What's so special
If you are looking for a luxury country hotel with a family feel, then try Ballyvolane House in Fermoy, County Cork, in Ireland. This hotel is run by Justin Green, who used to run Babington House in Somerset. It is owned by his father four generations of the family live in the hotel and help to run it.
How they rate it
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Ballyvolane House is one of "Ireland's best country-house hotels", according to Cond Nast Traveller. The room the Irish Independent's Peter Carvosso stayed in had "high ceilings, bay windows overlooking sweeping lawns, crisp linen and an antique, mahogany-clad bath that is deeper than some of the rivers I wade". Staying here is like "being invited to stay with some grand friends in their country pile. You bump into the family all the time and share their enormous dinner table." But "behind the scenes, you know that vastly experienced hotel pros are at work".
Food is traditional, with roasts, fish from the river and seasonal game, all served with vegetables from the hotel's garden.
Double room from €190 including breakfast. See www.ballyvolanehouse.ie or call 00 353 25 36349.
The Lissard Country House
What's so special
This Georgian country manor set on a 200-acre estate close to Skibbereen recently reopened following a massive renovation. Originally, the house could only be rented in its entirety, during which time Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Van Morrison were all guests. But now it's been transformed into a family-friendly hotel.
How they rate it
"Coolly decorated rooms are spread between the main house, stable block and lake lodge," says Jane Hayward in Woman & Home magazine. There's plenty for families to do with "a lovely mix of bohemian fun (wild swimming in an emerald lake; gazing up at the sky from a giant artwork crater), and traditional activities such as cycling, birdwatching and crafts." Mums should also try to "slip away for a crafty facial in one of the two treatment rooms".
Dinner is a sociable affair with meals served at a communal table and dishes cooked based on what's been picked up from the local market.
A double room costs from €110 per night including breakfast. To find out more visit the website at www.lissardestate.com or call 00 353 28 40 000.
Hotels with stunning views
A view from your window of a brick wall or car park will spoil your stay at even the best hotels. Here's a round up of three of the world's best rooms with views, according to Caroline Hendrie in The Times.
Crater Lake Lodge (pictured) in Oregon in the US looks out over Crater Lake, "America's deepest and bluest" water. The lodge was built in 1915 and, although it was renovated in 1995, "when you enter the great hall with its huge fireplace, it is like stepping back into the 1920s". Use the hotel as a base for hiking or taking boat trips. Room 401 has the best view across the lake. Doubles are from £147 (Americaasyoulikeit.co.uk).
Relais Blu in the hamlet of Termini in Italy has just 11 rooms, but they all have "beautiful views over to the Bay of Naples and you can often see Mount Vesuvius". The hotel is an ideal romantic hideaway, set in cliff-top gardens, and is an ideal place to sample contemporary Italian cuisine. Junior suite 101 has an uninterrupted view to Capri. It costs from £655 per person for five nights B&B (Expertoitaly.com).
Alila Ubud in Bali is high in the hills of the island and enjoys "panoramic views of the Ayung River and the island's volcanoes". There are several different room types, but "the ones to splash out on are the Valley Villas with walk-around decks and big windows".
Villas 302, 303 and 304 "face west for uninterrupted views across the rainforest to the mountains and glorious sunsets". Valley Villas costs from £255 per night (Alilahotels.com/ubud).
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