Virgin Atlantic has just launched a new entertainment package aimed at families on its transatlantic crossings featuring Thomas and Friends. To celebrate, we’ve put together a roundup of our favourite hotels in England to visit with kids. After all, when it comes to family-friendly hotels, England is a pioneer.
Best Family-Friendly Hotels in England
It’s impossible not to be enchanted and impressed by this historic medieval-style hotel. A walk through its very English grounds goes past peacocks and peahens, trees adorned with swings, lawns that invite you to play croquet or football; and a pebble beach that’s deserted more often than not. Inside the ancient-looking buildings, guests can lose themselves in a rabbit warren of passages that lead to the bar, the restaurant and lounges made for board games. A more modern-looking barn houses the wonderful spa, and a variety of accommodations are dotted around the site. There is no kids’ club; families make their own fun here. When it’s time to get out and about, 1066 country is just waiting to be explored.
On the edge of the New Forest, just a short stroll from a sandy beach and a clifftop castle, Chewton Glen is the perfect base for families to explore England’s coast and countryside. It’s a few miles from family favorite Peppa Pig World, but guests can easily spend a weekend here without leaving the grounds. Amongst the onsite family activities on offer are treasure hunts, archery, clay-pigeon shooting, buggy racing, falconry, gun-dog handling, duck herding and cycling. There is also a fantastic spa, delicious restaurant menus and wonderful accommodations — the treehouse suites are particularly fun.
Welcomes don’t come warmer than at this country house hotel, an hour’s drive from London in the beautiful county of Hampshire. Children will find their own special surprises awaiting in the bedrooms, and they can borrow a toy from the toy box for their stay. The Four Seasons staff also has thought of everything parents might need when traveling with babies. The to-do list at the hotel requires several visits to complete: tennis, croquet, cycling, fishing, falconry, canal boating, a high wire treetop challenge and a spectacular pool, for starters. The spa is a must-visit as well.
This delightful little hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens that guests are encouraged to roam, along with the resident chickens, ducks, sheep and ponies. Although it’s surrounded by wonderful local pubs, the food here is so delicious that it’s hard to skip a meal, whether it’s the full English breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. And the children’s menu is just as appetising. The accommodation is such that no one will want to leave, but you can’t stay in the Forest of Dean without exploring it. Kid-friendly activities include caving, cycling, treetop adventures, rope climbing and bushcraft sessions, to name but a few.
Bovey Castle offers the chance to stay in a real-life turreted castle. There are beautiful grounds to enjoy, plus golf, tennis, croquet, cycling, fishing, a wonderful spa and fantastic restaurants. Children, in particular, will enjoy conversing with the resident parrot, helping to collect eggs for breakfast, meeting the ferrets, and maybe making biscuits or getting arty in the playroom. During the school holidays, older kids can sign up for the Bovey Rangers kids’ programme, where they can learn to build a campfire or play golf, amongst many other activities. To top it all off, the hotel even has a Lego room service menu! Oh, and Devon is right on the doorstep for exploring.
A beautifully appointed, luxurious London hotel that welcomes children is a find worth shouting about, and this is what the Corinthia is and does. Behind a beautiful Victorian facade, within walking distance of the River Thames, Westminster and Buckingham Palace, lies a range of well-appointed classic, contemporary guest rooms and suites. The Corinthia also offers a choice of great restaurants, a spa in which parents can lose themselves, and an indoor pool offering generous family swimming times. The best bit, however, is the Crafty Concierge service, which will put together an inventive itinerary covering everything families want to see in London — with a few surprises thrown in too.
The best of England with kids
Insider tips on where to stay and what to do on a family vacation in England >
London is a little short on good-quality aparthotels, so we were delighted to discover this gem just off Regent Street. London is a magical city to explore with kids, but it can also be exhausting, so it’s great to have a home base complete with a lounge and a kitchen. Upon request, the concierge will stock the fridge and cupboard with your family’s favorites. For families who want to start the day in PJs in front of the TV, or give the kids an early night and order in from a local restaurant menu, No.5 offers this freedom. The staff can also arrange in-room spa treatments. And when it’s time to explore, museums, theatres, shops and restaurants are all within walking distance.
This is the sort of hotel that calls for spending a wet weekend holed up — which is a fantastic accolade for a British hotel. Kids will have a ball rain or shine; there’s a supervised play area for little ones, with a regular schedule of activities, and a dedicated area for older children too. Parents can enjoy the spa knowing that the kids are having fun. Families also can enjoy the inviting swimming pools, horse riding, cycling and tennis, and venture farther afield to explore everything the Cotswolds region has to offer.
The Grove, on the outskirts of the English capital, is where Londoners go when they want to escape to the country. Family photo ops are everywhere within the beautiful grounds: Perhaps your kids will be peeping out from behind a giant topiary giraffe, or splashing about in the indoor or outdoor pool. Maybe they’ll be trying out golf or tennis for the first time, or bouncing on the trampoline in the kids’ club. Take a break for a family afternoon tea, which is a must, and Sunday lunch here is famous too (in fact, all the restaurants are well-regarded) The spa is a heavenly escape.
Just 20 minutes from the spa town of Bath, Woolley Grange is best enjoyed with kids. Collecting eggs from the ducks and chickens in Roald Dahl’s ‘Chicken House No. 1,’ finding your way out of the grass maze, and meeting Simon the rabbit and Lillibert the hamster wouldn’t be the same without them. Parents might draw the line at taking them to the spa, but that’s OK — little ones can have fun in Woolley Bear’s Den whilst adults are being scrubbed and massaged. There is a babysitting and baby-listening service for those who fancy dinner alone.
READY TO PLAN A FAMILY VACATION TO ENGLAND?
CB! Vacation Consultants can help you book accommodations and kid-friendly guides, recommend activities and excursions, and more. Send us a request and a consultant will reach out directly! >
Editor’s Note: Photos by Anna Tobin except where noted.