The winner of Smith's Best for Families 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.
Zoos are one thing; 4,000 jaw-dropping acres of pristine natural wilderness (with a world-class spa and restaurant) are quite another. At Wolgan Valley, families are in for the eco adventure of a lifetime, spotting wallabies, wombats and cockatoos, in jeeps, by bike, on foot or even horseback. Lap-of-luxury suites with unbeatable views complete the out-of-this-world picture.
‘The stunning location and endless list of activities – from trampolining to reef kayaking – means kids of all ages can spend every day outside in a beautiful natural setting’
Tamara Heber-Percy, Mr & Mrs Smith co-founder
‘Great food and culture, a friendly welcome, things to do with a local theme, and the chance to relax with a superb glass of wine. Italy at its best’
Maria Pieri, National Geographic Traveller
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.
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.
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 edutational pizza-making, bug safaris or language lessons.
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.
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?
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.
BEST OF THE REST Liss Ard Estate, County Cork, Ireland Fellah Hotel, Marrakech, Morocco Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, United Kingdom Almyra, Paphos, Cyprus Calcot Manor, Cotswolds, United Kingdom Amirandes, Crete, Greece El Lodge, Sierra Nevada, Spain