Showing posts with label family travel blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family travel blogger. Show all posts

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Appartello Hamburg Review // Hamburg with a Larger Family

One of our biggest issues travelling as a larger family is finding accomodation that suits us.  Most hotel rooms only allow four or sometimes five guests but with four small children, we need a bigger room.  On our recent trip to Hamburg we were invited to stay at Appartello, a hotel just outside the city centre full of mini apartments.  It offers all the great qualities of a hotel, including 24 hour reception, breakfast and housekeeping, but with the freedom of an apartment.


Our room had a large open plan living room with a breakfast bar and a kitchen, and then a seperate bedroom.  The sofa pulled out into a large double bed making it perfect for the boys to sleep on, although we actually ended up putting them to sleep in the bedroom so that we could stay up in the living area, and then transferring them when we wanted to go to sleep.


The hotel staff were amazing and happy to answer any questions (in flawless English).  I asked about a bus stop, and they printed me out step by step instructions on how to get to the venue I was after and talked me through it all as well.

The kitchen was well equipped and even had a coffee machine which you could buy pods for at reception.  You could easily cook a full meal in it as there was a proper oven and plenty of equipment.  The apartments are designed for long stays, but they are perfect for short ones too.  For longer stays there are washing machines in the basement that are free to use, and there is also a fitness centre.


We found the location ideal, there was a bus stop just around the corner and it took less than 10 minutes to get onto the main rail network where we could hop on and off trains to get to different parts of the city.  Coming back out of the centre at the end of the day was really calming for the boys and the hotel was in a quiet neighbourhood.



The bathroom was lovely and even had a little step which was Finn's favourite thing, as he has developed a fascination with water and loves washing his hands at every opportunity! It was cleaned everyday by the housekeeping service too.


The beds were really comfy although the pillows were so fluffy and we weren't used to it at all! We all slept very soundly.  I was so impressed with the hotel and it was perfect for bigger families like ours as it accomodated the six of us more than comfortably.


There was a continental breakfast service in the morning on the basement floor where you could help yourself.  The children loved choosing their food and we loved the convenience of being able to pop down and fill our tummies before the day.  


Travelling with a bigger family isn't always as easy but there are some great places if you know where to look and Appartello met all of our needs.

We were invited to Hamburg by Come to Hamburg who arranged our accommodation.  
All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.


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Thursday, 20 April 2017

10 things I wish I had known before visiting centre parcs De Huttenheugte in Holland

Centre parcs Holland, De Huttenheugte, European centre parks, Plopsa
We have just come back from a 4 night stay at Centre Parcs De Huttenheugte in Holland.  It was the perfect mix of nature, activities and cake and all six of us had the best time.  We booked our trip very last minute and didn't do much research, so I thought I would share 10 things I wish I had known before we went

1. The restaurants shut at 8pm.

I thought that being in Europe meant mealtimes were often later, but when we stayed out a bit later, we were caught out as the restaurants stop serving food by around 8pm.  We did manage to find one in the activity centre that was serving pizza still at 8:30 thankfully .

centre parcs Holland, de huttenheugte, Centre parcs Netherlands

2. The evening entertainment is like an 80s gameshow

We had decided just to skip the evening entertainment as it was all in Dutch and unfortunately my knowledge of the language is pretty limited (ok, non-existent).  We stumbled upon it one evening though and ended up watching for quite some time.  It mostly resembled an 80s game show - there were strange costumes, renditions of cheesy pop and a rather strange song where everyone grabbed napkins off the table and started waving them.  It is worth watching for an evening, even if you don't speak the language.

3. Plopsa is next door for longer stays

Directly next door to the De Huttenheugte site is an amazing amusement park called Plopsa.  You can opt to buy tickets when you book your cottage and they last for the length of your stay.  The boys absolutely loved it, there was so much to do for them.  I would say it was ideal for 2-7 year olds with indoor and outdoor rides, play areas and shows.  For shorter stays there is enough to do in the main site, but we loved visiting.

Plopsa Holland, Centre Parcs Netherlands

Plopsa Holland

4. Holland has different term dates.

It took me a while to realise that it was so quiet because in Holland and Germany the schools weren't on a break.  Our Easter terms have different dates so not only was the park cheaper, but there were never queues either.

Centre parcs de huttenheugte, Centre parcs in the Netherlands, me&i

5. Pool is amazing and open until 9pm

I haven't been to an English Centre Parcs to compare, but the pool complex was amazing! Set inside a giant dome, there were lots of different pools and areas, two kids water playgrounds, sun beds, a sauna, a shop selling all manner of water gear and a restaurant too where you can dine in your bikini.  We could have spent so much more time in there.  It is also worth noting that they have float vests available for children to use for free in the pool.

