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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Reed

Is it REALLY possible to enjoy a luxury hotel stay with two pre-schoolers? Review: The Grand Hotel

Is it REALLY possible to enjoy a luxury hotel stay with two pre-schoolers? I occasionally review hotels for The Hotel Guru, which showcases the best hotels with a high level of personal service, character and where guests can truly feel the atmosphere of the destination that they're visiting and, since I have two young boys (recently turned age two and four), I’m increasingly interested in hotels that claim to cater to families.

I’ve always loved travelling and discovering special hotels along the way, but I’ve not done so much of that since having kids. Yet it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. When my firstborn son was age one, we visited our first all-inclusive family holiday resort: Domes of Elounda in Crete – something I’d have avoided pre-kids – but it seemed like our best option if we wanted little hassle and to relax as much as is possible with a tiny human.

It was worth every penny. Perched on a hill that offered a dreamy view of the glittering ocean and Unesco-protected island of Spinalonga, its warm team were incredible at engaging with the kids during mealtimes so the adults could eat a little more mindfully. It had a fantastic kids’ club (which we didn’t use but it looked excellent) and a convenient, delicious buffet restaurant, including a section dedicated to little people which included unsalted meals and healthy, but tasty options. They also had a menu of baby items that could be provided in the room; from travel cots and high-chairs, to bottle sterilizers and baby monitors.

Since baby number two arrived and the pandemic, my husband and I have not ventured to another hotel with the kids. Until recently, when we took them on a recent two-night review stay of The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne - arguably one of the UK’s most classic five-star coastal hotels – which has some excellent family-friendly features.

So, was it a success bringing the little people? There were a few moments when I decided luxury hotels and pre-schoolers don’t mix. One was my four-year-old son greeting the welcoming restaurant host by loudly pointing out that he ‘had no hair’. Or during our dinner at its candle-lit Garden Restaurant – piano music gently playing in the background – he, along with his two-year-old brother, decided it would be fun to repeatedly bash the polished silverware onto the fine china cutlery that covered the entire table; meaning my husband and I were constantly on edge. Even putting an iPad in front of them didn’t help matters.

Yet despite this, the trip was an overall success. I was impressed with our incredibly spacious Master Suite, which offered gorgeous sea views and made for easy sleeping arrangements with its two separate rooms. The kids also appreciated the goodie bags on arrival and heated indoor swimming pool (side note: The Grand also has an outdoor pool and loungers for sunnier days). There’s even a children’s playroom, although sadly it wasn’t open when we stayed due to Covid restrictions.

But what’s perhaps most special about The Grand is the service. Staff are friendly (even the restaurant host smiled warmly when my son shamed him for being bald), and room service and housekeeping were always fast to respond to our requests.

After having breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant the first morning that we were there – and enduring yet more potential plate smashing and repeated demands for ‘only chips and ice-cream’ – we decided to order room service for breakfast the following day, which was significantly more relaxing and I wish we’d done that the previous day. That’s surely one of the benefits of staying at such a hotel, after all. Our visit has now given me a thirst to discover more hotels that cater to families with young children – I’m thinking indoor and outdoor playgrounds, and excellent, easy buffet food options. If you have any recommendations, I’d love to know. Next month we’ll be visiting Chewton Glen in Hampshire so I look forward to sharing my experience there.


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