by Telegraph Travel from The Telegraph, March 29, 2017
Easter is one of the best times for a family holiday. The break from school is long, we’re all starved for sun and action after a long winter, and prices are lower than in the peak summer season.
If you’re currently in a panic over how to entertain the children next week, consider one of these short and long-haul options for family fun.
1. Playing soldiers in London
London is one of the world’s most expensive cities - but there are plenty of ways to cut costs.
Over Easter, take your children to see the changing of the guard, followed by visit to the fantastic newly renovated National Army Museum, so children will understand what soldiers actually do.
For young children, there’s a new soft-play area, with toddler-sized assault courses and a tank to “drive”.
For older children, there are uniforms to try on, rifles to fire (can you reload and shoot 10 times in under a minute?).
And for grown-ups, do not miss the haunting gallery of war paintings.
For accommodation on a budget, your best bet is an Airbnb or the central Citadines Aparthotels (rooms from £162 per night). The one in Holborn offers easy access to the best of London and, as they are self-catering, you can save a bundle on food.
2. Caravan by the sea
While a mobile home might not seem the ideal place to be during one of those Easters dominated by rain and gales, its very compactness can make it better than many a drafty holiday cottage: turn on the central heating and you're warm in two minutes, not two hours.
Ladram Bay is the perfect jumping-off-point for exploring South Devon's Jurassic Coast. A 4-6 berth holiday home with one double (ensuite) and one twin bedroom at Ladram Bay costs £438 for a four-night stay over Easter (ladrambay.co.uk).
3. Little cabin in the woods
Stay at the Lee Valley Campsite, a wildlife haven filled with traffic-free trails through the 1,000-acre River Lee Country Park. Children will enjoy cycling, canoeing, kayaking - and the more adventurous can also enjoy paddling at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, built for London 2012. Dogs are also welcome.
Pitchup.com has heated woodland cabins, which sleep up to four people in bunk beds, from £195 for three nights, based on two adults and two children sharing from the April 14-17 (£16.25 per person, per night).
4. Cheap-ish thrills
Chessington is overshadowed by Thorpe Park and Alton Towers in terms of big rides, but this attraction in Surrey has injected novelty this year with the launch of its exclusive Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, cementing its status as a great option for younger children.
Bringing to life the popular Julia Donaldson tale, this immersive recreation of the mouse’s journey through the deep dark wood adds some storybook magic to its more standard theme park offerings.
The park’s zoo and Sea Life centre provide added family value, with animal-based attractions including monkey walk-throughs and the "Zufari" safari experience. Thrill-seekers who are more interested in big-hitter rides may be disappointed, however.
"Early Bird" online tickets are £28pp (limited availability and available only more than five days before day of visit). Chessington has two hotels on site: the Safari Hotel, offering standard, family, executive and themed rooms (including new Gruffalo ones), and Azteca. You won’t get the lowest rates booking so close to the time of the visit, but family rooms are still available for £150/night, sleeping four.
5. Storm the castle
One of the peculiarities of Britain – the land of castles – is that there are remarkably few that offer child-friendly overnight stays.
The best is Warwick Castle, the all-singing, all-dancing (don’t miss the Horrible Histories Wicked Warwick live stage show, or the twice daily firings of the Mighty Trebuchet siege engine) 1,000-year-old masterpiece.
The Knight’s Village at Warwick Castle currently has a 'Kids Go Free' offer, with mediaeval themed lodges this Easter from £81 per person per night, based on a family of four sharing, including breakfast; two days entrance to the castle; and car parking. Book at warwickcastlebreaks.com.
6. Sunny Spain
Majorca in April is a treat: at 17C and with seven hours of sunlight each day (remember what that feels like?), you’ll get a real holiday. The sea is a reasonable 15C - just three degrees down from Cornish waters in the height of summer. Easter is the frugal traveller’s ideal time to hire a villa. Enjoy the outdoors at a fraction of peak season prices.
Vintage Travel is offering Ses Rotes d’Alt, a three-bedroom property on the outskirts of sleepy Porto Colom with beautiful views over flatlands and olive trees to the Mediterranean. A seven-night holiday at Easter (week commencing April 8) is priced at £612 (rising to £2,412 in peak season).
If you can band together a few families, the beautiful Camp d’Avall, a traditional Mallorcan farmhouse dating from 1883 and situated in the scenic Val d’en March valley, six kms from Pollenca. The property sleeps 10 in five bedrooms and is available both weeks of Easter holidays (w/c 8 or 15 April) for £1,212.
- James Villas also has availability for Easter around the Med, with prices from £311 per person, incluing flights.
7. Luxury for less
For proper heat, head to Mauritius for a stay at the Residence Mauritius, where the scent of ylang ylang floats through this refined colonial-style hotel, inspired by the island’s sugar plantation houses. On a glorious, mile-long east coast beach, it was the first on the island to introduce a spa, butler service, and heated pool, and its old-school luxury lures a loyal, largely British, following.
A family favourite with shallow sea and sandy bottom, kids pool, a children’s menu in the restaurants and kids’ spa treatments, there are also daily activities at the Plantation Kids Club, which stays open until 10pm, include crab hunting, water skiing lessons and pony rides. Babysitting is available.
A family of four can stay for seven nights at The Residence Mauritius, departing April 3, in a colonial garden view suite on a half-board basis with private transfers and return flights with BA from LGW for £2,450 per adult and £2,240 for children from Turquoise Holidays. Not cheap, but a lot less that you'll pay during peak season.
8. Algarve adventure
Head to the Algarve for Easter and you'll get temperatures of around 19C and fill up on Vitamin D with eight hours of sunshine per day. Families with young children should look at late availability from Tots To Travel, the family specialist. A week in the Algarve in a two-bedroom apartment that sleeps four plus a baby, with sea and pool views, will cost £902
9. Culture in Cyprus
The ancient port of Paphos, the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, is set around one of the Mediterranean's most beautiful harbours.
The four-star Avanti Village is a village-style hotel complex set in extensive grounds close to the beach and not far from the harbour. There's a lagoon pool with a mini lazy river and waterfalls for the kids to enjoy alongside an adventure playground, an indoor pool, and a nearby shingle beach.
Loveholidays is offering seven nights at the Avanti Village from £381 per person, based on two adults and two children sharing on a bed and breakfast basis including flights from Stansted on April 15. Visit loveholidays.com.
10. Great British days out
And if those weren’t right for your family, plan a great day(s) out in Britain. English Heritage has particularly strong offerings this Easter, with great interactive days out at their historic properties around the country - many for under £20. Consider also our experts’ favourite 50 UK days out.