6 affordable family-friendly retreats by Nadine Mellor of i-escape

What do we love more than a holiday? Why, a holiday that doesn’t cost the earth, of course. Because Spring is upon us and Summer is only around the corner, our thoughts have turned to holidays (although, let’s be honest, it’s a subject I could think about all year-round). From Italy to India, Nadine Mellor, Editor of i-escape’s Kids Collection gives us her top recommendations…

Fattoria Barbialla Nuova, Tuscany, Italy

“Immerse yourselves in pastoral bliss on this tranquil private estate of wild woodland and picturesque pastures. Three farmhouses, each with a swimming pool, have been tastefully converted to 7 family-friendly apartments and a villa in a beguiling rustic-chic style. There’s a lovely farm shop on site, and the owners are Slow Food aficionados so offer bread-making and bee-keeping lessons, plus cooking classes for young and old alike. Take day trips to Florence, Lucca and Siena and the beaches at Livorno; go horse riding, or truffle-hunting in season.

Travel tip: This is a great place for families to connect with nature, and works for all ages and sizes of family. You’re only an hour from Pisa airport, stock up with provisions on the way in at the local supermarket, otherwise you’ve the farm shop for local delicacies. Note that your car will need to be able to cope with the gravel road in to the property.”

From £94 per night, based on a family of up to 5 (2 adults, 2 kids, 1 baby) sharing a 2 bedroom apartment on a self-catering basis.

Le Jardin des Douars, nr Essaouira, Morocco

“Just 15 minutes inland from the blue fishing port of Essaouira with its long beach, is this kasbah-style hotel with colourful lush gardens and two heated jade-green pools (one for families). The stunning rooms and suites pay homage to local crafts with antique furniture and doors, traditional tiling and polished walls. Three Villa Suites can sleep up to 10, with private pools and cooks, otherwise there are family rooms and suites, some with private terraces. Try camel rides or kitesurfing and return home for boules, ping pong and delicious Moroccan fare with a French twist in the restaurant (there’s a kids menu too).

Travel Tip: Souks in Essaouira are generally cheaper than in Marrakech. Ask your hotel for a guide to take you and your family on a tour.

From £113 per night, based on a family of up to 4 (2 adults, 1 child, 1 baby) sharing a Beldi Room on an B&B basis.

Chalet Cannelle, French Alps

“On the edge of a tiny hamlet in the Abondance Valley is this 200-year-old farmhouse reinvented as a gorgeous 5-bedroom mountain chalet. You get big picture windows, original beams, and an uncluttered contemporary chalet style. Available as a great value fully-catered chalet in the winter, sleeping up to 14, in the summer months you can stay on a B&B basis. The food is outstanding, the air fresh, there’s a playroom with dressing up box and Nintendo Wii for smaller guests, and plenty to do in summer: hiking, mountain biking, zip wires, wild swimming.

Travel Tip: Cannelle is very close to the Swiss border, so if you’ve a French hire car, you’ll need to have bought the vignette (an annual permit), and tell the hire car company. Equally if you’ve a Swiss car, tell them you’re heading into France. Note that the lifts (for mountain-biking and walking outside the ski season) are closed late April to June although roads make most spots accessible when the snow has melted.”

From £129 per night, based on a family of 4 sharing an Owl Family Room on an B&B basis.

YabYum Resort, North Goa, India

“Right behind beautiful Ashvem Beach, within an enclosed magical sand garden, are these playful thatched domes (and simple cottages) which are a delight for families (especially those with primary age kids and younger). The simple beach shack vibe belies the lovely touches (complimentary incense and candles, beds draped in muslins, hand-woven Rajasthani patchwork paintings) which elevate the accommodations. Breakfasts are organic and delivered to your igloo, food is available all day (plus there’s a kids menu), there are hammocks and wicker armchairs to relax in and paddling pools for small fry. There’s the blissful beach to explore, tuk-tuks can whisk you to markets, and you can take a boat trip to spot dolphins.

Travel Tip: YabYum is closed June-September for the monsoon season, but you’d not want to bring a family then anyhow. You’re under an hour from the airport, YabYum can arrange a transfer, and they also have 2 cars and 3 drivers at your disposal for exploring the area if tuk-tuks are not your thing.”

From £58 per night, based a family of 4 sharing a Family Dome on an B&B basis.

Weeke Barton, Devon

“With bags of character (think spiral staircases, ancient nooks, sheepskin-covered window seats and big fireplaces) and a warm welcome, this cosy 5-bedroomed B&B (claimed to be the oldest longhouse in Devon) is perfect for outdoorsy families. You’re well-placed to explore Dartmoor National Park and only 15km from the beach, historic houses and Bronze Age sights, horse-riding and wild swimming are all nearby too. Back at the B&B, the food is both tasty and local, there’s a garden to romp around complete with boules pitch, plus a DVD library, and the largest 3 chic bedrooms can take 1 or 2 rollaway beds.

Travel Tip: Although you’re only 20 minutes from the railway station, you’ll probably need a car to explore. The region is terrific all year for walking and wild landscapes including waterfalls and gorges. Seasonal specialities include foraging in the autumn, cycling and the beach in the summer, wildlife viewing in the spring.”

From £130 per night, based on a family of 4 sharing a Family Room on an B&B basis.

Costa Brava Hideaway, Catalonia, Spain

“Stay in this colourful hippy deluxe self-catering house (it sleeps up to 12 in 5 bedrooms) in a quiet village, and spend your days cycling around medieval villages, having picnics in flower-filled fields, and enjoying days out at the seaside. Return for lazy siestas in huge bedrooms, snooze on daybeds in the living room, or chill on the terrace poolside. The children will be so busy playing badminton, table football and snooker, and jumping in the pool, you’ll be able to relax completely.

Travel Tip: The house is only 30 minutes from the airport, and most will hire a car to explore the region, however it would be possible to get here by train and cycle around the ‘hood for a carefree car-free holiday. The whole region is unspoiled and charming, so do potter about local hamlets, try the regional delicacies, and make the most of the quiet coves and delightful beaches along this section of the gorgeous Costa Brava (the house has beach toys for you to borrow).

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