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Our Top 10 Hotels for Families – as Recommended by You!

Holidaying with my kids is the highlight of my year. But it has taken me six years to write that sentence.

We’ve had some wonderful family holidays, and some that were mostly exhausting. My first holiday as a parent makes me smile when I think back on my rookie expectations – thinking that it would involve sleep and sunbathing and reading and rest. Of course it didn’t. Holidaying with an 11-month-old meant that we had early mornings, all day baby-minding and night-time waking. The books came home unread.

Three children and six years later, we’ve finally worked out that, for us, holidaying with kids means choosing an entirely different kind of holiday from the ones we took before we were parents. It sounds obvious, but I don’t think we’re the only people who got it wrong initially, and were left shell-shocked after a first trip or two with little ones.

The good news is that there are plenty of family-friendly hotels to choose from here in Ireland. And in order to save you some work, I’ve trawled websites, phoned hotels, checked Facebook, put a call-out on Twitter, asked friends, and searched eumom.ie for recommendations. Below are ten hotels (in no particular order) that came up over and over as fabulous for families (don't forget the books!) 

Top 10 Irish Hotels for Families

1. The McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris

The McWilliam Park Hotel is a four star hotel, half way between Galway and Sligo, just half an hour from the Atlantic coast. The focus here is very much on family; spacious rooms come with a double and two single beds, babysitting is available on request, and healthy children’s meals are prepared with locally sourced food – all practical options that were not on my radar until my first eye-opening holiday with a child.

The kids’ club caters for children aged four to 12, and is open during school holidays, with board games, painting, movies, toys, books and jigsaws, as well as an optional three-course dinner for €5 – this is one of the best value kids’ menus I’ve seen.

There’s a pool and a separate children’s swimming pool in the hotel, and nearby activities include horse-riding, cycling and pottery. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a cruise on Lough Corrib, or take the kids for a day out in Graune Pet Farm and Play Centre

Web: http://www.mcwilliampark.ie

Phone: +353 (0)94 937 8000

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2. Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny

The Newpark Hotel is a well-known four-star hotel has family rooms, interconnecting rooms and, of course, travel cots can be provided on request. The hotel’s kids’ club is open during school holidays, is free to use, and has activities for all ages. The club will also mind your children if you’d like to have a grown-up meal in the evening time (but wouldn’t you miss the small hands stealing your chips?)

The grounds of the hotel also host one of the largest pet farms in the southeast of the country, where among the more typical pet farm inhabitants, you can find gorgeous alpacas and llamas. There are many hotels that have pet farms nearby, but I really like that in this case, the animals are on-site.

The hotel is set in expansive landscaped gardens and is located just a 10-minute walk from Kilkenny city centre.

Web: http://www.flynnhotels.com/Newpark_Hotel_Kilkenny

Phone: +353 (0)56 7760500

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3. Fota Island Resort, Cork

This luxury five-star hotel on Fota Island is perfect for families who want the option of self-catering but with all the amenities of a hotel. Families can stay in the main hotel, and the lodges (which sleep up to seven people) will also likely prove very appealing to parents, who may want a bit of extra space when travelling with small children and all of the paraphernalia that that involves.

There is a kids’ camp (during school holiday time) plus a swimming pool, tennis courts and walking trails. Of course a huge draw for children (and parents!) is nearby Fota Wildlife Park – there’s a daily shuttle bus from the hotel to the Park, and to Fota House and Gardens. You can spend an entire day wandering around the wonderful park; getting up close the beautiful Rothschild giraffes, taking the train when little legs get tired and picnicking on the extensive parkland.

What our eumom.ie members say:

We loved Fota Island hotel in Cork

Web: http://www.fotaisland.ie/

Phone: +353 (0)21 4883700

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4. Amber Springs, Gorey

Amber Springs in Gorey, Co. Wexford is mentioned time and again by eumom.ie members when the topic of family-friendly hotels is raised.

The hotel hosts more kids’ facilities than most, with its soft play area for small kids, games room, cinema, swimming pool, playground, mini-golf, go-karting, football and, best of all, (in the eyes of the kids anyway), the Amber Express – the hotel’s very own train. The Kids’ Club includes a mix of the above-mentioned indoor and outdoor activities, plus arts and crafts, costume making, treasure hunts and a Saturday night talent show. The kids’ club is for five to 12-year-olds and is open during school holidays.

From an accommodation perspective, the hotel has 30 family rooms – each one with enough space for a travel cot or camp bed as well as a double-bed and two single beds. There are also interconnecting rooms.

What our eumom.ie members say:

We just spent a few days at Amber Springs...Definitely recommend it. The hotel has indoor and outdoor play areas, a little train to bring ids to pond to feed ducks, kids’ club and swimming pool!

 

Great family -friendly hotel with Wexford close by for plenty to do!


Amber Springs. Can’t recommend it highly enough. Loads for the kids to do. Great hotel

Web: http://www.amberspringshotel.ie/

Phone: 1800 501 901

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5. Gold Coast Golf Resort, Dungarvan

Another hotel very popular with our moms is Gold Coast Dungarvan in Waterford. It has the option of self-catering cottages as well as in-hotel family rooms. Many parents, myself included, find self-catering an easier experience when children are small and have relatively early bed-times. Sitting in a darkened hotel room, trying not to wake a sleeping baby, can be at odds with holiday expectations…! So self-catering with the use of hotel facilities can be the best of both worlds.

The hotel has a leisure centre with swimming pool, tennis court, playground and great kids’ summer camps.

What our eumom.ie members say:


You can rent a house, use hotel facilities, amazing amenities, cycle from beach to town… Fab town, fab choice of activities

 


Just back from a week in Gold Coast lodge in Dungarvan…small playground on site, two large playgrounds in the town. Pool in the hotel which people staying in lodges and villas have free access to…two lovely beaches nearby…Highly recommend it...kids had a ball
 

Web: http://www.goldcoastgolfresort.com/

Phone: +353 (0) 58 45050

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6. Druids Glen, Wicklow

Druids Glen was named Family Friendly Hotel of the Year 2014 by Georgina Campbell’s guide, so that’s a very good start indeed. It’s known for great customer care and I did find when researching this article that the people I spoke to were extremely helpful and open to questions.

The resort includes bikes for families to use (for free), a swimming pool, a playground, an indoor play area, big-screen movies, board games and books. There isn’t a full kids’ club but there are supervised sports for an hour in the afternoon during school holidays, Mondays to Thursdays.

There are four restaurants to choose from, but I particularly like the sound of barbecues held on the deck during the summer months.

There are family rooms and interconnecting rooms available, and there’s a guest kitchenette with bottle warmers and a microwave.

What our eumom.ie members say:

Druids Glen in Wicklow is fab, with swimming pool, cycling, walks, playground, Glenroe Farm, beach nearby” “Our fave hotel is Druids Glen

Web: http://www.druidsglenresort.com/

Phone: +353 (0)1 287 0847

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7. Kelly’s Hotel, Rosslare

No list of family-friendly hotels in Ireland would be complete without the well-known Kelly’s Hotel in Co. Wexford. In an ideal setting, looking out over Rosslare’s sandy beach, it is famous for its family facilities.

Children aged four and upwards can take part in activities in the “Pirates Club” from 9.30am to 9pm, but there’s also a facility for having younger children minded in a playroom for a fee of €3.00 per hour, which is something that’s not available in every hotel. Pirate Club activities include drama, arts and crafts, movie nights, sports, stories, games and painting.

What I really like though are the dinner options in Kelly’s Hotel. Now, I’m not saying I’d like to eat separately from my children every night, but having the opportunity to do it once or twice does have appeal! Kelly’s have the following in place to facilitate this:

There’s a special children’s dinner each evening at 5.30pm – this is supervised by parents, but it means that children can eat early rather than waiting until the restaurant opens for dinner at 7.30pm.

