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The best family hotels in France

Finding accommodation that suits both adults and children isn't always easy. Leonie Glass suggests 50 hotels that everyone will enjoy in five of France's most family-friendly regions.

If you're keen to avoid the drudgery of self-catering family holidays, but are fed up with frosty greetings when checking into hotels with your children, you need to find somewhere to stay where you will all feel comfortable. Not a snooty place, where staff or other guests shush your children if they run down a corridor, or somewhere full of low-lying precious objects that invite disaster. And not a hotel where the accommodation is so basic that all of you have to squeeze into a tiny airless box. Here are some genuinely family-friendly places in France that parents and children can both enjoy. Unless stated otherwise, prices are for a double room, including breakfast, in high season.

Things to Do in Hong Kong With Kids

The Four Season magazine lists the top activities for families traveling to Hong Kong.

Part of Hong Kong’s charm is its extreme contrasts, one of the many reasons why the city is a fantastic family destination. Itineraries that combine visits to ancient temples and world-class theme parks on the same day are the norm, while romps through nature await just minutes from an energetic urban core. Add in mouth-watering cuisine, efficient transportation and shopping that even the kids will adore, and you have an unforgettable holiday.

Hong Kong Science Museum

Heli Securite Selects Top 5 Best Restaurants in Monaco

Despite being only the second smallest country in the world, Monaco certainly compensates with its grandeur and extravagance. Its geographical size is small, but its gastronomic reach is vast. Unsurprisingly then, there is no shortage of fine dining eateries in the world’s glamour capital.

At Heli Securite, they regularly transport clients to the finest restaurants on the French Riviera and Monaco, and based on our expertise of the best gastronomic spots in the Principality, here’s their list of the top restaurants in Monaco.

 

Le Louis XV, Monaco

Commissioned in 1987 by Prince Rainier II, legendary chef Alain Ducasse was tasked with an apparently unachievable mission – create the world’s first three Michelin starred hotel restaurant in the Principality.

The deadline was four years, the achievement accomplished in no more than three. 27 years later, Le Louis XV maintains its respected reputation thanks in no small part to Ducasse’s protégé Franck Cerutti, who is said to have “olive oil running through his veins.” Choose from his menus entitled “The Farm,” “The Sea,” and “The Vegetable Garden” for food as simple as their titles suggest, yet, so wonderfully intricate. Rediscover old and familiar flavours in new and exciting combinations.

 

Joel Robuchon Monte Carlo

Joel Robucho n restaurants come loaded with a certain weight of expectation, and rightfully so. Robuchon is the world’s most decorated chef with 26 Michelin stars.

The Joel Robuchon Monte Carlo is no exception, offering the quintessential French dining experience at its finest. Unsurprisingly for a Robuchon restaurant, the presentation is vibrant, the flavours are intense, the attention to detail is minute and the ingredients are innovative. Think quail caramelized with an apple purée, think langoustine ravioli with truffles. The passion for gastronomic excellence permeates the restaurant as an open plan kitchen allows exclusive insight into the careful preparation of each dish by executive chef Christophe Cussac.

Brasserie Restaurant at Columbus

Every year people come to Monaco arriving in droves upon the snaking roads of the Pre-Alps, aboard a superyacht or by helicopter from Nice to Monaco to witness the famed Grand Prix.

Away from the racetrack, however, the Brasserie Restaurant at Columbus Hotel is trying to earn the Principality a reputation elsewhere. With glorious views over the Princess Grace Rose Garden, this endearing little brasserie may well do just that. Subsequent to the recent emergence of a Monaco’s latest culinary trend, the Brasserie Restaturant at Columbus is serving some of the best and freshest Mediterranean food hand-selected from local markets. The brasserie menu offers a fine selection of seafood, vegetables and cuts of meat inspired by the seasonal ingredients of the surrounding countryside.

Le Grill at L’Hôtel de Paris

L’Hôtel de Paris is one of Monaco’s most famous hotels and pursuant to its high level of accommodation, the resident restaurant, Le Grill, is of equal stature.

Diners are left unsure which way to look. As the roof rolls back to reveal the heavens above, beautiful dishes full of flavour are served under their noses. The change is a complete transformation from midday, when routine business lunches fill the room with the chatter of executives. By night romantic candlelit dinners fill the restaurant with intoxicating aromas. Le Grill’s menu is a Michelin starred masterpiece, ranging from the traditional to the original. Tempura of langoustine precedes soufflé to complete an eclectic Provençal menu that is both irresistibly light and devilishly moorish.

 

Buddha Bar Monte Carlo

For some more exotic dining, the Buddha Bar in Monte Carlo is a fine opportunity to sample oriental food in a luxury setting.

Since its arrival in 2010, the Buddha Bar has been serving its diners a fine combination of Eastern delicacies from Japanese sushi, to fresh Chinese noodles and scented Thai curries. A lounge room with cocktail bar and DJ until late has also added a novel twist to dining in Monaco. The chefs use the plate as though it were an empty canvas, structuring their food in bold peaks and brazenly splashing it with vibrant sauces. Bright red prawns come alive among a latice of asparagus and squid ink rice.

For more information on Heli Securite and their Monaco helicopter charter services.

