ACCOMMODATION

Living Hotel Nuremberg, Germany: Review and tips

Living Hotel Nuremberg, Germany: Review and tips

We stay at this apartment hotel in the Gostenhof area of Nuremberg

Name

Living Hotel Nuremberg

Where is it?

It is in the district of Gostenhof, about a 20-minute walk from the historic old town.

It’s near to the Gostenhof underground stop on the U1 line which can take you directly to the main station.

What is it?

This is an apartment hotel/ aparthotel, giving you the best of both worlds as the rooms have kitchenettes.

It is popular with people who want to stay for a longer period of time.

Is it family friendly?

Our room was family friendly as there was plenty of space for us to spread out.

The open plan kitchen and living area

The rooms

We are in a two-bedroom maisonette which is spread over two floors with a small balcony. There’s an open plan lounge, dining room and kitchen and a separate toilet downstairs.

The main bedroom in our apartment

Upstairs are two bedrooms and a bathroom, plus the mezzanine-style landing has a huge desk built into it. (Great for us, could be a hazard if you have young children who like to climb).

Food and drink:

You can prepare food, make picnics and eat in your room – although there is no oven, our apartment has a microwave, hob and (rather noisy) fridge. There is also a dining table. And nearby shops include a Lidl.

There is a bar and restaurant on site although the restaurant was closed when we stayed.

But there is a separate breakfast restaurant on the first floor, serving a continental buffet.

The breakfast room

There was a good selection of fruit, yoghurts, bread, rolls, pastries meats and cheeses etc.

But my daughter was disappointed as the only cereal available was muesli and there were no pancakes which are her favourite.

Our highlights

*The size of our apartment.

*There are two bottles of water and two bottles of beer awaiting in the room for free.

The view from our balcony

Top tips

There is no gym, but you can ask them to bring fitness equipment to your room for a small charge!

Downsides

No space to put your toiletries in the bathroom.

A bit of a walk to the centre if you don’t catch the metro.

Nearby

The Old city is a 20-minute walk away.

The underground train station is nearby and there is a tram stop just a five-minute walk.

How to get there from the UK

We travelled by train! We stayed at this hotel as part of an Interrail trip around Europe, here is our travel diary: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures on trains travelling around Europe

More information

Address: Obere Kanalstraße 11, 90429 Nuremberg

How to book: nuernberg@living-hotels.com

The reception

*Our stay was complimentary for the purpose of this review – all views are our own.

Review: Wookey Hole Hotel in Somerset (at Wookey Hole Caves)

Review: Wookey Hole Hotel in Somerset (at Wookey Hole Caves)

We stay at the hotel next to the famous Wookey Hole Caves in Wells

Our video tour of the hotel and attraction

Name

Wookey Hole Hotel

Where is it?

At the famous Wookey Hole Caves attraction in Somerset, two miles from the cathedral city of Wells and 20 miles from Bath.

What is it?

A 58-room hotel with a memorable turret shaped like a witch’s hat.

There’s a nod to witches in other details too including the curtains in our room.

A witch statue peers out of a bush at Wookey Hole Hotel

A witch peers out of a bush at the hotel

This is due to the legendary Wookey Hole witch – said to have lived in the caves until she was killed by a monk.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, there were lots of families here when we stayed and it is the target market for the hotel. Many are likely to be here to visit the adjacent Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions.

Children also benefit from a well kitted out games room and a great children’s menu in the restaurant.

The rooms

We had a family room with a comfortable double bed and two singles, a great alternative to the usual offering of two double beds and the children were pleased to have a bed each.

There was lots of good storage space, tea and coffee facilities and a tv plus free WiFi for unlimited devices.

A family room at Wookey Hole Hotel

Our family room

There are also double, superior and luxury family rooms. And a Witch’s Hat Suite for two adults with a bedroom and lounge. It can be found, as you might imagine, under the Witch’s Hat tower turret.

Food and drink

The Bistro is the bar and restaurant on site. It’s a nice room with wide windows on two sides.

The restaurant/bar at Wookey Hole Hotel

The restaurant/bar

Breakfast is served between 7.30am and 10am daily and there’s the choice of a buffet-style continental or a cooked alternative such as an English breakfast or eggs benedict.

There’s a good selection of evening meals, with something for everyone, served from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.

Our highlights

*The location – this is fantastic if you want to visit Wookey Hole Caves as it’s right next door. You can also do some scenic walks around the village and to Ebbor Gorge, which is about a 30-minute walk from the hotel.

*There is free car parking.

*The games room includes a giant Connect Four, air hockey table, table football, Jenga and classic arcade games.

Part of the games room at Wookey Hole Hotel

Part of the games room

Top tips

*As you’re staying on the same site, make sure to get up and out early as you can be first in the caves like we were – they opened at 9.30am when we stayed.

*Book the restaurant for breakfast or evening meals before you arrive to make sure you get one at your preferred time.

*Adjoining rooms are available if needed as are travel cots – only the bottom sheet is provided so bring your own bedding.

*There are often special packages available with stays including tickets to Wookey Hole, breakfast and discounts to other attractions, if you book directly with the hotel.

Nearby

*The adjacent Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions is a series of show caverns which date back millions of years. Alongside the caves are a dinosaur park, 4D cinema, adventure golf, soft play and circus theatre. Read our full review of Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions.

Dinosaurs at Wookey Hole Caves

Dinosaurs at Wookey Hole Caves

*The hotel is just eight miles from the stunning Cheddar Gorge, don’t miss our full guide to this natural phenomenom.

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge

*It’s two miles from beautiful Wells – the smallest city in England. We spent a fantastic afternoon here, spending ages exploring the Bishop’s Palace glorious gardens.

Bishops Palace and Gardens, Wells

Bishops Palace and Gardens, Wells

*It’s 20 miles from Bath, where we spent a lovely couple of days visiting attractions like the Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent and the American Museum and Gardens as well as enjoying hop-on, hop-off open air bus tours. Read our full guide: Things to do in Bath for families

More information

Address: Wookey Hole Hotel, The Mill, Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset, BA5 1BB.

Telephone: 01749 672243.

Email:  hotel@wookey.co.uk

How to book: Wookey Hole Hotel

RELATED CONTENT: Review: Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions – kooky by name and kooky by nature

RELATED CONTENT: Things to do in Bath for families

RELATED CONTENT: Cheddar Gorge – all you need to know about this natural phenomenon

*One night of our stay was free for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.

Riu Madeira – all you need to know about this refurbished all-inclusive hotel

Riu Madeira – all you need to know about this refurbished all-inclusive hotel

We review the Riu Madeira Hotel on the Portuguese island of Madeira and give you a video tour

We love a Riu hotel so when we found out the Riu Madeira had been refurbished, we were excited to try it out. Here’s our full review and guide to this four-star all-inclusive on the gorgeous Portuguese island of Madeira.

Name

Riu Madeira

Where is it?

The hotel is in Praia dos Reis Magos in Caniço de Baixo on the south coast of the Portuguese island of Madeira, east of the capital Funchal.

It is nestled in the hillside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Outdoor restaurant seating at the Riu Madeira hotel

Outdoor restaurant seating

What is it?

It’s a four-star all-inclusive hotel with three restaurants and two pools and is one of the Riu Hotels & Resorts hotels.

As it’s all-inclusive, everyone wears a wristband and all food and drink is included. It also has a spa, hairdressers, lobby bar and a big room to watch shows and entertainment each evening.

Swimming pools and the sea at the Riu Madeira hotel.

Is it family friendly?

It’s great for everyone including families. Children will love the pools, location and food – there’s so much choice that there should be something for even the fussiest eaters including pizza and three pasta options every day.

There’s a tennis court and a place to play bowls. But there isn’t a RiuLand Children’s Club as we’ve seen at other Riu hotels and the two outside pools are deep although there’s a separate little paddling pool.

The lobby or reception area at the Riu Madeira hotel

The reception area

The rooms

There are 327 rooms, including single and twin rooms along with junior suites.

They all have air-conditioning, a balcony or terrace and free Wi-Fi, which was very fast and reliable.

The main bedroom in our junior suite room at Riu Madeira hotel

The main bedroom in our junior suite

We had a fabulous junior suite with the most stunning view over the sea, wonderful to enjoy from the bed or balcony. It had two double beds pushed together and a separate area with a sofa bed. There were two televisions, a bathroom with two sinks and a shower, plus bathrobes which you could wear around the pool (not available in children’s sizes). The sound of the sea from the room was so relaxing.

The second room in our junior suite at Riu Madeira hotel

The second room in our junior suite

Food and drink

There are three restaurants and all food and drink, including alcohol, is included.

The main buffet restaurant – we ate mostly in this restaurant which serves a huge selection of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are plenty of tables inside and out, overlooking the pools. It only felt really busy on one morning, which was a Sunday.

The main buffet restaurant at Riu Madeira hotel

The main buffet restaurant

Kulinarium – this is an a la carte speciality restaurant. The food is delicious, made from local produce and the service is fantastic, staff are so attentive. The menu is small and there is no separate children’s menu but if there is nothing they fancy, you can always fetch something from the buffet restaurant. This restaurant gets booked up in advance so make sure you book a night on arrival.

Kulinarium speciality a la carte restaurant at Riu Madeira hotel

Kulinarium

Pepe’s Food – this is a poolside grill bar which has a selection of food and drink open during the day.

Pepe's Food pool bar and restaurant at Riu Madeira Hotel

Pepe’s Food

Sports and activities

There’s a hard-surface tennis court, a card games room and an area to play bowls plus a small gym.

The tennis court at Riu Madeira

The tennis court

We spotted lots of people running along the sea front and many stop to use the outdoor gym equipment dotted around on the path running behind the hotel.

We went in February half-term but from around July to mid-September there’s a daytime entertainment programme for six to 12-year-olds, six times a week.

Our hotel highlights

One of the outdoor pools at Riu Madeira

One of the outdoor pools

*The pools – the indoor pool, one of the outdoor pools and the paddling pool is heated during the winter months.

Indoor pool at Riu Madeira hotel

Indoor pool

*Entertainment –  after dinner in the show room there was a different music act each evening until around 9pm followed by a show from 9.15pm including a magic show, a circus-themed performance and an Elton John tribute. Our favourite was the ballroom dancing as our daughter got picked to have a go.

The bar area at the Riu Madeira hotel

The bar area

*Views of the sea – the view from our bed and balcony and many of the sunbeds of the ocean, were stunning.

View from the sunbeds at the Riu Madeira hotel

View from the sunbeds

*The staff – staff were so friendly and attentive throughout the hotel.

Top tips

Pool towels are available from a hut next to the outdoor pools. You are allowed one each but can swap for a dry one or for a pool card whenever you want.

The towel hut at the Riu Madeira hotel

The towel hut

Breakfast got busier later in the morning so go earlier if you can for a more relaxing experience.

If you want to eat at the a la carte Kulinarium restaurant book as soon as you arrive because it fills up quickly.

Tell us more about Madeira

Madeira is one of the Madeira Archipelago (group of islands), as well as Porto Santo, Desertas and the Selvagens. The islands are south west of Portugal, off the coast of Africa and are actually closer to Morocco than Portugal.

Madeira used to be hard to explore as it is so mountainous with rugged coasts, but today there are raised roads and loads of tunnels – two of them over 1.9 miles long.

My abiding memory of Madeira will be of all the red-roofed homes scattered over the hills and the pretty lights sparkling on the hillsides at night, which you can even see from the airport as soon as you arrive.

The view of red roofed buildings from the Madeira Cable Car from Funchal to Monte

The view from the Madeira Cable Car

Nearby

If you leave the hotel by its rear exit, you cross a narrow path to get to the pebbly beach.

It’s pretty to look at but not easy to walk on and quite hard to swim from – you’ll need shoes and there are a lot of rocks plus the sea seems rough. There is a jetty with steps down into the sea and further around to the left is a part sectioned off by rocks which feels safer to swim in.

The pebbly beach at Riu Madeira Hotel

The beach is pebbly

Madeira is a wonderful island to explore. We had a hire car and marvelled at some of the steep mountain roads.

The capital Funchal is just a 15-minute drive from Riu Madeira. We were lucky enough to be there during its Carnival celebrations and enjoyed one of the colourful parades.

We took a cable car from Funchal, it’s a stunning ride up to the top where we visited the beautiful Monte Palace gardens before riding back down again.

Monte Palace Gardens

Monte Palace Gardens

Another way back down but not for the faint-hearted is by the famous Madeira Toboggan Ride. Passengers on wicker basket sledges are helped down the hill by two runners wearing straw boaters, in a tradition dating back to the 19th century and experienced by my grandparents in the 1970s.

We also visited the traditional fishing village Camara de Lobos which was loved by Winston Churchill after he visited in 1950 and stood at the site where he painted a portrait of the bay.

Children looking at Churchill's view in Camara de Lobos

Looking at Churchill’s view in Camara de Lobos

We headed east to the stunning clifftop walk of Porto do San Lourenco and drove north west to the natural seawater pools and aquarium in Porto Moniz.

A seawater pool at Porto Moniz

A seawater pool at Porto Moniz

When to go to the Hotel Riu Madeira

We went in February when the average temperature is 20 degrees and the rain is 97mm. This was perfect for us as we don’t like it too hot. Here is a year-round look at the average weather in Madeira:

January 20 degrees, 80mm rainfall
February 20 degrees, 97mm rainfall
March 21 degrees, 53mm rainfall
April 21 degrees, 55m rainfall
May 22 degrees, 22mm rainfall
June 24 degrees, 6mm rainfall
July 26 degrees, 1mm rainfall
August 27 degrees, 2mm rainfall
September 27 degrees, 28mm rainfall
October 25 degrees, 89mm rainfall
November 23 degrees, 88mm rainfall
December 21 degrees, 118mm rainfall

Riu Madeira more information

Accessibility: The hotel is on a hillside but is said to be generally suitable for those with reduced mobility. There are stairs up from the pool area to the restaurant and reception but also a small lift.

Facilities: Gym, hair salon, spa, tennis court, bowls, three restaurants, three pools, paddling pool, free Wifi.

The gym/fitness suite/centre at the Riu Madeira hotel

The gym

 

Address: Praia dos Reis Magos, 9125-024 Caniço de Baixo, Portugal

How to book: Riu Madeira

RELATED CONTENT: Madeira – an island of highs, views and pretty red roofs

We were given complimentary accommodation for part of our stay in exchange for this review. All views are our own.

RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

All you need to know about RumFish Beach Resort

Our full review and guide to the hotel where our room leads on to one of America’s best beaches, we fly through the air on a zip wire and enjoy free s’mores every night.

Name

RumFish Beach Resort

Where is it?

Located directly on St Pete beach, one of America’s best beaches, around a 20-minute drive from the city of St Petersburg in Florida.

What is it?

A three-star resort hotel with more than 300 recently renovated rooms, restaurants, beach access and children’s activities.

Is it family friendly?

Absolutely – there is lots to do for children with a packed calendar of activities daily.

The swimming pool at RumFish Beach Resort

The swimming pool

They can swim in the sea or the family pool, use water slides, zip wires, take pedalo rides, watch magic and entertainment shows or play tennis or mini-golf.

Water slides at RumFish Beach Resort

The water slides

The rooms

They aren’t the prettiest from the outside, especially arriving via the car park but the rooms make up for that with their size.

The bedroom at RumFish Beach Resort

Ours had two queen beds, a spacious bathroom with bath and shower, as well as lots of storage space in the wardrobe which also had a safe.

The real bonus though is the separate kitchen, lounge and dining area. The kitchen has a large fridge-freezer, sink, hob, plates and cutlery.

The kitchen/lounge/diner in our room at RumFish Beach Resort

The kitchen/lounge/diner in our room

Next to that is a four-seat dining table and sofa with TV.

And the icing on the cake? Our ground floor room opened directly onto the beach through a sliding patio door. Higher level floors benefited from a small balcony.

The view from our room at RumFish Beach Resort

The view from our room

The decor was slightly dated but was bright and pleasant with a white and blue sea theme.

Food and drink

With the kitchenette in your room, you can easily self-cater here but if you do fancy eating out there are lots of choices.

The main resort restaurant in the evenings is the RumFish Grill, complete with large fish tank, which featured on US TV. You can go and see the fish in the tank all day and even take tours of it with staff. There is a separate large bar area next to the restaurant.

For daytime dining, there is Gulfside Grill. Again, it’s not that attractive from the outside but don’t let that put you off.

Gulfside Grill cafe/restaurant at RumFish Beach Resort in Florida

Gulfside Grill

Inside and on the patio, friendly staff do American breakfast favourites and lunchtime meals. We had a lovely stack of pancakes here in the morning. The patio overlooks the family pool and pool bar serving drinks all day.

Staying at RumFish means you can also dine at any of the options at the nearby (TradeWinds) Island Grand Resort.

It’s about a 150-yard walk along the beach and has five places to eat including Salty’s Bar for light seafood meals with fresh shrimp a popular option, a Pizza Hut takeaway and ice cream parlour and several other more adult-focussed options.

Within a five-minute walk of RumFish, there are local restaurants and a 7-11 store or Dunkin Donuts to grab any supplies or quick snacks.

Nearby

This area is all about the beach so you won’t want or need to head too far but make sure to explore the sister Island Grand hotel for more activities.

This is bigger than RumFish and the family activities are divided between the two sites. At check-in, staff give you a pamphlet and map explaining what is available.

The Island Grand contains the pedalos, water slide and mini-golf options while Rumfish has the zip wire, surf simulator machine and fireside s’mores.

Make sure to take a walk along St Pete beach at sunrise or sunset to take in the stunning shoreline before it gets too hot.

A mum and children enjoy the sunset on St Pete's Beach, Florida

Enjoying the sunset

Aside from the beach, the area near the hotel doesn’t have lots of interest but take a 20-minute car or bus ride into St Petersburg to enjoy its pier, markets, museums and laid-back harbour vibe.

The city is well worth a morning away from the beach – the pier has a children’s playground and is a lovely spot to eat, we went to the busy and family-friendly Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, St Pete restaurant, Florida

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille

We have written a full guide on what families can do in Clearwater and St Pete if you are looking for more ideas.

Our highlights

*The location – it really takes some beating. To be able to open your room door and walk straight on to the pure, white sand on a beach named America’s best by Trip Advisor in recent years is fabulous.

Especially at sunset the beach comes alive with people taking in the view either from a hotel cabana or while swimming in the warm, shallow sea.

Sunset on St Pete's Beach at RumFish Beach Resort

Sunset

*The cabanas – Your resort fee entitles you to a free cabana each day, the helpful attendants will set it up for you and also are the best place to ask about doing any activities. It is important to have a shady cabana on the beach when it gets hot.

*The activities – The range of children’s activities – and the ability to use both hotels – makes the resort stand out. Our children loved the water slide and the zip wire, while we took a pedalo out as a family. All of that was included in the resort fee.

The only extra costs would be to hire jet-skis or paddleboards.

*Dining freedom – Having a good range of options to either self-cater, grab a takeaway pizza, eat at a casual spot right on the beach or enjoy a more formal seafood meal means there is a suitable option for everyone depending on your mood that day.

Top tips

*Check activity timings – we nearly missed the zip wire as the staff were very strict on finishing it one evening despite a queue of excited children.

Some activities didn’t seem to be obviously available at the advertised time so be persistent and ask the staff.

*A few of the younger staff, who mainly ran the activities, were fairly laid back and casual about assisting you, in contrast to the cabana team and the restaurant staff who couldn’t do enough for you.

*Evening entertainment – if the timings work out try to catch the stunning sunsets on the beach and go to the children’s entertainment.

We saw a great magic show where our daughter was on stage as the assistant and also a fun pirate theme games night.

*The beach is best early and late. Sunrise and sunset are the most spectacular times to be on the sand or in the sea, particularly during the hotter months between April and November.

Enjoying St Pete Beach at RumFish Beach Resort

Enjoying the beach

*Explore both resorts on arrival – it is hard to navigate RumFish and it’s bigger, sister hotel the Grand Island Resort so have a good walk round and check out where all the activities are and restaurants are located.

*Don’t miss the s’mores – there is a fire pit lit every night at RumGish with s’mores to toast on an open fire. It was a lovely way to end the evening and a proper American treat.

Relaxing at RumFish Beach Resort

RumFish Beach Resort

RumFish Beach Resort information

Address: RumFish Beach Resort, 6000 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706, United States

How to book: For the best rates book direct at www.tradewindsresort.com/rumfish

RELATED STORY: The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete in Florida

RELATED STORY – NEARBY HOTEL: Clearwater hotel review: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Florida, USA

More Florida content

RELATED STORY: Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do

RELATED STORY: Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

RELATED STORY: Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

RELATED STORY: Legoland Florida Resort – park and hotel review, guide, video tour and top tips

RELATED STORY: Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios 

*We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.

Legoland Florida Resort – park and hotel review, guide, video tour and top tips

Legoland Florida Resort – park and hotel review, guide, video tour and top tips

We take our children to stay at Legoland Florida Resort in the US

As part of an action-packed holiday in Florida, we squeezed in two days and nights at Legoland Resort, enjoying the main park and waterpark and staying at one of its three hotels.

The entrance to the park was just a few quiet steps from our room at Pirate Island Hotel – bliss after racing throngs of people at Disney World and Universal.

When we arrived in our hotel room, the children were thrilled at the bunk beds, the theming, the LEGO to play with and the treasure hunt for LEGO gifts.

And we adults were quite content to sleep opposite a giant image of a bearded Lego pirate next to wallpaper and curtains depicting Lego pirates.

If first impressions are anything to go by then Legoland Pirate Island Hotel was a hit. And we still hadn’t entered the park!

Read all about our mini-break to find all about what we thought of the park and hotel and don’t miss our top tips to make the most of your visit.

Name

LEGOLAND Florida Resort.

Where is it?

Legoland Florida is in the Winter Haven area. It is about an hour’s drive from Orlando in central Florida, America.

The resort is in its own grounds next to Lake Eloise in a self-contained safe site.

What is it?

LEGOLAND Florida Resort is a holiday destination made up of Legoland theme park (the second biggest in the world after Windsor), Legoland Waterpark, a new Peppa Pig theme park and three on-site hotels – the Legoland Hotel, Pirate Island Hotel and the Legoland Beach Resort.

Is it family friendly?

Do you really need to ask? The resort is all about families and their target age is two to 12.

The hotels have themed rooms, bunk beds, Lego to play with around the hotel, evening entertainment and specialised family dining at breakfast and in the evening.

Then there’s the theme parks…

The rooms

At Legoland Pirate Island, the rooms are, you may have guessed, pirate-themed. Images cover every wall, curtains and even the carpet.

The rooms themselves have a children’s area with bunk beds, and a rollaway third child’s bed if needed, a tray of Lego and a child’s TV which can play all the Lego movies on demand.

Bunk beds and Lego to play with at Pirate Island Hotel, Legoland Florida Resort

Bunk beds and Lego to play with

Adults get a king-sized bed (which was surprisingly high off the ground), plus side tables with lights and their own larger HD TV.

Double bed in a room at Pirate Island Hotel, Legoland Florida Resort

The bathroom is compact with toiletries provided in Lego-branded tubes.

The room also has a small desk, safe and good storage for cases.

With lots of pirate ship-style brown wood it is quite dark in the room and the corridors of the hotel.

For a fresher, brighter feel – but fewer pirates – consider the Legoland Hotel which is next door.

Food and drink

The Shipwreck Restaurant serves breakfast and dinner.

Breakfast (included free with all rooms) is unusual as it is table-service and you get a family skillet (basically a big round tray) with hot food on it to share.

Ours had waffles, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, American breakfast biscuits (a type of savoury scone) and a gravy/creamy sauce to go with them.

Breakfast at Pirate Island Hotel, Legoland Florida Resort

Breakfast at Pirate Island Hotel

Friendly waiters and waitresses take your drinks orders and you can request other items like cereal.

A big shout out to our lovely waitress Bailey who went the extra mile to get us some fruit and pancakes on request.

We enjoyed experiencing something different, but the skillet won’t suit every family at breakfast time.

There is a similar skillet offering in the evening for all courses of a three-course menu (adults $36 and children $15).

We were given a salad starter with bread then a choice of two skillets as a main course with a range of meats or fish and sides like mashed potato, rice and beans.

Pirate Island Hotel at Legoland Florida

Pirate Island Hotel

The restaurant will also do specific dishes for children like chicken and chips on request.

Dessert was either an ice cream and cookie dish or fresh fruit and marshmallows with chocolate sauce to dip in.

The quantities are absolutely huge, if you have a big appetite you will get value for money here. For those who prefer smaller portions, it might be a bit daunting!

Nearby

More Lego stuff – the adjoining hotel next door has a large reception area and Lego to play with. There is also a nice bar area, more pleasant than the Smuggler’s Bar in Pirate Island.

Lego fun to play with in the hotels at Legoland Florida Resort

Lego fun in the hotels

But of course, the main nearby attraction is the theme park itself – only 130 steps and 30 seconds away.

We could see the entrance opposite our room!

Legoland theme park

Legoland Florida has most of the rides you might expect if you have been to Windsor.

Lego Ninjago was our favourite as all four of us could compete together, shooting the villains with 3D glasses on as we spin through the ride.

Fortunately, the park was lovely and quiet when we visited during the week in October half-term so we could ride it four times!

Children with a Lego punk at Legoland Florida

Lots of photo opportunities

The site is spacious and with the lake on one side and plenty of greenery, it is quite a relaxing place to visit.

Most of the rides are suited to younger children, but there are some speedier ones.

We also enjoyed the aqua coasters and the fire engine ride where you have to pump your own engine to reach the blaze and put it out.

Some of the rides might feel a bit dated and quaint if you have just been to Disney World or Universal Studios but our children really enjoyed driving their own motorboats or steering a car in the driving school. Plus it was a relief to escape the crowds and the queues from the bigger parks.

Meeting a life-sized Lego figure at Legoland Florida

Meeting a life-sized Lego figure

There are several places to cool down from the Florida heat – such as indoor spaces where you can create with Lego and a 4D theatre.

For a bigger cool off there is Legoland Water Park on site.

Legoland Water Park

You can only enter the water park with a ticket to the main park itself, but you need to pay extra.

Frustratingly it is at the far end of the park – a 15/20 minute walk from the entrance which means if you return to the park after a break/lunch like we did, you have to carry your swimming gear past all the rides – there is no separate entrance.

Once you make it inside, there is a nice, long lazy river with giant Lego bricks floating along to play with and a pool with a wave machine which runs every 10minutes. The water is lovely and warm and it feels very safe.

There is seating at the front of the wave pool and some umbrellas for shade.

Opposite the wave pool is a section with small slides and a splash park for younger children.

Splash zone and water slides for younger children at Legoland Florida

Slides and splashes for younger children

It has a large bucket which tips water over everyone every few minutes, five or six gentler slides and spray guns to fire water at parents.

For older children, there are the Twin Chaser and Splash Out rides. These were much bigger, faster water slides but unfortunately were closed when we visited.

There is only one changing room at the entrance to the water park and it is fairly basic.

We enjoyed our visit to cool off but parts of it do need updating and painting.

Peppa Pig Theme Park

The new Peppa Pig Theme Park is aimed at young fans of the children’s tv phenomenon.

It includes interactive rides, themed playgrounds, a cinema and character shows and an indoor cinema for quieter moments.

There’s a splash pad for practising jumping in muddy puddles, fair games and a little roller coaster.

Our highlights

*Location – it is amazing to be staying so close to Legoland park. You can leave your hotel room just before the 10am opening and be straight on a ride minutes later.

No accommodation at Disney, Universal or most UK theme parks gets you so close to the entrance.

*Rooms – the theme is fun, the treasure hunt on arrival is entertaining and it is a magical experience for small children. It is brilliant to see their faces when they enter the room for the first time and discover their bunk beds, TV and Lego tray.

*Pool options – you can choose the theme park waterpark or there are smaller, shallow pools at both Pirate Island Hotel and the Legoland Hotel. The pool at the Legoland Hotel had its own small slide.

Legoland Hotel swimming pool at Legoland Florida Resort

Legoland Hotel swimming pool

*The setting by Lake Eloise – it feels very calm and tranquil compared with other theme parks. You can do a short boardwalk along the lakeside, although the signs warning of possible alligators and snakes could be alarming (we think we spotted an alligator eyeing up its prey in the lake near to the shore).

Top Tips

*Go to the park at opening and you get the place to yourself for a bit. It is so close to the hotel that it makes sense to get in first. We visited on a quiet midweek in October and didn’t have to wait more than five minutes for any ride all day. At the same time of year at Disney and Universal, some ride waits were 90 minutes!

*Breakfast got very busy after 8.30am so try and go beforehand if you don’t want to queue for a table. Also, the restaurant is more relaxing when it is quieter – the rest of the time it sounded like a full-on children’s party!

