Gone are the days when finding somewhere to stay was a simple matter of a great restaurant and somewhere to lay your weary head.
Now we’re looking for somewhere that meets all our baby or toddler needs. ‘Family Friendly’ might be a description happily brandished about to lure in unsuspecting parents, but we know that being ‘baby friendly’ involves much, much more than just having a cot and highchair available.
You need somewhere clean, able to provide those necessities for your baby or toddler, so you don’t have lug it all with you, a genuine welcome and that little extra something special to make you feel truly comfortable. We’ve searched West Sussex and found four places that tick every box; a luxury hotel for a truly pampering treat, a seaside toddler heaven complete with Bob the Builder, a fantastic farm B&B and the perfect self catering. You can rest assured that they are all absolutely ‘baby and toddler friendly’ – and with a lot more besides!
Climping, BN17 5RW
If you’re looking for the perfect historic hotel getaway, only minutes from the beach, that also guarantees a warm welcome for families with little ones, then look no further; Baliffscourt Hotel is an idyllic escape. Just south of the beautiful town of Arundel, Baliffscourt sits in its own 39 acres of parkland. You can wander at will in the gardens and look for the ‘To the Sea’ signs then amble down for a walk along Climping Beach and some bracing sea air to blow away the cares of everyday life and fall back in love with being a parent.
Booking a luxury family hotel when you’ve got a baby or toddler can be a bit worrying. It isn’t just about facilities (most places have cots and highchairs) it’s about whether a hotel really welcomes little ones. You want to be completely relaxed on your break, not constantly worrying about other guests’ reactions to your 18 month old’s less-than-perfect breakfast habits. Baliffscourt offers a genuine welcome for families with very young children. Not only do they provide cots and extra beds for children, they often don’t make a charge for Bed & Breakfast for little ones, just for additional meals taken. They have one room that is a Deluxe room that adjoins a small double room; useful if parents wish to have the youngsters in a different room. They also have family rooms that can take up to two extra beds. Baliffscourt’s 39 rooms and suites are housed in a series of buildings, connected by oak panelled passageways around a rose filled courtyard. It’s like a mediaeval fantasy of a hotel, but with a spa, pool and tennis courts!
All your baby and toddler dining needs are met here. As well as the obvious provision of high chairs, if you want to bring your own baby food that’s no problem; it can be stored and heated for you, or the kitchen are happy to puree food for the delectation of your little one! If you want to all eat together, then the restaurant will happily accommodate you (lots of high end restaurants don’t or won’t) alternatively there’s the option of a Children’s High Tea Menu from 5pm. This means that you can feed the children and put them to bed before going down to enjoy some blissful grown-up time in the elegant Tapestry Restaurant, the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. You can either use the baby listening service, or the hotel can provide one of their long standing babysitters to sit with young children if you prefer (cost is paid by the guest direct to the babysitter).
If stunning sea walks aren’t enough to tempt you, then the large award-winning spa, one of the most luxurious in the south of England, might win you over. They offer Temple Spa treatments, retreats and a Californian style hot tub. All built in the style of a Sussex barn with exposed timber frames and dramatic glass doors. They also have children’s and babies swimming times in the Spa, so you can all have a lovely dip together.
It’s a ‘come back again and again’ hotel. A honey stone walled enchanted place, where you’ll create memories that will keep you going through the hum drum days. Once you’ve discovered it, you’ll still be visiting when your babies are teenagers!
Tel: 01903 723511 www.hshotels.co.uk
Shoreline is the new luxury face of Butlins. Forget every Hi-di-hi holiday camp stereotype you might have lingering from the 1980s and open your mind to 21st century Butlins! They’ve thought of everything you need for a memorable break with your baby or toddler. Shoreline Hotel, at Butlins Bognor Regis, has been designed with babies and younger children in mind. The wide corridors and light airy rooms have plenty of space for buggies and cots, so you can forget squeezing the cot in beside a bed. You can have a great sea view and ground floor rooms have patios. Even the bathrooms have been designed with young families in mind, and the large en-suite bathroom has both a shower and bath.