My Paris by Sam Taylor-Johnson via Conde Nast Traveller

What galleries do you love?

'I recently saw the Van Gogh exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay. It was so interesting because it challenged many misconceptions about the artist. At the same museum, I always go to look at The Origin of The World by Gustave Courbet. It is a painting of a vagina, and is so simple and sensual yet so powerful. At the Louvre, I like to see Géricault's epic The Raft of Medusa.'

What are your favourite films shot in Paris?

'Les Amants du Pont-Neuf because it's so evocative and, at the other extreme, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris for its Americanised view of the city.'

Ideas for a long weekend?

'Whenever my husband Aaron and I visit, we rent Vélib' bikes and go through Saint-Germain and along the Seine. Once, we crossed unwittingly between a set of barriers and fourn ourselves on the Tour de France route. We had to make a quick exit. The perfect weekend would be to stay at The Ritz. I also like L'Hôtel, where Oscar Wilde spent his last days. Then dinner at Le Voltaire, shopping at lingerie store Fifi Chachnil; Sunday brunch at Café de Flore. Chez Georges is a favourite for escargots and frites. When I became pregnant with my daughter, Wylda, I had a craving for snails and still do.'

Where do you like to shop?

'Céline, Isabel Marant, APC, Chanel on rue Cambon and the many boutiques along the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. I know the flea markets are meant to be incredible but I never visit them. I've a phobia of clutter and piles of dusty stuff. I always go to a pharmacy and stock up on Marvis toothpaste and homeopathic remedies you can't find anywhere else.'

What do you think of Parisian style?

'I don't dress differently in Paris but I definitely take a second look before I leave my hotel room. There is such fashion awareness in the city. The modernity and hand-in-pocket nonchalance that Coco Chanel made her own really does permeate the look.'

What sums up the city for you?

'The majestic Haussmann boulevards, the soft light cast from the sandstone buildings and the languid atmosphere and pace of life. The Eiffel Tower is a monumental piece of engineering and the way the lights change throughout the year is magical. It is Paris.'

Expedia names world’s top 650 hotels

                                                                                 

Travel website Expedia has unveiled its list of the top 650 hotels worldwide ranked according to overall customer service.

To determine which hotels made it into the Insider’s Select 2013 ranking, Expedia started by looking at customer ratings for the hotels listed on its site. An additional evaluation carried out by Expedia staff served to confirm the level of service.

The One&Only Palmilla Resort, a five-star hotel in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, takes the top spot, earning the highest possible average rating from Expedia customers.

The Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort in Quepos, Costa Rica and Marrol’s Boutique Hotel in Bratislava, Slovakia are in second and third place in this prestigious list, which recognizes exceptional customer service and attractive value for money. Five of the top ten spots are located in Mexico.

Last year, Expedia established a customer rating system preventing fraudulent reviews and ratings. By appealing to travelers upon their return from a vacation, the site collects ratings only from travelers who actually stayed in the hotel in question.

The World’s Top 10 Hotels according to the Insider’s Select 2013:

1. One&Only Palmilla Resort (5 stars, San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico)
2. Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort  (4.5 stars, Quepos, Costa Rica)
3. Marrol’s Boutique Hotel  (5 stars, Bratislava, Slovakia)
4. Banyan Tree Mayakoba (5 stars, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico)
5. Hotel d’Europe (5 stars, Avignon, France)
6. CapellaIxtapa Resort & Spa (5 stars, Ixtapa, Mexico)
7. Welk Resort Sirena del Mar (4 stars, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)
8. Casa Velas Hotel Boutique & Beach Club (4.5 stars, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)
9. The Knight Residence (5 stars, Edinburgh, Scotland)
10. The Leela Palace Bangalore (5 stars, Bengaluru, India)

                                                           

                    ExpediaHotels & ResortsTOP 10                                           

                                                                           
               
                                                                                               

 

A Surge in Kid-Friendly Hotels

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

For some hotels, being kid-friendly has always been a top priority, but now several properties that weren’t always the ideal place to stay with young children are going out of their way to accommodate them. Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris, above, for example, has a new children’s program called “Les Petits Princes” where children get a variety of complimentary amenities like Bonpoint bibs, toys and sleeping sets and Pierre Hermé macarons or pastries at turndown. The hotel has also created several seasonal programs like an egg-decorating session for Easter inspired by the Argentine painter Julio Le Parc. Pizza and street art workshops are also offered. Each child gets one free activity.

The American Club, the golf resort in Kohler, Wis., is no longer a place only for guests to play a round: the new Kohler Kidz program has a number of free activities for children including movie nights, hiking, ice skating, garden tours, board games, billiards, bocce, snowshoeing and arts and crafts. Children also get free breakfast and can take golf lessons (those are not free).

The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles has always been a celebrity mainstay but is now welcoming children with offerings like a Little Royals High Tea, a selection of toys they can choose from at check-in and events like a cookie-decorating workshop.

Amanyara, a resort in Turks and Caicos, recently introduced its Nature Discovery Center, where children explore the island’s flora and fauna with the resident naturalist through scavenger hunts, beach walks, marine biology lessons and nature-themed yoga classes.