A Mediterranean beach break has long been a stalwart of family holidays – and for good reason. Travelling with kids isn’t always easy, but a European jaunt can deliver the holy trinity of a family holiday in just two hours: sandy, safe beaches, shallow aquamarine waters and guaranteed sunshine. Whether your child’s an awkward adolescent or still in nappies, there’s an entire wealth of activities out there to keep them occupied and entertained while you lounge pool-side with a glass of something cool. From surfing to ziplining, performing or DJ-ing, here’s our pick of the hotels with the best clubs for kids that will guarantee they have as much fun as you do on your next holiday.
The best hotel kids’ clubs in Europe are:
The medal-deserving, endlessly enthusiastic staff at this award-winning kids’ club caters for children aged 18 months to 17 years, who can join in with or without their parents. The 10,000-square-metre “Fantasy Village” play area is just one of the standout features, with a pool, Native American reservation and cowboy fort amid sand dunes, while Duneland is an enchanted castle for kids with creative workshops, a play area, cinema, nap room and Peter Pan restaurant. Expect sports galore – tennis, mini-golf, trampolines, a riding school, kayaking, archery and a climbing wall, to name a few – while the resort itself has 500 rooms, six pools, 10 restaurants and beaches with water as clear as the Caribbean.
Price: Family suites from €244 per night (£202)
Neighbourhood: Zakynthos, Greece
Who says teenagers are too old for kids’ clubs? Located on an unspoilt coastline, this one is adored by older kids, who can do practically every adrenalin-seeking watersport you can think of – sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing and more. Other activities include volleyball, mocktail making and parent-free boat trips. There’s even a teen-only hangout with its own music and tailored drinks menu. For babies and toddlers, there’s an onsite crèche, while the under 12s get a programme including activities like treasure hunts and raft-making. Staff are mainly university students, who excel in raising the confidence of even the shyest youngsters. Regular kids’ barbecues enable parents to dine in the restaurant a deux.
Price: Villas from €1700 (£1,407 )per week
The on-beach “babewatch” service (the first 30 minutes are included in the price of your room) is a genius invention at this luxurious resort that has five hotels filled with baby-friendly facilities, several pools and 18 restaurants. The British-run crèche takes children from four months to four years old, with high staff ratios; the “mini club” gets kids aged 4-11 playing games on the beach, going on short excursions and having picnics and parties, as well as doing treasure hunts, cookie-making and more. The teenage club for 12-17 year-olds runs activities such as dj-ing, archery, beach volleyball, dancing and football and sailing academies – all supported by Ozone, a hang-out venue specifically for teens. There are swimming lessons available for the under-4s and there’s a junior and teenage spa, with dedicated treatments.
Price: From €604 (£500) per night based on two adults and two children sharing
Neighbourhood: Morzine, France
This is a favourite among more active families as the resort has its own mini farm, an indoor and outdoor swimming complex, fishing, white-water activities, paragliding, cycling, golf and horse-riding. The kids’ club (which serves as a reminder that you don’t always have to go to the posh, five-star resorts to find good ones) packs in entertainment throughout July and August for 4-12 year-olds, including creative workshops, Olympic games, theatrical activities, swimming pool games, discos and sports. Meanwhile, the surrounding area of Morzine offers mountain peaks, pine forests and lakes with great footpaths and walking trails. In summer, the town also has a water park and tobogganing.
Price: From €230 (£190) per night
With its hillside setting outside Dubrovnik and seafront position, this resort – which features hotel and private residences – includes the imaginative Explorers’ kids’ club, offering children aged four months to 11 years fun-filled and action-packed days ranging from treasure hunts to making dough animals. Meanwhile, the Crew programme gives teens at least 18 hours of water- and land-based activities (including the likes of paddleboarding, sea scooting, sailing, zip wiring and zorbing) split over six days and all pre-arranged once you arrive. If this won’t get them off their screens, nothing will. Rooms themselves are specially equipped for your child’s age range, including plenty of toys and games. It also includes training programmes in football, squash, swimming and basketball, helping your little one to hone their technique to perfection. But no evening activities or group meals are offered here.
Price: From €551 (£456) per night based on two adults and two children sharing
Neighbourhood: Abama, Tenerife
This five-star resort has one of the largest kids’ club in Europe with zones for 4-12 year-olds dedicated to astronomy, wildlife, sustainability, technology, theatre and arts and crafts across its 305 square metres of indoor space and private outdoor area. There’s also a teenagers’ programme for 12-18 year-olds in the summer holidays. Families go for the world-class tennis and golf facilities, as well as the positioning of the hotel right on a cliff top, providing spectacular views. The M.B restaurant holds two Michelin stars, while Abama Kabuki has secured one, plus there’s a fabulous spa and private beach with beach bar and restaurant. But be aware that such luxury comes at a price.
Price: From €700 (£580) per night based on two adults and two children sharing
Neighbourhood: Lisbon, Portugal
With over 2,300 square metres of well-designed kids’ playgrounds, complete with 20m zipline, bouncing area and sandpit – and a kids’ club with 700 more square metres of play space – this beach resort is a real hit with families. The kids’ club comprises the baby room (six to 12 months, with age-appropriate toys and a sleeping area), Little Foxes (13 months to two years with a story telling corner, puppetry area and ball pool), Fox Club (ages six to nine with arts and crafts, Lego and Xbox) and Explorer (age 10 to 14) and Blast (age 15 to 17), which offer surfing, biking, horse riding and pool parties. There are also three pools (one covered for added UV protection) and baby concierge, and the three onsite restaurants have full ranges of baby purees and an extensive kids’ menu.
Price: From €613 (£507) per night for two adults and two children sharing
Neighbourhood: Opio en Provence, South of France
Located in the south of France, in the hinterland behind Cannes, the stand-out point of this resort is the “Creactive” playground designed by Cirque du Soleil, where adults and kids can enjoy up to 30 acrobatic and artistic activities, including flying trapeze lessons. The playground is regularly used by the petit club, mini club and junior club (there’s also a baby club), all of which are open daily from 9.30am to 5.30pm and again in the evenings. The multinational staff are enthusiastic and the food and evening shows are great too.
Price: From €1534 (£1270) per week per person based on two adults and two children sharing on an all-inclusive basis
Neighbourhood: Ibiza Bay, Ibiza
If the ‘rents aren’t quite ready to let go of their clubbing days, check out this 152-room hotel, which opened in 2017 on Talamanca beach, five m inutes by car from Ibiza town. The kids’ club, aimed at 4-14 year-olds, is one of the few dedicated clubs for children in a five-star hotel in Ibiza and offers activities from cooking to DJ workshops, bohemian foraging sessions to swimming lessons. There’s also plenty of opportunity for arts and crafts, sports and chill-out sessions (this is Ibiza, after all). There’s a Six Senses spa and the restaurant, of course, is Nobu.
Price: From €613 (£518) per night