*Grab some towels from your hotel pool area to take to the waterpark if you haven’t brought your own with you. You use your room card to access the towels from inside a cabinet and check them back in when you return after your swim.

*There are strollers and lockers to rent just inside the entrance to the park.

Strollers and lockers to hire at Legoland Florida Resort

*Download the Legoland app for help navigating the park and seeing theatre times etc.

Video Tour

Legoland Florida Resort information

Food: There are various food outlets around the parks serving a range of fast food, ice creams and drinks.

For bigger meals there’s a pizza and pasta all-you-can eat buffet.

Address: Legoland Florida Resort, 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884, USA.

Opening hours: Opening Hours change depending on the season but are generally – theme park 10am to 5pm, waterpark 12noon to 4pm.

Parking: Parking is free for hotel guests. Otherwise, it costs over $23 pre-paid or over $37 on the day.

How to book: LEGOLAND FLORIDA booking

More Florida content

RELATED STORY: The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete

RELATED STORY: Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

RELATED STORY: Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

RELATED STORY: RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

RELATED STORY: Clearwater hotel review: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Florida, USA

RELATED STORY: Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios 

RELATED STORY: Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do

*We received complimentary or reduced prices for LEGOLAND Florida Resort, for review purposes, all views are our own.

Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios

Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios

All you need to know about Marriott Village Orlando and its three hotels SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn and Courtyard Hotel

We stay at Marriott Village Orlando – a great base from which to get to the top Florida attractions of Universal or Disney World.

Name

Marriott Village Orlando

Where is it?

Marriott Village is in the Lake Buena Vista area near Disney World. It’s in a quiet development just off the main International Drive road which runs from Orlando to Disney.

What is it?

A village with three different hotels, SpringHill Suites Orlando, Fairfield Inn Orlando and Courtyard Hotel Orlando.

Each hotel has its own pool with all three available to those staying. There is a shared food court, playground, shops and gym.

If you stay in one of the hotels you can use a free shuttle bus to Disney World.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, very much so. We stayed at SpringHill Suites Orlando which is probably the most family-orientated with large rooms, free breakfast, Disney shuttle and ticket outlet and an outdoor pool with splash pads.

The view from our room at Springhill Suites, at Marriott Village Orlando, Florida, hotel, Disney World, Universal, US, USA, America,

The view from our room

The hotel could do with a slight modernisation on decor and furniture but was excellent value, very practical and a pleasant place to stay.

The rooms

All the rooms are the same and they are a great size with two double beds and a sofa bed if needed.

Our room at Springhill Suites, Marriott Village Orlando, Florida, hotel, Disney World, Universal, US, USA, America,

Our room

There is also a sink, fridge and microwave if you want to make your own food.

Kitchen area in our room at Springhill Suites, Marriott Village Orlando, Florida, hotel, Disney World, Universal, US, USA, America,

Kitchen area

The decor is a little dated and could maybe do with an upgrade in places but with a desk, bathroom with bath and shower, separate sink area and storage cupboard there is loads of room.

Desk in our room at Springhill Suites, Marriott Village Orlando, Florida, hotel, Disney World, Universal, US, USA, America,

Desk in our room

There were also two televisions so our children could have one each and the free WiFi was fast and reliable.

Food and drink

Breakfast is self-serve and can get quite busy. We suggest going early.

The highlight is definitely the Mickey Mouse waffle makers which give you a Mickey-shaped snack to start your day.

Mickey Mouse waffle at breakfast at Springhill Suites, Marriott Village Orlando, Florida, hotel, Disney World, Universal, US, USA, America,

Mickey Mouse waffles for breakfast

The queue to use them gets long but it is great fun for children to make their own, under supervision.

There is also plenty of other food with a good range of cereals, yoghurts, fruit, drinks and hot food.

There’s a shared food court area if you want a quick and easy lunch or dinner like pizza and fries. It isn’t a restaurant as such but there is a nice seating area outside if the weather is good and a few stools and tables inside.

The food court at Marriott Village Orlando, Florida, hotel, Disney World, Universal, US, USA, America,

The food court

There is a standard menu of family favourites and you can also buy drinks and snacks for your room.

Then there are three restaurants next door within walking distance next to the Marriott Village.

We ate at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse and had a tasty meal with a good children’s menu and an activity pack to keep them entertained.

About a five-minute walk away are five more restaurants including an Italian grill but it means crossing a very busy road which we weren’t too keen to do with young children.

There is also a small store attached to a petrol station for water and snacks.

Nearby

*Disney World is the nearest attractions with a daily shuttle from the hotel. Book as soon as possible the day before to guarantee a place.

The shuttle bus runs between Marriott Village and the Magic Kingdom Transportation Center.

*Universal Studios – we took a taxi to Universal Resort Orlando from the hotel, which took around 20 minutes. And if you are visiting Universal make sure you read our full guide first (especially if you are Harry Potter fans) – Universal Orlando Resort – guide and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

*We wanted to experience an American sports match so booked tickets for basketball at the nearby Amway Center to see home team Orlando Magic take on Boston Celtics. It was fantastic, here’s our report Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

Our highlights

The room size – there is lots of space and having two TVs, plus a fridge and sink gives you options for entertainment and self-catering.

Location – it is in a really nice, quiet area away from the hustle and bustle of Disney or Universal but near enough to get to both quickly.

The pools – being able to use three pools is a bonus. We found the one at SpringHill enough for our needs with a shallow main pool big enough for a proper swim, separate jacuzzi and splash pads for smaller children.

The swimming pool at Springhill Suites, at Marriott Village Orlando, Florida, hotel, Disney World, Universal, US, USA, America,

The pool

The play area – a small but well stocked play area with two climbing frames – one for ages two to five and another for six to 12-year-olds.

There is also a basketball hoop, giant chess set and hopscotch.

Marriott Village Orlando information

Address: Marriott Village Orlando, 8623 Vineland Avenue, Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, Florida.

How to book: Marriott

More Florida content

RELATED STORY: The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete

RELATED STORY: Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

RELATED STORY: Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

RELATED STORY: RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

RELATED STORY: Clearwater hotel review: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Florida, USA

RELATED STORY: Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do

*We received complimentary or reduced prices for this hotel for review purposes, all views are our own.

Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

We spend two sumptuous days with our children in one of America’s top luxury hotels fabulously located within Walt Disney World Resort

Name

Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

Where is it?

It is within the grounds of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, US, a short ride from the Disney parks themselves.

What is it?

Four Seasons Resort is one of the top luxury hotels in America – widely considered the best in Orlando with a price tag to match.

Relaxing at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The AAA Five Diamond Award property has 443 rooms (68 are suites), fabulous restaurants and a small water park.

The lazy river at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The lazy river

Guests staying here are able to get into any of the Disney parks 30 minutes early. And travel there and back by free shuttle bus.

Is it family friendly?

Oh yes, yes, yes. Our children adored this hotel, thoroughly appreciated the luxury and special touches and were thrilled with the water park.

Water slides at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Water slides at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Staff were so good with them. When we checked in, they received a bag containing a scavenger hunt.

This was a great opportunity to explore the hotel and find our bearings while they searched for various points to have their booklets stamped.

And the prize at the end? Free ice cream in a fabulous café/ice cream parlour on site, prettily named Lickety Split.

There’s also a great, free kids’ club for children aged four to 12, with enthusiastic staff and brilliant facilities.

The rooms

Our room was spacious and luxurious. It was a park view room which meant we could watch the Disney fireworks and lights displays from our balcony.

Our spacious room at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Our spacious room

It had two queen-sized beds, the largest hotel television we’ve ever seen and an iPad for contacting reception, booking restaurants, ordering extra pillows etc.

The big bathroom had two sinks, a bath, separate shower and a large mirror with a television in the centre, a great novelty, plus Bose surround sound.

Bathroom mirror television at Four Seasons Orlando

Bathroom mirror television

There was a very useful changing and wardrobe area with space for luggage between the bedroom and bathroom.

Plus, there was seating, a mini fridge and a present waiting for our daughter on the bed.

Food and drink

There are six places where you can eat at the hotel. We dined at Ravello restaurant, a modern Italian, with exquisite food and helpful, knowledgeable staff who called us by name.

This is also where the delicious buffet breakfast is served and it was lovely to be eating such quality fare.

We also enjoyed a lovely lunch around the pool, a server collects your order and delivers it back to you where you are sitting.

Nearby

The Disney World Parks of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are just a 10-minute ride away.

Hotel guests can enter the parks 30 minutes early – a huge bonus to be able to start exploring and queuing for the most popular rides when it’s a bit quieter – and travel there and back by free shuttle bus.

Our highlights

*The staff: From the moment we pulled up in our hire car and multiple staff appeared to help with our luggage and park the vehicle, through to those on reception, the concierge service, the Disney desk, those around the pool and the restaurant staff, we have never experienced such diligence and care.

*The Explorer Island water park: you can swim or float on rings along a lovely lazy river which loops around the grounds, there is a small pool off it with a volleyball net and basketball hoops.

There is a big infinity pool, which from a distance, blends into a lake behind it. There are two water slides in a separate area plus a big splash zone.

The main pool at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The main pool

An adults-only pool in a separate area looked especially peaceful and inviting.

*Games and sports: There’s a games room called The Hideout with pool table, games consoles, a tv and more. There are also pool and table tennis tables dotted around in other places along with a basketball court.

The hideout at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The Hideout

*Seating: It is invitingly placed around the pools and is a mixture of sunbeds, cabanas and egg chairs. And there are towels available on tap.

Anything else to note?

We didn’t have time to use them but there’s also three tennis court, a golf course (Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club), a spa with 18 treatment rooms and a fitness centre.

Splash zone at Four Seasons Orlando

Splash zone

Top tips

*Be sure to check Disney park opening times and shuttle bus times the night before, the timetable comes out every evening. The buses usually run every hour. The Disney desk opposite reception can link your tickets to your resort booking so you can great straight into the theme park in the morning

*On set days, there are Disney character breakfasts at the hotel – The Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and Pals or you could even pay for a private breakfast or private meet and greet character experience with Mickey.

*Ask at reception for the times of Disney fireworks to watch, especially if you have a park-view room.

*This hotel isn’t cheap, rooms can cost up to $2,000 per night. That doesn’t include breakfast ($40 per adult and $20 per child). It is clearly aimed at the top end of the market but you are paying for an exclusive experience. There are no hidden costs here unlike other resorts with no resort fee and no costs for the kids’ club.

Sun lotion and water are freely available at Four Seasons Orlando

Sun lotion and water are freely available

The cheapest meals available on site were from the poolside restaurant with the most expensive at the top floor Capa steakhouse, which has two terraces with views across Disney World.

As it’s so expensive, it’s best to plan your days here when you can use the facilities and enjoy the tranquillity away from the crowds of places like Disney World.

The splash zone at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Video

More information

Address

Four Seasons Resort Orlando, 10100 Dream Tree Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32836, USA.

How to book

Four Seasons at Walt Disney World Resort

Children relaxing at Four Seasons Orlando

More Florida content

RELATED STORY: The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete

RELATED STORY: Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

RELATED STORY: RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

RELATED STORY: Clearwater hotel review: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Florida, USA

RELATED STORY: Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios 

RELATED STORY: Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do

We received a discounted stay for the purposes of this review, all views, as ever, are our own.

Clearwater hotel review: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Florida, USA

Clearwater hotel review: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Florida, USA

We visit the hotel named after film star Winter the dolphin and linked to the very aquarium which rescued her

Name

Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club.

Where is it?

Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club hotel is on the beach in Clearwater, Florida. It’s located on South Gulfview Boulevard a ten-minute walk to the main beach and Pier 60.

What is it?

A low-rise five-storey hotel in a beautiful position with its own private beach on to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The private beach at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The hotel’s private beach

It is named after Winter the Dolphin who was rescued by nearby Clearwater Aquarium – Winter’s story was turned into the film A Dolphin’s Tale.

The hotel is Dolphin-themed and linked with the aquarium – you can get a ticket discount at reception and aquarium staff visit to give talks to guests.

It specialises in being environmentally friendly with recycling bins on every floor and recyclable water bottles on arrival.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, children will love the dolphin themes and the pictures everywhere, even in the elevator. There was also a dinosaur model in reception when we visited – the other dinosaurs from the same group are at Clearwater Aquarium.

The small, warm pool has a shallow end for child’s swimming, but doesn’t have a lifeguard.

The pool at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The pool

Younger ones can also play on the pristine white sand on the hotel’s beach and paddle in the shallow sea.

At Winter’s Eco-Ranger Clubhouse at the hotel there are child-friendly games, Dolphin Tale memorabilia, marine-themed books and an interactive tablet station with aquarium information on.

The rooms

The good-sized rooms have been recently renovated and updated.

Our room at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

Our room

Ours felt fresh and clean with two comfortable queen beds, a fridge, microwave, safe, large flat screen TV and bottled water on arrival.

The bathroom was modern, if a little cramped, with a separate sink and mirror area.

Our room at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The air conditioning unit was welcome but was a little noisy at night.

It is worth getting a beach front room if you can as having a balcony with a view over the Gulf of Mexico is amazing, especially at sunset.

The view from our balcony at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The view from our balcony

Food and drink

No breakfast is included in the stay. There is a restaurant and bar attached to the hotel called Cabanas Bar and Grill.

It is run separately from the hotel and serves breakfast, lunch and dinners.

We ate outside at the back of the hotel next to beach on our first night here and had a great meal in a fabulous setting.

The portions are huge with a fish-led menu and children’s options. The food was served in paper boxes, so you can take it elsewhere or staff will bring food and drinks to you by the pool and on the beach as well.

There is a small supermarket opposite the hotel and another convenience store a short walk away.

We had an excellent pizza from Gondolier restaurant almost opposite the entrance and some tasty breakfast pancakes from nearby Speggtacular.

There are lots of places to eat and drink within walking distance as Clearwater is a busy tourist resort.

Nearby

The main Clearwater beach with its stretch of white sand is a 10-minute walk away. You can explore Pier 60, which is great at sunset with a small market, buskers and fairground style rides.

A market at sunset in Clearwater

A market at sunset

It is a two-mile drive to Clearwater Aquarium to see their rescued dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays and more.

There are lots of boat cruises you can take. We did a child-friendly cruise called Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise, where the children can do treasure hunts and have water gun fights while the adults get free beer and wine.

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise, Clearwater, Florida

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise

We have written a full guide on what families can do in Clearwater and St Pete if you are looking for more ideas.

