When you’re looking for somewhere to stay with your little ones you really need to know that ‘child-friendly’ means more than a tatty old highchair and a travel cot. You want a genuine family-friendly service and top quality facilities for babies and toddlers. So we’ve been out and about around the New Forest and have scouted out a few family-friendly gems, from luxury family-friendly hotels to excellent self-catering for that ‘getting away from it all’ break.
New Milton, BH25 6QS
Times are changing in the luxury hotel world, and some of the leading hotels in the UK are realising that time-pressed twenty-first century parents want to escape their busy lives with their little ones, and spend their precious time away from it all as a family. Chewton Glen, voted ‘Top Hotel in the British Isles’ last year, has unreservedly embraced parental needs and you’ll struggle to find a more genuine welcome for your young family anywhere. We stepped out of daily life and went for a nosy round - and loved what we found. Quite simply, heaven in a hotel.
Enjoying the best of both worlds with its location, the hotel lies on the edge of the New Forest with a lovely beach within walking distance. There’s a golf course, kites to fly, croquet for tinies, pony trekking, and cycling (including trailers and baby seats!) which you can use to explore the area. You really can arrive here and not use your car until you reluctantly have to drive away! If luxury pampering is what you’re after then you’ll be in the right place. Chewton Glen’s award winning spa has a full range of treatments, all in the most luxurious surroundings you can imagine. The pool area is magical and you won’t have to worry about splashing baby upsetting fellow guests as the hotel has set children’s times. The hotel also has dance classes, yoga, pilates, a fully equipped gym and much more. If this all sounds like too much exercise, then the acres and acres of garden and parkland to gaze upon might be more your cup of tea. There’s an enchanting children’s play area nestled by the sun-drenched terrace and the hotel will even provide for tea parties outside. You can enjoy watching your offspring play whilst you sip that afternoon Pimms and wish that this was everyday life…
The hotel has 58 rooms and suites, all providing the ultimate in luxury and comfort. The wonderful duplex suites are perfect for families, but wherever you stay you’ll have plenty of room and all the facilities you need. You’ll be given a children’s welcome pack on arrival and will find mini bath robes and slippers, games and even baby wellies for the walk to the beach all supplied! For babies, there’s no need to worry about packing for an expedition; the hotel will provide bottle warmers, baby food, changing mats, high chairs, cots and even swimming nappies. The restaurant has a special ‘children’s tea’ and you can either dine together as a family or use the baby listening service and enjoy a romantic meal together. If you’d prefer a babysitter then Chewton Glen has a babysitting service (they use the Guardian Angels agency; if you use this you pay the babysitter in cash on the day). There’s also a children’s club in the school holidays which is suitable for all ages, so baby can go too!
It’s not often that you’ll find this standard of hotel that also anticipates your needs as parents of babies and toddlers, but Chewton Glen seems to have thought of everything; right down to the buckets and spades for a trip to the beach! This five-star hotel is the ultimate parental fantasy: incredible service, total luxury and the perfect calming escape from everyday life!
Tel: 01425 275341 www.chewtonglen.com
Stanwell House Hotel
14 – 15 High Street, Lymington, SO41 9AA
We liked the swish Stanwell House Hotel so much that we’ve included it in ‘Where to Eat’ and ‘Where to Stay’! Victoria and Robert, who run this stylish hotel in lovely Lymington, have young children themselves and are really aware of what parents with babies and toddlers need when they come for a relaxing break. You’ll find cots, highchairs, fresh food for little ones and purees for weaning babies as well as a genuine welcome and a relaxed approach. Combining great service, chic interiors and excellent food this boutique hotel ticks all the boxes for an ‘escape from it all’ break. The hotel has dedicated family rooms or you could use adjoining rooms if you prefer. There’s a baby listening service so you can relax and enjoy the locally-sourced fantastic food in the restaurant, or if you’re enjoying a balmy summer’s evening, you can dine under the stars on the terrace. With fresh sea air, a bustling harbour town outside the door and the New Forest to amble in you’ll have plenty to do; but the oasis of calm that is Stanwell House will lure you back to just relax in comfort and start planning your next stay!
Tel: 01590 677123 www.stanwellhouse.com
Rhinefield House Hotel
Rhinefield Road, Brockenhurst, SO42 7QB
Nestling deep in the heart of the New Forest, Rhinefield House is a true escape from real life. Set at the top of a winding drive, through the dappled shade of ancient trees, this gorgeous country house, with its Tudor chimneys and leaded windows, is the embodiment of a quintessentially English country hotel. Despite its grand exterior the hotel has a cosy atmosphere and welcomes families. You’ll find spacious bedrooms if you’re travelling with baby or family rooms if your family is that bit bigger. They have a lovely children’s tea so even your tinies can enjoy the luxury of fine dining! The staff are friendly and you’ll feel well looked after from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave.
Tel: 0845 072 7516
If you’re looking for a self catering option then look no further!
Baby Friendly Boltholes
At last! A holiday company that completely understands parents’ needs! I’ve lost count of the cottages I’ve stayed at with my family right across Britain and Europe where your heart sinks when you see the rickety highchair and the staircase with no stairgate in sight. Well, I’ll be fretting no longer now I’ve found Baby Friendly Boltholes. Not only are all the properties on their website completely baby and toddler friendly, they’re also pretty gorgeous places to stay and pride themselves on exceeding parents’ requirements and expectations. So no more packing to rival an army expedition for a weekend away with the baby!
Baby Friendly Boltholes have 4 stunning cottages spread around the New Forest, each of which is unique, beautiful and stocked with everything you might need and much that you’ll love. Just pack yourselves and your walking boots and set off safe in the knowledge that you’re going to have a wonderful holiday…
Tel: 0845 489 0140 www.babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk