Smith & KidsStylish family travel: child-friendly hotels, family holiday tips and insider guides

Meet the parents: Mr & Mrs Smith

Posted by Madevi Dailly on July 24th, 2014

Remember long, romantic weekends à deux? James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy do. They were so fond of them, in fact, that they made a name for themselves finding idyllic boutique hotels as Mr & Mrs Smith. Since Tom (seven) and Alex (four) joined the clan, their holiday wish list has had a little tweak: good bye in-room bath tubs, hello kids club and miniature bathrobes. But travelling with nippers in tow needn’t mean giving up on style…

James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy with children Tom and Alex

How have your holidays changed since launching Mr & Mrs Smith?
When we started Smith we looked for the perfect boutique boltholes for romantic weekends away. Now that we have two children in tow, our needs as a family have evolved, but we still want stylish getaways with great food and service. Our kids’ needs have changed, too: a bottle warmer and space for a cot just aren’t enough for our over-active seven-year-old boy and our four-year-old daughter who’s trying to keep up!

Borgo Egnazia cookery class for the familyWhat do you look for in a great family hotel?
It has to be fun for the kids, of course, but it also has to work for the family as a whole: we both work, so holidays are a rare chance for us to spend time with our children – we don’t want to leave them in a kids club all day. We’re always on the lookout for interesting, exciting activities we can do as a family such as Arabic calligraphy or a pasta-making class in the morning (right, at Borgo Egnazia) and surfing in the afternoon. Once the kids are asleep, we want somewhere that feels a bit special for us, too: a quirky bar, an adults-only restaurant or a great spa tick all the right boxes.

How do you ensure quality couple time when on a family trip?
It’s important to book babysitting in advance and ask for an English-speaking nanny, as they can be hard to come by in high season. Take jet lag and local culture into account, too: you might have to go out a bit earlier or later than usual.

Any hilarious family-holiday moments you can share?
We bought a seven-seat car recently. We had a vision – we imagined our best friends and their kids hopping into our happy bus and joining us on merry jaunts to the countryside. This happened precisely once – one of Alex’s epic tantrums ensured our friends vowed to never climb aboard the ‘Torture Bus’ again.

Which are your favourite hotels for kid-friendly jaunts?
Soneva Kiri in Thailand was voted Best for Families in our Smith Hotel Awards last year. It has a wonderful kids club designed by children, which looks like a manta ray swimming through the treetops. Closer to home, Borgo Egnazia ticks all the boxes for families who want all the bells and whistles, with its four pools, two beach clubs and a knockout spa. But I also love Château les Merles: set in the family-pleasing Dordogne, it’s a stylish bolthole with plenty of space and games to keep the kids happy.

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HASSLE-FREE FAMILY TRAVEL: TAMARA’S TOP TIPS

 

Family travel tips: what to pack

Pack smart
We always bring a four-gang plug so we don’t fight over who gets to plug in their iPad, Trunki Paddle Paks and sticker books. Plus the inevitable wet wipes – no parent can be without them! When we’re off somewhere sunny, rash vests are a must: my little girl loves the bright, colourful ones by Rockley Cove and my son Tom like Sunuva’s shark one (we’re such fans we’ve talked them both into giving signed-up Smith members 10–25 per cent off).

Bottletop-AmarantaWatch the clock
Plan ahead and travel at a reasonable hour: avoid leaving really early in the morning (getting out of the house is never easy at the best of times ) and try to arrive at a sensible local hour so you’re not trying to get them the children in bed at 3am in your new time zone. And don’t book a hotel that’s not welcoming to families – you’ll be on edge the whole time.

I never fly without…
My weekend bag: my new favourite brand is Bottletop. I love their classic black tote (left), which fits everything. Snacks are also essential;  airplane food is rarely what the kids want to eat and having a secret stash of healthy snacks is great to distract them.

Need more travel inspiration? Browse our holiday snaps on Instagram or check out our favourite summer stays.



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From the blush-pink beaches of Bermuda to the rock pools of Cornwall, our latest pick of child-friendly hotels all have something for the little splashers in your life. This month, we’ve rounded up four retreats blessed with perfect pools and jolly good beaches, including a glamorous Beverly Hills palace and an idyllic stopover crash-pad in Singapore.   

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The Idle Rocks | Family-friendly hotel in Cornwall

QUINTESSENTIALLY CORNISH

The Idle Rocks Cornwall, United Kingdom

Just for them Tasty Kids’ high tea
Just for you In-room aromatherapy massages

A luxe take on nautical chic and rugged coastal backdrop make the Idle Rocks the perfect setting for a swashbuckling family adventure. Kayak up St Mawes’ creeks, grab lines and nets to catch lily-livered crabs in the beach’s rock pools or simply relax on the terrace with the Sunday papers. Make the most of the playroom, free baby-listening and handy iPad monitors on offer to sneak away and enjoy the hotel’s grown-up delights: sigh-inducing aromatic massages, adults-only dinners of fresh Cornish produce and tall glasses of Idle Mary, the hotel’s own take on the classic brunch tipple.

More about the Idle Rocks…

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Montage Beverly Hills | Los Angeles, US

PAMPERING PARADISE   

Montage Beverly Hills Los Angeles, USA

Just for them Wild West Wednesdays at the kids club
Just for you Rooftop pool with eye-candy views  

A prestigious Beverly Hills postcode and decadent spa don’t scream family-friendly hotel, but Montage Beverly Hills’ exclusive kids club Paintbox – staffed by former Disneyland employees – make it the perfect children’s playground. Lounge by the rooftop pool and drink in the views over LA and the Hollywood hills while the little ones splash gleefully in between sunscreen top-ups. While the tots enjoy dinner, a groovy movie and popcorn courtesy of Paintbox, parents can take advantage of Scarpetta’s farm-fresh Italian inspired cuisine on a grown-up date night.

More about Montage Beverly Hills…

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Rosewood Tucker's Point hotel | Bermuda

RELAXED ISLAND IDYLL

Rosewood Tucker’s Point, Bermuda

Just for them Mini manis and tween-tailored facials
Just for you Yoga and t’ai chi classes with a waterfall view

Set in 200 manicured acres lapped by crystalline seas, this Bermudan getaway promises plenty of island fun. The kids club’s activities, which range from golf clinics to cooking lessons and puppet-making, will appeal to little bundles of energy and more creatively inclined tots alike. Teenagers will love sipping on fruity mocktails and making friends around the infinity-edged Horizon Pool. Where does that leave parents? In the Bermuda Triangle, of course: a two-hour blissful spa treatment involving a massage, facial and shower therapy.

More about Rosewood Tucker’s Point…

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Capella Singapore family-friendly hotel

SERENE STOPOVER

Capella Singapore, Singapore

Just for them A hop, skip and a jump from Universal Studios
Just for you Delectable Far-Eastern cuisine

A lust-worthy destination in its own right, Capella Singapore’s location make it the perfect pit stop to rest travel-weary heads on their way to far-flung destinations. Rest and recover at the organic spa, lounger-lined swimming pool and East-meets-West restaurants. Kids are treated with all the honours, too: there’s a child-friendly menu and staff leave surprises such as soft toys, mini bathrobes and cookies.

More about Capella Singapore…

 Looking for other places to skim stones and catch the waves with your little Smiths? Browse through Smith & Family’s entire collection of child-friendly hotels within reach of a beach.

* Copy compiled by Laura Brassett

 



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Now we are 25: the original luxury family hotel comes of age…

Posted by Lucy Fennings on July 1st, 2014

Luxury Family Hotels | 25th birthday offersThey say time flies when you’re having fun… and at pioneering parents’ pad Woolley Grange, 25 years has flown past since the doors first opened at the Luxury Family Hotels flagship. Since then, they’ve rolled out their relaxed take on red-carpet treatment for children at some of Smith & Family’s best-loved family staycation spots from Wiltshire to the wild Cornish coast.