6. Water is expensive, bring reusable bottles

It is cheaper to drink alcohol in some places than water, I was shocked when I realised that they were charging me nearly four Euros for a small bottle of water! It is much more cost efficient to bring your own reusable bottles and top them up each day.  The tap water is drinkable, but even if you wanted to stick with bottled stuff, you can buy big bottles cheaper at the supermarket and decant them.


7. So many different bikes to hire - 10 person family bike for the adventurous.

No matter what size your family and what your ability is, there is a bike for you.  We went for the 10 person family bike for a cycle around the lake, but there are mountain bikes, kids bikes, tandem bikes, trailers and every variety you can think of.  There are also great safari trucks for the kids (worth booking in advance).

family bike, 10 person bike, centre parcs de huttenheugte

8. Everyone speaks great English, even the characters.

Every single member of staff we came across spoke wonderful English, including the characters.  The boys hadn't seen any of the shows as we thought that the language barrier may put them off, but when we visited the pancake restaurant, one of them was there to decorate pancakes with the kids and he chatted away with them easily in English.  This was one of the highlights for Dylan!

centre parcs de huttenheugte, European centre parcs, Me&i

9. Take mosquito repellent.

It just didn't register that we would be outside around a lake a lot, so I completely forgot to bring mosquito repellent.  As it happened, we were all fine, but I would suggest packing some just in case if you are planning a visit, especially in the summer months.




10. Milkshake is a big thing, try the Chocomel

Everywhere we went there was milkshake - far more than you would find in the UK and Chocomel was everywhere.  Obviously we had to try some in both hot chocolate and milkshake form and both were delicious!

Chocomel

We had such a brilliant time during our stay and we are hoping to go back as there was so much to entertain us all.
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Monday, 17 April 2017

A Few Days Away // Centre Parcs Holland

Centre Parcs Holland, De Huttenheugte, Travel with four children

We knew that we wanted to go away over Easter, but we hadn't got much further than that when it came to actual plans.  I wasn't sure whether we should stay in the UK or go abroad, and we have to think about what sort of holidays are practical with four aged five and under.  In the end we booked a few nights away at a Centre Parcs site in Holland and two days after booking, we were in the car on the way there.

We got the ferry from Dover to Calais in the afternoon and then drove up to De Huttenheugte Centre Parcs in the Netherlands.  I hadn't really done much research and we haven't visited a UK Centre Parcs but I was confident we would have fun regardless.  It worked out really cheap even with the added travelling costs and it meant taking the children somewhere new.  

centre parcs, de huttenheugte, centre parcs Europe

The parc is set around a huge lake and our cottage backed out onto the lake which was just beautiful.  We hadn't really considered the fact that the term dates in Germany and Holland are different to ours but it worked out well as the parc was really quiet and nothing got too crowded.  

There was so much to do for small children and we spent our days feeding the ducks, playing in the parks, visiting the animals in the small petting area and enjoying the amazing pools.  I have never been anywhere with pools quite like it.  Inside a giant dome is a selection of swimming areas including two kids play areas, a wave pool, a deeper diving pool and restaraunts, sun beds, a sauna and more.  We don't get to go swimming often with the children as with four so young there are often restrictions, but they were really relaxed and with the kids pools we didn't have to worry about baby seats so much.  There were plenty of float jackets in each area for the children to wear and we took our own seat for Cora.  I loved watching their confidence grow in the water and it was definitely a highlight of our holiday.

The restaraunts were set inside another dome which had a river flowing through it with turtles and giant fish as well as trees with parrots and a walkway up high looking down on it all.  There was such a wonderful atmosphere and so much for the kids to explore that it was never hard keeping them entertained whilst we waited for food or drinks.  


There was an action centre with a brilliant indoor mini golf, bowling and arcade games as well as a playroom where certain kids clubs were hosted.  We decided not to put the children into any of them in the end as we wanted to enjoy the time all together but I think they would have loved the 'I want to be a firefighter' or 'I want to be a chef' sessions.

On the Sunday the temperatures suddenly soared into the twenties and we hired a 'family bike' for a couple of hours to cycle around the lake.  This seemed like a brilliant idea for all of two minutes before we realised that 6 people plus a giant bike is pretty heavy and only two of us could actually reach the pedals.  The boys loved being driven round though and it was such a beautiful day that we took a little picnic along with us.  There were so many different bikes and carts available to hire.

