Three of the best family-friendly hotels

Crete’s Casa Cook Chania
Crete’s Casa Cook Chania is perfect for hipsters with families

Same problems, different views? Family holidays don’t have to be like that. 

“The word ‘luxury’ doesn’t often feel compatible with family-friendly holidays, but finding a destination that meets the perfect blend of romance and fun-filled activities for the children may no longer be as impossible as it sounds,” says Elliot Wagland in the Evening Standard. Parklane (from €299, marriott.co.uk) is a “meticulously refurbished” resort and spa in Limassol, on the island of Cyprus. Children are welcome in all of its five restaurants, which “promise to cater for even the fussiest of taste buds”. They even have their own pirate-themed, two-storey castle and pirate ship decked out with water slides in the Park Kidz complex.

Former England football star Rio Ferdinand and ex-Brighton striker Bobby Zamora set up the Parklane’s Football Escapes course. During every school holiday, a former professional footballer joins Uefa-licensed coaches to train children for two hours a day. Each child gets their own Football Escapes kit and medal at the end of the week-long course. “You can watch your child’s eyes light up each day as they receive expert training from the former players that Rio Ferdinand has played with or battled against, including Jamie Redknapp, Joe Cole and Dimitar Berbatov, with the players fully immersing themselves in the occasion.”

Moby-style cool in Crete

Casa Cook Chania (pronounced “Hania”) is the new “family-friendly version of Grecian cool”, says Lorraine Candy in The Sunday Times. Located on Crete’s northwest coast, it is Thomas Cook’s first foray into “hipster hotels for families”. “Chilled” Moby-style music permeates the foyer, while neighbouring villas have a small, private plunge pool and a “magnificent view” of the sea. By the main pool, “French families with ludicrously well-behaved, suntanned youngsters sipped dry Greek rosé at the bamboo bar”. The children’s club is “all beige bean bags and rattan chairs around a safe, small pool”. Sleepovers can be arranged in a “pretty Bedouin tent”. Activities include arts, crafts and cooking. Movie time is in the evenings, showing films such as Pixar’s Inside Out, allowing you to go for cocktails – “like those child-free couples you eye with envy”.

The kitchen is open all day so you don’t have to schedule your day around meal times, and the menu is locally sourced. At the end of the stay, the Casa Cook (from £995 per person for a week based on four sharing, flights included, casacook.com) has passed the critical Kid Critic test. “Praise indeed.”

A couple’s blessing in Sardinia

“There’s a saying that when you go on holiday with children, it’s the same problems, just different views and weather (hopefully),” says Elisa Bray in The Independent. It doesn’t have to be that way. “If you have young children and want to go to Sardinia, you can’t go wrong picking a Delphina resort: there are eight on the island.”

Valle dell’Erica Resort (from £145 per person, hotelvalledellerica.com), home to hotels Erica and La Licciola, has just been voted Europe’s Leading Green Resort in the World Travel Awards 2019. La Licciola beach has a bar-cafe, as well as buckets and spades for children. The “lively Ericaland miniclub… is bursting with enthusiastic, multilingual staff”. Activities include a “Robinson Crusoe” adventure sleepover and pizza-making. “Tweenagers can make use of complimentary canoes, snorkelling equipment and computer games.” At mealtimes the tables are laid beautifully for “tiny diners” and parents of children under the age of three will “rejoice” at the complimentary nursery. “Remarkably the miniclub is open until 11pm.” All in all, “this is an ideal resort to reclaim some couple’s time”.


Why not leave the kids at home?

Hotel Esencia, Riviera Maya, Tulum

“After just over six years of dawn wake-up calls and holidays when we might just finish reading a solitary book between games of beach football, we are finally alone again,” says Robert Winnett in The Daily Telegraph. Calmness is “the first thing that hits” him and his partner on their adult-only trip to Mexico, while their son spends the week with grandma. The Hotel Esencia (from US$700/£580 plus tax, hotelesencia.com), near Tulum on the Yucatán peninsula, was once the residence of an Italian duchess. Peacocks and large lizards roam its manicured lawns, where afternoon tea is served every day. The decor “looks like it came straight off the pages of a minimalist design magazine”. And with no children in tow, there’s no need for time-watching for early breakfasts and bedtime. “Suddenly we have time. Time to relax, time to… head to the bar and watch a Caribbean sunset.” After a couple of hibiscus margaritas, “family life in south London seems a long way away”.