If like me you trawl the internet for child-friendly holidays, you’ll know how exciting it is when you find somewhere that really caters for your little treasures (and not at the expense of adult enjoyment either). Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall, is one of those places.
I’ll say straight away that I’m a hotel snob. I’m a very fussy customer because hotels are not cheap and they have a fairly simple service to provide – bed and breakfast as a minimum. But on so many occasions I’ve received poor service, shoddy surroundings and awful food. I travelled a lot when I was a marketing manager and have been lucky enough to stay in hotels all over the world. Therefore I know exactly what I’m looking for when I choose accommodation and even more so, now I need it to work for us as a family. With hotels I find you get what you pay for, although there are always exceptions.
Since having rocket man Hubster and I have felt more comfortable holidaying in the UK. In fact, three out of our last four holidays have been spent at Watergate Bay Hotel. I could write a post on the whole place, but let’s just say it’s coastal chic at its best. Laid-back luxury. Designed for adults, but with children (and dogs!) in mind.
There is an eclectic mix of clientele, from families with babies, to couples and silver-surfers. Somehow the hotel enables everyone to co-exist without intruding on each others’ space. This is largely down to a wide selection of areas to ‘hang out.’ From a gorgeous lounge over-looking Watergate Bay, to the buzzy ‘Living Space,’ Swim Club or their restaurant Zacry’s. Two minutes walk from the hotel is also Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall.
THE KIDS ZONE
This post is all about the kids, so I have to start with the Kids Zone. Before children I didn’t take much notice of child-friendly facilities, but Watergate Bay Hotel have really got this nailed. The Kids Zone is open every day from 8am until 10pm and it’s completely free. You can either go there as a family and play or do crafts, or you can book onto one of their supervised sessions. It’s an Ofsted-registered activity space for children of all ages. Their website states that all staff are experienced early years practitioners, with associated qualifications and valid DBS checks. I have to say everyone we met was lovely.
As you walk into the Kids Zone there is a large room for older children with games, pool table, TV, ping pong and table football. Further down the corridor is a secure play room, art room and outdoor area for younger children. As I said I’m not an easy customer to please, but I was so impressed with the facilities. There was such a lot to keep kids entertained and I felt the whole area had a Montessori feel to it. By that I mean it’s mostly self-directed play (a lovely pretend kitchen), sensory experiences, wooden toys and a craft area where children can let their imaginations run wild. Best of all, it was always really calm!
Our little man is only 16 months old, but he loved it every time we took him to the Kids Zone. Most afternoons we’d pop down all together and play with him for an hour before dinner. He was really taken with the play kitchen and was happy to explore everything, including reading, playing cars, building with blocks and running around outside. When he’s older he’ll be able to join in with football tournaments, hot chocolate around a fire pit and fun on the beach.
The Kids Zone also offers supervised sessions throughout the day. The toddler session is every morning from 10am – 12 noon. Each day they have different activities to engage the kids and on Tutti’s first morning he enjoyed jelly play and on his other morning it was fun with water. Obviously you must stay on site while your children are in the sessions, but it was lovely having a couple of hours just the two us (so rare these days) to read a paper, drink coffee or go back to bed…ahem.
There are also supervised sessions for older children from 6.30pm until 10pm. Again a mix of activities including films, cookery and team games for ages 3 -12 years old. This is a great idea if you want to enjoy a quiet dinner or relax after a hectic family day out.
OK, so along with all the beach activities, that’s the kids entertainment sorted, but what else makes Watergate Bay Hotel great for families? Well, here are some brilliant features:
* Baby-Sitting and Baby Monitoring
For £12 an hour you can hire an in-room baby-sitter from 6pm until 2am. They are staff from the Kids Zone so you know they’re fully qualified. Alternatively, the hotel provides free video baby monitors which you connect up in your room. You can then go downstairs and eat dinner whilst watching your precious ones on-screen (and checking on them regularly). We loved having a relaxed dinner every night and see these options as a real plus for the hotel.
* Early Supper
Every day from 5pm – 6pm children can eat an early supper in Zacry’s restaurant. I think in high season this is laid-out as a buffet, but as we stayed in October we had the kid’s menu to pick full meals from. The food is all fresh and very high quality. The buffet is a great idea as children can choose a few different things, but equally rocket man enjoyed the meals we ordered from the menu (although the portions were too big for him).
A genius idea! The downside of staying in hotels with children is there often isn’t room for all the paraphernalia you need. Watergate Bay have helped with this by giving guests access to parents’ kitchens on each floor. These are small kitchens containing a fridge, microwave and sink, plus electrical sockets for sterilisers etc. We used the kitchen on our floor every day and left food in the fridge. Every little helps!
* Family Rooms
We haven’t stayed in one, but the rooms feature a king-size bed and decent space, plus a separate bedroom with bunk beds. I think these rooms are mainly at the back of the hotel with a view of the road, which has put me off. However, having opted for a sea view room with us all sleeping in the same space, I would definitely consider a family room in future. It wasn’t a problem when rocket man was tiny and could sleep through anything, but this time we found he woke us up and we woke him up. Not ideal.
So there you are. Part of me didn’t want to share what a lovely place it is, as it’s already difficult to get a room at popular times! However, I know how hard it is to find child-friendly accommodation that still delivers high standards and attractive surroundings for us parents.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.