February half term (13 to 17 February 2017 in most parts of the UK) provides the perfect excuse for a family holiday to blow away the cobwebs and escape on a winter break that both the kids and adults will love.
From the UK to Europe, there are plenty of last-minute trips to book for the school holidays. We've selected three unforgettable getaways for relaxing at the beach, getting active in the mountains and spending winter days in the sunshine...
Treat the kids to a classic beach getaway in Cornwall
British seaside breaks create some of the best childhood memories and on a February half term holiday to Cornwall, you can experience near-empty beaches, fun days out at the Eden Project and even take your four-legged friend along. Families can book a week at a stylish townhouse in St Ives as a fantastic base close to the sights and sounds of the seaside town and beyond. Coast House Cottage is spread over three stories, with an open-plan kitchen, living and dining room and double and loft-style bedrooms. The cottage is also just a three-minute stroll to the golden sands of Porthminster. From £450 for a seven-night stay from 10 to 17 February with Milly & Martha, based on five sharing on a self-catering basis.
Become apprentice mushers in the French Alps
For a unique twist to a February half term ski holiday, families can try mushing on a terrific dog sledding tour of La Plagne (€40 per hour). Supervised and instructed by a professional musher in Champagny en Vanoise, eight to 12-year-olds can learn the basic techniques on a sled pulled by one or two dogs in an exciting activity that takes place in beautiful snowy surrounds. For a family-friendly place to stay, Belambra in Plagne Centre offers activities for children and a nursery from three years, plus evening entertainment shows. Other fun things to experience in La Plagne include the new Family Fun Run ski area, the Ice Tower for a unique climbing experience and fat biking, which older kids will love. From £3,571 for a seven-night half-board stay at Belambra for two adults and two children during half term.
Escape to Portugal for beaches, sightseeing and surfing
With two lovely beaches, the pretty Portuguese town of Cascais, located just 15 miles from Lisbon, is a great spot for a winter family holiday. Travellers can combine culture and sightseeing in the vibrant Portuguese capital with blissful coastal relaxation during a stay at the four-star superior Albatroz, where Kirker offers three nights for the price of two on February half-term breaks. As the hotel sits between two sandy beaches in the heart of Cascais, families can soak up the beach life, pop to Cascais' famous ice-cream parlour Santini's and experience the paddle-boarding school on the main beach. The nearby beach at Guincho is also a well-known spot for surfers, if you're looking for something more active. From £1,795 for a family of four including flights, transfers and B&B accommodation.
Britain's best hotels for kids
Britain's best hotels for kids
The fun and imaginative LEGOLAND Windsor Resort Hotel is the ultimate hotel for budding model builders, with 150 Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure and LEGO Friends-themed bedrooms and brilliant rides for all ages in the theme park. After an exciting day in the park you can enjoy LEGO chaos in the hotel's Bricks Family Restaurant, with colourful characters and great family food. Around the hotel you'll find quirky-themed lifts, exploding toy boxes, secret whoopee cushions and a pirate-themed indoor water play area. Themed family rooms cost from £314 for two adults and two children and include breakfast, Park tickets for two days and early bird access to selected rides.
Treat your children to a luxury stay at The Grove in Hertfordshire, with its OFSTED-approved creche, large outdoor pool in the Walled Garden and 300 acres of room to roam. Fun activities on offer include nature trails, cycling around the estate, golf clinics and playing Giant Chess and Jenga. Travel cots are supplied at no extra charge and there is organic baby food available. The kids will also love their mini Grove bathrobes and milk and cookies before bed. Family rooms from £490 per night.
Set above Mawgan Porth Beach in Cornwall, Bedruthan Steps is the ideal spot for families wanting to spend time on the sand. The hotel has OFSTED-approved kids clubs for all ages, a teenagers' room, high tea for little ones and organic baby food. Guests are provided with nappy bins, microwaves to warm bottles and travel cots, plus there are various family break packages throughout the year. For example, the Spend Time Together break for toddlers offers you wellies, spades and all-terrain buggies, plus two hours' free childcare each day. Family rooms cost from £244 on a B&B basis.
Luxury hotel Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences really knows how to make your little ones feel like mini VIPs with its Kids@Taj initiative. Young travellers receive an amenity bag containing goodies such as the Taj Passport, stamped by the hotel with their dates of stay, along with certificates commemorating any activity they complete on their holiday. The hotel has partnered with the Born Free Foundation to offer a Jungle-book-fantastic programme, with cuddly toy tigers and menus featuring Baloo's Canela Waffles and Akela's Cheesy flatbread. At bedtime, there are personalised giant cookies and hot chocolate to enjoy. Kids@Taj is complimentary for all young guests. A two-bedroom suite for a family of four costs £875 per night.
The unique Alton Towers Hotel is themed around the incredible explorer Sir Algenon, who has made the hotel his home. Children will love the fun and quirky features, including his amazing flying ship which has crash landed in the middle of the hotel and the explorer-themed bedrooms. There are also 12 magnificently themed suites, such as the girly sleepover suite, the Ice Age room and the Chocolate room. From £240 per night for a family of four.