As if free baby-listening, dreamy Ofsted-rated childcare and better-than-home comforts weren’t enough of an enticement, they’re celebrating their big birthday with special rates and packages at Smith & Family-selected hotels. Here are our favourites: pick yours, book by 18 July (kids stay free!) and raise a toast…

UK family hotel offers | Woolley Grange, WiltshireWOOLLEY GRANGE
17th-century country living in Wiltshire
Get the picture? The story of Luxury Family Hotels began at Woolley Grange in 1989, when Nigel Chapman and his wife Heather turned their Jacobean manor home into a hotel. As they had three young children themselves, Nigel says it ‘seemed the most natural thing in the world to provide a safe and fun place for both our own and our guests’ children to spend time’. They’ve nailed the formula for family-friendly fun, with hallmark perks including a great crèche, a flexible and easy-going restaurant, and failsafe baby-listening that lets the grown-ups enjoy evenings alone.
Get a bargain Browse all Woolley Grange hotel offers

UK family hotel offers | The Ickworth, SuffolkTHE ICKWORTH
Georgian stately home-from-home in Suffolk
Get the picture? Indoor pool, walled gardens, National Trust good looks… Beautifully foxed, feel-good and family-friendly, the Ickworth is the ultimate child-friendly country-estate hotel. Days are filled with fresh-air fun as you explore forest, fields and formal lawns on the 1,800-acre estate; later you can relax guilt-free with dinner in Fredrick’s while the kids snooze safely upstairs. In the grounds, Ickworth also has a converted farmhouse lodge with family apartments, perfect for longer breaks.
Get a bargain  Browse all Ickworth hotel offers

UK family hotel offers | Cornwall's Polurrian Bay HotelPOLURRIAN BAY HOTEL
Seaside simplicity on Cornwall’s scenic cliffs
Get the picture? Gazing seawards from a cliff-top perch, and with 12 acres of verdant grounds to explore, this is truly somewhere to get away from it all. Inside is as stylish as the surrounds are spacious: there are cosy checked blankets on the beds, beautiful parquet flooring in the restaurant and natural light flooding every room. Toddlers can conquer the climbing frame or run wild in the gardens, and older kids can master the waves at surf school on the nearby sandy Poldhu beach; as for adults, cocktails and couples’ massages turn your holiday into a more grown-up getaway.
Get a bargain  Browse all Polurrian Bay Hotel offers

UK family hotel offers | The Elms, WorcestershireTHE ELMS
Modern-mannered mansion in Worcestershire
Get the picture? This grandly gorgeous period home ups the luxe-country ante with a standalone mini-spa, purpose-built crèche annexe and flourishing kitchen gardens to supply its menus. And yet there are just 23 rooms: no impersonal child-herding atmosphere here. Free extra beds, a wealth of family-friendly dining options, a built-in baby listening service, and free crèche places for under-8s leave enough left over for splashy fine-dining in the adults-only Brookes restaurant.
Get a bargain  Browse all Elms hotel offers

UK family hotel offers | Fowey Hall, CornwallFOWEY HALL
Comfy country château on the salty Cornish coast
Get the picture? Commanding sweeping views of Fowey’s river estuary, port and the sea – and not just from the spa deck – this inspiring small family hotel has an air of literary romance: the inspiration for Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows also overlooks Daphne du Maurier’s favourite coves. Its French furniture, Wilton carpets and fine oak-panelled dining room give it a traditional but relaxed and intimate feel; a croquet lawn, indoor pool, interconnecting suites, and nearby beaches and sailing position it perfectly for fun family escapes.
Get a bargain  Browse all Fowey Hall hotel offers

All of the above luxury family hotels have two-night and three-night celebration packages, including free accommodation for children, dinner for the adults, champagne on arrival and an upgrade (subject to availability) for stays until 18 July 2014. For more details or to book, ring the Smith & Family Travel Team on 0330 100 3183.



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The summer holidays are fast approaching: our top packing tip? Buy all those ‘last-minute’ essentials well in advance. We bring you family holiday inspiration, and Alexa Till (one half of the husband-and-wife team behind online kids’ fashion boutique Alex and Alexa) picks out the essential pieces to pack for easy-breezy holiday style… Coastal chic in Cornwall | Childrenswear for summer CORNWALL, UK
Where? Watergate Bay Hotel

Why? Cornwall’s always a great getaway for families: there’s no shortage of fresh, open stretches of beach to absorb active children’s energy. Watergate Bay is bang on the beach, which takes the hassle out of getting buckets, spades and toddlers to the sand. Interiors are fresh and contemporary, and wide windows make the most of the ocean views.
Family-friendly highlights Interconnecting rooms and family suites are available, and they’ve really thought about how to make the hotel a perfect stay for adults as well as children: clever childcare options allow you to relax and enjoy the spa, bar and restaurants. Then there’s the watersports centre, kids’ club, outdoor playground and indoor infinity pool…
Don’t forget…
your buckets and spades! A soft rubber Scrunch Bucket (£6.99) can be rolled up and squished into a corner of your suitcase.

Ralph Lauren boys shorts | Childrenswear for summerAlexa’s style tips 
‘This anchor-print dress (£83, pictured above) by British designer Rachel Riley is the perfect nautical style for a seaside escape. Grab a good pair of jelly shoes for seashell searches in Cornwall’s rock pools: these blue Hugo Boss jelly sandals | Childrenswear for summerHugo Boss sandals (£38, right) look good enough to eat. A pair of versatile, easy-to-wear shorts can be smartened up for dining at the hotel, or worn with a simple T-shirt for daytime exploring: try these cute Ralph Lauren seersucker shorts (£55).’
Finca Cortesin, Marbella | Stylish family holiday in Spain

MARBELLA, SPAIN
Where? Finca Cortesin
Why? This palatial Marbella resort pulls off that rare trick of being all things to all guests; it’s a real destination hotel, and brilliant at accommodating families. It’s beautiful too: the Castilian frescoes, Moorish hangings and surreal trompe-l’œil tiles will inspire serious decor envy, and the nearby beach club is a super all-ages hangout.
Family-friendly highlights
The kids get a free, activity-packed mini club during the summer months; the grown-ups get one of the best spas in southern Spain. You don’t need to worry about having enough space, either: Finca Cortesin’s smallest suite is a sprawling 52sq m, and if you need even more room and want to self-cater, the sumptuous four-bedroom villa is ideal for group stays and has a kitchen.
Kids summer-holiday style | Melissa Odabash sundressDon’t forget… swimwear, sun cream, and a pop-up sun tent for babies and toddlers, so you can explore the region’s beaches and have shade on demand.

Alexa’s style tips
‘Make a splash at the resort’s outdoor infinity pool with a fun swimming costume; thrill your little lady with a pretty statement print Dolce & Gabbana swimsuit (£156, pictured above). Pop a dress over it for an instant cover-up at the kids’ club; or add sandals for sightseeing: this embroidered Melissa Odabash sundress (£60, right) is so sweet, and exclusive to Alex and Alexa.’

Halkidiki holiday style | Stella McCartney sundressHALKIDIKI, GREECE
Where? Ekies All Senses Resort

Why? This great-value resort’s private beach allows kids to splash about in the warm water while you flop on to a towel on the sand (there’s no elbow-jousting tournaments with fellow sunbathers here).
Family-friendly highlights The lifeguard-manned pool, snorkelling and boat trips liven things up when beach lounging gets too low-key for the kids’ liking, and there’s an indulgent polka-dotted eco spa. We love the space-age twist on traditional blue and white Grecian interiors, re-imagined with Matisse-esque dabs of colour.
Don’t forget… to go exploring: Ekies is perfectly placed to make family forays to some of the prettiest beaches and most interesting spots on the peninsula. Read the rest of this entry »



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One tween, and a lot of tucker, at Château les Merles

Posted by Juliet Kinsman on June 3rd, 2014

What happened when Ali Horsfall, deputy editor of Girl Talk magazine, took 12-year-old Billie with her to review this creamy-stoned 13-room château on a vineyard in Dordogne for us? Mum and daughter ate and ate… from amuse-bouches in the sitting room on arrival at Château les Merles to sampling chef Albert Kooy’s haute cuisine in the restaurant proper – as well as finding room for chocolate treats from Bergerac…

CLM
Favourite moments
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Mouth amusement from start to finish! Tired from our journey, on arrival we flopped on inviting fireside sofas and Mademoiselle Smith chortled at the translation of the outrageously yummy appetisers planted before us. Read the rest of this entry »



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Esther Walker’s family-holiday ‘essentials’

Posted by Lucy Fennings on May 23rd, 2014

Famiy holiday packing essentials | Esther WalkerYou’d have thought packing light was second nature for the Smith tribe, but – trust us – we all know about the need to pack a lorry-load of necessities when taking toddlers on tour. Just in time for the half-term exodus, journalist, Recipe Rifle blogger and chronic overpacker parent Esther Walker shares her (wry) take on family-holiday essentials…
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If you want to stay being my friend then under no circumstances make fun of how much stuff I pack when going on holiday with my kids.

