Pickwell Manor, Devon
This collection of 10 self-catering apartments (each sleeps between two and eight) is owned by two families, and their first-hand knowledge of what travellers with young children need really shows. Never mind accommodation that comes with trundle beds, there are also washing machines, Pacapod baby changers and Bananagrams. Happy children make for happy holidays and – with everything from a woodland trail, treasure hunt and camp-building kits to a games room, Wendy house, tennis court and sandpit on site – there’s a good chance of that here. Craft and fitness activities run in the school holidays and if all that fails to keep the children entertained, it’s a five-minute drive or 20-minute walk to Putsborough beach.
• Two-bedroom apartments (sleep 4 + 2) from £665 a week over May half-term or £805 over the summer holidays. Short breaks occasionally possible – check the website, pickwellmanor.co.uk
Loch Ken Eco Bothies, Dumfries and Galloway
Timber cottages that come with their own hot tubs and sit-on kayaks, these boxy escapes are a good compromise if you have older children and want to be able to dip into organised activities but don’t want the full Hi-de-Hi! holiday-park experience. Though you can rent the bothies simply as self-catering accommodation, the fact they’re set within the Galloway Activity Centre means there are lots of add-on pursuits available: from sailing, windsurfing and climbing to zip wires, mountain biking and star-gazing. Younger children will enjoy a trip to nearby Cream O’Galloway, with its indoor and outdoor play areas, nature trails and farm-made ice-cream.
• Red Squirrel bothy (sleeps 4) from £350 for three nights over May half-term, Red Kite bothy (sleeps 6) from £730 a week over the summer holidays, 01556 502011, lochkenecobothies.co.uk
Stackpole Estate, Pembrokeshire
The National Trust caters well for families in search of a day out, with accessible open space, imaginative outdoor play areas and child-friendly toilets and tearooms almost always on hand. Book one of the 14 self-catering cottages (each sleeps between four and nine) on the charity’s Stackpole Estate and you’ll easily find enough to do to warrant a whole week as its guests. Add-on activities at the site’s outdoor learning centre range from coasteering, kayaking and geocaching to bushcraft, fishing and surf camps, with tailored family activities on offer during school holidays. Access to the estate itself is free, with spectacular beaches and Bosherston’s vast lily ponds to explore.
• Three-bedroom cottages from £439 a week over May half-term or £650 a week over the summer holidays, 01646 661359, nationaltrust.org.uk
Stonelands Cottages, Yorkshire Dales
This collection of eight comfortable country-style cottages (think pine kitchens and floral curtains) is in the centre of the Yorkshire Dales, with good access to gentle walks and picnic spots, as well as family-friendly attractions such as Aysgarth Falls and Bolton Abbey. On site there’s a small indoor swimming pool, an adventure playground and a football pitch, while 10 minutes’ walk away is the Queens Arms, a quintessential country pub, plying a popular line in posh pub grub, local ales and takeaway fish and chips.
• Two-bedroom cottages (sleep 4) from £805 a week over May half-term or £855 a week over the summer holidays, 01756 770293, stonelandscottages.co.uk
YHA London Lee Valley, Hertfordshire
This is a youth hostel but probably not as you imagine it. Rather than one building the accommodation is split between five large lodges, with a reception area, games room, library, laundry, cafe and restaurant in a separate building. Each lodge has a mix of bedrooms, from eight-bed dorms to private, en suite doubles and twins, plus a small, shared lounge and kitchenette. Part of the River Lee country park, with walking, cycling, canoeing and a farm on site, the legacy of London’s 2012 Olympics means there’s also the Lee Valley White Water Centre to tap into. And, being 20 minutes by train from central London, it’s easy to dip in and out of sightseeing in the capital.
• Family rooms with four beds cost £110 a night over both May half-term and the summer holidays, 0845 3719057, yha.org.uk
Morton of Pitmilly, Fife
A mix of 16 cottages sleeping between two and eight, this family-friendly resort is on a 150-acre farm on the coast outside St Andrews. When the rain falls, an indoor pool, tennis courts and games room will keep everyone busy (for parents there’s also a range of spa treatments and a gym). On sunny days, there’s a putting green, children’s play area and football pitch to tire out small legs, as well as numerous nature trails and farm paths. Further afield, the pretty fishing villages of the East Neuk, and the beaches that fringe them, make popular day trips. Not least when followed up with fish and chips at the village of Anstruther’s famous fish bar.
• Two-bedroom cottages (sleep 4) from £490 for four nights over May half-term or £1,005 over the summer holidays, 01334 880466, pitmilly.co.uk
Fenton Hill Farm Cottages, Northumberland
There is a grassy play area/football pitch for children to run around on, a large trampoline to share, and small animals to pet – from pygmy goats to kunekune pigs – so what’s not to enjoy here? As recipes for a classic family holiday go, this collection of five traditional cottages (each sleeps between four and six) near Wooler, just inland from the Northumberland coast, comes pretty close. For day trips, Lindisfarne, Alnwick Castle and Garden and Northumberland national park are all close by. And if you’re too tired to cook, the owner’s daughter, Jenny, can deliver homemade meals to your cottage.
• Two-bedroom cottages (sleep 4) from £530 a week over both May half-term or the summer holidays, 01668 216228, fentonhillfarm.co.uk
Sandybrook Country Park, Derbyshire
At the southern edge of the Peak District, in what were once the grounds of a 19th-century manor house, this large site is one of two in Derbyshire under the same management. You’ll find 52 self-catering lodges – some of which have hot tubs – and it’s close to the pretty town of Ashbourne and within 40 minutes’ drive of Alton Towers, Chatsworth farmyard and adventure playground and Carsington Water, with its watersports centre. Many guests don’t get beyond the park gates, though, with an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor play areas, restaurant and organised craft and sports activities for children.
• Two-bedroom lodges (sleep 4) from £945 a week over May half-term or from £979 a week over the summer holidays, 01335 300000, sandybrook.co.uk
Weybourne Holiday Cottages, north Norfolk
These 17 pretty, brick and flint cottages are within the Norfolk coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with numerous coastal paths, bike paths and beaches on the doorstep, as well as the North Norfolk Railway. For most guests those are slightly less important than the extensive on-site facilities, though. These range from an indoor swimming pool and games room to a large outdoor playground and play house and, for adults, a small gym and beauty room. The pretty market town of Holt, with its independent shops, galleries and cafes, is three miles away and the National Trust’s Felbrigg Hall is 20 minutes’ drive away.
• Two-bedroom cottages (sleep 4) from £465 for three nights over May half-term or £1,060 a week over the summer holidays, 01263 588334, weybourne-holiday-cottages.co.uk
East Thorne Yurts, Cornwall
There are 10 stylish yurts and four self-catering cottages (each sleeping four to six) on this site outside Bude on Cornwall’s north coast. All share access to a games room, communal campfire and adventure playground, as well as a communal garden planted with herbs to pick. While the yurts have wood-burning stoves, private sheltered outdoor kitchens and shared bathroom facilities, cottages are all en suite, with recently renovated kitchens and bathrooms. Cots and highchairs can be borrowed for either accommodation and the owners will happily arrange anything from a surfing lesson to deliveries from the local farm shop.
• Yurts from £360 for three nights over May half-term or £660 a week in the summer holidays. Cottages from £377 for three nights over May half-term or from £699 a week over the summer holidays, 01288 321085, east-thornecornwall.co.uk
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