Our highlights

*Location – the view is amazing and the small, quiet beach is a lovely safe spot to play and relax. You can walk to Clearwater’s busier attractions easily too.

Looking after turtles at Clearwater Aquarium, Florida

Clearwater Aquarium

*Staff – they were all lovely, from the friendly lady on reception to the maintenance people who combed and prepared the beach every morning. As a small hotel it feels like you get a personal service.

*Pool – the warm pool is small but a nice temperature and has a shallow entry. It does get deeper quickly so keep an eye on younger swimmers. There were noodles and rings to use by the pool.

Top tips

*Parking is next door at the Hampton Inn, an attendant arranges parking on entry and gives you a pass which you pay for at reception at the end of your stay.

*If you want to use the sun beds on the beach then you have to pay. It was $20 per day when we visited.

*You can catch the Jolley Trolley bus service from almost outside the hotel to get to Clearwater beach. It stops by every half an hour and is a fun way to travel. Children eight and under ride for free.

Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club information

Address: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club, 655 S Gulfview Blvd, Clearwater Beach, FL 33767.

How to book: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club

RELATED STORY: The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete in Florida

RELATED STORY – NEARBY HOTEL: RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

More Florida content

RELATED STORY: Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do

RELATED STORY: Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

RELATED STORY: Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

RELATED STORY: Legoland Florida Resort – park and hotel review, guide, video tour and top tips

RELATED STORY: Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios 

*We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.

Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham City Centre – review, guide and video tour

Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham City Centre – review, guide and video tour

We take our children to stay at the Radisson Blu hotel on the River Wear in a great location in Durham

Name

Radisson Blu Hotel

Where is it

It is overlooking the River Wear in Durham city centre, in the northeast of England, a mile from the cathedral and the castle.

Durham is a really beautiful city, full of culture and charm and there’s also loads to see and do.

What is it

This is a four-star hotel with 207 bedrooms.

Radisson Blu hotels are part of the Radisson Hotel Group. (Other brands in the group are Radisson Collection, Raddison, Radisson Red, Radisson Individuals, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson and prizeotel).

The hotel reception at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

The company describes the Radisson Blu hotels as ‘memorable, stylish and purposeful’.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, our room was perfect for a family and the swimming pool is the icing on the cake.

The rooms

Our family room was a good size, split into two areas – a spacious bedroom for us and around the corner, an area for the children with a sofa bed. Both areas have a tv and a desk.

One part of our standard family room at the Radisson Blu Durham

There’s also an en-suite bathroom with an array of toiletries. The room was equipped with tea and coffee facilities, dressing gowns, iron and ironing board, safe, hair dryer and ice bucket (ice is available along the corridor).

The children's part of the hotel room at the Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

Food and drink

The hotel’s Collage restaurant serves breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner.

Breakfast is a buffet with a range of good quality hot and continental items including pastries, croissants, cereals, bacon, egg, mushrooms, toast, cheeses, fruit and yoghurt.

Breakfast at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

We stayed over a weekend and it seemed particularly busy on the Sunday morning.

There is a separate big bar area too, serving drinks and bar snacks.

The bar area at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

Our highlights

*Our room was a fabulous size and a perfect layout for us with the two sections.

*The location is brilliant – we could walk everywhere we wanted to visit in the city centre.

At night, it’s a short stroll along the river to bars and restaurants and an Odeon cinema at The Riverside.

Inside the Food Pit in Durham - a restaurant/market hall with street food and a bar.

We particularly like the relaxed nature of the Food Pit – a street food hall. Set up like a restaurant but with seven independent food vendors offering different menus, so everyone can choose from a different section but all sit together. Food included Greek, Thai, Mexican, plus there’s a bar and an ice cream/waffle dessert option. There’s even pizza and chicken nuggets and chips if you look hard enough.

*The swimming pool – we LOVE a pool and this one, at 15 metres is a great size. There were even a couple of lanes sectioned off for lane swimming.

The swimming pool at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

*There is also a good-sized gym/fitness suite, but we didn’t have the tine to try it out, we were too busy swimming!

The gym/fitness suite at Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

Our video tour

Nearby

*Durham Cathedral

This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best examples of Norman architecture in England and has been in use for almost 1,000 years.

Durham Cathedral exterior landscape front

Of more interest to us though, is the fact that it has been used in the Harry Potter films.

The Cloisters served as Hogwarts’ quadrangle and outdoor corridors including the scene where Ron has a spell backfire and pukes up slugs.

And the Chapter House was used as McGonagall’s Transfiguration class.

This part is usually closed but we managed to see a bit of it by peering through the keyhole!

Browns Boats

Hire a traditional rowing boat and make your way along the River Wear.

A girl rows on a Browns Boat rowing boat hire on the River Wear in Durham

Seaham

Collect sea glass along the shore at Seaham, it’s surprisingly addictive.

The beach at Seaham, County Durham

Locomotion

This railway museum is a free attraction. It has trains of all shapes and sizes and is in Britain’s first railway town, Shildon.

Locomotion railway museum in County Durham exterior building gv

Beamish

Beamish – the living museum of the north, is a great day out for all the family. Near the town of Stanley, it tells the story of the people of North East England in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s.

An old bus on a cobbled street at Beamish Museum in County Durham

For our full guide to local attractions read: Best places to visit around the English city of Durham and the wider county.

Hear all about our trip here: We enjoy an action-packed family break in delightful Durham.

More information

Check-in and out

Check-in is from 2pm and check-out is by 12noon.

Parking

There is a car park behind the hotel which offers a discounted rate for hotel guests. At the time of writing it was £14 for 24 hours,

Address:

Radisson Blu Hotel, Frankland Lane, Durham, DH1 5TA.

Telephone number:

0191 3727200.

How to book:

Radisson Blu Hotel Durham

RELATED STORIES: We enjoy an action-packed family break in delightful Durham

RELATED STORIES: Best places to visit around the English city of Durham and the wider county

This is Durham

For more great ideas, visit the county’s official tourism website This is Durham.

Telephone: 03000 26 26 26

Email: visitor@thisisdurham.com

*We enjoyed a complimentary stay for the purposes of this review, all views are our own.

Hotel review: New Premier Inn in Porthmadog, North Wales (and our video tour)

Hotel review: New Premier Inn in Porthmadog, North Wales (and our video tour)

We take our children to stay at this hotel in the centre of Porthmadog opposite the railway station

Name

Premier Inn Porthmadog Hotel.

Where is it?

This Premier Inn hotel is in Porthmadog in the county of Gwynedd, North Wales, a small coastal town on the Glaslyn Estuary.

It’s in a great location, opposite Porthmadog Railway Station and the estuary. The rear of the hotel has views over Snowdonia National Park.

What is it?

Premier Inn is the UK’s biggest hotel chain with over 800 hotels and this one only opened in 2022.

The rooms

Our Standard Family room had three beds – a really comfortable and cosy king size, a single and a smaller pull-out.

Our Standard Family room at Premier Inn Porthmadog

Our Standard Family room

All rooms have an en-suite bath and shower with shower curtain, tea and coffee facilities, hairdryer, desk and chair, plus free Wi-Fi and a flat screen Smart TV.

Other room options are a Standard Double, Premier Plus Double, Standard Twin and Standard Accessible which includes adjustable beds, more space and wider entry bathrooms.

A Standard Family room at Premier Inn Porthmadog

Our room

We were very grateful that the room had very effective air conditioning, as we stayed during a heat wave.

Food and drink

The hotel’s Thyme restaurant serves breakfast and evening meals.

Breakfast is self-service and includes hot options like bacon, eggs, hash browns, mushrooms and baked beans plus fruit, cereals, croissants and yoghurts.

You can toast your own bread, pancakes and crumpets. Breakfast was £9.50 per adult or £7.50 for just the continental options when we stayed.

In the evening, you can choose from a huge menu which includes reasonably-priced standard pub favourites like lasagne, steak and pizza.

Check in and the bar at Porthmadog Premier Inn, Wales

Is it family friendly?

Yes, this is a family friendly hotel, our room was a great size for the four of us.

Breakfast is free for children (up to two children eat free with a paying adult).

Also, travel cots are available at no extra cost.

Our highlights

*The location – this is a great spot to explore Porthmadog and we enjoyed several walks from the hotel.

It’s a two-minute walk to the pretty harbour and town centre.

*Spooner’s cafe bar at the railway station opposite serves good value drinks and its terrace has a nice view across the bay.

*The views – from our window at the front we could watch steam trains arriving and departing from Porthmadog Station and the estuary beyond.

Windows at the back look over a pretty pool with mountains beyond.

*The comfortable beds and the room’s air conditioning were a real bonus, as was the cleanliness and the modern fresh feel of the whole hotel.

Top tips

*Car parking is described as limited on the website.  Although the hotel was full when we visited we did manage to park on site each day. If you are keen to ensure your vehicle is left in the hotel car park, then we suggest arriving earlier as it rapidly filled up from around 5pm.

*Don’t miss out on a lovely short walk directly behind the hotel around a lake. If you follow the green railings around the back of the hotel, it looks like a dead end, but you can head out on to Cob Crwn – a short, circular stroll.

A view of the Porthmadog Premier Inn hotel from the lake behind it.

A view of the hotel from the lake behind it.

*Breakfast times were allocated at 6.30, 7.30, 8.30 or 9.30am. The area was busy around 8.30am but quietened down afterwards so we suggest if you don’t want to wait for a table, get there either before 8am or after 9.30am.

*There are six electric car charging points in the car park. However, none of them were working when we visited! The nearest charging points in Porthmadog are at the Tesco supermarket, which is a 10-minute walk away.

Nearby

Porthmadog Railway Station

Porthmadog Railway Station is opposite is a major hub with three lines – the Ffestiniog (which runs to Blaenau Ffestiniog), the Welsh Highland Railway (which goes to Caernarfon) and the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway.

Porthmadog Railway Station is opposite the Premier Inn hotel, Wales

Porthmadog Railway Station is opposite the Premier Inn

The Welsh Highland Railway is the UK’s longest heritage railway and runs 25 miles between Porthmadog and Caernarfon.

The Ffestiniog Railway is a vintage railway which has been running for nearly 200 years. It is 13.5 miles long and runs from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The Welsh Highland Heritage Railway offers a short train ride in historic narrow-gauge railway carriages to Pen-y-mount station and back.

Portmeirion

This Italian-style tourist village, built between 1925 and 1975, is two miles south east of Porthmadog.

It is famous for being The Village in the tv show The Prisoner.

Black Rock Sands (Morfa Bychan)

This big beach is two miles west of Porthmadog. It’s very accessible as you can park your vehicles on it.

Just be careful of little ones running around and also keep an eye on the tide and your car – one had to be towed out of the sea when we were there.

Cars parked on the beach at Black Rock Sands, near Porthmadog, Wales

Cars parked on the beach at Black Rock Sands

Harlech

We visited Harlech Castle and Harlech Beach, which were 20 minutes away.

Harlech Beach is large and sandy and is a fair walk from the car park.

It is overlooked by the castle, set high on the cliff.

Porthmadog

You don’t have to go far from the hotel for a stunning stroll.

The marina is very close or you can head around the back of the building to a footpath which takes you around a lake. A 20-minute walk brings you back to the hotel.

Boats at Porthmadog Harbour, Wales

Porthmadog Harbour

You can find out more about the attractions by reading our feature on what to do around Porthmadog with children here.

Address:

Premier Inn Porthmadog Hotel, Britannia Terrace, Porthmadog, Wales, LL49 9NB.

How to book:

www.PremierInn.com

Grosvenor Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon – review and guide

Grosvenor Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon – review and guide

We take our children to stay at a landmark hotel in the centre of Stratford

Name

Grosvenor Hotel

What is it

The Grosvenor Hotel is a landmark hotel in Stratford town centre with 76 rooms. It used to be known as the Villare Hotel but now has its original name back.

Where is it?

It’s in the centre of Stratford, a few minutes’ walk from the main attractions.

The rooms

Our ground floor room had a large bed and a sofa bed, tv, desk and en-suite. It was very hot but a fan was set up ready.

Our room at the Grosvenor Hotel in Stratford upon Avon

our room

Our room was a good size and simply decorated.

It is family friendly?

There were quite a few families staying here when we visited. There is nothing specific designed for children but the rooms are a reasonable size and it is walking distance into Stratford.

Food and drink

Breakfast was a simple choice of cereals, toast, fruit and hot options like egg, bacon, sausages and tomato. Our children enjoyed having branded cereals they could choose from.

Breakfast at the Grosvenor Hotel in Stratford upon Avon

Breakfast at the Grosvenor Hotel

We also had afternoon tea here which included a selection of sandwiches – egg, cheese, coronation chicken and tuna, plus chocolate brownies, lemon cake, strawberries and scones with cream and jam.

Afternoon tea at Grosvenor Hotel, Stratford upon Avon

Afternoon tea at the Grosvenor Hotel

There is a lounge and bar area which serves discounted drinks during Happy Hour between 9pm and 11pm.

Our highlights

*The hotel’s position is good, it’s a nice walk along the canal to the very centre. Don’t miss the entrance to the canal, which is across the road from the hotel.

The reception area at the Grosvenor Hotel in Stratford

Reception

*The staff did their best but I felt like more were needed, they were run ragged on reception and at breakfast. The young man who served us afternoon tea did an excellent job and seemed happier than some of the other employees.

The hotel bar at the Grosvenor Hotel in Stratford

The hotel bar

Top tips

*There is a back entrance from the car park so you don’t need to keep going up and down the front steps.

An outdoor area at the back of the Grosvenor Hotel, Stratford

An outdoor area at the back of the hotel

*As it is a grade two-listed building there is no lift so let the hotel know if you need a downstairs room.

Nearby

It’s a short walk into Stratford town centre if you cross the road, turn right and take the canal path.

There is loads to do in Stratford – Shakespeare-related attractions such as his birthplace and school, shops, boating on the River Avon, restaurants and cafes and of course theatres. See our top picks here.

More information

Address: Grosvenor Hotel,12-14 Warwick Road, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 6YW.

Parking: There is a car park and it costs £9 per night to park your car. The car park did get full when we visited so arrive early to park and then leave your car to walk into Stratford.

How to book: Grosvenor Hotel

We received a complimentary stay for the purposes of this review but all views are our own.

Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon review and guide

Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon review and guide

We try out a city centre hotel in Stratford close to its top family attractions

Name

Hotel Indigo Stratford upon Avon.

Where is it

It is in a great location in the centre of Stratford, opposite two tourist attractions – Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Shakespeare’s New Place.

