Pensionat Styrso Skaret, near Gothenburg, Sweden

Pensionat Styrso Skaret B&B is a stone's throw from the jetty on this car-free island in Sweden's Southern archipelago, near Gothenburg

A family-owned Bed & Breakfast on a picturesque Swedish island inhabited by just 1,400 people, in the southern Gothenburg archipelago. The weather-beaten guesthouse, built in 1938, stands a little up the hill at the end of a long path, a stone’s throw from the port on this car-free island, which is just 40 minutes by bus and boat from central Gothenburg. Stock up on freshly baked breads, cake, porridge with stewed apples, cured meats and fish, yoghurt – courtesy of the hotel next door to the B&B, where breakfast is served – and take hire-bikes across the island, through forests, clap-board-lined  streets, and picnic on the beach.

They say: “You can still discover genuine, unspoilt places. It takes just 15 minutes on the ferry from Saltholmen in Gothenburg to arrive at an island without cars. An island with boat huts, shoreline meadows and old-fashioned houses. Incredibly close to the metropolis, yet secluded enough to be completely different. Our guest house on Styrsö is open all year round and guests are always given a warm welcome.”

You say: “Probably the perfect place to get away from it all. There accommodation is traditional old-style Swedish, with board-games and plenty of outdoor pursuits. Like something out of a film.”

Rooms are 1895 SEk (£160) per person per night. Nearest airport is Gothenburg, which is a short distance by public bus and then a short ferry ride; pensionatskaret.se

Schloss Elmau luxury spa retreat, Bavarian Alps

A family spa, concert hall, drop-in creche and pools galore are just a fraction of the charm at this extraordinary retreat in the Bavarian Alps

A beautifully-situated resort comprising two hotels, three adult spas with outstanding treatments, fitness
and yoga classes – and the largest hamam this side of Istanbul – there are also three family spas, kids club, and ‘edutainment’ workshops, football camps and outdoor adventures, suitable for children. On-site restaurants cover everything from gourmet tasting menus and high Thai cuisine to fondue feasts. There is also a bookshop, lounge, and a concert hall where world-class recitals are held.

They say: “Just 100km south of Munich is Schloss Elmau, tucked deep in the calm of the Bavarian Alps.
A sanctuary, framed by dramatic peaks, whispering forests and rushing streams.
A spa retreat and cultural hideaway, a family escape and romantic haven.
A place to feast on outstanding food and unbeatable music – to relax, breathe deep and discover.”

You say: “Schloss Elmau is a great spa for kids and parents, alike. It’s all designed around families and has an on-site kindergarten which you don’t have to book, you just drop kids in 09:00-20:00 every day. It’s all sectioned off so you can either have family sections or singles sections so there isn’t too much noise crossover. And it’s BEAUTIFUL.”

Double rooms available from around 460 euros per night based on two people sharing, including breakfast, free entry to all spas, cultural activities, concerts and dinner. The resort is a 45 minute drive from Innsbruck airport, and Munich is 1.5 hours’ drive. schloss-elmau.de/en/experience

Old Harbour Hotel, Kerala, India

It's Old World charm with mod-cons at this blissful hotel in Kerrala, Southern India

With free yoga classes, as well as complimentary tea, coffee, and wi-fi, the Old Harbour Hotel has 13 spacious rooms, each named after the various old streets of Fort Cochin. With high ceilings overlooking either a courtyard with a fountain or over the ancient Chinese Fishing nets, as well as special garden cottages, which were added later to offer “a feel of Kerala”. These have open-to-the-sky showers, a veranda and a private pond. There’s a large garden with a swimming pool as well as a stage for cultural performances, all of it set amidst plenty of natural green. Plus, an Ayurvedic spa and large open-air terrace.

They say:
 “At the heart of ancient Fort Cochin, Kerala, a place that exudes history and culture, is the ‘Old Harbour Hotel’ – a 300-year-old building that has long-been a heritage monument of this town, now reopened as a boutique hotel. Built in Dutch architectural style with hints of Portuguese influences, it was the first hotel of old Cochin. Later it remained a residential home to employees of English tea-broking firms until it was left unused for a period of time.”

You say: “Everything from the staff to the food was perfect. There’s a really all-ages-mix-in atmosphere. The kids loved the pool, and there’s a lot of history in the area, including the old Jew town which is 40 minutes’ walk away.”

