Taking baby for a first trip away from home is a daunting prospect for many. Most hotels that parents visit in the years before the arrival of the newest member of the family seem, on reflection, to be highly unsuitable.
Suddenly, the balcony wall seems far too low and the hotel pool seems to be a potential death trap rather than somewhere to laze on a sunbed sipping a cocktail.
There are also enormous practical challenges. Taking all the equipment that a new baby needs, such as a travel cot, formula and bottle steriliser and nappies, is a logistical exercise that might give the armed forces pause.
Other things that have never bothered you before as a childless adult are suddenly an issue. Breakfast only starts at 8.30am? That’s fine if you are not getting up until after that but if your baby has been screaming since 4am, you want somewhere where you can get a cup of coffee and a slice of toast before what feels like the middle of the day according to your new baby-friendly body clock.
Yet there is help at hand: baby-friendly hotels. As the father of three kids in a family that has travelled extensively ever since day one, here are some of my favourites:
Chia Laguna, Sardinia
The island of Sardinia is a perfect spot for babies – it has a great climate and it’s a cliché to say but the locals love kids.
Chia Laguna has a number of baby-friendly resorts on the island and babies up to two years old stay free of charge. They also provide free welcome kits including the use of a stroller, an in-room changing table, baby bath and bottle warmers.
Almyra, Paphos, Cyprus
This hotel on the coast is just a short transfer from Paphos airport and is well set up for families with babies. Its Baby Go Lightly services means you can pre-order necessary baby equipment so you don’t need to carry it in your luggage.
The hotel has a heated and shaded splash pool and there is a creche (staffed by fully accredited and trained childminders) which accepts babies from four months old. Babysitters are available too for a bit of me time.
IKOS Dassia, Corfu
IKOS is well known for its family-friendly all inclusives (such as the IKOS Olivia in Halkidiki – http://www.totstoo.com/toddlers/ikos-olivia/) and in May 2018 opens a new resort in Corfu, just 20 minutes from Corfu Town.
The hotel can provide baby equipment on request and offers babysitting from €10 per hour. It also has extensive creche and facilities run by the OFSTED-approved Worldwide Kids Company. There is a separate kids pool plus a paddling pool for toddlers.
Sands Resort, Cornwall
The Sands Hotel in Porth, near Newquay is one of the UK’s best family friendly hotels. It has a plethora of baby-friendly features, including spacious family rooms with separate sleeping areas that allow you to watch TV without waking up your little one. The suites also have fridges, baby listening devices and DVD players. Pram hire and the use of bottle warmers and sterilisers is free of charge.
When it comes to eating, you can join an early kids’ tea and then eat later yourself by taking advantage of the hotel’s free baby listening service. The restaurant also offers a wide range of baby jars or they can purée any dish from the dinner menu for older babies.
The Merton Hotel, Jersey
Jersey’s sunny climate is a great place for a first plane trip with baby. The Merton Hotel in St Saviour is a top spot for families thanks to its extensive leisure facilities that include the Aquadome subtropical water park. The hotel has dedicated family suites and most rooms can take costs.
There are baby listening facilities in every room and the hotel can organise approved and checked babysitters. All of the food outlets have high chairs and heating of baby foods and milk is always available.
Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes
Mark Warner’s purpose-built Levante Beach Resort in Rhodes is a great first trip out of the UK with baby. The resort has a state of the art childcare centre with a chargeable Baby Club with a ratio of one nanny to two babies. Parents can use this as much or as little as they like. There is a free evening creche and childcare service for all ages of children.
The resort has a toddler and family pool as well as a playground and has won many awards over the years as a family-friendly holiday destination.
Caserio del Mirador, Costa Blanca
This farmhouse retreat on a Spanish hillside overlooking the Costa Blanca has many options for families to stay, ranging from apartments to an Airstream, all of which can be kitted out with a cot. Breakfast is brought to your room daily and you are catered for on five nights with baby monitors to keep an ear out for your newborn and the option to dine out (babysitting can be arranged) or self-cater on the other two nights. There are rabbits to pet, a sandpit, a heated swimming pool and toys and games.
Not a hotel but a company who knows all about organising holidays for families with young kids and as you can see from their About Us page they were tots once too. But seriously, this is a great company that knows a lot about taking babies away with you on that first trip. They recommend The Princesa Yaiza in Lanzarote for short flight times and dedicated family suites and The Martinhal Beach Resort in the Algarve for its top-notch creche facilities and self-catering villas.
Tell us your favourite baby-friendly hotels in the comments below!
What makes a hotel particularly baby-friendly?
Mark Frary is family travel editor of 101 Holidays (www.101holidays.co.uk)