Hotel Indigo sign and frontage, Stratford upon Avon

Hotel Indigo

What is it

It’s a boutique hotel with 93 rooms in a stunning building made up of a Georgian townhouse, a 16th century building and a modern wing.

Is it family friendly?

Our children really enjoyed our stay but we didn’t see any others during the trip – this classy hotel seems more aimed at couples, friends and older families.

Inside Hotel Indigo, Stratford upon Avon

Inside the hotel

However, staff couldn’t have been nicer.

The rooms

Our suite was in the Tudor section of the hotel and was a heady mix of modern comforts and 16th century character.

The main bedroom in our suite at Hotel Indigo, Stratford

The main bedroom in our suite

The fun layout was made up of two rooms with a Jack and Jill bathroom in between and a wide, furnished corridor which also links the two.

The main bedroom had a big comfy bed and the second room had a sofa bed which the children loved.

The second room in our suite at Hotel Indigo in Stratford

The second room

The decor was modern and quirky. There are plenty of nods to Shakespeare with paintings of characters from his plays on the walls. Our children enjoyed discovering which plays the characters were from.

Further rooms are in the Georgian townhouse section and the contemporary wing. There are rooms suitable for families in all three areas of the hotel depending on if you want traditional Tudor or a more modern-style room.

Food and drink

Breakfast was served in the ‘Feasting Room’ and included a good continental spread of cereals, pastries, toast, hams, cheeses and extras like carrot muffins.

Breakfast at Hotel Indigo, Stratford

Breakfast at Hotel Indigo

Hot food to order such as a cooked breakfast, French toast with fruit and honey or egg, hash brown and spinach on a brioche bun, was delicious.

You can book a table to eat dinner in the upscale, on-site restaurant The Woodsman, which serves a changing menu made up of farm-to-table dishes like deer, boar, beef and lamb.

The chefs cook in an open kitchen, using a wood fired oven and charcoal grill.

It is quality over quantity – there were five main course options when we ate there including cod and a vegetarian mushroom option. My pork was melt-in-the-mouth delicious with a side dish of crunchy potatoes.

This is not the restaurant for you if you are after very simple food or pub favourites, but we really enjoyed the tasty fare and the desserts were equally delicious and well presented.

There was no printed children’s menu, but they offered to make a smaller version of any of the main meals or serve sausage and mash, chicken or fish goujons and chips.

Chicken goujons for the children at the Woodsman, Hotel Indigo, Stratford

Chicken goujons for the children

Our highlights

*The snacks in the hotel room like popcorn and crisps, are complimentary.

*The fun layout of our room.

*The great central location – we could just leave our car here and explore the town, without having to worry about finding somewhere to park in Stratford.

Anything else?

There is a gym/fitness room, bar, nice little seating areas dotted around and also a pretty little garden with tables to sit at.

Nearby

Opposite is Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall. This is where William Shakespeare went to school and has guides showing you around the different sections who are passionate about the site and its history.

Also opposite is Shakespeare’s New Place – the site and gardens that housed his home for 19 years.

Plus, there are other interesting places to see nearby, boat trips on the River Avon, shows at the Royal Shakespeare Society and dozens of places to eat and drink on the doorstep.

Read our full, detailed round-up of the best places to visit in Stratford.

More information

The hotel entrance at the back of the building, Hotel Indigo, Stratford

The hotel entrance at the back of the building

Address: Hotel Indigo, Chapel Street, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6HA.

Parking: There is a small car park which costs £10 per car per night. It can not be booked in advance and is first come, first served.

How to book: Hotel Indigo Stratford

Hotel Indigo is a chain of small, individually owned boutique hotels, which is part of IHG Hotels & Resorts.

NOW READ:

The best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon for families

We received a complimentary stay, all views, as ever, are our own.

 

Mallory Court Country Hotel and Spa in Warwickshire – review and guide

Mallory Court Country Hotel and Spa in Warwickshire – review and guide

We stay at the magnificent Mallory Court Hotel in Leamington Spa

Could there be a warmer welcome than the one we received at the glorious Mallory Court Country Hotel and Spa in Warwickshire.

This stunning venue is everything a hotel should be – a luxurious home from home, exquisite food, wonderful staff and beautiful gardens – take a look at our exclusive video tour below.

We were thoroughly spoilt here and loved every second.

Name

Mallory Court Country House Hotel and Spa.

Where is it?

Between Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire.

What is it?

This beautiful country house hotel and award-winning restaurant is set in 10 acres of gorgeous gardens.

The rear of Mallory Court Hotel and gardens in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Mallory Court Hotel

It also has a spa, function suite and civil license. Plus, some of the rooms are dog-friendly.

It’s privately owned by the Eden Hotel Collection and is one of the most prestigious hotels in the county.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, our two loved it here and made the most of the grounds, exploring every lovely section.

The hotel’s main market is for adults who enjoy fine-dining and luxury but there is still a very relaxed vibe.

Our suite was fabulous for them – they had their own room, sofas and bathroom. They were even given a mini-welcome pack on their beds including a mini-bathrobe, slippers and a soft toy.

Slippers, robes and toys left on the twin beds at Mallory Court Hotel, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

The ability to swim and play tennis or croquet, plus use the gardens to burn off energy is another plus.

There are other family rooms in the hotel plus standard rooms can take an extra foldaway bed or cot. Children are £25 per night including breakfast. Cots are £15.

The rooms

There are 43 luxurious bedrooms.

We stayed in the Blenheim Suite, a very spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom area with its own private corridor. In both rooms there are desks/dressing tables, televisions, coffee machines, lots of storage and plenty of places to sit and relax.

The master bedroom in the Blenheim family suite, Mallory Court Hotel, Leamington Spa

One of the bedrooms in our suite

It really was so easy to unwind here, there is everything you could need including toiletries, drinks and snacks.

Relaxing in their bedroom in the Blenheim Suite at Mallory Court Hotel

Relaxing in their bedroom in the Blenheim Suite

The main bathroom even has two baths as well as a shower.

Food and drink

There are two options for dinner – we ate in The Dining Room. This restaurant offers fine dining at its best and has three AA rosettes.

The dining room at Mallory Court Hotel, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

The dining room

We enjoyed a five-course tasting menu, which was absolutely delicious including a choice of two main courses of lamb or plaice.

They use organically grown, seasonal produce from the hotel’s kitchen gardens to keep the menus fresh.

For children, they can make separate dishes such as sausages, chicken or pasta. Their children’s desserts included a heavenly sticky toffee pudding.

There is another restaurant called the Brasserie in the spa building where they do a £12.50 three-course dinner for children.

The breakfast is of a high quality – there is continental or cooked – both are served to the table by the attentive staff. They didn’t even act surprised when my daughter asked for three different types of cereal at once.

Our highlights

*The swimming pool is lovely and warm and a nice size to enjoy a family swim. It’s located in the spa in the grounds.

The swimming pool in the spa area at Mallory Court Hotel in Leamington Spa

The swimming pool in the spa area

*The grounds are stunning – there is even a huge croquet pitch and equipment to play as well as a tennis court.

A pond in the grounds of Mallory Court Hotel in Warwickshire

In the grounds

*Enjoying a drink on the terrace in the sunshine before going inside to eat.

*The welcoming staff throughout the hotel – on reception, at dinner and at breakfast they were so lovely and interested in how the children were enjoying the stay.

Top tips

*Swimming costs extra, it is not included and is pricey at £15 per adult and £7.50 per child for one hour. Children under four can’t use the pool and family access is at set hours and needs to be booked.

*Car parking is free and there are plenty of spaces.

*Dogs are welcome at the hotel but check in advance to see if there is a dog friendly room available. We saw several dogs during our stay enjoying the grounds!

Nearby

Warwick Castle – review, guide and top tips 2022

The best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon for families

Our video tour

More information

Address: Mallory Court Hotel & Spa, Harbury Lane, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV33 9QB.

How to book: Mallory Court Hotel and Spa

*We received a complimentary stay, all views as ever are our own.

The Gresham Aparthotel, Leicester – review and guide

The Gresham Aparthotel, Leicester – review and guide

We stay at this revamped aparthotel in the centre of Leicester with our children

Name

The Gresham Aparthotel.

What is it

This is an aparthotel (apartments with a hotel booking system), which opened at the end of 2021 following a £17 million refurbishment.

It’s in an iconic building which was once a department store, made up of several buildings designed in the 1800.

There are 121 apartments, a restaurant and bar, a gym and conference facilities.

Where is it

It’s in Leicester city centre, a five-minute walk from the cathedral.

Rooms

Rooms range from a studio through to a two-bedroom apartment and a sky room with city views.

Sofas, lou0nge area, dining table in a two-bedroom apartment at Gresham Aparthotel in Leicester

Our two-bedroom apartment

They all have a kitchenette, dining area and lounge area with television.

The one we stayed in was modern and clean with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was one of the apartments on the inside of the building so only had one window, but the lights are bright.

A double bedroom in Gresham Aparthotel in Leicester

One of the bedrooms in our apartment

Is it child friendly?

It is not in the most salubrious of areas, but once inside, the children loved exploring the apartment. We entered through one of the bedrooms and gradually discovered more and more rooms, there was definitely plenty of space.

Another bonus was the smart tvs in both rooms which enabled them to catch up with YouTube and Disney+.

A twin room at Gresham Aparthotel in Leicester

The other bedroom

Their bedroom was bright and spacious and it’s great having access to kitchen facilities, a fridge and dining table.

The lounge area was big enough for us all to sit down and enjoy a movie although the sofa could have been comfier.

An open plan kitchen-diner and living space at our apartment at Gresham Aparthotel in Leicester

It’s an open plan kitchen-diner and living space

Food

There is a restaurant and bar on the ground floor called Black Iron Social which serves breakfast, brunch, bar snacks and dinner and seems really popular.

Black Iron Social bar and restaurant at Gresham Aparthotel in Leicester

The bar and restaurant Black Iron Social

Plus there’s a Tesco Express around the corner if you want to eat in.

Our highlights

*The rooms are modern, fresh and clean. The size is great with lots of space to relax in.

*The modern facilities are a big bonus

*It’s a good central location in Leicester, you can walk to all the major attractions in the city centre.

Top Tips

*Make sure to ask for a room on the outside with windows, if you want them.

*It is on a pedestrianised street so if you have heavy luggage, get one person to drop the other off nearby before going to park your car.

Nearby

Leicester has some great family attractions, including the National Space Centre and the Richard III Centre, read our full guide to places to go in the city here.

More information

Address: The Gresham Aparthotel, 36 Market Street, Leicester, LE1 6DP.

Parking: The hotel does not have its own car park. There are car parks within a short walking distance, we used Newarke Street car park, which is about a 2/3 minute walk.

Book here: The Gresham Aparthotel

We had a complimentary stay, all views are our own.

 

We stay at Columbia Beach Resort – a beautiful five-star hotel in Cyprus

We stay at Columbia Beach Resort – a beautiful five-star hotel in Cyprus

Our review and all you need to know about Columbia Beach Resort in Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Name

Columbia Beach Resort

Where is it?

Pissouri Bay on the south coast of Cyprus.

What is it?

It is a five-star resort with 169 suites, two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, spa, gourmet restaurants and beach front location.

The beach at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The beach in front of the hotel

Is it family friendly?

Yes, there were lots of families when we went.

There’s a lovely kids’ club offering a range of activities each day.

The restaurants have a separate children’s menu including pizza, different pastas, fish and chips, burgers etc.

A pizza from the children's menu at Apollo Tavern restaurant at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

A pizza from the children’s menu at Apollo Tavern.

There are two tennis courts plus the hotel is on a pebbly beach with sunbeds.

The rooms

The 169 suites are spread out over this sprawling complex in different areas.

We had a family suite in the main hotel building – it was one of the nicest rooms we had stayed in – big with a fabulous layout and two bathrooms.

The lounge area at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The lounge in our family suite

The children’s room with large twin beds could be closed off with sliding doors, which they loved.

The children's room with twin beds in a family suite at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Children’s room

There were kitchen facilities too including a sink and fridge and a lounge area, plus desks/dressing tables.

The main bedroom in the family suite at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The main bedroom

I’ve never seen so many lights and lamps – we spent a while searching for some of the switches, eventually asking at reception to discover the room had its own lighting control panel!

A light control panel at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Lighting control panel

From the balcony we could see both the pool, the sea and the hills that surround the site.

View from a balcont=y at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The view from our balcony

Food and drink

The food was divine and beautifully cooked and presented. There are a choice of restaurants and we tried all three.

A crab salad starter

A crab salad starter

We were half-board and had breakfast in – and on the terrace of – the Bacchus restaurant. The restaurant is a nice size and never felt overly busy or with the cafeteria feel of some breakfast areas in larger hotels. It was buffet style but you can order freshly prepared pancakes, waffles and eggs etc.

We tried this restaurant for dinner one night too and it was the most elegant of all. We asked for a table outside where we could relax with the children while still enjoying the first-class food and service.

The other two restaurants we tried were the Apollo Taverna which offers a traditional Cypriot dining experience.

And the stunning Cape Aspro with a fabulous terrace overlooking the sea.

Cape Aspro restaurant at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Cape Aspro restaurant

All of the adult menus were different with the children’s menu the same at Cape Aspro and Apollo Taverna. Prices were around 10 euros for children’s main courses, 20-30 euros for adults mains depending on what you ordered. The portions were very generous, sometimes our starters would have been enough.

For dessert there is a special menu with lots of ice cream sundaes and other children’s favourites.

A sea view from a restaurant T Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Dinner with.a view

Our highlights

*The outdoor pool nearest to the main hotel is beautiful and a fabulous size.

An outdoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

Our favourite outdoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort

*The indoor pool is slightly warmer as it’s heated so we had a lot of fun in it.

The indoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The indoor pool

*The food – I had some fabulous meals including a delicious prawn risotto and a gorgeous crab salad plus some fantastic desserts.

*The layout of the resort is pleasing and the views on to the sea are gorgeous.

Sunbeds next to the beach at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

A sunbathing area next to the beach

*Its location on the beach.

Top tips

*While we were there, children could only use the indoor pool until 2pm.

*I am rubbish at getting into cold water – so acclimatized in the indoor pool first before plunging into the outdoor pool and it’s really worth it.

Another outdoor pool at Columbia Beach Resort, Pissouri Bay, Cyprus

The other outdoor pool

*There is live music in some restaurants some of the time which really adds to the atmosphere, so you can ask when booking to secure the evenings when this is on – or not on if you prefer. We enjoyed a saxophonist on one night and a guitar duo on another.

