If you’re one of the 14% of engaged couples planning a ‘family-moon’ this year check out Olivia Knight’s top 10 recommends. Whether you’re looking for laid back luxury, kid focused fun or an action packed adventure, these 10 unique UK experiences are designed to keep you AND the kids happy.
Serious relaxation in the Scilly Isles
If you want to truly unwind after the crazy whirl that is your wedding day, head for the Scilly Isles. This small collection of islands, with their soft sandy beaches, turquoise sea, tropical birds and exotic plants, feel like they’re a world away. And yet, 28 miles off the Cornish coast, they’re easy to get to with children in tow and offer all the comforts of home. For pure luxury Mr. and Mrs. Smith recommend staying on the private island of Tresco. Sleep in one of the fabulous Sea Garden Cottages, relax at the hotel spa, eat at the award winning Beach Café, play tennis and golf, wander with the kids around the car-free island admiring the scenery and bird song.
A farm stay in Galway
Set in the most stunning countryside on the West coast of Ireland, the Slieve Aughty eco lodge offers a magical experience for couples and kids alike. Stay in a timber-framed cottage, eat garden-fresh food in the organic restaurant, take a nature trail across the farm and fields beyond or just relax and enjoy the view from your terrace. Kids activities include arts and crafts sessions, playing with the animals and exploring the ‘enchanted forest’ with its fairy huts and hideaways. Highlights include hacking out on horseback and taking a donkey for a walk, saddled up with a family picnic.
Hanging out with the cool kids in London
If you want to plan a family-moon in London but can’t bear the stress and expense of staying in a city hotel check out this former pub in Peckham for rent via AirBnB. Beautifully restored to combine period charm with contemporary design it has the feel of a boutique hotel. But being a family home it’s got all the kit and kids toys you’ll need for your stay, a huge walled garden for outside play and off street parking to make life and shopping just that bit easier. Peckham has become ridiculously cool in the last few years and so you’ll find some fantastic restaurants on your doorstep as well as lovely parks, a local cinema and a ton of art galleries. And of course with Peckham now on the tube you can be in Central and East London within 20 minutes.
A vintage vacation in the Isle of Wight
Sitting together on the step of your 1950s American Airstream, listening to the wireless, drinking a cup of tea or a mug of wine, watching your little ones make friends with other kids, cows and insects in the field – what’s not to love? Kitted out in cosy 1950s style and complete with vintage books and board games you’ll find yourself hoping for rain. But on dry days you’ve got the whole island with its lovely beaches, pubs and attractions to enjoy. Family friendly highlights include the model village at Godshill, Coleman’s Animal Farm and the steam railway at Havenstreet.
A Cornish cottage for art lovers and beach babes
The Tide House in St. Ives is an ideal holiday let for large families or couples taking young children and grandparents (read child-minders) on honeymoon with them. This gorgeous Medieval cottage is quite literally a stone’s throw from the sea making it easy to pop back and forth to the beach to fit around meals and sleeps. And with so many cafés, galleries and craft shops on your doorstep, having kids in tow is no excuse to miss out on the art and culture. St Ives has a ton of kid-friendly pubs and a good range of grown-up restaurants for those able to leave little ones with grandparents in the evenings. But with its huge kitchen, lovely living space and brilliant DVD collection staying in is fun too. Local highlights: The Barbara Hepworth sculpture gardens, The Tate and the Minack open air theatre are all worth a visit. And the walk from Godrevy to Hell’s Mouth is perfect for babies in slings and bigger kids that need plenty of exercise.
A heavenly stay with plenty of space to play
If you’re looking for a seriously romantic hideaway, this 19th century Church in a mountain village in Wales has it all. Sleep in a four poster bed under a carved stone pulpit, relax in a hot tub under the stars and enjoy a lazy breakfast while admiring epic views of Snowdonia. And the best bit? Kids can come too. This family home is let via AirBnB and comes complete with all the creature comforts your brood will need and some extravagant extras – like the pool table beneath a fabulous 19th century mosaic ceiling. Owner Alice is very accomodating, can include breakfast in your stay and might even let you borrow Brecon the dog for family walks. Home from home. But better.
Peace, love and adventure in a VW Campervan
Great for couples with young babies who aren’t quite ready to give up their freedom yet, hiring a campervan is probably the most romantic and stress free way to explore the countryside at your own pace – stopping to feed, change and sleep whenever you need to. If you want gorgeous beaches, delightful driving and beautiful views head to Devon, hire a 1970s VW from O’Conners Campers, stock up on supplies and then just go wherever the mood takes you. Highlights: Waking up with a different view every morning. Bob Dylan. Free wheelin’. The open road.
A luxury stay for big kids who love castles
Thornbury Castle is the perfect escape for couples looking for serious luxury in a majestic setting and for kids with active imaginations and a love of history. Opulent interiors and ornamental Tudor objects, including statues wearing full body armour, mean you can only bring children over 10 years old. But if you do have big kids, they can discover traditional sports like croquet, archery and falconry while you slip off for afternoon spa treatments, romantic walks and cocktails on the lawn. Highlights include the Michelin star restaurant and exploring the 500 year old castle and its 14 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.
A romantic hideaway for train spotters
If you’ve got kids going through the train phase this is the familymoon for you. No it’s not Thomas Land it’s a beautifully restored and cleverly converted Victorian train carriage in Helmsley, York offering a cosy and romantic escape that’s also fun for the kids. The carriage is a fully equipped, self-contained holiday home that sleeps up to four, has a lovely living/kitchen area, a separate bathroom and a terrace for evening drinks once the kids are asleep. The coast, Castle Howard and York are all within driving distance and the walk from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx abbey is particularly beautiful and not too tough for little legs.
A Scottish adventure in a real life lighthouse
This remote lighthouse in Forte William has amazing views of Loch Linnhe, Ben Nevis and the Glencoe mountain range and is ideal for families looking for escape and adventure. Three hours from mainland Scotland the journey from the rest of the UK is pretty epic. But taking the Caledonian sleeper from London only adds to the romance of the experience. On arrival you’ll find a super-stylish home designed to meet all your family needs and a hamper full of basic food supplies and a few welcome luxuries. Though the Lighthouse has direct access to the beach and some amazing mountain walks, it’s enclosed by a walled garden making it secure for little ones. And with a large lawn, outdoor games, a BBQ and an elevated deck with views across the loch, you don’t have to be adventurers to enjoy life outdoors. Just sit back, relax and soak up the scenery.
Olivia Knight is Founder of Patchwork, a cash gift registry that lets you design your dream honeymoon and invite your wedding guests to fund it – piece by piece. Find out more and fund your own honeymoon at patchworkit.com