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How to…book a family holiday by Tamara Heber-Percy of Mr & Mrs Smith

aa67e067c275d37734d717c7a81eb02dYou probably have your summer holiday plans sorted. If not, don’t worry, we have help at hand from the very knowledgeable and very lovely Tamara Heber-Percy, co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith. Having just launched Smith & Family, a new collection of hotels cherry-picked for parents with children in tow, working mum Tamara knows everything there is to know about gorgeous hotels, travelling with kids and choosing the right place for ALL the family. Even if this summer’s trip is well and truly planned, there are still future holidays to think about, so don’t book without reading this first. Happy Holidays!

Don’t Panic!

While it’s best not to wait until the last minute to pick that perfect summer bolt hole (the best rooms, especially those with space for an extra bed or two get snapped up fast. If you can, book six months ahead), there’s no need to panic if you haven’t booked for this summer. Some of our favourite hotels still have availability this summer: try Asia Gardens in Alicante, with its network of pools worthy of a Langkawi resort, or Memmo Baleeira where teenagers can learn to surf those impressive Portuguese waves.

Asia Gardens

Asia Gardens

Learn something new

As working parents, getting to spend time with our little ones is so valuable. We’re always on the lookout for holiday activities we can do with our children Tom (6) and Alex (3) – it’s a great way to have fun together. Hotels have really been upping their game: we’ve had horse-riding trips, surf lessons at Martinhal in Portugal, and orechiette-making classes at Borgo Egnazia in Puglia.

Your kids could be doing this

Your kids could be doing this

Know what you need from a break

It’s not going to be much of a holiday if your kids are having a ball but you are miserable. What’s going to make you happy? Make some time for a fabulous meal, a nightcap at that great little cocktail bar or a few hours in the spa. Do you want a quiet retreat away from other families, but that will happily welcome children? If you can’t do without an English-speaking babysitter or a kids club, make sure the facilities are right for you; in Portugal, Pine Cliffs’ children’s village, with its two pirate ships, bouncy castle and supervised pool, is incredible. If you’re going slightly off season, check pool temperatures: I once had a disastrous weekend when I had promised my little ones two whole days by the pool, which turned out to be icy cold. The important thing is knowing in advance what’s on offer, so you can make the most of your time as well as the kids’.

Pine Cliffs

Pine Cliffs

Pack the essentials

For stress-free journeys, I love Trunki Paddle Paks: the children can carry their own stash of sticker books and crayons for the flight. Take a four-gang plug so the whole family (not just the kids!) can plug in their iPad. And never assume your favourite nappy brand will be easy to buy in the south of France…

Give yourself a night off

The holy grail of family hotels is somewhere that has plenty for kids but something special for adults, like Chewton Glen in the New Forest with its dreamy treehouse cabins and Michelin-starred restaurant. We wanted to curate a collection that ticks both boxes, so book one evening of babysitting and head to the restaurant for a romantic tête-à-tête or relax in the grown-up bar – you’re allowed some quality down time too.

p.s Natasha, is as I type, on holiday in Cornwall, where I will be later on in the year in August (we’re both big fans), for a sneak peak at what she’s been up to, do check out Instagram for instant holiday envy…..

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