*If you walk one way from the hotel, you can do the Cape Aspro hiking trail, be careful of the steep drops though with children – the other way leads to the village with restaurants, bars and a small store.

Nearby

There are lots of lovely places to take children nearby including a zoo, waterpark, historical sites and beaches: The best places to visit around Pafos/Paphos in Cyprus on a family holiday

More information

Address: Columbia Beach Resort
P.O. Box 54042
Limassol 3779
CyprusHow to book: https://www.columbiaresort.com

Why Cornwall is the perfect place for a sea-view or beach cottage

Why Cornwall is the perfect place for a sea-view or beach cottage

How to pick the best cottage near the beach in Cornwall

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Classic Cottages – all words and opinions are my own!

If you are dreaming of a family holiday near a world-renowned beach making happy memories with your children, look no further than Cornwall.

Its striking coastline and golden sands are among the reasons why it is one of the leading holiday destinations in the UK.

And if you want to wake up just a stone’s throw from one of its glorious beaches, there are a lots of holiday cottages you can stay in.

They make the ideal base for a family, allowing you more space and freedom plus the ability to prepare your own meals, picnic on the beach or dine out when you choose. Cornwall has fabulous restaurants and delicious produce, not forgetting of course Cornish pasties and cream teas.

Some cottages have spectacular sea views and many also welcome dogs, so you don’t have to leave your pooch behind. Classic Cottages offers beach-side retreats of all sizes from cosy through to big properties for large groups.

They are all handpicked, inspected, regularly maintained and equipped with everything from bed linen through to coffee pots.

So, all you need to decide is which part of this beautiful county do you want to visit.

Where to stay in Cornwall

The Far West

If you are drawn to the turquoise waters of the unspoilt Far West, there is lots to do, including a trip to the island of St Michael’s Mount.

You can see this jewel in Cornwall’s crown from the village of Perranuthnoe, where you can stay at Classic Cottages’ The Hideaway.

This intriguing ‘Hobbit-style’ glamping retreat is on the edge of the village with a beach, pub and cafe on the doorstep.

The Hideaway in Cornwall, Classic Cottages

The Hideaway

The North

The waves of the North offer famously good surfing conditions.

The area is great for all types of extreme sports including scuba diving and rock climbing. If you fancy staying here in a beach hut by the sea, you’ll love the accommodation known as Krowji.

Krowji cottage in Cornwall with sea view

Krowji

It’s in the popular seaside resort of Polzeath and has wonderful sea views and even a conservatory.

The South Coast

A holiday home on the south coast of Cornwall is perfect for a family-friendly getaway, with fabulous beaches at Mevagissey, Falmouth, Looe and St Mawes. And if it’s sea views you are after, 4 The Beach has got them in abundance through floor to ceiling bi-fold doors.

4 The Beach cottage in Cornwall

4 The Beach

The apartment, north of Cadgwith, has board games to keep everyone entertained, plus a lawn and patio.

It’s a short stroll down the hill to Kennack Sands, which has a lifeguard in the main season and a beach cafe selling drinks, snacks and ice cream.

Further east on the south coast you’ll find Mimosa Cottage in the heart of St Mawes with views over the Percuil River.

Mimosa Cottage in Cornwall

Mimosa Cottage

It’s just a two-minute walk to the waterfront with restaurants, cafes and shops to explore and boats offering fishing trips, sunset cruises and regular ferry services to Falmouth.

Whether you want a cottage with sea view or a beach cottage, there is somewhere for you.

And when you fancy a day exploring inland, you will find beautiful Cornish countryside, a fascinating history, fabulous walks and legends plus family attractions.

Our children love the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Tintagel Castle and Lappa Valley.

Wherever you stay, have a fantastic holiday.

Mallorca: we review the five-star hotel Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Mallorca: we review the five-star hotel Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Does the Zafiro Palace Alcudia live up to its five-star rating on a family holiday with our children to Mallorca

Name

Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Where is it?

In Port d’Alcudia on the north coast of Mallorca, a Spanish Balearic island in the Mediterranean.

What is it?

A luxury five-star hotel with all-inclusive option, with lots of swimming pools, big rooms and delicious food, within walking distance of a beach.

Zafiro Palace Alcudia aerial view of the pools

Is it family friendly?

Yes. There are children’s pools, an outdoor play area, a mini disco, mini golf course and a football/basketball pitch/court too.

Water slides in a pirate-themed children's pool at Zafiro Palace Hotel, Mallorca

Water slides in a pirate-themed children’s pool

The hotel is also suitable for people travelling without youngsters as there are adult-only areas.

Adults only area and pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Adults only section is on raised area in the middle of the site

The rooms

The rooms are laid out in a U-shape around the pools.

Many of the ground floor rooms have pool access while the top-level rooms benefit from a hot tub each.

There are two other levels, mostly with pool views.

Our room: We had a ground-floor room with an outside terrace furnished with two sunbeds, a table and two chairs and a round love seat.

Swim-up pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Swim-up pool

A gate from the terrace leads on to one of the swim-up pools. This feels amazing although in reality, in October, the water in ours was sadly a little chilly to spend long enjoying.

Our ground floor swim-up room at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Our room

The room itself was a lovely big square shape with a huge, comfortable bed big enough for the four of us. But the sofa converted into two single beds for the children.

It’s not for the shy as the room is open-plan to the bathroom, which has a bath and two sinks. There’s some privacy with a separate shower and separate toilet although the doors are frosted and slightly transparent!

Food and drink

There are various price options for food including all-inclusive. We were half-board with breakfast and an evening meal.

The main restaurant – The Market – is buffet-style with indoor and outdoor seating.

Breakfast is a lovely selection of hot and cold food and drinks with more than enough choice to keep us all happy.

Outdoor seating at the main buffet restaurant at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Outdoor seating at the main buffet restaurant

One chef, Miguel, impressed us as he cooked up a constant supply of pancakes, fried eggs and scrambled eggs.

He was there again in the evening, cooking tasty meats and fish.

Also at night were plenty of pasta and pizza options to keep our daughter happy and enough paella and other Spanish specialities for an authentic experience.

Plus, lovely desserts and ice-cream.

There are a la carte restaurants too – Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean and a steak/grill with delicious food. But you must book first thing in the morning at the start of your holiday or you won’t get a reservation as spaces fill up quickly.

Our highlights

*The swimming pools – I counted 12, including:

Several long pools which swim-up ground floor rooms open on to.

Two children’s pools – a pirate-themed one with slides and splashes. And one with a big bouncy bubble in the middle to climb and slide/bounce/jump off which opens out into the biggest pool here, with a swim-up bar.

Bubble pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Bubble pool

The warmest pool was the busiest when we visited in October as it is covered at night to retain heat. It had a strip sectioned off for lane swimming and on the other side are double beds over the water.

The warmest swimming pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

The warmest pool

There is also a pool in a raised section in the middle of the site in an adults-only section.

And there are two warmer indoor pools – a small heated one which we spent time in. And a longer, shallow pool for adults in the gym/spa section of the hotel.

Indoor family swimming pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Indoor family pool

*Pool towels are freely available, you aren’t rationed to one each a day so if you need dry ones later in the day or to take to the beach, you can help yourself.

*The food. We all loved the food, the children particularly enjoyed the choice a buffet affords. We visited post-Covid and guests had to wear masks when choosing food and walking around the restaurant. Plus there were numerous hand sanitisers around.

Nearby

*Alcudia – the town is a couple of miles inland from the touristy port area. It’s a beautiful walled town with a largely pedestrianised city centre. Ideal for strolling around, the children can explore the city walls but they are high with just a wire guard on the one side so take care with younger ones.

Alcudia Old Town

Alcudia Old Town

*Mallorca is famous for its lovely beaches, the nearest to the hotel is Playa de Alcudia – a shallow bay, with calm waters and sandy beach. There are lots of facilities including toilets, sunbeds and lifeguards. You can walk from the hotel to the start of the beach in about five to 10 minutes.

Play equipment for children on Playa de Alcudia beach

Playa de Alcudia beach

*Playa de Muro – slightly further along the bay is another soft sand beach. It is slightly less touristy than Alcudia beach but not as spacious at busy times.

*There are loads of other beaches to explore if you have a hire car, we enjoyed Formentor in particular, a 30-minute drive away over mountains. This beautiful beach felt like we were in the Carribean.

The beach at Formentor, Mallorca

The beach at Formentor

*Cycling is a hugely popular activity in this part of Mallorca and you can hire bikes at the hotel. There are good cycle paths and lots of groups and tours available. The more adventurous can tackle the surrounding mountains where we drove past dozens of riders climbing the steep hills.

*Caves of Drach (Cuevas del Drach) on the east coast in Porto Cristo – stunning caves with stalactites and stalagmites and an atmospheric music show on an underground lake.

*We also explore Puerto Pollensa, which inspired Agatha Christie to write a crime story – Problem at Pollensa Bay is about the disappearance of a holidaymaker while staying at a hotel, under suspicious circumstances.

Pine Walk at Pollensa, Mallorca

Pine Walk at Pollensa

We walked along the Pine Walk then stopped on the main beach which has calm waters, plenty of facilities, along with rocks and coral to see just metres from the shore.

For our full holiday review read: A surprise to wake to in Mallorca at a hotel full of swimming pools

More Zafiro Palace Alcudia information

Airport: Palma de Mallorca Airport is 29.8 miles away.

Address: Zafiro Palace Alcudia, C/ Camí Real al Moll, 2 07400 Port d’Alcúdia, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain.

Parking: There is a free car park.

Book here.

Mallorca

Mallorca, also called Majorca, is the largest of the Balearic Islands along with Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera and smaller islands.

They are off eastern Spain in the Mediterranean.

Mallorca, popular with holidaymakers and famous for its sandy beaches, has one airport in its capital, Palma.

Flight times from the UK are from around 2 hours 15 minutes in the south to about 2 hours 55 minutes.

*We stayed as guests at Zafiro Palace Hotel, all views are our own.

Review: Love2Stay – a fantastic holiday park in the middle of Shropshire with loads for children to do (and dogs)!

Review: Love2Stay – a fantastic holiday park in the middle of Shropshire with loads for children to do (and dogs)!

We take our children and dog to Love2Stay in Shrewsbury where we make exciting finds at our lodge before we even start to explore the rest of the site

Name

Love2Stay, Shropshire

Where is it?

Love2Stay is in the countryside on the outskirts of Shrewsbury in the centre of Shropshire.

What is it?

This UK holiday park is a fresh, modern, 22-acre resort where you can stay in anything from your own caravan through to a luxury lodge.

Watch our video tour below and then read on for lots more information.

Is it family-friendly?

Yes, it’s very family-friendly with lots for children to do.

There are two outdoor pools, a sand/beach area, a huge play area/playground and somewhere to play football. There’s also a pizza restaurant and numerous activities ranging from paddle boarding and archery through to den making and tie dying t-shirts.

Accommodation

You can bring your own touring caravan or motorhome or stay in a glamping lodge (Safari Lodge) or luxury Woodland Lodge on the site.

Our woodland lodge at love2stay holiday-park in Shropshire

Our woodland lodge

We stayed in a lovely new Woodland Lodge in a spacious plot – the children were thrilled when we arrived to find we had our own hot tub, huge hammock, bean bags and fire pit in the garden!

They decided this was going to be the best holiday ever, before we even got through the door.

Inside the lodge at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

Inside the lodge

Inside was a modern open plan lounge/kitchen/dining area, two bedrooms (one with two small single beds and one with a double), a bathroom with shower and an en-suite without.

The twin room inside the lodge at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The twin room

The double bedroom inside the lodge at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The main bedroom

It’s fully equipped with a microwave, dishwasher, fridge/freezer, oven and hob. The appliances were of a high standard and it was extremely clean.

In the hot tub outside our wooden lodge at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

In the hot tub

If staying in your own caravan or motorhome, there are fully-serviced pitches, warm clean facilities with private showers and complimentary toiletries.

Food and drink

The lodges are self-catering and we cooked in the kitchen and on the fire pit at ours. Each lodge has firelighters, kindling and logs supplied to get your fire pit roaring.

Plus there is a communal outdoor kitchen area with a fire pit, barbecues and woodfired pizza oven you can use.

There is an on-site cafe and pizza restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, selling delicious pizzas, breakfast snacks and other sharing dishes like nachos.

A few items like eggs and milk are sold at reception. There are nearby supermarkets including Sainsbury’s Local, Co-op, M&S and Asda, all within a few minutes’ drive.

Facilities

*Two outdoor swimming pools and beach.

The natural swimming pool at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The natural pool

A BioTop natural swimming pool – free of chemicals and filtered through a reed water garden. This gets very cold, you may need to bring a wetsuit.

A shallow pool for children to splash about in with water sprays that come on every so often, alongside the beach.

The children's pool at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The children’s pool

*Small lake for kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing.

Paddle boarding on the lake at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

Paddle boarding on the lake

*Gym/fitness suite.

*Grassy sports field with two goals for playing your own games.

*A big playground/play area for climbing, swinging and sliding. It was an excellent play area mainly suited for slightly older children aged 6 and above.

The playground/play area at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The playground/play area

*An assault course for aged eight and over, which can be booked as an activity.

*A small cinema in a tent showing three films a day. All the films when we were there were family films.

*Spa treatments.

*Yoga and pilates sessions.

*Woodland School sessions with fun activities.

*A cafe and restaurant.

The restaurant and reception at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

The cafe/restaurant and reception behind the outdoor pool

Is it dog-friendly?

Yes, our lodge was dog-friendly and our dog Charlie loved it here – there is a lovely fenced-in space where they can run around off the lead and play and a fantastic adjoining agility area.

They need to be kept on the lead around the rest of the site and are not allowed in some areas such as the pool areas.

A dog in the agility area at Love2Stay holiday park in Shropshire

Charlie in the dog agility area

Nearby 

Love2Stay is in the heart of Shropshire, a county with lots for children to do.

There are open spaces, woods and hills plus it has a rich history. Read our  guide here for ideas: The 10 top family days out in Shropshire

*Shrewsbury

The holiday park is on the outskirts of the town of Shrewsbury.

We crossed over the River Severn and had a walk through its 29-acre park The Quarry.

In the centre of the park is a stunning sunken garden called the Dingle. This is a lovely area to explore and you can also enjoy the historic town centre.

Flowers intThe Dingle garden in the Quarry park, Shrewsbury

The Dingle garden in the Quarry park, Shrewsbury

There is loads more to do in Shrewsbury including Shrewsbury Prison, a canal ride, a boat ride and a visit to a fabulous park Hawkstone Follies, read about them here.

