If there’s one thing worse than the cold, dark reality of January in the UK, it’s scrolling through the sun-dappled social media feeds of people who’ve had the foresight to put a long-haul flight and several degrees between themselves and the whole affair. The Primrose Hill set just got back from Jamaica and your best mate is posting photos from Phuket. It’s enough to make you want to drown your phone in a half-finished bottle of fizz from New Year. But hang on to it, because with a blank diary ahead, there’s no better time to turn your 2018 family travel dreams into reality.
With the whole world to choose from, where to start? Easy: get the family-friendly – but still fabulous – hotel right, and the rest will fall into place. Our go-to? The travel club for hotel lovers, Mr & Mrs Smith.
If the last time you checked them out you were a carefree loved up couple, it’s definitely time you reacquainted yourself with their spectacular family-friendly stays. Enviable locations, dreamy interiors and a can-do attitude to flights, transfers and your six-year-old’s desire to meet a baby turtle, Mr & Mrs Smith ticks all the boxes for parents who want to travel as a family, without scrimping on space, style or grown-up downtime. In fact, a browse through their handpicked properties and bespoke itineraries is pretty much our favourite way to spend a chilly January night in on the sofa.
Read on for a trip through our 2018 bucket list and as for January 2019? We’re already planning to be here.
Taylor River Lodge
Luxe log cabins, the pool house of dreams, crisp mountain air and adventure galore, this cosy bolthole is kid – and grown-up – heaven.
Where: Colorado, US
When: May to October
Best for: Any age, but children aged six and up will get the most out of a stay here. Teenagers will love it.
You’ll love: Watching your children roam free, a massage in the spa cabin, cribbing interior ideas for your living-room renovation.
They’ll love: Getting stuck into guided family activities from rafting to river fishing, splashing about in the pool, free reign on the all-inclusive mini-bar treats.
Family Adventure in Sri Lanka
This Mr & Mrs Smith bespoke itinerary is the perfect blend of tropical go-slow and cultural adventure (with some baby turtles thrown in for the nature-loving six year old). Switch from luxe hotel to eco resort to butler-equipped villa as you travel between abandoned cities, ancient monasteries, beaches, safaris and mist-covered tea plantations.
Where: Sri Lanka
When: January to April
Best for: Children aged six and above will get the most out of a trip like this.
You’ll love: The divine food at The Wallawwa in Colombo, trekking in tea country and off-the-beaten-track beaches around tropical Galle.
They’ll love: Seeing monkeys, peacocks and elephants strolling around the Ulagalla Resort, white-water rafting on the Kelani River and the Kosgoda turtle nursery.
Stunning architecture, Olga Polizzi interiors, a soothing spa and the kind of kids’ club that makes children never want to leave, this slick Sicilian resort is Med heaven.
When: April to October
Best for: All ages
You’ll love: The stunning scenery, fabulous food and hiding in the spa all afternoon while the kids are otherwise engaged (there’s a wonderful crèche for little ones).
They’ll love: The vast, free kids’ club, outdoor and indoor pools, cut-above activities (from cookery to tennis coaching) and eating their own body weight in pizza.
Kokomo Private Island
From the moment you arrive by seaplane to the moment you leave (quietly sobbing into your suitcase), this paradise island pulls out the stops for families with a tranquil spa, action-packed kids’ club and free nanny service for under-threes.
When: Great all year round but choose July to September for the driest weather.
Best for: All ages
You’ll love: The lush scenery, chic interiors and downtime galore.
They’ll love: The kids’ club here is amazing: dance lessons, coconut bowling, arts and crafts, treasure hunts, beach Olympics.
With interiors as beautiful as the wild scenery, a trip to this magical spot in the far north of Iceland feels like a real once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Where: Troll Peninsula, Iceland
When: If you want to see the Northern Lights the best time to visit is from September to April.
Best for: All ages are welcome but older children (six and above) will get the most out of the activities here.
You’ll love: The otherworldly landscapes, geothermal pool and minimalist spa.
They’ll love: Outdoor adventure, family cycle rides, horseriding and hot springs.
Not just for honeymooners, this eco-luxe resort is the last word in desert-island chic for families. Wraparound views, nesting turtles and barefoot vibes all round… If you’re feeling relaxed just reading about it, imagine what it’ll be like to be there?
When: November to April
Best for: All ages, but water-confident older children will enjoy the freedom of a trip like this.
You’ll love: Snorkelling, cycling, cooking classes and castaway vibes.
They’ll love: The epic children’s den complete with secret passageways, pirate ship, slides and a mocktail bar, sports, games and roaming free.
Idyllic beaches, beautiful interiors and a glass-walled swimming pool right by the ocean, this is family-friendly luxury at its most spectacular.
When: December to April
Best for: All ages
You’ll love: Paddleboarding, spa lounging, the beach, barbecues and music.
They’ll love: Swimming with dolphins, beach games and the kids’ club’s pizza and popcorn film night (aka cocktail hour for mum and dad).
Mr & Mrs Smith is the travel club for hotel lovers: an award-winning boutique-hotel booking service, specialising in the world’s most seductive stays. Founded in 2003, there are now more than 1,000 boutique and luxury hotels in the Smith collection, all hand-picked and anonymously reviewed. With Smith you’ll get the best prices guaranteed, free extras on arrival and round-the-clock service from Smith24, our in-house travel specialists. The collection now also includes luxury villas, bespoke itineraries and unique experiences, too. Go to mrandmrssmith.com to browse and book.