There was a time when going on holiday with the family meant forgoing luxury for convenience. However, nowadays there are many extravagant hotel options where parents can take their children with them and still enjoy some quality family time altogether in lavish surroundings. These plush resorts are even providing babysitting services so you and your spouse can have some much-needed time alone. After months of lockdown and home-schooling, that sounds like just the tonic to parents up and down the country.
As the UK hotel industry prepares to open from today for overnight stays, LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine has rounded up six of the finest family-friendly five-star hotels worth staying at across England.
Browns Hotel, Mayfair, London
Located in genteel Mayfair, Browns is a Rocco Forte hotel that welcomes families with children and valiantly guards its reputation as one of London’s best family hotels. The highlight of any youngster’s stay is independence since each family suite has an adjoining room connecting to their parents. Every child guest will find new toys and books upon arrival, personalised presents, fun duvet covers, mini robes and slippers, and gingerbread men with their name written on in icing.
The hotel’s mascot is a small monkey called Albemarle – aka Alby who lives in the piano in the drawing-room. Browns’ central location makes it a wonderful place to discover England’s capital, close to Harrods and all the major tourist attractions. It is an ideal base for wealthy travellers with children to stay for a weekend in London.
Distinctively individual and characteristically British, Browns’ 33 luxury suites and 82 hotel rooms offer unparalleled comfort and style. Built in 1837, the hotel’s stunning period features blend into more modern-day aspects. Spacious and inviting rooms are decorated in soft shades and bright hues and overlook Mayfair’s classic streets.
Enjoy family time in the room as the minibars are stocked with delicious child-friendly snacks as part of the Rocco Forte kids programme. Then there are the little touches like non-slip mats, baby robes, towels and toiletries and a cot available on request. Furthermore, the hotel offers a monkey teddy turndown service with 24-hour babysitting available on request for parents who wish to enjoy fine dining for two at Charlies at Browns, a drink at Donovan’s Bar or visit the spa for some me-time.
Options for all the family include meals at HIX, the hotel’s signature restaurant, or a family-friendly afternoon tea in the drawing-room. Indeed, families choosing to stay here will be sleeping in the same rooms as royalty, presidents and literary greats who have frequented London’s oldest hotel.
Address: Browns Hotel, 33 Albemarle St, London W1S 4BP.
Lucknam Park, Colerne, Wiltshire
Heritage and luxury effortlessly combine at a prestigious Relais and Chateaux country hotel just outside the beautiful city of Bath. This listed Palladian mansion, would not look amiss on the set of Bridgerton; all 43 exclusive rooms and suites are independently styled with warm and rich décor, while exquisite antiques are juxtaposed against the latest technology and mod cons.
While it has all the hallmarks of an adults-only break, Lucknam Park is a famously family-friendly place to stay. Guests can choose from a grand suite, magnificent room or three charming cottages available for families. Be transported to a bygone era of elegance and sophistication. The experience begins at the mile-long drive entrance, lined by beech trees before you enter through a magnificent drawing room or charming library for evening cocktails. You are then escorted to the elegant restaurant to commence your evening of fine dining from the a la carte menu or the tasting menus.
An important factor for those with children is the food, and fortunately, Lucknam is renowned in family-led fine dining, at its Michelin-starred Restaurant Hywel Jones. Children’s choices sit alongside the tasting menu and the whole family can enjoy decadent dining in a stately ballroom until 8pm. The next day even breakfast here is a kid-friendly a la carte affair. Alternatively, families can enjoy a more relaxed meal in The Brasserie which has two rosettes. Then there’s afternoon tea with fancy cakes and perfect scones and a child-friendly menu.
Every inch of the idyllic family destination, its 500-acre grounds, are perfect for escapades on horseback, foot or bicycle. Just beyond the 17th-century walled rose garden and arboretum is an adventure playground for children featuring Tractor Ted. Rainy days can be spent at the Hideaway indoor play area with a baby zone and dressing-up areas for older children. Teenagers will love playing table tennis and football as much as utilising the outside tennis courts and a five-a-side pitch.
Another draw to this hotel is its welcome gift to younger guests. Little hands eagerly unwrap the Tractor Ted book and bath toys to keep them amused during their stay. If parents wish for some alone time, the hotel can arrange to babysit in your room. Adults can unwind with a range of spa and wellbeing treatments and there are also mini treatments for children aged eight and up. In the southern Cotswolds and about 20 minutes from historic Bath, Lucknam Park is also well situated for day trips to picturesque Castle Combe.