10 person bike, centre parcs de hutteneugte

Right next to the site is an amusement park called Plopsa.  We bought passes for it and had a lovely day there.  There were indoor and outdoor rides, shows and playgrounds as well as eating areas.  The boys loved the rollercoaster, the huge indoor slides and the climbing mountain outside (which Finn scaled in a rather monkey like fashion).  There was a huge outdoor driving area for kids and they spent ages driving around, stopping at every red light, going the 'wrong' way round every roundabout and playing at being firemen and policemen.  There was so much for all three boys to do and Ed and I had a lot of fun on the climbing mountain too (although neither of us actually made it up to the slide)

plopsa Holland, climbing mountain

Our cottage was perfect for us with three bedrooms, a living and dining area, both with six chairs and an outdoor area with a table and chairs.  The cottage was clean and well equipped although we only really used it for sleeping in. 

We had such a lovely time exploring somewhere new, listening to the different languages (we only heard one other English person - they were mostly Dutch and German) and admiring the beauty of the forest and lake.  It is definitely somewhere we would visit again and I think we will try a different European Centre Parcs too after having such a great experience. 

As I am sure you can imagine, I took a few too many photos, so here are some of my favourites.

centre parcs de huttenheugte


centre parcs de huttenheugte

centre parcs Holland, de Huttenheugte






















 We had such an amazing break, the children were so happy playing that they had a proper screen detox (which was very much needed) and we have so many wonderful memories to look back on.
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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Treehouse Hotels

As the school holidays are approaching we are looking for somewhere new for a break.  I have such a passion for travel and I want to show my children the wonders of this world.  We don't always have to go far - there is so much of the UK I still want to explore, but I want to see new things, have wonderful experiences together and explore.

I have always wanted to stay in a tree house hotel and I think it would be such a unique experience.  This map of the best tree house hotels has some absolutely stunning properties and every single one of them has made it onto my bucket list now.



It is easy to see how Chateaux Dans Les Abres in France makes it onto the list, these castles in the trees are beautifully set in natural meadows and woods and each one has a private hot tub.  The activities on site include a heated infinity pool and panoramic views from the treetop terrace.  There are 5 castles, one of which can sleep up to 6 people so it suitable for families such as mine.


We have always wanted to travel to Thailand as a family and I loved it when I went pre-children.  I hadn't heard of the Bangkok tree house until recently but the eco-friendly property which can only be located on foot or by boat is a haven away from the bustle of the city and the perfect getaway for an environmentally conscious couple or family.


I know that there are a few tree house hotels in the UK now and we are definitely going to be looking into whether we can visit one, as they look like such a fantastic and unique experience.

Collaborative Post

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Monday, 27 February 2017

Cora's Holiday Must-Haves

When asked to list 10 travel must haves, it seems that all six of us have different ideas - The biggest members of the family want wifi, cocktails and a good book, the middle two want kids clubs and swimming goggles and the smallest two are led with their stomachs - it is all about the ice cream.  Mark Warner are looking for ambassador families and we would love to share what an MW holiday is really like and see how they would cope with our crazy tribe.

So to make it a bit simpler, I have collated Cora's travel must have's into our own special mood board below, and a little video explaining more.


Here is what Cora can't travel without:

1) Muslins - This is one baby essential we never forget to pack - lightweight blanket, makeshift bib, dribble catcher or even a funny little hat with knots in the corners.

2) Pretty summer dresses - I imagine this will be the summer she starts toddling and after three boys I am a little bit excited about all the sweet little outfits she can wear

3) Wet suit - Because this baby was born to splash

4) A beach bag to carry all her essentials - I don't know how long the only little girl in the family will take up the least amount of space in the suitcase,  I doubt it will be long!

5) Suncream - Cora's hair is coming through so blonde so I imagine she will need a high factor sun protection.

6) A beaker - Everyone needs a poolside drink

7) Mummy - Because she is going through a VERY clingy phase at the moment

8) Sunhat - To protect her gorgeous little head.

9) The sun - Cora was just a tiny newborn last summer so she hasn't had much experience of the sun.  (This is definitely not something we will be bringing from home)

10) Don't forget the baby!!!



This is our entry to become a Mark Warner Ambassador
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Monday, 23 January 2017

Our Week away with Snowbizz

Have you ever been somewhere and realised that you left a little piece of yourself there when you left?  That is how we feel about Puy St Vincent.  This year was the third time we have taken a family ski holiday, the third time we have headed to the snowy French Alps with Snowbizz - The Family Ski Specialists, and we know that it won't be the last.

