Best Family Hotel
The winner of the Best Family Hotel award has everyone's best interests at heart. It knows how precious family holidays are and makes room for relaxation with thoughtful restaurant timings, fantastic facilities and plenty of parent-pleasing extras: evening crèche sessions, fun activities, and dedicated spaces where kids and adults can share time together – and apart.
Winner: The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia
Our judges say ‘The children remained wide-eyed the entire trip, and they came away having learned something, too – after the butterfly walk, I think we now have a budding lepidopterist on our hands! But as fun as it was for them, it was equally as calm and relaxing for us. Datai Langkawi is the kind of resort we’d return to year after year, as we know we’ll discover something new each time’.
Timbers Kaua'i, Hawaii
Timbers Kaua'i is the sort of place Pacific Island dreams are made of – with at least two bedrooms each, there’s not a bad room in the house here (each has a full kitchen, too, if you fancy a family night in). Book one in the Maliula Residence to be closest to the kids’ club, games lawn and family pool – complete with a waterfall tumbling over volcanic rocks. The resort’s beach club is equipped with ocean-faring kit (surf boards, kayaks, snorkels and the like) and if you’re up for exploring there are bikes and helmets to borrow, too.
São Lourenço do Barrocal, Alentejo
You can’t get much deeper familial ties than at São Lourenço do Barrocal, a Portuguese country escape that’s been in the same family for two centuries. Who needs a kids’ club when there’s an entire estate in which to run, ride and gallop around? With bikes to borrow, horses to ride and a classically beautiful pool in which to take a dip, active little ‘uns and adults alike will get no shortage of fresh air (bookish types can lounge under an ancient oak with a good read, instead). Throw in some flawlessly first-class service and kitchen staff keen on serving up home-made cakes, and you’ve a peacefully pastoral stay for all ages.
Once you spy the outdoor play area that looks right out of an Enid Blyton novel, you’ll understand that Beaverbrook caters to the kiddos just as much as the parents paying the bill – there’s even a treehouse tucked away in the woods. At weekends, there are riding, cycling and foraging excursions for 5–12 year olds, and you’ll find plenty of board games, books and puzzles at hand on rainy days.
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, British Columbia
Luxury doesn’t get much more rugged than Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort. Take your cubs to meet the baby bears (well, observe them from a safe distance) – there are black bears and grizzlies a-go-go in this thickly forested neck of the woods, and your guides know where to find them. Or head out to spot humpback whales off the coast – your child will almost definitely win the what-I-did-on-my-summer-holiday story prize when term time rolls around. Something slightly less wild? Rafting or swimming in Mackenzie Sound, right on your doorstep, is an idyllic way to let off steam en famille.
View previous winners
Best family hotel award criteria
A WARM WELCOME
Do staff make families feel truly welcome? Can children stay free in parents' rooms, are they greeted by name? The best child-friendly hotels cater for kids as well as they do their parents.
FUN FOR KIDS…
Keeping them occupied requires more than a few PlayStations. Are there lots of opportunity for play, supervised activities or bikes to borrow? Is the pool family-friendly, the beach perfect for paddling? We love a kids' club that embraces local culture, with educational pizza-making, bug safaris or language lessons.
PLENTY OF KIT
As well as cots, can the hotel help lighten your luggage by providing some of the paraphernalia, from bottle-warmers to buggies? Maybe there's a playground, a well-stocked games room or watersports centre, or a welcome basket of toys in your room.
Is there a bullet-proof baby-listening system? Is babysitting available day and night? Is there a fantastic crèche that nurtures and inspires? Qualified staff? Your peace of mind – and their wellbeing – is paramount.
…AND FOR GROWN-UPS
Here's the crucial bit: parents must feel they're on holiday, too. Adults-only spa time, a romantic meal for two and decor that doesn't scream 'Wipe me!' or 'Don't touch!' all play a part in making the perfect family hotel.
Mealtimes can be stressful with little ones – especially in a hotel where you're always on show. Is there a stash of highchairs? Some crayons to keep them occupied? Does the kids' menu exceed expectations? Is it available via room service? Are staff happy to help?