It’s not funny, packing for children, especially if any of them are under 18 months. Or, frankly, still in nappies. When I had only one baby I would complain long and hard to anyone who would listen about how going away for the weekend was like putting up and taking down a circus. Now I have two, the monumental amount of stuff we need when we go away beggars belief. We arrive, set everything up, have a cup of tea, then it’s time to pack everything away and go home again.

But, listen to me: I do not overpack. If anything, I underpack. I rarely take any toys, for example. Other people turn up for the weekend with great laundry bags full of toys, which Kitty has to then steal like a latter-day Artful Dodger. But even without toys, the list of essentials is simply endless. I look at the holiday kit assembled in the hallway and I know that there is nothing in any of these meticulously sourced and packed bags that we can do without.

Without the Dream Tubes, Kitty will fall out of the single bed that she will be sleeping in. Without the packet of soup pasta, Sam will not be able to have tea on Sunday night. Without his Lamaze Elephant that plays tunes when you squeeze the hand, Sam will be sad. Without his bath chair, Sam will not have a nice bath, which is a vitally fun 20 minutes in his day. Without Kitty’s new travel dollshouse she will be bored and demand to watch TV and show me up in front of our hosts. And so on. It’s enough to drive you to drink, let alone anything stronger.

But the thing about packing for small children is that no-one else can do it for you, only you know what you need and where it is. So until my kids are old enough to survive on holiday, (as I used to), with one bathing costume, one large T-shirt and a toothbrush, I will continue to spend a few days gathering everything under the sun for our trips away, and fill any available space in our car with essentials.

Because without the right stuff, you can’t relax – and what kind of holiday would that be?

Family holiday packing tipsESTHER WALKER’S REAL FAMILY-HOLIDAY ESSENTIALS
I never go away without…

• Dream Tubes, which turn a single bed into a cot.
• Magic Blackout is brilliant for keeping light out of bedrooms with flimsy curtains.
• Sunsense Toddler Milk Factor 50 is the best kids suncream ever: one bottle lasts the whole holiday.
 Kitty zones out on flights with her iPad mini and JVC toddler headphones (in pink).
 The MacLaren TechnoXT is the best travel buggy.
• Aden + Anais giant cotton muslins always come in useful on holidays, as a sunshade, towel, vomit-absorber…
 My new Longchamp mini backpack is both stylish and practical and doesn’t get in the way like a cross-body bag.
 A bottle of Piriton cures all known travel ills, from sleeplessness to insect bites.

Esther Walker is a writer for The TimesThe Evening Standard and Grazia magazine. She also blogs about food and motherhood at Recipe Rifle. She is married to food critic Giles Coren; they have two children Kitty, 3 and Sam 1.



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London for kids: Knightsbridge, Kensington and ChelseaNana Coles, Knightsbridge Village directorSmack-dab in the heart of London, Knightsbridge and the surrounding areas of Kensington and Chelsea host a wealth of fun, family-friendly distractions – if you know where to look. Former City career woman, Nana Coles, founder and director of Knightsbridge Village – the exclusive network created for the area’s well-heeled mothers – shares some of her family’s favourite local attractions.

Fancy joining in with like-minded local parents? Get your exclusive Smith password for access to the members-only Knightsbridge Village site below…
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I have lived in this enchanting part of London for a decade – essentially all my years as a mother – and I cannot think of anywhere else I would rather bring up my family. It’s an affluent, vibrant yet surprisingly leafy neighbourhood; what I love most about it is the enviable array of cosmopolitan families who live here and the diversity of facilities on offer to engage even the most demanding of families. Here’s what we like to do when we have time off together…

Diana Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens1 RUN AROUND IN KENSINGTON GARDENS