Feeding little ones will be a breeze here. The South Coast Family Bar and Grill has a special healthy kids’ menu, designed by Annabel Karmel. You’ll also find free baby food with microwaves for warming up food and drinks, as well as high chairs and crayons. When you arrive you’ll find a ‘kids’ chill out zone’ close to reception, so they can play as you check in. Once you’re settled in and feel ready to enjoy the sea air and a relaxing drink, you can park yourself at one of the terrace tables and watch the wee ones playing in the boat shaped sandpit. The resort has live shows with Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, Angelina Ballerina, Fireman Sam and Pingu. You’ll find characters wandering round the resort and might just bump into Bob the Builder at the breakfast table! Butlins’ own character, Billy Bear, lives in Shoreline and treats those who visit him to a story out of his special book. The mantra here is ‘affordable luxury’ and a lot of effort goes into all those little things that will have your toddler in seventh heaven.
Tel: 0845 070 4730 www.butlins.com/hotels
Stubcroft Lane, East Wittering, Chichester, West Sussex PO20 8PJ
If you’re looking for a couple of nights’ escape, and long for a summer’s day on the beach with your baby without breaking the bank, then Stubcroft Farmhouse might be just the job. The beaches at the Witterings are amongst the finest on the south coast; glorious stretches of golden sand. On a sunny day, you’ll struggle to find anywhere nicer to set down your picnic blanket. Sunny days are the norm here as the Witterings are sheltered by the Isle of Wight and have their own micro climate, making them toasty warm and a perfect spot for a summer weekend. Close to the Witterings’ wonderful sandy beaches, and the equally lovely Bracklesham Bay, is Stubcroft Farmhouse. The nearest beaches are approximately 15-20 minute walk or a short cycle ride down the private lanes or 2-3 minutes by car (you can hire bikes from the farmhouse.
The secluded Victorian farmhouse B & B is situated on an environmentally friendly working sheep farm with enough farm activity to fascinate your average baby and toddler! There are always seasonal farming events, from lambing in the spring to shearing in the summer. I’m sure I’m not the only mum with a little boy who gazes at tractors in awe. A stay on a working farm can be wonderful for an eagle eyed little one who loves animals; they’ll be talking about it for months! As well as enjoying being on a farm you can wander along the private lanes and relish the rural break, looking for local wildlife (rabbits, butterflies, deer and hedgehogs). The house has family rooms, and cots and high chairs are available on request. Try the “Farmhouse special” breakfast and then perhaps explore the farm to work it off!
Tel: 01243 671469 www.stubcroft.com
Pear Trees Cottage
East Preston, West Sussex
If you’re looking for a longer holiday in West Sussex this summer, then self catering can be a fantastic option for families with really young children. However, as a mum who’s stayed in many cottages up and down the country in the last ten years, with children of varying ages, I’m really aware of some pitfalls; the character cottage with the treacherous stairs that your toddler spends the week trying to do forward rolls down, the unguarded ornamental pond that leaves you having palpitations every time you look outside, and too many other unforeseen dangers to list! If you want complete peace of mind then going through a company like ‘Baby Friendly Boltholes’ is a perfect solution. They think of everything you might need then make sure that their properties have it.
The pick of the crop in West Sussex is the gorgeous Pear Trees Cottage, perfectly situated just a few steps from the shoreline on an exclusive Sussex coastal estate. There are no stair gates to fret about as it’s a single-storey design, and there’s pretty much everything you might need for your baby / toddler stay, including a cot, highchair, baby chair, baby bouncer and toys. The three bedroom house is ideal for families with crawling or walking tinies but it’s the garden that’ll have them jumping up and down with delight. There’s a summer house, a trampoline and plenty of buckets and spades for the beach. The south facing decked BBQ area just begs for long, lazy afternoons in the sun whilst the children play. Bring on the sunshine!