Planning a family trip can be intimidating and exhausting. Where do you go to keep the whole family entertained? Should you spring for an all-inclusive or just wing it? When it comes to Europe, I have a secret: I always choose family-run hotels.
Rather than just visiting another familiar (and extremely popular) city like Paris, London or Berlin, we head to the mountains and countryside where kids can roam outdoors. Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria offer some fantastic destinations and family-run hotels that cater to guests of all ages.
Because these hotels are run by families, they know how to welcome them. They offer activities to keep your kids entertained, and larger rooms that extend into adjoining suites to ensure you have all the space you need.
These are some of my favorite family hotels.
Hotel Krone Hittisau
The Nussbaumer-Natter family has been running this gasthof (inn) for three generations, and welcomes guests as though they were relatives. The award-winning hotel has a spa area with a sauna and relaxation room for adults. Even better, you have nature’s playground outside. Go hiking, canoeing, rock climbing and even milk cows with your family. The town of Hittisau has many restaurants, and the in-house eatery serves a lovely breakfast buffet featuring products from nearby farms. Be sure to ask Dietmar, a wine aficionado, for wine recommendations. krone-hittisau.at
Hotel Schweizerhof Lenzerheide
The historic Schweizerhof Lenzerheide is located in the picturesque region of Lenzerheide, where many champion skiers and snowboarders spend their winters. For the last 30 years, husband and wife duo, Claudia and Andreas Zullig, have transformed the hotel into a cultural hub with a rotating list of activities like hiking, Nordic walking, and weekly programs for kids and teens (even including climate change classes). The newly designed wellness BergSpa is a great place for adults to unwind and relax—check out the huge hammam and sauna space. schweizerhof-lenzerheide.ch
The Stubai valley is one of the best European destinations for kids of all ages. It has multiple parks dedicated to youngsters, so you can take your family on glacial hike and discovery trails, and and even join a kids-only summer camp during your stay. The best location and place to stay in the Valley is at The Hotel Stubaierhof where more than three generations share their tips on how to enjoy the region when in the region of Tyrol. The Egger and Hofer families take out the hard work when traveling with your family: an exciting list of activities to keep your family entertained are on offer to stop any signs of boredom from your kids. The hotel restaurant offers delightful regional products in the evening and the spa is a great place for parents to hide away whilst kids enjoy their playroom. stubaierhof.com
Fuchsegg Eco Lodge
Considered an architectural delight, Fuchsegg Eco Lodge is run by the Can family—Carmen, her husband, Kerim, and her lovely father, whom you might see tending the garden when the wind from the nearby Alps wreak havoc on the outdoor furniture. Don’t expect rooms but chalet-style suites fitted with furniture made by local craftspeople. The wellness area is a nice escape for parents; kids have access to the hotel’s library and games room. Be sure to take the hotel’s high-tech Simplon bikes into the mountains. The restaurant is a delightful place for an evening meal, with both modern and traditional dishes on offer. fuchsegg.at
Stanglwirt Organic and Wellness Resort
Described as a wellness and bio hotel, the Stanglwirt is like a sustainable version of Disneyland, with an intense and exciting roster of activities to choose from. Parents Balthasar and Magdalena Hauser seem to be constantly running around the hotel making sure guests are happy. Their kids, Maria, Elisabeth and Johannes, support them. The Hausers have prepared an all-inclusive retreat with horse riding classes, golf, tennis, boxing, fishing and pilates all available for the guest to enjoy. The dining options are drool-worthy with local dishes on offer featuring farm-to-table ingredients and you really must eat one meal at the Cowshed Window Restaurant. Don’t forget to fit in more than one visit to their wellness spa: luxury facial, Rolfing and Hot Stamps make all your troubles go away and your teenager can even join in the fun too with their own signature massage. stanglwirt.com
Tenuta de l’Annunziata
Forget tourist-ridden Como—find yourself a nice quiet space at the Tenuta de l’Annunziata, a 14-acre relais (retreat) for families just 30 minutes away from the famous lake town. Start with a self-guided walk in the hotel’s biodynamic woods to recharge your batteries, spend some time in the wellness center (complete with hammam and sauna), and enjoy long dinners in the gourmet restaurant, Quercus, which sources its ingredients from the owners’ family farm. Elisabetta and Arianna Guffanti are always on site to welcome guests. tenutadelannunziata.it
Jiva Hill is located just outside of Geneva, across the French border. A little bit fancy and meant for the upscale clientele streaming in from Switzerland, the resort is still family-friendly. Take your kids on a golfing session with a pro or even to the spa for a pampering afternoon together. Both Fabrice Mercier and his wife have also built an outdoor playground with zip-line and wood shacks to keep kids entertained. The indoor playrooms are great for big and small kids with a pool table, retro games and also a large indoor cinema. jivahill.com