Julie Vuong

Back to Inspirations
It can be a daunting prospect when you're standing at the top end of the school summer holidays with weeks to fill. But before you farm the children out to summer clubs, or archive as many episodes of Peppa Pig as your hard drive can handle, consider a holiday on home soil that takes care of all your family's needs. 

You may wonder what establishment could possibly meet your list of endless demands, but luckily there are many stepping up to the plate. Now, across the board, hotels are positioning themselves as baby-friendly boltholes and fuss-free family escapes. So, whether it's hosting messy play while you kick back in the steam room, offering babysitting services so you can tuck into a rare dinner together, or drumming up ideas that the whole family can enjoy – the school holidays needn't be a slog. 

Plus, if the sheer complexity of hauling everything but the kitchen sink onto a plane fills you with dread, a break right here in Britain is just the ticket.

If you prefer the spoils of the city over the country, then pack your bags for the bustling streets of Bristol. At Berkeley Square House, a boutique Georgian townhouse, expect period-style splendour within touching distance of some of the city's main cultural attractions. Take respite from pounding the pavements in one of the contemporary rooms, tastefully decorated in cool muted tones, which come complete with crisp white sheets and a complimentary decanter of Bristol's finest Cream Sherry. Add extra beds or cots to your suite, and ask about a room with views of Cabot Tower.

While Berkeley Square House sounds like it's just for well-heeled big folk (it runs an exclusive private members club and has a reputation for hosting some of the city's best art exhibitions) it's proudly family-friendly too. Don't be afraid to roll up to their flashy doors with the children's favourite stuffed toys and the family dog.

For a day out, take a short walk to the city's Museum & Art Gallery and spark their imaginations, or soak up the stunning views at the top of Brandon Hill. It's also an ideal base to explore the genteel area of Clifton with its pick of boutique shops and independent eateries.

If you're happy to drain the kids' piggy banks to avoid skimping on luxury, then head to this five-star country house in the New Forest. “Fun for all”: that's the motto at Chewton Glen, and they've come good on this promise. The Deluxe Rooms are made for sprawling families, and if you're feeling extra fancy book a treehouse suite where the little ones are spoiled rotten – they even get their own mini-bathrobes and slippers.

During the summer holidays, Chewton Glen runs the Beehive Club every weekend. It's a wooded fantasy-like den on their magnificent grounds, where children get to embark on treasure hunts, paint their next masterpiece or hunker down in the reading nook, which looks out on a 360°balcony. It's all supervised fun, both mornings and afternoons. There are also kids cookery classes by celebrity chef James Martin – but be quick, places go like hotcakes.

There's plenty for adults to enjoy, too. Plates of delicious homegrown food are made with produce from the estate, and a luxury spa awaits to ease your tired limbs and minds. And family fun and games? Grab a mallet (there are mini ones for the children) and partake in a croquet session or a round of golf on the putting green. Animal lovers may like to hitch a pony ride and explore the 130-acre grounds. If that doesn't satisfy the most demanding tykes, then don't fear! Peppa Pig World is just a short drive away.

Unsure of where to spend the summer? If in doubt, break for the Borders and while away the long days on the banks of the River Tweed at Ednam House Hotel. A historical property, it's got showy ornate Italianate plasterwork ceilings and lovingly preserved stone work fireplaces from the 1700s. More importantly, there's a real Scottish welcome and laid-back approach children will love. Because it's family-run, Ednam knows exactly what you want when the kids are in tow: spacious rooms and suites, extensive grounds ripe for play, and cheery staff around every corner.

But perhaps it's their tremendous list of outdoor pursuits that will have the household ready to descend on this pretty river-side estate. It's prime salmon fishing in these parts and there are usually exclusive offers for keen anglers. It's a top choice for cyclists too thanks to the beauty of the Borders and Kelso on your doorstep – dubbed Scotland's most beautiful town. It's a scenic trip destined for the family album.

Nestled in Constable country, Milsoms in Dedham is a classy country house affair where the kids, thankfully, need not tip-toe around. While there aren't specific family rooms, extra beds are available to accommodate everyone comfortably, while the unstuffy service will have all the household feeling at home. The pooch is welcome too.

Test the resolve of picky eaters at Milsoms buzzy restaurant and their perfectly put-together menu for kids. They'll soon be tucking into plates of delicious grub while you enjoy your own leisurely meal.

While you're living your best life as lord and lady, mini royals can get on their bikes and hit the trails around the Suffolk-Essex border, or cruise down the River Stour in a canoe. There are plenty of events planned this summer at Milsoms, including lazy afternoon teas with live music and trips on the hotel's boat “Kathleen”.

Grab your bucket and spade and set sail for South Sands, a gorgeous New England style gem that boasts a rather rare USP here in Britain: a hotel slap bang on the sandy shore. Snap up one of the stylish self-catering beach suites, designed for families of up to six, and lap up tranquil sea views with all the home comforts at hand.

It's perfect for all the family – even your four-legged friends. Incidentally dogs of another kind – more accurately downward dogs – can be found on the beach outside during morning yoga, a gentle wake-up call if you've had a restless night's sleep.

South Sands, near Salcombe, makes full use of its proximity to the sea. One highlight is the restaurant terrace, which overlooks the beach. It's the ideal spot to sample the catch of the day while still keeping an eye on the kids and their sandcastle constructions. And when their small bellies need filling, the food menu offers enough options to cater to the fussiest of taste buds.

What's more, there's no need for a car. Take a hike or easy amble along the South West Coastal Path, or nip next door to the Sailing Club and take your little adventurers out on the salty sea.

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