Address: Lucknam Park, Colerne, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 8AZ. Website: lucknampark.co.uk
Augill Castle, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
Augill Castle is a rare and picturesque landmark against the Upper Eden Valley, close to Wensleydale that is perfect for families. Sandwiched between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales it is like you stepped into a fairy tale when you approach this Gothic castle with its tower, turrets and battlements with unexpected staircases. Sleeping beauty, eat your heart out for this impressive folly castle with imperious surrounding countryside ignites the imaginations of visitors young and old.
Rooms are furnished in a country home style with bold wallpapers juxtaposed against elegant antiques, while interconnecting rooms are perfect for those with small entourages. The drawing room and the playroom – stacked with toys – are the most used rooms in the house. Augill was built in 1841 by John Bagot Pearson from Kirkby Lonsdale in a bid to outdo his younger sibling. He erected this Victorian folly castle as a weekend fantasy retreat in which to entertain his comrades.
These days, owners Simon and Wendy welcome you to their family-friendly castle, which has 20 acres of land where children can feed the free-range hens while their parents have a peaceful cup of tea served in Emma Bridgwater crockery. Further adventure awaits in the treehouse, a mini fort with playground, and tennis court, all within the hotel’s 15-acre grounds, while inside, there is a small 12-seater cinema filled with family films and art deco seats and the popular children’s cookery school. In the music room, Harry Potter sheet music sits on top of the grand piano and there’s a giant chest of dressing-up clothes.
For adults, one of the unique experiences is a ‘help yourself honesty bar’ and the hotel is also renowned for its house party-style dining around the large communal oak dining table in the library. In this decadent dining room with its Baronial chamber and blue and gold surrounds, guests can choose to sit at a private table in the conservatory, drawing room or the music room at Augill where Justin Woods crafts exquisite Michelin-starred food with flair. The surrounding Lake District and Pennines offers the adventurous traveller much to do while the Eden Valley, likewise offers endless opportunities for less energetic days. Offering some of the most uncrowded walks in Britain, there are villages, caves, riverbanks, castles, waterfalls and gorges to explore as a family in this marvellous land.
Address: Augill Castle, Leacetts Lane, Kirkby Stephen CA17 4DE.
Woolley Grange, Bradford Upon Avon
Woolley Grange in medieval Bradford-on-Avon is a haven for child-friendly facilities, set among 14 acres of land. All 25 spacious bedrooms are richly decorated with both contemporary and traditional furnishings. Each room is stylish and luxurious, yet perfectly decked out for little princes and princesses, dogs and grown-ups alike.
The 17th Century Jacobean manor house prides itself on providing child-friendly activities to put parents at ease during their stay. While the adults relax, there are plenty of children’s activities and acres of grounds to be explored. From the Woolley Bears Den, an Ofsted-registered playroom to the Hen House chill-out zone for older children. There are many endeavours for kids to engage in, from gathering fresh eggs to pond dipping with the hotel’s name tagged nets. The hotel has quaint little wooden huts to encourage outdoor imaginary play in the shape of a mini-farm shop and kitchen. This really is a place where kids’ imaginations can run wild.
There is something for the whole family at this Luxury Family Hotel, from all-star family dining in The Orangery to a refined meal in the 2 AA Rosette fine-dining restaurant. Parents don’t have to worry about their children’s table manners at family mealtimes, as the restaurant provides fine dining options for even the tiniest food critics. Staff are adept at making pixie boots out of napkins, offer children’s bibs and cutlery, and serve wholesome, organic baby food.
Menus have been curated by chef Dean Westcar, who joined Woolley Grange Hotel from Lucknam Park in Wiltshire where he was head chef at Hywel Jones. His passionate gardening team led by Aldetha grow herbs, fruit and vegetables for his dishes as well as sourcing meat and eggs from local suppliers. Fresh flowers for the hotel are also picked on the grounds.
Adults craving sophisticated dining can choose High Tea for the children or kid only dinners from 6pm to 7pm. Then once the kids are tucked up in bed a baby video monitoring service or a babysitter can be arranged to allow couples some alone time dining by candlelight. Located within a walled garden, the spa is a relaxed, family-friendly environment housed in a contemporary oak-timber building that blends into the Bath stone wall of the kitchen garden. Through the full-length glass windows, there’s an astonishing view from the pool.
Eight luxury glamping suites will be launched at Woolley Grange Hotel for the spring and summer with suites featuring one large master bedroom with a double bed dressed in crisp, cotton bed linen and bedside tables with atmospheric lamps.
Bradford Upon Avon is a magical historic town in west Wiltshire, England, bordering Somerset. The village rests on the hillside banks of the picturesque River Avon with presided by an ancient bridge with 13th-century arches. The village borders Bath and the Cotswolds.
