6 top family-friendly stays
Smith & Family - a curated collection of child-friendly hotels and self-catering properties - picks the best hotels for a family holiday.
You know the drill: it's the long summer holidays, the kids are restless, you're exhausted, and you're all in need of some quality together-time.
Smith & Family travel expert Julia Andre sets out to round up the world's most stylish child-friendly getaways, where parents can be assured of a warm welcome for children without having to compromise on good looks or great quality.
Constance Halaveli: Maldives
Move over, honeymooners: the Maldives' white-sand beaches, warm lagoons and made-for-holidays climate is perfect for families. Constance Halaveli is a real tonic for frazzled parents with energetic kids in tow; it's one of the Maldives' most laid-back, friendly resorts, with an easy 25-minute transfer by seaplane from Male's main airport.
Julia says: "As well as pristine private beaches and swimming pools, there are eight huge Family Villas pre-stocked with helpful kits for little ones, including sterilisers, cots and pushchairs, as well as a separate children's bedroom with bunk beds. Summer does bring the odd rainy day, but you'd be unlucky to get two in a row - especially on islands in the North Male Atoll - and you'll get great value for money at this time of year."
If you book through Smith & Family: A bottle of wine, a fruit basket and a cookery class for little Smiths aged 3-12. GoldSmiths also get a bottle of champagne.
The Nam Hai: Hoi An, Vietnam
Set on Vietnam's iconic China Beach, and perfectly placed for easy-going adventures, the Nam Hai is more than just a fly-and-flop resort. Cycle into the pretty UNESCO heritage town of Hoi An, snorkel off the Cham Islands, or float up the river delta in a traditional reed boat. When you've had your fill of local culture, head for the soft-sand seaside back at the hotel or pick yourself a pool to flop by: one welcomes children all day long, a lap pool caters to dedicated swimmers, and there's a tranquil infinity pool for adults-only lazing.
Julia says: "Take advantage of the fantastic daily free kids' club to carve out some grown-up time. In a dedicated activity villa, trained staff keep juniors aged 4-12 entertained with traditional crafts, games, and foraging trips to the organic herb garden. Adult distractions come in the form of a show-stopping spa with overwater treatment rooms, mouth-watering Vietnamese cuisine, and serene, spacious pool villas."
If you book through Smith & Family: A private lantern-making class for the family, cookies and milk for the kids on arrival day, and a bottle of sparkling wine for the grown-ups.
No 5 Maddox Street: London, UK
London is an incredibly child-friendly destination, with plenty of lush parks, palaces, museums and fun for all the family. Take in the sights along the river from the South Bank, find vintage souvenirs in Portobello or spend the day at the London Zoo. No 5 Maddox Street is the perfect base for a week of city exploration: its family-friendly two- and three-bedroom suites offer luxury hotel panache with self-catering flexibility. Step outside and the West End is on your doorstep.
Julia says: "Hip and hi-tech, these studios may only be a skip from hip Soho, but they're surprisingly tranquil. Fully equipped kitchens, room-service breakfasts, daily housekeeping and easy-to-arrange babysitting simplify family stays. Extend your holiday with a rural retreat: tack on a few days in a Cotswolds country house, on the Cornish coast, or perhaps in a luxe treehouse in the New Forest for a memorable family vacation."
If you book through Smith & Family: A Geodesis scented candle and a £10 gift voucher for Hamleys Toy Shop.
Karma Kandara: Bali, Indonesia
On Bali's southern Bukit Peninsula, Karma Kandara offers a refreshingly unpretentious slice of luxury, with heart-pumping activities and peaceful relaxation available in equal measure. This mini "village" sprawls along an ocean-view cliff backed with tropical jungle and split by a ravine; spacious pool villas, free kids' club and a private beach with a hip bar up the ante.
Julia says: "The rugged setting makes this a trickier option with toddlers, but for older kids, there's amazing snorkelling to be done in the lagoon just off the private beach, and kayaks to borrow for gentle offshore pottering. All manner of outings and activities can be arranged, from diving excursions by catamaran to a morning of browsing the fish market before cooking your own Balinese feast."
If you book through Smith & Family: A mocktail-making class with the resident mixologist for Smith junior(s).
Mandarin Oriental Barcelona: Barcelona, Spain
It's not often you can book a city break and be sure of a decent hit of culture and sunshine, but Barcelona in the summer delivers both. The Michelin-star restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona makes it fabulous for foodie parents, there's a decent children's menu at Blanc bistro, and the spa is renowned for the quality of its treatments. A small but stylish rooftop pool rounds things off nicely.
Julia says: "Barcelona is another European city that works well as a springboard for family trips: its colourful parks, hilltop funfair, cable cars, easy-to-reach beaches and tapas restaurants are naturally child-friendly. Lap up Barcelona's buzzing street life en famille and then head south to the beach resorts of Alicante or Andalusia."
If you book through Smith & Family: A glass of cava each in Banker's Bar; extra beds for under-12s are free in parents' rooms.
Nihiwatu: Sumba, Indonesia
For a glimpse of remote lost-world landscapes, beat a path to Nihiwatu, an eco-friendly family retreat where days are spent enjoying the great outdoors in all its splendour. Set off on horseback from the equestrian centre or have a horse-whispering lesson at the stables, book in for hilltop yoga, stroll along 2.5km of private beach, relax by your private pool or arrange a treehouse barbecue.
Julia says: "The swell season is at its height in the summer, making Sumba's surf perfect for beginners and daredevils alike. Close to the kids' activity space Menara, and with easy access to the beach, the two-bedroom Pantai Villas are the best for families, especially those with energetic older kids."
If you book through Smith & Family: A family outing by open-top jeep to swim at Lapopu waterfall.
Smith & Family - the stylish family hotel collection - offers 24/7 travel support, a price-match guarantee and free extras on arrival when you book. Each property in its hand-picked portfolio is visited and approved by parents. For more information, or to book any of these hotels, visit smithandfamily.com.
This article was first published in Singapore Airlines’ travel magazine, SilverKris. Go to silverkris.com for more travel stories.