathering. The stunning New Forest – famous for its wild horses – is on your doorstep, so borrow a pair of Hunter wellies and ask for a map of the best walking trails, or rent bikes and get exploring!
10 Best for playmates
In classic Cotswolds countryside, is this collection of self-catering cottages which share rambling gardens (perfect for hide-and-seek), a lawn for picnics or ball games, and a heated indoor pool for rainy days. For smaller fry there’s an adventure playground including a supersize Wendy House, older kids have a games room and ping pong; there are racquets and cricket kit and croquet sets to borrow too. Bruern Cottages come in a convenient range of sizes and are positioned close enough together (yet you’ll get your own space) that children will soon make friends and the grounds are safe so you can let them do just that.