Address: Woolley Grange, Bradford On Avon BA15 1TX.
Rockliffe Hall, Hurworth-on-Tees, Durham
A hidden gem in the north east, Rockcliffe Hall in Darlington is a five-star golf and spa resort that welcomes children. This Small Luxury Hotel of the World is housed within a magnificent 18th-century country house that has been tenderly restored and expanded to create an outstanding resort close to the North York Moors. Inside, one will find ornate crystal chandeliers, chenille and velvet fabrics in rich browns and reds. Several of the 61 rooms and suites have glorious views of the golf course and every bathroom has a television to while away leisure time.
Speaking of the 18-hole championship golf course, it is one of the largest in the UK, designed by Hawtree course architects as a championship golf course. It is deemed to be one of the most challenging in the UK and Europe. While its full 7,879 yards from the back tees will give even the best professional tour golfer a stern test, most will find the five individual tee boxes on each hole a welcome addition, offering players of all abilities the chance to experience the challenge.
This is just one of the five-star leisure facilities on offer at Rockcliffe, making it a great place to relax and unwind for adults. There’s a stunning swimming pool and plenty of grounds and tracks for cycling, while activities on offer include falconry and fantasy Alice in Wonderland-themed play cabins as well as an adventure playground and nature trail. Another outstanding feature is a glasshouse for hosting tea parties.
Fine dining is on the menu at the Orangery – the hall’s 3AA Rosette restaurant run by Gary Duffy, who serves up a la carte options that take families on a culinary journey. It’s a toss up between the beef tartar and the staithes village crab and both the peach frangipane and orangery cheesecake are both worth trying. There is also an award-winning spa for adults while youngsters can create their own spa in their room, with small robes and slippers for younger guests and children’s toiletries. Furthermore, for a grand entrance or exit, guests can land their helicopter on the sprawling grounds.
Durham is a beautiful university town steeped in heritage and rolling hills. The cathedral and adjacent 11th-century castle are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Address: 1 Pilmore Mews, Hurworth-On-Tees DL2 2DU.
Fowey Hall, Cornwall
Author of classic children’s book The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame frequently stayed at a particular Victorian seaside home. Nowadays it is a luxury family hotel called Fowey Hall. This coastal manor and its manicured gardens are sat just above the estuary providing amazing views for guests. Fowey Hall, part of the Luxury Family Hotel group, provides top-notch facilities for children, making it a delightful place for a family holiday.
The hotel team is also preparing to officially launch its new Wind in the Willows inspired children’s play area where children of all ages can run wild. The play area has been created by TouchWood Designs, who have recently worked with The Duchess of Cambridge on her Back to Nature garden at the Chelsea Flower Show and on her new play area at RHS Wisley. Full of fun and adventure it includes a 30-metre zip wire, nest swings, springer lily pads and an event space where children can read a classic tale or enact a play of their own. The hotel organises crabbing trips to the quay and outdoor games on the lawns, and there is a crèche and indoor pool.
Inside, the rooms are cool and contemporary, in contrast to the hotel’s heritage exterior. The choicest family accommodations are the deluxe en-suite rooms, which are bright and spacious. All bathrooms include a selection of luxury children’s toiletries as well as adult treats. Another area this hotel excels at is its family-friendly dining options at the flagship restaurant, which serves exquisite food within biome domes and offers flexible dining options.
Head chef Wesley Pratt serves up Cornish fayre and fresh seafood as well as a quintessentially British lamb shank. Yet there are also options for tiny delicate palettes such as boiled eggs and burgers and organic baby food on a full children’s menu. In keeping with its heritage, a Wind in the Willows inspired Afternoon Tea has been curated for guests to enjoy one designed for adults and the other tailored for children.
Full-on brownie points for this hotel which gives parents of babies and toddlers two free hours per day at the crèche. And there is a night-time baby listening service so parents can dine alone. There is plenty on offer for older kids too, from a zip-wire to a trampoline, not to mention water sports and the run of the beautiful grounds. Celebrating the fabulous local producers of the region, a bi-weekly market will visit every Sunday morning, 9.30am-12.30pm, showcasing food, beverage, craft and community initiatives. Cornwall is surrounded by gorgeous beaches and The South West Coast Path is a few minutes from the hotel doorstep.
Address: Fowey Hall Hotel, Hanson Drive, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23 1ET. Website: foweyhallhotel.co.uk
Travelling as a family is rewarding and it is good to know that there are some exceptional luxe options out there, which do not peer down their noses at families with children. All the hotels in this feature have been chosen for their family-friendly approaches and they cover a wide geographic spread to make it representational of the whole of England. Look no further than LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine for your indulgent recommendations.