When it comes to family travel, we have been lucky enough to visit and stay at some amazing places.
Coming up with holiday ideas is not always easy but, when you get it right, it’s really satisfying – especially if you put in a lot of time and effort to make the perfect plans and find the best prices.
Planning family travel can be a bit of a minefield because there’s just so much choice out there – but it’s a challenge worth embracing. Whether it’s close to home or thousands of miles away, on a tight budget or the height of luxury, the important thing is the chance to spend time together with your loved ones, creating memories that will last you a lifetime.
We’ve had the privilege to venture to enjoy family travel in all sorts of forms, form camping in wind and rainswept fields of North Yorkshire, to sharing a hotel with African royalty in Morocco.
We’ve written about them all on this site but, in no particular order, here’s our highlights reel so far. Hopefully, our best family travel experiences will spark some holiday inspiration for you and yours.
Our best family travel experiences
Royal Mansour, Marrakech
This was a short but unforgettable stay in a simply stunning hotel. Actually, “hotel” is not really an apt description.
The ‘rooms’ are in fact houses – riads – set out over several floors, with luxury at every turn. Ours had a private pool on the roof-top terrace as well as fountain in the centre of our own courtyard.
You can imagine the calibre of guests the Royal Mansour attracts – Moroccan royalty are regulars and former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba had checked out shortly before we arrived – but this was among the most family-friendly experiences you could hope for.
Kasper was treated like a prince and included in every activity and conversation.
The Royal Mansour was in the BBC’s Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby and has been improved further since our visit in 2016. If you get the chance, go.
Read our full review: Family-friendly hotel in Marrakech
Thornwick Bay, Flamborough, East Yorkshire
Family travel can, of course, be very expensive but it doesn’t have to cost the earth to spend quality time together.
We baulked at the prospect of camping for years but, since buying our first tent in 2014 and taking the plunge, we are now converts. Obviously, good weather helps but, unless it’s really bad, it doesn’t have to make or break your trip.
That’s particularly true if you choose a site such as Thornwick Bay, or Primrose Valley, where there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. Run by Haven, both have been recently updated and is a smart site with lots to keep the whole family busy.
Visitors can camp or choose to stay in a static home. There’s a great pool with slides and activities such as fencing, fire-making and Segway-riding. It’s a bit like a scaled-down version of Center Parcs. And it’s certainly cheaper.
Read our full review: Best campsite for families
Hilton Vilamoura, Portugal
We’ve always had good experiences at Hilton Hotels and Vilamoura As Cascatas was no exception.
It’s in a lovely quiet setting. The downside to that is there’s not much to do within walking distance (there’s a free shuttle bus to Vilamoura marina and the beach) but, that said, there’s little reason to leave the resort.
As well as several pools and a kids’ play area, a gym and a choice of restaurants. If you want to venture out, the bus to the marina takes about 10 minutes and, there, you’ll have a wide choice of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets.
If you’re feeling flush, there’s Willie’s – a brilliant Michelin-starred restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. It’s more expensive than most of the side but it’s really worth visiting, especially if you have something to celebrate.
Read our full review: Best family hotel in Vilamoura
Now this is an amazing day out. Sorry, we’ll leave the puns to them because there’s a lot to enjoy, if puns are your thing.
If wordplay doesn’t do it for you, there’s plenty more to like about York Maze.
It’s a quirky, fun and affordable attraction that boasts enough to keep your family busy for a full day.
The giant maize maze is the focal point but there’s also loads more to explore, including a maze of illusions, a mineshaft maze, obstacle courses and the York Maze Pig Race, which steals the show.
Read our full review: Family day out in York ideas
Tschuggen Grand Hotel, Arosa, Switzerland
The Swiss Alps in summer might not sound the best family travel idea you’ve ever heard but hear us out.
The Tschuggen Grand Hotel overlooks the picturesque settlement of Arosa and both the hotel and the village are worth the effort of getting to – at any time of year.
The Tschuggen is a luxurious and elegant hotel that prides itself on having one of the world’s leading “wellness areas”. And rightly so – the pool and spa are incredible.
There’s opulence in every detail, from the furnishings to the food (one of the restaurants has a Michelin star) and there’s a private mountain train to help you climb even higher.
The Tschuggen is popular with affluent skiers in the winter but there’s also reason to visit in the summer. For a start, rates are lower but also because Arosa and the surrounding mountains are a haven for families who enjoy being active.
Perfect if you’re up for hiking in the mountains, followed by a relaxing session in the spa.
Read our full review: Best hotel in Swiss Alps for families
Good old Blackpool. Like many UK seaside towns, it’s had its ups and downs but the Lancashire resort is still a hotbed of tourists looking for a day or two of escapism.
The fact it’s as popular with stag and hen parties as it is with family holidays is off-putting for many but, in the past couple of years, a lot of hard work has gone into making Blackpool a more wholesome and appealing family travel destination.
Attractions such as Blackpool Tower and Madame Tussauds have been modernised and revamped, while the opening of a succession of more upmarket restaurants and bars have served to improve the image of the Golden Mile.
Our stay was in the Hotel Sheraton. It’s undergone some modernisation but still has a traditional Blackpool feel and, with evening activities such as bingo and cabaret, is popular with grandparents and grandkids alike.
Read our full review: Best things to do in Blackpool for families
Brown’s Hotel, Mayfair, London
Another high-end hotel that’s – perhaps surprisingly given it’s swanky location – brilliant for families. Brown’s is owned by Rocco Forte, a family-owned group that prides itself on welcoming to parents and their children. At Brown’s, kids are even invited to try out the spa.
Brown’s is in a great location, a short walk from the Royal Academy of arts, Fortnum & Mason and The Ritz. If shopping’s your bag, some of the most glamorous names in retail, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Cartier, are just around the corner.
We stayed in a signature suite – the Albermarle – which had been specially prepared for our son, who was two when we visited.
There he found toys, a balloon and a teddy bear. When we returned to our suite in the evening, there warm milk and cookies as a treat before bed.
Read our full review: A great hotel for families in London
With family in County Durham, we’re regular visitors to the North East and we’ve fallen in love with its charms.
Northumberland boasts beautiful coastlines, historic places of interest and great places to eat and drink.
Pick a good spot and you’ll find a host of great family days out within reasonable driving distance – and most of them won’t break the bank.
Recommended places to visit include Beamish Museum, Alnwick Garden Woodhorn Museum, Druridge Bay, Corbridge Roman ruins and, of course, Newcastle itself.
Read our full review: Family days out in Northumberland
Gale, Algarve, Portugal
Portugal’s Algarve boasts so many great family-friendly resorts and options and it’s certainly one of our favourite regions to return to.
The likes of Vilamoura, Vale do Lobo and Albufeira are well know, but Gale is certainly worth considering.
The villa we chose was a 10-minute walk to beaches with bars and restaurants and a supermarket, giving us the choice between eating out or cooking for ourselves.
It was also less than five minutes to one of the best restaurants we’ve ever been to – the two Michelin-star Vila Joya.
Read our full review: Best Algarve resort for families
Sign up for our newsletter – get alerts and offers in your inbox