The stylish St Moritz Hotel in North Cornwall is such a hotspot for families, that it has even created a website for its Mini Moritzers. For Mini Moritzers it's all about enjoying the great outdoors with Greenaway Beach and Daymer Bay right on the doorstep. Kids aged six and up can learn to surf the Cornish waves with professional instructors and there are Mini Moritz Surf Safaris to keep little hands busy exploring rock pools, making sand creations and playing beach games. After a hard day's play, the children can hit the kiddies' bar for a selection of mocktails and there are indoor swimming pools, a chill-out room and big hammocks for relaxing. Double rooms from £120.
Auchrannie Resort consists of two four-star hotels and 30 five-star self-catering lodges, as well as new executive rooms and suites which include a separate bunk room for the kids. Children visiting the Isle of Arran resort can enjoy the magnificent Playbarn, which features a three-tier indoor mega Softplay area, a teen zone, jukebox and big-screen TV. Chidren can check out the Adventure Cabin for supervised archery, sea kayaking, gorge walking and abseiling in the beautiful surroundings. Family packages from £129.
Your little ones will love the Thomas & Friends-themed bedrooms at the Drayton Manor Hotel in Tamworth. The magical family rooms feature unique Thomas & Friends bunk beds that come with their own DVD player. Little guests are invited to spend time in the Thomas & Friends Theatre for story time and there are character breakfasts. The hotel is located 20 metres from Drayton Manor Theme Park so they can enjoy a whole day in Thomas Land too! Family rooms from £130.
This four-star sprawling hotel in Cheshire was made for outdoor-loving families, with its 100 acres of countryside to explore. Carden Park Hotel offers a wide range of activities such as nature trails through the estate, falconry Hawk Walks and on-site crazy golf course, as well as giant chess games and fun at the adventure playground. There is even a games room and relaxing lounge with Wii consoles and refreshments for teenagers who need a 'time-out' from activities. For the parents, there are two championship golf courses, a vineyard, tennis courts and a luxurious spa with a 20-metre pool, steam room and several relaxation rooms. Two-night breaks for two adults and two children from £134 per room per night.
Wake up to the sounds of roaring lions as you snuggle up in historic boutique hotel, Port Lympne Hotel in Kent's Port Lympne Reserve. There are six unique bedrooms, each individually furnished to reflect the history of the Edwardian mansion. The hotel restaurant surrounds diners with unique animal murals, reflecting the safari setting. Guests can enjoy fun-filled animal talks, arrange educational animal experiences and explore the Reserve as often as you wish during your stay. There’s also opportunity for close-up encounters with some animals, a relaxing safari and adrenaline-fuelled activities such as zorbing. From £245 per night.
As London is a city for kids of all ages, luxury hotel St. James's Hotel & Club has its own dedicated concierge to introduce its younger guests to some of the capital's most famous and more unusual attractions. Assistant Head Concierge Tony O'Connell is the resident expert in all things fun, informative and unusual, and can recommend the right activity, restaurant or theatre show for a great day out. Whether you're visiting with six or 60-year-olds, Tony will find something that appeals to the whole family. Reserve a Junior or Deluxe Suites for a minimum of two nights and get a complimentary Superior room for your children. Rate starts from £540 per night.
Butlins' newest addition is the Wave Hotel at its Bognor Regis Resort. Perfect for older children, it boasts quirky under-the-sea design features, unique cabin-style children's bedrooms, a family games room and a Kindle library. Each room comes with free WiFi and iPod docking stations, plus the whole family has access to the indoor Splash Waterworld, the Traditional Fairground and fun live shows. Four nights from £75 per person.
This castle with character offers fairytale turrets and towers, roaring fires and peaceful grounds for decadent family breaks. Magical Augill Castle is where little ones can enjoy bespoke Little Cooks courses, a games room, toys, books and a tree house. There is even a fort in the forest and a cinema room. For even younger guests, parents have baby listening facilities and interconnecting rooms with cots, high chairs and baby and toddler supplies. A great place for fussy eaters, the hotel even offers flexible menus so dinner time is a treat for all. Family rooms from £200.
A place for the family to live out their dreams, Bovey Castle in the Dartmoor National Park offers younger guests the same fluffy dressing gowns and mini slippers as parents, as well as warm milk and snacks delivered to their door. For older children, the Bovey Rangers action-packed timetable teaches new skills including archery, survival skills, woodland challenge and float fishing. Bovey Princess treatments in the Elan Spa give little girls the opportunity to live like a princess and have their fingers and toes painted with mum, while teen guests can book in for tailored teen manicures, pedicures and facials. Rooms from £179.
If you're not necessarily looking for a hotel that will keep the kids entertained 24/7 but just one that genuinely loves and caters for children, The Priory Inn in the Cotswold market town of Tetbury has owners who have children of their own and there is a huge focus on providing a haven for families. Travel cots, changing mats and a basket of baby essentials are available, as well as baby listening devices that work from the restaurant and a babysitter if needed. Children can have fun making pizzas and watching them go into the wood oven, and children under 12 stay for free. From £89 for a family of four.
Looking for something new and exciting to impress the kids? Swinton Park, nestled in 20,000 acres in the Yorkshire Dales, offers a family falconry experience allowing children to meet the birds, learn to handle and fly them with expert falconer Sophie Abbott, who has been working with the birds of prey since the age of 12. Each session provides plenty of hands-on time with hawks and owls too. Cooking, foraging on the estate and horse riding are other activities at Swinton Park. Falconry from £110 per family. Rooms from £250.