From the helpful staff in the office to the friendly greeting at Gatwick airport to the Pink ladies welcoming us to Turin, we felt looked after at every stage of our journey and in resort I felt confident leaving my children with the qualified nannies and knew that the boys' ski lessons were all overseen by Michel, who makes it his business to ensure every child (and adult) is getting the most from their time in Puy.  

This year was our first time with four children, and I was a little worried about how it would all go.  They are all still so young and with two under two, we were flying with one on our lap each and another child next to us each.  Somehow everything seemed to come together on the day and it just fell into place.  The drive up to the resort from the airport is full of anticipation and snoring as the early start means we all struggled to stay awake.  When you open your eyes to the stunning view of endless mountains, crisp white snow and tall trees it is just so magical and we were in Puy before we knew it.

babywearing, snow babywearing, madame googoo

Our week was exhausting but relaxing and we each got so much from it.  The bloke and I progressed in our skiing thanks to our wonderful instructor Hugo.  He pushed me to try some of the red runs, he took us off piste after the fresh snow had fallen and he helped me every step of the way when I struggled with my confidence.  

Dylan was in the Junior ski school this year which meant a two hour lesson each morning.  To say he loved it would be an understatement, he was dressed and ready to go each morning an hour before the doors even opened! There were four of them in his group and he spent the week on the green and blue slopes.  On the last day after much asking, I went out skiing with him.  I was worried that I wouldn't be able to help him much, that I wasn't good enough myself but he amazed me with his independence and skills.  His instructor had taught them how to get their skis on themselves, how to get up when they fall and how to ski well.  We skied down alongside him amazed at how far he had come in only a week!

snowbizz, family skiing, family ski specialist

Archie loved his lessons too with instructor Matthieu.  The 'Totons' are skiers aged 3 and 4 and each group has one of the qualified nannies out on the snow with them.  Archie had two other little boys with him which meant an amazing ratio and so much attention.  He was keen to keep trying all lesson and didn't want them to end after the hour!

3 year old skiing, family ski holiday, snowbizz,

Cora and Finn were in the creche - Finn charmed everyone as he always does and Cora surprised me in the best way.  For a baby that is attached to me almost 24/7 at home, I wasn't sure how she would cope in a new surrounding.  At 6 months she is still breastfed on demand and she is used to being worn in a sling a lot. She settled into the creche immediately and didn't cry all week.  She was content and smiley for the wonderful ladies and they were very respectful of my parenting, happy to hold her and cuddle her as much as she wanted.  I popped in just before my lesson and straight after it to feed her and she fell into an easy routine whilst we were away.

family ski holiday, taking a baby skiing

The wonderful thing about a ski holiday is that there is something for everyone.  Our week was a mix of adult time and family time and we could all go off in the day and have our lessons but we all came together again afterwards, refreshed after a little time apart and with the wonderful backdrop of a snowy mountain to relax us.  Skiing is physically quite exhausting so our evenings were snuggly and our bedtimes early.

Snowbizz offers so much but the things that really make it perfect for young families like ours are the exceptional childcare and the closeness of everything.  We would leave our apartment and have our skis on within 30 seconds walk, ready to go.  At the end of my lesson, I could pop my skis against the wall with Ed and be back with the children in less than a minute.  The resort is small but has everything we needed with a selection of restaurants, ski shops and two supermarkets.

family ski holiday, snowbizz, family ski specialist

The childcare is by far the best we have come across in any country.  The nannies all seem so genuinely happy to be there and their energy and enthusiasm is catching.  I would pop in to feed Cora at sometimes quite random times but I always found them totally engrossed in play with the children - painting faces, making up songs, pushing them around in cars or following the children's games.  I felt happy leaving Cora there each day despite the fact that until last week I had never left her with anyone other than Ed and never for more than 30 minutes.

This little resort buried 1600 metres up the slope is the place we spend all year looking forward to visiting and we are not alone.   The personal service of a family run company means there are families that come back year after year and many new families are captivated on the first visit.  For children learning to ski, this is the perfect resort with small classes and the nursery slopes on their doorstep.

toddler in snow, family ski holiday, snowbizz with a toddler

Skiing may not be the first thing you think of when looking for somewhere to take young children, but it is an amazing holiday for every age and we have definitely got the ski bug!



sledging, family ski holiday, snowbizz

muddy puddles, family ski trip, snowbizz,

snowbizz, family ski specialists, sledging with a three year old

snowbizz, family ski holiday

snowbizz, crete ski slope, family ski holiday

bundlebean, family ski resort, skiing with a baby, snowbizz


learning to ski, snowbizz, family ski holiday

learning to ski, family ski holiday, snowbizz, puy st vincent















Thank you to Snowbizz for hosting us last week - we may turn out to be your most loyal customers!


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