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Take the Family › Unusual Places to Stay in Europe with Kids

Unusual Places to Stay in Europe with Kids

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Lapland.Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Lapland.

Kids are insatiable when it comes to new experiences and gaining one-upmanship over their mates, and Europe – particularly France – is fertile hunting ground for novel and often even quite insane places to stay that will really give them something to brag about when term starts again.

IRELAND

Loop Head Lightkeeper’s House

Stunning 300° cliff-edge views of the spectacular rugged west coast with its seabirds, wildflowers and Atlantic surf populated by seals are what you get from this 19th-century lighthouse cottage in County Clare. Sleeping five, it’s beautiful, dramatic and remote (there’s no mains water supply; Kilabha village, with a post office, shop and pub, is 5km away).

There are several other lightkeeper’s houses offered by the Irish Landmark Trust, plus an octagonal lighthouse (with 109 steps up the kitchen!), an old schoolhouse, and a medieval towerhouse.

FRANCE

See also our features Glamping and Unusual Camping in France and From Camping to Treehouses.

Château Marconne

French châteaux don't come much more atmospheric than this property sleeping up to 10 in the Pas-de-Calais, a short drive from the northern ferry ports of France, with its focal points being an open fireplace and vast floor-to-ceiling windows in the double-height main living room; a mezzanine dining room with a long table like something out of a movie set; and a pool table and library. In summer you can dine on the terrace in front of the château, or enjoy a picnic in the five acres of gardens, which include a small lake.

Chez Bertrand

Stylish boutique hotels of the kind Paris is so good at are wasted on kids, so bring them to stay in one of these three wild and very cheesy apartments in the fleamarket district La Porte de Clignancourt. In Le Loft (for up to 5), kids can sleep in a Citroen 2CV; Le Studio (for 3) takes the moon as inspiration and is largely silver; L’Appart (up to 5) has rooms so blindingly pink you’ll need to sleep in sunglasses, plus a Haribo boy full of sweets.

Moulin de la Salmonière

Sleeping 15-22, this restored watermill in the Morbihan region of southern Brittany comes complete with a turning millwheel. There's an indoor pool, sauna and billiards room, and the large grounds include lawns, two small lakes and a stream with private fishing. Family-friendly sandy beaches and resorts are within a 25min drive.

Le Prince Noir

At the other end of the taste spectrum, this wonderful and utterly unique cave-like former artist’s dwelling in Les Baux de Provence in the South of France offers B&B in three rooms for up to 5. The views over the ruined medieval castle and surrounds define the word ‘breathtaking’.

SPAIN

Cuevas Pedro Antonio De Alarcón

These prehistoric troglodyte caves near Grenada have been done up beautifully and feature all mod-cons, including Jacuzzis in some. They differ in size for different sizes of families. The site has an outdoor pool, and restaurant and a laundry.

NETHERLANDS

Controversy Tram Hotel

This zany B&B accommodation in an old train compartment or trams (one a ‘little family tram’ specially designed for parents with young kids) is just 40km but a world away from Amsterdam. Farm animals complete the surreal feel.

SWEDEN

Jumbo Stay Hostel

Just 15 minutes away from Arlanda airport near Stockholm, this is an airport hostel par excellence – it’s actually et inside a jumbo jet, where you’ll find 27 quirky but cool rooms, most with three beds and flatscreen TVs showing (should you desire) flight departure times. The prize suite is the deluxe one in the cockpit, perfect for two older kids; another option is the family rooms with four bunks.

Kolarbyn Eco-lodge

Advertising itself as ‘Sweden’s most primitive hotel’, Kolarbyn 2hrs from Stockholm offers small, grass-clad forest huts set deep in the forest where you can spend your days taking moose safaris or wolf-howling trips (minimum ages 15 and 12 respectively), or an a Troll Family Adventure including a forest hike and fairytales by the fire.

FINLAND

SnowHotel

Open Nov–April each year, this amazing, other-worldly, beautiful and – of course – cold place at Kemi by the Gulf of Bothnia is part of the LumiLinna (SnowCastle). Rooms, some with up to five beds, have thick sleeping bags. Kids are VIPs here: there’s a busy program of events, a snowtube slide and a merry-go-round.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Situated in Finnish Lapland, this place offers the choice of log cabins for up to 10 people or snow or futuristic glass igloos for up to 5. There are husky, reindeer and snowmobile trips, the aurora borealis (if you’re lucky) plus visits to Santa’s cabin.

ITALY

Atelier Sul Mare

Another ‘art hotel’, the Atelier takes itself a bit more seriously than Propeller Island, but it’s a great place to bring older kids, who will appreciate its quirky beauty and its location right by the beach in a delightful part of Sicily.

AUSTRIA

Rogner-Bad Blumau Hotel and Spa

Another art hotel, this fantastic rainbow-coloured spa near Graz in the south-east looks like Gaudi-meets-Disney on acid. Children are very welcome, with special rates and apartments with kitchenettes for up to 4, plus kids’ swimming courses.

ROMANIA

Kalnoky Castle

Almost too good to be true, this 16th-century ancestral home of Count Tibor Kalnoky, who returned to Transylvania after his family’s exile to run cottages for guests, is also an ecological retreat supported by Prince Charles, who owns one of the cottages. It’s in a beautiful area at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, and guests are brought to the estate by horse and cart. See Andrew Eames’ feature on a family stay at Kalnoky Castle.

See also our features on Unusual Places to Stay UK and Unusual Places to Stay Outside Europe.

By Georgina Allen

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