A magnificent expanse of trees, flowerbeds, parkland and ponds, Kensington Gardens is a stunning park spanning well over 275 acres and favoured by locals who prefer to avoid the crowds at Hyde Park. Enter via the main gates on Kensington Road and turn right into what my kids have fondly named ‘Squirrel Alley’: you’ll find a beautifully manicured walkway with benches and a friendly colony of squirrels eagerly waiting to be fed. Read the rest of this entry »



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Sun, sea and style: Kid Style Junkie’s top 10 beach-holiday buys

Posted by Lucy Fennings on May 15th, 2014

Ready to hit the beach? Hunter-gatherer of the coolest children’s kit, Kid Style Junkie (and mother of twins) Suzanne Peters rounds up her top 10 beach buys for boys and girls, from splash-happy swim shorts to sweet golden girls’ sandals…

Summer-holiday packing |Kid Style JunkieWakey, wakey people: summertime is almost here! And let’s face facts: shopping for beach looks for your kids is a breeze. Everything looks super cute on them as they don’t have the rolls, lumps and bumps us parents have developed – erm, mainly due to them… Those are my frilly-bummed twins. No – I don’t know which is which either! Here’s how to keep your kids looking cool as the temperature rises:
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TOP 10 BEACH-HOLIDAY BUYS 

1 Whether they like it or not, my kids shall be taking up surfing this summer. If nothing else – just to be able to wear these brilliant wetsuits by Saltskin. Surf’s up! Style’s up!
Zebra shorty wetsuit, sizes XXS to XL (ages 2–12), from £38, Saltskin.Summer-holiday packing tips |Kid Style Junkie________________________________________________________________________
2 These bikini bottoms are perfect for your little girl’s peachy beachy bum!
Capri Island Bikini, sizes 2-6Y, £26, Nice Things Mini at My Little Square.

Beach-holiday packing tips | Kid Style Junkie ________________________________________________________________________
3 I love these striped pineapple swim shorts by Scotch Shrunk. I’d be making them one of my five-a-day for the holiday for sure!
Swim shorts, sizes 4–16Y, £44, Scotch Shrunk at Selfridges.

Beach-holiday childrens wear | Kid Style Junkie

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4 This pom-pom embroidered basket bag by Rose in April is a super stylish way for them to carry everything but the kitchen sink in (this will probably end up being you, of course) – as one does for a day at the beach!
Basket bag, £32, Rose in April at Molly-Meg.

Beach-holiday packing tips | Kid Style Junkie

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Beach boys love to explore. Keep their tootsies stylish and ouchless with these swim shoes.
Swim shoes, sizes 7 Infant to 1 Junior, £5.99, H&M.Beach-holiday packing | Swim shoes________________________________________________________________________
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Sunglasses are not only a cool look but essential for your kids’ eye health in the strong sun. I am obsessed with these by Sons + Daughters.
Glitter Pink Honey sunglasses, sizes 5–12Y, £57, Sons + Daughters at Childrensalon. Read the rest of this entry »



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Tot-friendly travel tips from Mothers Meeting x Smith & Family

Posted by Lucy Fennings on May 13th, 2014

One stylish boutique hotel, 33 mums, countless cappuccinos, dozens of dilemmas solved… Contributing social editor Molly Gunn reports back from our first Mothers Meeting family-travel clinic.

Smith & Family x Mothers MeetingWe love a collaboration here at Smith & Family – which is why we teamed up with hip mamas’ community Mothers Meeting to host a coffee morning and informal travel clinic for stylish London mothers. Thirty local ladies arrived at High Road House, Chiswick, with tots in tow, keen to hear tips on family holidays from globetrotting travel-savant Juliet Kinsman, Smith’s editor-in-chief (pictured top right), and to meet inspiring Mothers Meeting founder Jenny Scott (bottom left). Read the rest of this entry »



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Surf’s up! Six of the best family hotels for surfing

Posted by Lucy Fennings on April 16th, 2014

Learn to surf | Family hotels for surfingGot kids who’d love to learn to surf? There’s a water-world of fun out there, if you know where to find it.

Hone your hang-five skills with our round-up of fantastic family hotels for surfing, from child-friendly surf schools on the coast of Cornwall to the best breaks in the Indian Ocean. Read the rest of this entry »



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