Please note our writer visited Yorkshire prior to the coronavirus pandemic
The mark of a good family hotel is when it offers as much to please and entertain parents (or carers) as their children. Often – but not always – this means a large hotel with plenty of grounds. Yorkshire, with all its space, comes up trumps. Some of these hotels have spas and swimming pools, others wellies and walking routes for all foot sizes and abilities, while others have specialist facilities such as cookery schools and riding lessons, both for big and little people. All welcome with little treats and cater for the fussiest of eaters. Here's our pick of the best family-friendly hotels in Yorkshire, in and around locations including Harrogate, Ripon, York and Leeds.
From plush bedrooms to a fine restaurant, Rudding Park is an ensemble of excellent facilities, stunning features and winning service, just 10 minutes' drive from central Harrogate. The Regency house with its pretty symmetrical façade leads into a grand old stable block behind, sympathetically extended to create a lovely heart of the hotel. It’s a good choice for families: cots are free, while extra beds cost £45, including breakfast. There are several connecting rooms and one room is well set up with bunk beds. A children's menu is available and there is restricted-hours access to the indoor pool. Cinema or golf-themed parties can also be arranged.
As well as occupying what has to be one of the city's best locations, The Grand also offers tip-top service, a good choice of eating options, a spa and a pool. The colossus of a building was formerly the Edwardian headquarters of the wealthy North Eastern Railway Company and retains original features such as parquet flooring, hefty dark-wood doors and a sweeping stone staircase. Bedrooms are generous to a fault; even standards have space for a small party (extra beds cost £25). The hotel makes younger guests feel very welcome and provides bathrobes and colouring books. Book a class at the cookery school which has special children’s courses.
This baronial pile, with corner turrets, battlements and stupendous entrance tower, looks like a castle. Inside, it’s old-school, English stately home, with acres of polished-wood floors and dark-red rugs, vast corridors hung with gilt-framed portraits and massive windows. Families will not be bored here: apart from a range of country pursuits, there are walking trails, a four-acre walled garden, swimming pools, nine-hole golf course, plus a cookery school. Children will also enjoy the games room and the birds of prey centre. There are family rooms and interconnecting rooms, and extra beds are available for £25, including breakfast.
This hotel is in prime position opposite the Minster – right at the heart of the city’s history – and exudes a friendly, old-fashioned charm. That said, inside it's been given a pleasant contemporary styling with dark-wood floors and shiny wallpapers. Inside, a refreshing lack of clutter makes the most of space, so even small rooms don’t feel cramped, and the best rooms have views of the Minster. Five Family rooms are available and there is a children’s menu featuring the likes of popcorn chicken and chips. The other big plus of this hotel is the warmth and friendliness of the staff.
The Park Plaza – a slick modern high-rise hotel just a two-minute walk from Leeds train station – appeals to business travellers, sightseers and families alike with its airy contemporary guestrooms, central location and inventive dining. Children are welcomed with goodie bags at check-in and there’s a kids’ menu, plus colouring materials, in the Chino Latino restaurant. In terms of accomodation options, interconnecting Superior rooms are available, while Executive rooms and suites have sofa beds. Cots can be provided for free. It’s worth noting that under-12s stay free and get complimentary breakfast if sharing a room with two adults.
Gisborough Hall, an old-school country house hotel, has been in the same family for centuries and has comfortable rooms with a choice of traditional and contemporary décor. The hotel is in an ideal spot for walkers and hikers, situated on the 110-mile Cleveland Way National Trail on the northern edges of the North York Moors National Park. Highlights of the hotel itself include a pretty garden to wander round, a spa and a couple of grand, yet homely, drawing rooms where you can read or take afternoon tea (there’s also a special children’s option). Families will also enjoy petting the llamas that roam the grounds.
A grand Victorian station hotel with a stylish yet refreshingly calm makeover. It is well-placed for exploring the city (you can reach the Minster in 15 minutes) and offers both traditional afternoon teas plus more relaxed dining. Design-wise, original features have been crisply restored. Soft palettes of greys and neutrals set a relaxed tone throughout and quality oil paintings bedeck the walls. Expect traditional, luxury-hotel service levels – concierge and porters, even someone to meet you off the train – brought up to date with staff that crack a joke. Dogs have their own beds and treats (£30 per stay) and children their own welcome packs.
This characterful youth hostel delights families with its unique setting in its very own smuggler’s cove. When the tide goes out, you can walk out of the cove and along the coast to scenic Robin Hood's Bay in about 10 minutes; at other times, you can take the clifftop path. There's a colourful, nautically decorated all-day café and bar with a wood-burning stove, as well as outdoor seating on the sea-view decking. The 21 rooms range from shared dorms and single rooms to family units sleeping up to six people. Some rooms in the modern Crow’s Nest building have en-suite showers.
The cheerful Wensleydale Heifer is an attractive 17th-century inn, situated on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and surrounded by pretty countryside. There are 13 rooms, nine with traditional décor in the original building and four themed rooms in a newer annexe across the courtyard. Chocolate Heaven has a cherub-heavy mural above the bath, the James Herriot comes with a box set of All Creatures Great and Small, and Night At the Movies, has black walls, a vaulted beamed ceiling and silver furniture. Children will be delighted with colouring sheets, sweets and chocolates, games and goodie bags.
Expect generous portions of old-world character at this turreted country hotel. Fine buildings of various incarnations have stood here for centuries but the current construction is late Victorian. It doesn’t hold back on grandiose touches, with a gatehouse, cannons, suits of armour, mounted stag heads and a giant bear all encountered pre-check-in. A major selling point is the hotel’s smart health club, which has more than 1,000 local members and is complimentary for guests: expect an indoor pool, a hot tub, a steam room and a sauna. There are several family rooms, with a surcharge of £20 per child.
Contributions by Rhonda Carrier, Tina Walsh & Helen Pickles