My four favourite boutique hotels for families are all different, but it’s the things they have in common that makes them stand out. They are all relatively small, they’ve got bags of style, they’re in a great location and the service is fantastic.
At every one of these hotels they’ll go out of their way to make you and your family feel really special. They are the sort of places where you could happily hang out if you decided to spend a lazy day without going anywhere. The sort of place you don’t want to leave at the end of your stay.
Villa Kynthia in Crete
This is the hotel I always recommend to friends looking for a great little place beside the sea. The five rooms are clustered around a pretty courtyard with steps leading up to a small swimming pool and sun loungers.
The rooms are all different but equally gorgeous. Some have antiques and four-poster beds, others have terraces or Chinese screens. The breakfasts are delicious: home-made cheese pies, cakes, pastries and fruit; and the courtyard is a lovely spot for an after-dinner drink.
Villa Kynthia attracts an interesting mix of couples and families. When we stayed, our fellow guests were musicians, writers and academics from Denmark, Sweden, Canada and the UK. Korinna, the owner, and her staff couldn’t be more friendly and helpful.
I’m a big fan of the Greek Islands and Crete is no exception. Villa Kynthia is in the village of Panormos which is pretty much my ideal Greek village: small, with a harbour, two beaches and lots of excellent tavernas all within a few minutes from the villa.
Best Things to Do: This is a great base to explore more of Crete and you can travel around easily by bus. The Venetian City of Rethymnon isn’t far. You shouldn’t miss the home of the minotaur, the Minoan Palace at Knossos; and the White Mountains are perfect for hiking.
Best Rooms for Families: Sofa beds can be put up in most of the rooms. We booked Rea, which has two single beds in an adjoining room which gave the boys their own space. It’s also the only room with a kitchenette so some days we could make our own meals and save money by not going out to eat.
The Downside: The bathrooms are very small and need updating.
A night with b&b at Villa Kynthia http://www.villakynthia.gr costs from €155 for a family of three. The largest rooms cost from €188.
Belmond Jimbaran Puri in Bali
One of the best family holidays we ever had was here, at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri. Part of that was because Bali is such a magical place to visit. The Balinese people are unfailingly delightful and will make your children feel like gods, the food is divine and the scenery absolutely stunning: lush rainforests, emerald green rice terraces and white sands fringed with palm trees.
But part of it was that this hotel was so wonderful. The rooms are to-die-for, with large terraces overlooking the sea, teak furnishings and sunken baths. There’s a large swimming pool and the most fantastic beach. Then there’s the great little cocktail bar with delicious smoothies for children and open-air terraces for massages.
The food is fabulous too: a buffet breakfast and pancake bar overlooking the waterlily pond and two restaurants, one serving fresh fish with Indonesian spices by candlelight on the beach.
Best Things to Do: Take an early morning tour of the fish market. Watching the fishing boats coming in is an amazing experience. You can also visit a Balinese temple and families can take dancing and cooking classes.
Best Rooms for Families: All of the rooms can take extra beds. Our ‘luxury cottage’ was big enough for the four of us. If you want more privacy, book one of the two-bedroom cottages which have a second bedroom upstairs and a private plunge pool.
The Downside: This amount of luxury comes at a price and it costs a lot for a family of four to fly this far from the UK. That said, the prices are reasonable compared to equivalent hotels in other parts of the world.
A night in a garden view cottage suite at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri 0845 077 2222; http://www.belmond.com costs from £240 for b&b.
4 Reasons in Turkey
This was the hotel we stayed at this summer and it was exactly what we were looking for. The 20 stylish rooms were all in bougainvillea-covered houses. There was a good swimming pool which never got too busy, a library, pool table and lots of relaxing areas dotted around the garden and pool area, with loads of space for the boys to play in – including, to their delight, a boules pitch.
We all loved the bar and the boys soon made friends with Bilal the barman who taught them magic tricks and how to make the perfect non-alcoholic cocktail. Breakfast was a feast of pastries, cheeses and home-made omelettes.
The hotel is only a 15-minute walk from the fishing village of Yalikavak on the Bodrum Peninsula with its beaches and tavernas but the hotel’s restaurant was also a great option for lunch, or dinner, watching the sun set over the bay while eating the delicious salads, fresh fish, mezze and traditional Turkish dishes.
Best Things to Do: Admire the super yachts in Yalikavak’s swanky new marina, have a Turkish Bath and spend a day on a gulet cruise. It’s not far to Bodrum with its excellent castle and bargain clothes and handbags. It’s well worth making the 2½ hour trip to the ancient city of Ephesus.
Best Rooms for Families: Junior Suites have enough space for a family of three. We stayed in the Functional Room, which had two bedrooms AND two bathrooms. Pay in cash for 15 % off the cost of the room.
The Downside: Although the hotel is incredibly peaceful, this part of Turkey is more built up than similar places I’ve been to in Greece. I’d have loved to have had a kettle in the room for making cups of tea.
A night in a Junior Suite at 4 Reasons http://www.4reasonshotel.com costs from €165 for b&b. Functional Rooms costs from €180.
Pousada Picinguaba in Brazil
This is the hotel I wrote about last week. The hotel that made me believe it was possible to find a gorgeous boutique hotel that was perfect for both adults and children.
The Pousada is hidden away in a tiny fishing village half way between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The setting is idyllic: a tropical rainforest with glorious beaches on your doorstep and hummingbirds in the garden.
The colonial-style pousada has 10 simply-decorated rooms and a three-bedroom villa. There is a lovely swimming pool, a garden, library and sitting room, where guests gather for drinks before dinner. The food is great: homemade cakes, tropical fruits and cheese rolls for breakfast; and superb Brazilian cuisine with lots of fresh fish for dinner, all included in the price of your room.
Best Things to Do: Watch the fishermen hauling in their catch on the beach, a two-minute walk away. Ten minutes further, you’ll reach a stunning deserted beach. Take a boat trip to secluded islands on the hotel’s schooner. Adventurous kids will love the jungle hikes into the rainforest where you can swim under the waterfalls. The town of Paraty is very close and utterly delightful: all cobbled streets, quirky bars and colonial houses.
Best Rooms for Families: A few of the standard rooms have an extra bed for a child but there’s much more space in the lovely Honeymoon Suite. The three-bedroom villa also has a small kitchen.
The Downside: Getting there – it’s a four-hour drive from the airport.
A night in a standard room at Pousada Picinguaba http://www.picinguaba.com costs from 1,290 Brazilian Real for half board (about £211) plus 15 % taxes. The Suite costs from 1,650 Brazilian Real (about £269). Extra beds cost from 300 Brazilian Real (about £49).
I’m always on the look out for more amazing hotels to add to my list so do get in touch with your own favourites.
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