Love2Stay information

Address: Love2Stay, Emstrey, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY5 6QS.

Phone: 01743 583124

Website: www.love2stay.co.uk

Book a touring pitch.

Book a lodge.

RELATED CONTENT: The eight best places for children on and around the Llangollen Canal

RELATED CONTENT: We review an Anglo Welsh canal boat with our children – is it family friendly?

(We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

The Buxton Crescent REVIEW and GUIDE – we discover if this luxurious spa hotel is popular with children

The Buxton Crescent REVIEW and GUIDE – we discover if this luxurious spa hotel is popular with children

Buxton’s historical Georgian centrepiece wows on a trip to the Peak District

The Buxton Crescent is a beautiful hotel in the heart of a Peak District town which for centuries has been famed for the healing properties of its spa waters.

This iconic, curved, Georgian building, started out as two grand hotels. And now, a 17-year project has restored it to this luxurious hotel and contemporary spa which sources the natural spring water from beneath it.

Visitors are travelling from all over to stay here, but is it suitable for children? We take our two, to find out what it can offer for youngsters.

Name

Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel

Where is it?

It is in lovely Buxton in the Derbyshire Peak District, in a brilliant, central position opposite the Pavilion Gardens.

What is it

The Buxton Crescent is a five-star spa hotel which opened in 2020 following a £70 million restoration.

It has 81 rooms and a big thermal spa and is run by Ensana Hotels.

The history

Buxton first became a spa resort when the Romans discovered warm, bubbling springs underneath what is now the hotel and settled in the area in around 78AD.

In 1789, the Crescent was built by the Fifth Duke of Devonshire to establish Buxton as a Georgian spa town.

It was originally two hotels, vsited by spa seekers who travelled from all over to bathe in Buxton’s thermal waters.

The building was later used for other purposes but by 1992 was derelict.

It was reborn following a huge renovation and the Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel opened in October, 2020.

The indoor to outdoor rooftop swimming pool at the Buxton Crescent Hotel.

The indoor to outdoor rooftop swimming pool.

Is it family friendly?

The hotel’s main market is adults including couples, older families and friends but it is surprisingly child-friendly and our two absolutely loved it.

They adored our suite (see accommodation below), the food and especially the indoor to outdoor rooftop swimming pool.

Plus, the location opposite the park was a huge bonus with its two play areas, boating lake, ice creams and mini train.

And there are so many amazing things to do in the surrounding area (more below).

Accommodation

We stayed in a junior suite which can hold two adults and two children. We parents slept in the main bedroom in a sumptuously comfortable four-poster bed beneath a magnificent chandelier.

Bedroom in the junior suite at Buxton Crescent Hotel

Our bedroom in a junior suite

The children were in the lounge area where a sofa bed had been converted into a small double. They loved having their own room (and tv opposite the bed)!

The lounge/children's bedroom in a junior suite at the Buxton Crescent Hotel

The lounge became the children’s room

There was a separate bathroom with the biggest overhead shower head I’ve ever seen and a freestanding bath outside the bathroom within the area between the two bedrooms.

The bath in a Junior Suite at the Buxton Crescent Hotel

Food and drink

The restaurant is lovely, it’s elegant and serene so keep your fingers crossed for well-behaved children but it’s big enough to be able to relax.

There is a children’s menu with a great choice of food for younger diners. The pasta and meatballs went down well with our two as did waiter Joe’s napkin tricks.

The restaurant at the Buxton Crescent Hotel

The restaurant

Our meals were so tasty and there was a great choice of wine.

Breakfast was equally delicious, there was a good choice of cereals and lovely pastries, plus pancakes and cooked breakfasts.

There is also a Spa Cafe serving lighter meals and desserts with indoor and outdoor seating.

Highlights

The main swimming pool

The rooftop swimming pool was the best I have ever been in, thanks to its warm temperature, which meant that for the first time ever I was able to get straight in instead of very slowly, while shivering. There was also the novelty of being able to swim from inside to outside and vice versa.

Children aren’t allowed in the spa or its two smaller pools but they are thankfully allowed in this one.

The drinking water

I know it’s just water, but the water here tastes so nice, we all drank a lot more than we usually would in the restaurant.

The town’s drinking well, St Ann’s Well, is opposite the hotel and you can fill up your own bottles here but the hotel is supplied directly.

Buxton Mineral Water is still bottled here and sold around the world.

The spa

Buxton is one of only two Roman spa towns in England – the other being Bath.

Famous faces who have travelled here include Mary Queen of Scots who came to ‘take the water’ in Buxton to treat her rheumatism.

Visitors to the hotel spa now find a relaxing, contemporary space where they can also bathe in the town’s water – it flows chemically untreated into a thermal pool surrounded by wall tiles dating back to 1924 and covered with a stained glass canopy.

Use of the spa is included with all stays and also includes a relaxation pool, spa baths, three saunas, two steam rooms, a gym, a salt cave, two relaxation pools and an ice fountain.

The spa is not for children so we parents took turns individually to enjoy it.

Treatments from the spa menu cost extra and include traditional beauty therapies along with wellness and holistic treatments.

The building

The grade one-listed crescent-shaped building was designed by architect Sir John Carr.

Modelled on the Royal Crescent in Bath, this fine example of Georgian architecture feels wonderfully impressive as you arrive.

The staff

The staff were so friendly and helpful and went out of their way to assist and chat and make our stay extra special.

Nearby

The Peak District is the country’s oldest National Park and there are loads of great family walks to enjoy among its rolling hills.

There are also lots of attractions that children will love. We visited:

*Poole’s Cavern and Buxton Country Park

A two million-year-old limestone cave with fabulous formations, read our review and guide to it here.

A tour at Poole's Cavern

Poole’s Cavern

*Peak Wildlife Park

A lovely zoo where you can walk among some of the animals. It also has play areas, read our review and guide here.

A girl interacts with a penguin at Peak Wildlife Park

Peak Wildlife Park

*We also climbed Shutlingsloe Hill, known as the Matterhorn of Cheshire.

The third highest peak in the county has a distinctive profile. It’s very steep and rocky towards the top.

Climbing Shutlingsloe Hill - the Matterhorn of Cheshire

Climbing Shutlingsloe Hill – the Matterhorn of Cheshire

Conclusion

We had an amazing time at the Buxton Crescent Hotel and we all would love to return, it’s a perfect destination for all ages to relax and enjoy the luxurious surroundings and beautiful Peak District.

Buxton Crescent hotel information

To book: https://www.ensanahotels.com/buxton/en

Address: The Crescent, Buxton, SK17 6BH, United Kingdom

Email: reception.buxtoncrescent@ensanahotels.com

Phone: 01298 808 999.

More of our Peak District content

Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park – REVIEW, GUIDE and top TIPS

Peak Wildlife Park – REVIEW, GUIDE and TIPS for this Staffordshire Peak District zoo

(We received a complimentary stay at the hotel for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

Review: The Valley in Cornwall – we take our children and dog to this five-star site near Truro

Review: The Valley in Cornwall – we take our children and dog to this five-star site near Truro

We have a family holiday at a complex of luxury self-catering cottages in the middle of Cornwall

Name

The Valley, Cornwall.

Where is it?

The Valley is in a fabulous location in the centre of Cornwall near to Truro and Falmouth – perfect for exploring in all directions.

What is it?

A 13-acre complex of 46 luxury self-catering cottages and exclusive leisure facilities including an indoor pool, outdoor pool and tennis court.

Cottages at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

Cottages at The Valley

Is it family-friendly?

Yes, it feels safe and secure and there are facilities for children including an outdoor play area, games room and swimming pools.

The Valley provides lots for free including highchairs, stair gates, bed guards and travel cots. There are toys and books to borrow from a room next to the reception too.

Plus, babysitters can be arranged if needed.

Accommodation

The 5-star two and three-bedroom cottages are spaced out across the site.

There are six types, we stayed in a Villa Gallery and absolutely loved it – we felt at home straight away.

Our Cottage at The Valley in Cornwall

Our cottage

It was modern and clean and spread over three levels as it is set on a hill.

Lounge of our cottage at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

The kitchen/dining room was on a mezzanine floor overlooking the lounge, all under a high ceiling with beams.

The kitchen of our cottage at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

The kitchen

Off the kitchen was a balcony overlooking the pool.

The beds were really comfortable – our double bedroom had a desk, television and en-suite. The children’s twin room also had a desk and there was a separate bathroom.

Bedroom of our cottage at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

There was a warm laundry room with washing machine and a third toilet in a cloakroom next to the front door.

It all felt really fresh and clean, with loads of room and storage.

Food and drink

The cottages are self-catering and our kitchen was well-equipped with everything we needed.

The on-site restaurant, called Azura, opens from March 30 until October half-term. It was closed when we visited but serves children’s meals and has an area where you can sit with your dog.

There are also restaurants and takeaway options in nearby Truro and Falmouth.

Facilities

*Swimming pools

The outdoor pool heated from mid-June to mid-September.

There is also a heated indoor pool, with a spa pool next to it.

Indoor pool at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

Indoor pool

*Gym

There is a small fitness suite in a room next to the pool.

*Tennis and squash courts

You can borrow rackets and balls from reception to enjoy games of tennis or squash or teach your children to play.

Tennis court at The Valley, Truro, Cornwall

Tennis court

*Games room

The games room has a table tennis table, pool table and table football.

*Playground/play area

There is a lovely play park with equipment for different ages, including swings, slides and climbing walls.

Is it dog-friendly?

Yes, dogs are really welcome here, which we really appreciated, this being our first holiday with our puppy Charlie.

A box walking his dog at The Valley in Cornwall

Dog walks around The Valley

Ours was one of several dog-friendly cottages. Charlie received his own welcome letter, box of luxury food, ball and dog basket. Our cottage was near to an entrance to a dog footpath.

Lots of attractions and beaches nearby are dog-friendly so we could take him with us everywhere. The Valley can provide details of dog sitters if needed.

Nearby

As The Valley is in central Cornwall, it is easy to reach dozens of beaches, gardens, towns and attractions.

Both north and south coasts are easily accessible.

*Eden Project

This huge tropical garden and massively popular tourist attraction has been recognised by the British Travel Awards as the best UK Leisure Attraction for five years’ running.

*Beaches

Beaches – we were blown away by the spectacular beaches and beautiful blue sea. We visited during the Easter holidays and they weren’t too busy.

Holywell Bay beach in Cornwall

Cartwheels on Holywell Bay, where Poldark was filmed

Nearby beaches include Perranporth on the North coast, Holywell Bay near Newquay (which features in Poldark), Gwithian near Hayle and Gyllyngvase (Gylly Beach) in Falmouth.

We also visited Carne Beach on the south coast and Porthmeor Beach in St Ives.

Carne Beach in Cornwall

Carne Beach

*St Mawes

We caught the King Harry car ferry to visit this small, pretty fishing village on the south coast.

St Mawes Castle

St Mawes Castle

Our children enjoyed exploring St Mawes Castle, one of Henry VIII’s coastal fortresses, now run by English Heritage.

*Trellisick Gardens

This National Trust garden on its own peninsula has stunning views over the Fal estuary as well as woodland walks. There is also an art gallery, cafe and gift shop.

*Truro

A few minutes’ drive away from The Valley is the cathedral city of Truro, with shops, restaurants, parks, streams, a theatre and museum.

*Falmouth

The port of Falmouth is a 15-minute drive from The Valley.

*Walks

There are walks you can take from and around The Valley – itineraries are available from reception.

Tintagel Castle

A girl enjoys the view at Tintagel Castle

Enjoying the view at Tintagel Castle

Further afield but worth the trip, we visited these ruins of a 13th century Cornish castle with links to the stories of King Arthur set high on the coast in north Cornwall with fabulous views, read about it here.

Lappa Valley

A tourist attraction for families with younger children – with visitors catching a steam train from the car park to the site, filled with outdoor play areas. Read our report on it here.

The Valley information

To book: The Valley

Address: The Valley, Bissoe Road, Carnon Downs, Truro, Cornwall, TR3 6LQ.

Email: info@valleycottages.net

Phone: 01872 862194

More Cornwall content

Can’t get enough of Cornwall? Don’t miss our other stories, including reviews of Tintagel CastleThe Lost Gardens of Heligan and Lappa Valley.

And read about our whole holiday here: We take our children and new dog on a family holiday to Cornwall – find out how we get on

(We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

*Our trip was supported by www.visitcornwall.com – the number one website for visitors to Cornwall, helping visitors find everything they need for a great time in Cornwall.

Big, family, all-inclusive hotel with water park opens in Dubai

Big, family, all-inclusive hotel with water park opens in Dubai

A first for Dubai with four-star beachfront hotel from Riu

The first four-star, all-inclusive, beachfront hotel has opened in Dubai.

Hotel Riu Dubai is a large family hotel with children’s pools and a water park.

Splash Water Park at Hotel Riu Dubai

Splash Water Park at Riu Dubai

It is Riu’s 100th hotel in the world and the chain’s first in the Middle East.

The modern hotel has 800 rooms, two children’s pools (one with slides), three large pools for adults, a children’s park and club and a broad terrace with direct access to a large beach.

The hotel has a ‘Splash’ water park, with slides and other attractions for adults and children over 1.2 metres tall.

A restaurant at Hotel Riu Dubai

A restaurant at Hotel Riu Dubai

There are four restaurants and six bars including swim-up bars at the hotel which is located 11km from the airport on the Deira Islands beachfront.

Riu is a Spanish chain with 100 in 20 countries around the world.

Its 24-hour all-inclusive concept includes all meals, snacks and drinks at all the hotel’s bars and restaurants, without limits or schedules.

A Riu Dubai suite

A Riu Dubai suite

It also includes enjoyment of all the facilities and services such as the water parks, day and nighttime entertainment and access to the gym and spa, where only the beauty and wellbeing treatments carry a charge.

Luis Riu, chief executive officer of RIU Hotels & Resorts, said: “The opening of the hotel Riu Dubai is a major milestone in our hotel chain’s international expansion, because this is our first hotel in the Middle East.

“This is a unique opportunity to offer all our experience with the 24-hour all-inclusive product, which is so popular among our European and American customers, but this time in a completely new destination.”

The lobby at Hotel Riu Dubai

The lobby

Riu partnered with developer Nakheel to build the hotel, creator of world-famous developments including The Palm Jumeirah and Dubai’s new coastal city, Deira Island.

