Gorgeous design is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the words 'best family-friendly hotels'. But maybe we need to change our thinking.
Resorts all around the world, from the best hotels in the Maldives to the Paris region are finding ways to blend style credentials and kid-friendly facilities. In our research for this piece we've come across children's entertainment options such as ocean-side yoga and meditation sessions or immersive fairytale experiences evoking local legends.
Though these curated experiences in general come with a grown-up-sized price tag, there's still plenty of inspiration that parents with an interest in design can take from these unique family-friendly resorts, whether you make the journey to them or not.
Slip on your plimsols, grab your binoculars and treasure map, and let's go on a little adventure!
1. Cretan Malia Park
Cretan Malia Park is located in a Bauhaus inspired building was entirely renovated in 2018 to create a fresh, boho interior to contrast with the retro facade. Inside there's loads of wood and natural materials: walnut, chestnut, cool stone, elegant tiling and rattan accessories.
There's no shortage of fabulous hotels in Crete, but this address really stands out for its family credentials. For smaller children there's a kids' club with an outdoor play area and special activities like drama club and baking classes. For teens, there's a dedicated area where they can relax and read and activities like film screenings and outdoor sports.
The beach is a short stroll away and there is also a choice of natural basins, perfect for cooling off from the summer sun.
Book a stay at Cretan Malia Park. Rooms from $230.
2. Almyra Cyprus
This beachside resort in Paphos nails the tricky balancing act of being both ultra family-friendly and ultra chic.
The interiors are the work of Parisian designer Joelle Pleot (former director of Christian Liaigre’s Paris showrooms) who personally oversaw the creation of each piece of bespoke furniture, which were also created by local artisans. Inside you’ll find cozy banquettes that look out onto the glimmering ocean, paired opulent features in glass and marble.
Parents in need of a rest will be delighted by the offering of the kids’ club and the “Baby Go Lightly” facilities (meaning parents of infants can pack light). There's plenty for the youngest members of the family to enjoy, like pottery lessons and treasure hunts and excursions out to the nearby castle. Meanwhile, the adults can relax in child-free spa and splash about in the pool.
The practical but chic rooms are available in a number of different sizes and configurations and look out onto the garden or the sea.
Book a stay at Almyra. Rooms from $160.
3. Pine Cliffs Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort
This resort in the Algarve enjoys an excellent reputation as one of the best family-friendly resorts in Europe.
The vibe is all clean lines and white walls offset with splashed of traditional Portuguese tiling and terracotta tile. The while estate is huge and rambling including a vast "Children's Village", essentially a huge playground with loads of kids' activities, like mini golf, a bouncy castle, basketball court, plus a pirate ship to clamber all over. Bonus: there's also a full-size golf course for adults.
The whole resort overlooks the Atlantic and there are plenty of different options available for families from interconnecting rooms to apartments.
Book a stay at Pine Cliffs. Rooms from $500.
4. Les Chalets du Mont d’Arbois
Take your family to winter wonderland at Les Chalets du Mont d'Arbois, Megève. The traditional wooden chalets were built by the Edmond de Rothschild family, who established this mini ski station here a century ago. The properties are a short distance from the nearest ski lifts.
There is no extra charge for kids under 18 and there's a bunch of activities available for them, like showshoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides. At the sister hotel the Four Seasons Hotel Megève, there's a complimentary Kids Kingdom and Teen Zone.
The decor is an elevated take on classic Alpine chalet. We love the chic lighter tones of the wood paneling and the sumptuously cozy details like the soft throws and obligatory open fires.
Book a stay at Les Chalets du Mont d'Arbois. Rooms from $460.
5. Joali, Maldives
JOALI is the Maldives’ first and only immersive art resort, located on the island of Muravandhoo in the unspoilt Raa Atoll just 45 minutes away from Male by private seaplane.
Launched in late 2018, JOALI truly embodies the joys of life that are woven through its focus on art and sustainable luxury, gastronomy, family and wellbeing. An ideal multi-generational family reunion holiday destination, JOALI comprises 73 elegant and private beach and over-water villas and residences, all impeccably designed and able to cater for families of all sizes with 2, 3 and one 4-bedroom villa available. In response to larger booking sizes this year, JOALI now offers a new five-bedroom Beach Reserve, a private compound made by joining the exclusive Four Bedroom Residence with a neighbouring a Luxury Beach Villa. Highlights include
Unique and inspiring Maldivian experiences are available at the Kid’s Club with local storytellers regaling children with tales of castaway islands and creating adventures from identifying species of tropical fish and animals on the island. Face painting, pool float fun, local dance, kid’s yoga and marine talks by Joali’s resident Marine Biologist are just a few examples of the fun to be had for younger generations at Joali’s Kid’s Club.
Book a stay at JOALI Maldives. Rooms from $2000.
6. Le Barn
Le Barn crosses the charms of the French countryside and the characteristic chic design of the French capital's boutique hotels.
The hotel is located on a sprawling estate in Rambouillet forest, a 40-minute direct train ride from Paris Montparnasse, and the hotel is then a 25-minute cab ride away. The location allows for a bucolic retreat for all the family. There are plenty of walking and cycle paths and even a working stables and riding school on-site (classes can be booked for an extra fee). The owner's own kids (and dogs) wander around.
The interiors are designed by be-poles, the Paris-based branding and architecture agency. The modern rooms can interconnect for families and the minimalist look is practical yet cozy. Common areas blend classic country vibes and a more modern aesthetic.
Book a stay at Le Barn. Rooms from $215.
7. Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay
The whole family can disconnect from the demands of the outside world at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay. The color palette is ultra tranquil: think whites, gold, blues and aqua and the huge windows open onto beach-facing terraces.
There's a head-spinning array of cool activities on offer for kids, at no extra charge for in-house guests. Little ones can plat at being artists, chefs or DJs (this is Ibiza after all). The kids' offering is run by a team of professionally trained and certified childminders. One of the pools is dedicated to families.
For grown-ups, there's a Six Senses spa, a hair and beauty salon and yoga sessions.
Book a stay at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay. Rooms from around $480.
8. Borgo Egnazia
Surely one of the prettiest resorts in Puglia surrounded by farmland and right by the coast. Sidenote: Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel were married here and apparently Madonna also spends long stretches at this resort.
The hotel is created and run by the Melpignano family. Designer of buildings and sets Pino Brescia masterminded the look and feel of the whole complex. Though it's purpose-built, it employs traditional local techniques and local stone recreating the feel of a tiny village with its 90 or so townhouses linked by little alleyways and dotted with elegant fountains and so on. The overall feel in the interiors is cool, airy and harmonious, with plenty of neutral colors and curved features.
For the bambini: there are three different kids' clubs catering to different age groups with interactive workshops inspired by Puglian fairytales for the little ones and go-karting and art workshops for older kids and lots of outdoor sports for older teens.
Book a stay at Borgo Egnazia. Rooms from around $1200.
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Hannah Meltzer is a Londoner by birth and Parisian by adoption. She previously worked on the staff of The Daily Telegraph’s travel desk, before moving to Paris in 2017. She writes regularly about travel and Parisian culture for The Telegraph as an expert destination correspondent. She has also written for The Independent, The Times, Vanity Fair, openDemocracy and Télérama. Recently she wrote a podcast series about Parisian culture for an LA-based production company.
Hannah is based in the 18th arrondissement in the less touristy side of Montmartre behind the Sacré-Coeur basilica. Though her life sometimes resembles a hammy cliché — sketching in sidewalk terraces, walking her beloved dog Babette through the streets of Montmartre — she is adamant she has not lost her London humour and open-mindedness, or her accent.
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