Prices start at 9,845 INR (£102) per night; oldharbourhotel.com

Domaines de Mathevies, Dordogne Valley, France

Be it a chateau, gites, mobile-home or old-school camping, there's something for everyone (not least the kids) at this beautifully-situated camp-site in the Dordogne

A properly family-friendly campsite just 30 minutes from Brive airport, and 6km from the beautiful Medieval town of Sarlat, Domaines de Mathevies is run by a Dutch couple who know a thing or two about what makes a family holiday relaxing (ie: making sure the kids are happy!). Picturesque, low density camping means there is plenty of space between an array of gites, mobile homes and tents – with lots of space for the kids to play, a pool, playground, tennis courts, and loads of games and toys. Also within a short distance of natural lakes, perfect for a swim and a picnic, in St Julien du Lampon and Vitrac.

They say: “Set high on the south face of the Dordogne Valley, Camping Domaine des Mathevies is 7km from Sarlat. Once a vineyard and farm, the campsite is set on a gentle incline with stunning views over wooded valleys. The farmhouse was itself the centre for local Resistance activity during World War 2.”

You say: “Totally unpretentious, good solid family fun but also peaceful. The kids didn’t want to leave, and we came away feeling like we’d had a proper rest. The hosts are really friendly and offer home-cooked meals several nights a week, and there’s a lovely town nearby so you don’t feel out on a limb.”

Pitches start at 6.50 euros per night – gites and mobile homes also available. Nearest aiport, Brive, is 30km from the campsite. mathevies.com

Rosevine, Truro, Cornwall

A beach-side boutique hotel is part of a new wave of stylish family-friendly independents that are giving more established chains a run for their money in Cornwall

Rosevine is part-hotel, part self-catering, with a collection of suites ideal for families. Each is stylishly-designed in fresh, neutral decor, which doesn’t distract from the extraordinary natural beauty of the beach-side setting on the Roseland peninsula. As well as provate self-catering facilities, there’s a lovely restaurant on-site with delicious meals including children’s menu.

They say: “Unlike many of the larger hotels, our luxury is in our size and children will instantly feel at home as everything is close at hand. We are truly family-oriented: in essence, the best version of a child-friendly hotel. There’s an indoor swimming pool, a playroom, and plenty of outdoor space to run around. Children will love their own cosy bedroom. No need to share with mum and dad! They sleep in twin beds or New England bunks and it’s their very own space.”

You say: “Just a short drive from Truro train station, there’s a stunning beach practically on your doorstep, and our hosts couldn’t have been more helpful, from the moment we booked the hotel.”

A family of five staying in a family suite is around £265 per family per night. Within easy distance of Portscatho, St Mawes and Truro; rosevine.co.uk

Banana Beach Resort, Koh Lanta, Thailand

A small, affordable resort on the beach at Koh Lanta is a little slice of paradise

Very well-priced, with 60 rooms on-site including family suites featuring bunk-beds, air conditioning, refrigerators and hot showers, Banana Beach Resort (previously Banana Garden Home) is made up of 5 main buildings with a big swimming pool and pleasant gardens, on the island of Lanta. The hotel arranges excursions including boat-rides to nearby Krabi and Phi-Phi islands.

They say: “Positioned just 3km from Ban Saladan, Lanta island’s business and tourist centre, Banana Garden Home is set on the beach front at Klong Dao Beach – the island’s most popular beach – surrounded by lush green gardens.”

You say: “We stayed here for a month. The bungalow resort is right on the beautiful Klong Dao beach, which is very safe for kids and a 5-min tuk-tuk ride from town. The bungalows were pretty basic but were clean, had everything we needed and importantly, were affordable. Amazing food and drink, and loads of other families – by the end of the trip we’d made loads of friends and were reluctant to leave!”

Prices start from 1500 bart (£29) per night for a sea-view family room. bananagardenhome.com

The Atlantis, Bathsheba, Barbados

A family-run hotel on the Barbados' rugged Atlantic coast is a perfect base from which to enjoy the area's natural beauty

Nested in the rugged Atlantic coastline of Barbados, this family-run hotel
is set in an idyllic location – perfect for appreciating the simple pleasures, and the raw beauty of nature.

They say: “This hotel is slightly off the beaten track but an ideal base for those who want to spend a few days in peace and quiet. Not much of a beach and swimming in the sea not advised unless you enjoy surfing, in which case you are in heaven! The hotel has its own pool and a lovely restaurant with stunning views of the Atlantic coast.”

You say: “This place is as beguiling as its namesake. Although the wind/waves are stronger and the beaches totally un-manicured, it’s Bathsheba’s untamed nature that is in complete contrast to the pristine north side frequented by many a premiership footballer or pop star. A historic colonial house with huge Sea View rooms complete with the roar of the Ocean, and a Caribbean Sunday spread that will completely floor you. If you like calm waters, especially good for little ones then their sister accommodation ‘Little Good Harbour’ (on the West coast), is a great alternative.”

The Atlantis Hotel is located in Tent Bay, St. Joseph on the East Coast of Barbados, closest to Grantley Adams International Airport; atlantishotelbarbados.com

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