*For more information on Riu hotels, read some of our reviews from our family stays in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.
And link to those stories by clicking on Fuerteventura and Lanzarote individually, but the button just doesn’t work any more.
Cofton Holiday Park near Dawlish in Devon – Family Holiday Guide review

Cofton Holiday Park near Dawlish in Devon – Family Holiday Guide review

We discover if Cofton Holidays is as good as it sounds for a break with children

Name

Cofton Holiday Park/Cofton Holidays

Where is it?

Cofton is at Starcross near Dawlish in south east Devon, 20 minutes from the M5 and Exeter.

What is it?

It’s a five-star holiday park. The 80-acre site is family-run and has won multiple awards and we are very impressed, it’s one of the nicest holiday parks we’ve stayed at.

Camping, tents, caravans and motorhomes at Cofton Holidays in Devon

Is it family friendly?

Yes, very much so, there are lots of facilities for children – indoor and outdoor pools, an arcade and a woodland adventure area.

There are indoor and outdoor play areas for younger children and bookable activities.

It’s a great holiday park for children – our two love it as do we.

Accommodation

There are various options – from camping through to more luxurious options.

Luxury lodges at Coftons

Luxury lodges at Coftons

You can take your own tent, caravan or motorhome.

There are static caravans, luxury holiday lodges with hot tubs and holiday cottages and apartments to choose from.

We stay in a static caravan in a great location, next to the centre where reception, the pools and restaurants are based.

Our static Caravan at Coftons Holidays

Our static caravan

It is warm and cosy with two bedrooms and very comfy beds. The main bedroom has an en-suite, and there’s a separate bathroom with shower.

The double bedroom of our Tamar static caravan at Cofton Holiday Park

The double bedroom

The kitchen/diner/lounge is open plan.

The lounge area of our Tamar static caravan at Cofton Holiday Park

The lounge area

It feels modern and clean, very comfortable with everything we need, except maybe a dishwasher!

The kitchen area of our Tamar static caravan at Cofton Holiday Park

The kitchen area

Food and drink

Two of the restaurants on site serve from the same good menu.

The Swan pub is on the ground floor and includes an outside patio.

The Swan pub at Cofton Holidays

Swan Inn

Amelia’s upstairs is bigger and also includes outdoor seating overlooking the pool. There is a soft play area off this restaurant for under-eights.

Evening meals and Sunday carveries are also served in the Warren Retreat – an area which hosts children’s discos, live cabaret and other entertainment. This area is closed when we visit due to Covid restrictions.

Warren Retreat restaurant and bar at Cofton Holidays

Warren Retreat

There’s also a fish and chip takeaway and a small shop selling essentials including bread and milk.

Facilities

*Swimming pools

There’s a lovely heated indoor swimming pool, which we use nearly every day. It is perfectly warm and a real hit with us all.

It is all one depth, there are splash taps and large, clean changing rooms.

The indoor pool at Cofton Holiday Park

Indoor pool

There’s also a heated outdoor pool, open over the summer, great for warmer days.

Outdoor pool at Cofton Holiday Park

Outdoor pool

*Arcade

There is an arcade with lots of games. It also has American pool tables and a mini tenpin bowling alley with four lanes.

*Gym

*Woodland adventure area

At the top of the site and at the base of a forest Is a wooden adventure area complete with zip wire, assault course and climbing nets.

Woodland adventure play area at Cofton Holidays

Woodland adventure play area

*Playground

There is an outdoor play area with swings and climbing frames.

*Soft play

There’s a soft play area for younger children (closed when we were there due to Covid restrictions).

*Coarse fishing

Anglers are well catered for here – there are well-stocked fishing lakes and fishing competitons. Assisted fishing is available for adults and children. All fish caught are put back into the water.

Fishing lake at Cofton Holiday Park

Entertainment

There are activities for children in the day – when we stay, youngsters can learn to fish or try pond dipping. At other times there are children’s discos in the evening and other entertainment.

Children's fishing lesson at Cofton Holidays

Learning to fish

Nearby

*Beaches

The nearest beach is the Blue Flag beach at Dawlish Warren. It’s a 35-minute walk or a seven-minute drive. There’s a big car park next to it which can get busy and a fun fair. Life guards are on duty during the summer months.

Dawlish Warren beach

Dawlish Warren

*Dawlish

The town has a river, sea walk, crazy golf and places to eat plus Dawlish Town Beach.

Dawlish railway, beach and sea

Dawlish

*Haldon Forest Park

This is 3,500 acres of woodland with three walking trails and four cycling rails (bikes can be hired).

We also see a few groups on Segway tours.

*Exeter

Exeter is twenty minutes away, read our review and guide for visiting Exeter with children.

Dogs

Dogs are welcome at Cofton – and are even allowed in the Swan Inn. Plus there are loads of dog walks in the area.

Covid restrictions at Cofton 2020

Coronavirus restrictions were in place for our visit  – we find the site to be very clean and the staff are fantastic.

Precautions have been taken – activities and entertainment adapted, pool sessions are an hour and need to be booked and there is an app you can use to order food in the restaurants.

Masks have to be worn by adults in the shop, reception and arcade.

There is hand sanitizer in key places such as at the playgrounds.

All in all, we feel very happy with the arrangements.

Try to book pool sessions, activities and restaurants before you go if possible as they are popular.

*For Cofton’s latest Covid-19 policy, visit here.

For more information on the area surrounding the park and a full review of our holiday read: Delight in Devon on a family holiday to Dawlish with our children.

Cofton Holidays information

Holiday homes start from £165 for a three-night weekend stay, £148 for a four-night mid-week break or £224 for a week.

Wheelchair accessible, dog-friendly and hot tub holiday homes are available.

Cofton also has luxury lodges (new for 2020), dog-friendly cottages and Georgian-style apartments available.

To book: visit coftonholidays.co.uk or call 01626 890111

Address: Cofton Holidays, Starcross, Near Dawlish, South Devon, EX6 8RP

Email: info@coftonholidays.co.uk

Phone: 01626 890111

RELATED CONTENT: Delight in Devon on a family holiday to Dawlish with our children

RELATED CONTENT: We discover all the best places and activities for children in Exeter, Devon

(We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own).

We review an Anglo Welsh canal boat with our children – is it family friendly?

We review an Anglo Welsh canal boat with our children – is it family friendly?

We share all the details of our 67 foot bond class Anglo Welsh barge

Boat hire company Anglo Welsh has more than 160 narrowboats at 11 bases across England and Wales.

We hired one from its Trevor Basin site in north Wales to take across the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal into Shropshire.

It was our first canal boat trip and we booked it through Drifters Waterway Holidays.

We had a great time (read our full review) Here we’ll look at the boat in more detail and explain how suitable it is for children.

Our boat

We hired a 4-6 berth canal boat called Askrigg, a bond class narrowboat, which is one of the most luxurious that Anglo Welsh offers.

Askrigg narrowboat from Anglo Welsh, bond class

Bond class narrowboat, Askrigg

Space

Let’s start with space and there was plenty of it. The length of the boat is 67 feet and it’s nearly 7 feet wide. It doesn’t even feel that narrow.

It’s quite dauntingly long when you take the helm for the first time but it is fabulous for the children to have so much room to move about and play.

Layout

Starting at the rear is a bedroom with two small single beds.

One f the bedrooms on the canal boat Askrigg with two single beds

There are two small beds in one bedroom

A narrow corridor, which could be a squeeze for some, runs alongside the next three rooms.

There is a bathroom, a bedroom with a double bed followed by a second identical bathroom.

One f the bedrooms on the canal boat Askrigg with a double bed

The other bedroom has a small double bed

It opens up into a galley area with kitchen and dining table with sofa-seating which converts into another bed if needed.

At the front of the boat are two leather chairs facing a TV and radio.

Inside the Anglo Welsh narrowboat Askrigg

Inside the Anglo Welsh narrowboat Askrigg

It’s a great layout and worked well for us – having two bedrooms and two bathrooms is a real bonus.

There are places to sit outside at the front and rear of the boat.

Was it easy to helm?

It is straightforward, once you’ve grasped that turning the tiller right makes the boat go left and vice versa.

As you steer from the rear, take glasses if you need them!

It’s good fun, rewarding but never relaxing when you are at the helm. It’s definitely best to take it in turns if there are two of you, to give each of you a chance to fully enjoy the experience.

What about equipment?

The boat is very well equipped. We found plenty of crockery, pots and pans, cutlery and cooking utensils. It was all in an excellent condition, very clean, and most of it looked new.

There is a gas oven, grill and four-ring hob as well as a microwave (only use the microwave when the engine is running or it will sap all your power). A kettle to boil on the hob is provided as well as a fridge freezer.

Bedding and towels are provided, along with a hairdryer and a couple of folding chairs.

What about gadgets?

There is a small TV with signal dependent on your location – we didn’t get ours to work but it does take DVDs.

There is also a radio and CD player.

In the lounge area are two plug sockets and underneath the television is a cigarette lighter point.

Try to charge mobile phones and other devices while the boat is moving as electricity drops when the engine is turned off.

Is there space to shower?

The bathrooms are a fairly tight squeeze for an adult around the toilet and sink areas but the showers were large, powerful and warmed up instantly.

Don’t forget to pump out the shower using the button at the side of it where you are done. A new bar of soap is supplied in each bathroom.

The chemical toilets are flushed using a lever with your foot.

Canal boat toilets use a sealed holding tank on board which you empty at a pump-out point if and when you need to – we didn’t.

Is there enough water and can you drink it?

There is initially enough water onboard for at least a day.

You can stop at a water point (marked on the map and signposted) and access the tap using a key Anglo Welsh give you.

You connect one end of the boat’s hose pipe to the tap and insert the other end into the hole of the boat’s water tank.

It’s a really simple process once you’ve managed to moor up!

We were told that it’s best to fill up every day, but we were careful with our water usage and managed every other day.

You can apparently drink the water but we took bottled.

How does electricity work on an Anglo Welsh boat?

We never ran out of power. An inverter on the boat converts the power from the onboard batteries.

The amount of power available depends on how long the engine has been running so keep it running for a time when you are moored (but not after 8pm).

It’s recommended to charge mobiles and tablets etc when the engine is running so you don’t drain the batteries.

Was there heating on the boat?

All the company’s boats have gas central heating with radiators and ours was cosy and warm.

There’s also a multi-fuel stove, which we didn’t use.

Are there life jackets/buoyancy aids?

If you request them when you book, you can chose a life jacket to fit when you are at the boatyard before you depart. Both our children had one and were happy to wear them.

Girl wears a life jacket on a canal barge

Are pets allowed?

Yes, up to two dogs are allowed, one is free to bring, a second costs £25 or £35 depending on the length of stay.

Are bikes allowed?

You can take one or two bikes but they have to be kept outside and you need to be careful when going under bridges or tunnels if you leave them on the roof.

Was it clean and Covid-compliant?

Canal boating is an excellent socially-distanced holiday option as you have self-contained accommodation and you are never too close to other people.

Our boat was very clean and had been thoroughly disinfected beforehand. Anti-bacterial spray and cleaning products were supplied on board.

Do they tell you how to use the boat?

Yes, the handover is very thorough. Ours took an hour as the Anglo Welsh staff member explained every aspect of the boat, how to helm it, all the safety precautions and more.

He also had plenty of time for questions and even headed out of the marina with us for the first few hundred yards of our journey to help with any teething problems and offer tips.

On arrival back, the staff turned our boat round for us and moored it.

Trevor Basin

We collected our boat from Trevor Basin in north Wales. There is free parking at the boatyard and we were able to park right next to the barge, which was great for loading and unloading.

Conclusion

A great space for children with everything you could need.

This was a Drifters holiday, for more information go to www.drifters.co.uk.

RELATED CONTENT: Our 10 top tips for taking children on a canal boat holiday

RELATED CONTENT: Canal boat family holiday review – we take our children on a 67 foot barge

RELATED CONTENT: Canal boat holiday guide for beginners – EVERYTHING you need to know

RELATED CONTENT: Top 10 canal boat family holiday destinations in England and Wales

*We were given a complimentary break, all views are our own.

Leading family holiday company expands across Europe with four new resorts

Leading family holiday company expands across Europe with four new resorts

Al Fresco Holidays launches in four new resorts for 2020

A leading family holiday company has added four new resorts across Europe for 2020

Al Fresco Holidays will now operate mobile homes in six countries after launching in holiday parks in Croatia, France and Italy.

Among the new options are Brioni Sunny Camping in Croatia, Le Soleil de la Mediterannee and Camping Club Le Napoleon in France as well as Montescudaio Camping Village in Tuscany.

The new Croatian park is near a shingle beach, overlooking the Brijuni archipelago – a National Park consisting of 14 islands. It is near the historic city of Pula.

Brioni Sunny Camping in Croatia

Brioni Sunny Camping in Croatia

The new French sites include Le Soleil de la Mediterranee in the Roussillon region, which boasts a large waterpark featuring a lagoon, lazy river and two giant waterslides.

Camping Club Le Napoleon, in the Languedoc in southern France, is a family-focussed site with a waterpark, games room, a sauna, massage services and  onsite beautician.

Camping Club Le Napoleon in southern France

Camping Club Le Napoleon in southern France

In Italy, Montescudaio Camping Village is a large holiday park situated in the Tuscan countryside. It has a pool side restaurant, takeaway, and onsite bar.

Montescudaio Camping Village in Tuscany, Italy

Montescudaio Camping Village in Tuscany, Italy

Some of Al Fresco’s existing parks have been upgraded for the new season with new waterslides at Duinrell in the Netherlands, which we reviewed here, and a new waterpark at Marina D’Erba Rossa in Corsica, which we visited here.

There will be new mobile homes at certain parks with the newly designed three-bedroom Da Vinci Lounge and the Toscanini Lounge which has an open plan kitchen.

The following campsites across Europe will have new mobile homes: Zaton Holiday Resort in Croatia, the beachsidePra Delle Torri park in Italy, the five-star Marina Di Venezia and Bella Italia on the shores of Lake Garda, which we reviewed here.

Most parks open between April and October next year, for exact opening times visit the Al Fresco website here.

Al Fresco Holidays is currently one of the market leaders in European mobile home holidays.

The company has over 70 locations across France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Holland and Austria.

Many have indoor and outdoor pool complexes, entertainment, organised activities, children’s clubs and eateries.

Park sizes vary hugely but all offer the essentials like on-site shops, bakeries, take-aways and laundry facilities.

*Main pic: Children’s pool at Montescudaio Camping Village in Tuscany.