Then if parents want to have a quiet grown-up dinner, there’s complimentary childminding available in the playroom. Babysitting is also available – if required later in the evening, or if children are ready for bed by the time parents want to eat. This costs €8.50 an hour, which is cheaper than most hotels I checked.

What our eumom.ie members say:


Kelly’s Hotel in Rosslare is great for kids

Web: http://www.kellys.ie/

Phone: +353 (0)53 913 2114

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8. Dingle Skellig Hotel, Kerry

The Dingle Skellig Hotel, located on the Dingle peninsula, is very much a child-friendly hotel, offering a crèche (during the summer season) in addition to the Fungi kids’ club. There is a charge for the crèche, but it means that there’s an option for a little bit of “me-time” for parents of children who are too young for kids’ clubs.

The Fungi Kids’ Club is for children over the age of four, and includes pool games, arts & crafts, talent nights, quizzes, bouncy castle and trips to Dingle Oceanworld. The kids’ club is free, though there is a charge for the trip to Oceanworld. Unlike many hotels, the kids’ club is open at weekends throughout the year, not just during high-season. There’s also a club for older children, with a pool rable, X-boxes, Play Stations and protected internet access.

Dinner options are good here too – like Kelly’s, the Dingle Skellig hotel offers a “Junior Evening meal” where children can eat at 5.30pm. I took a look at the children’s menu and it’s impressive – poached salmon, cod and sirloin steak appear among the more usual choices of penne pasta and spaghetti Bolognese.

What our eumom.ie members say: “crèche and kids’ camps in Summer, pool and all that Dingle has to offer on your doorstep”

Web: www.dingleskellig.com

Phone: +353 (0) 66 915 0200

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9. Kenmare Bay Hotel, Kerry

This is one I particularly like. We stayed here when I had two kids under two, and we loved it. There are really lovely self-catering houses on the grounds of the hotel, with full use of the pool and hotel facilities. My kids were too young for the kids’ club, but there is one available (charges apply). Additionally there’s a playroom with toys, games, colouring books and DVDs, a children’s play area in the restaurant, a children’s pool, and an outdoor playground.

The hotel is just a few minutes walk from gorgeous Kenmare town. There’s so much to see around the area – Dereen Gardens, Moll’s Gap (which has an Avoca restaurant), Killarney Lakes, the Ring of Kerry and Kenmare Bay.

For an easy holiday with very small children, we found this perfect.

Web: http://www.kenmarebayhotel.com/

Phone: +353 (0)64 6679300

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10. Hodson Bay, Athlone

The Hodson Bay hotel has spacious family rooms or interconnecting rooms for larger families, and has a lot to offer in terms of camps and childminding. The Penguin kids’ club is for children aged from four to 12, and there’s also a Tiny Tots playroom for younger children – parental supervision is required, but, in a nice touch, the hotel offers childminding for those younger kids from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, so that parents can have a quiet meal. There is a “Teenager Den” for children over the age of 12, with games, a pool table, and Nintendo Wii. Night-time babysitting is available through the hotel too.

For families booking their “Total Family Package”, the hotel also give a voucher towards local activities, like the Viking boat cruise, or the Bay sports water activity centre. The hotel is a five-minute drive from Athlone town, so it’s handy for all the essentials that get missed during packing (or is that just me?)

What our eumom.ie members say:

Hodson Bay Hotel Athlone, vey nice hotel. It has Bay sports, kids clubs etc
 

Web: http://www.hodsonbayhotel.com/

Phone: +353 (0)90 6442000

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These are just 10 hotels that are particularly popular, but if you have more to add, drop us a comment below!

About the Author

Andrea Mara, a freelance writer, blogger, and mum of three.

Follow her blog at www.officemum.ie

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