Sometimes the thought of preparing a feast for extended family or trying to sort out what to do on New Year’s Eve can mess with the heads of even the most patient and organised parents. There is a solution: pack your bags, grab the kids and get away. Boutique travel experts Mr & Mrs Smith have sourced three fun-filled destinations where you can escape the madness of holidays at home.
The Cullen, Melbourne, Australia
Style Art-shock attitude
Setting Fashion-forward Prahran
Edgy inner-city Melbourne boutique hotel The Cullen, just south of the Yarra River in Prahran, might not, at first, seem like an obvious spot for a Christmas break. But with many Melburnians clearing out on their own holidays, you and your family can enjoy the attractions without the normal crowds. And the Cullen’s neighbourhood has loads of hot shopping and eating to entertain your brood.
Sleeping The 119 cool, contemporary rooms all feature original works and prints by late enfant terrible of the Australian art world Adam Cullen. Also handy is the kitchenette with microwave, hotplate, fridge and cooking utensils in case whipping up a little something in the morning is easier than herding the crew to a café. Book a Cullen Suite for an extra bit of space. Cots can be added to rooms free of charge, and extra beds for older kids cost AU$60 a night.
Activities If your kids are a bit older and interested in art, book a tour of the hotel with the in-house curator who can tell you all about Cullen and his oeuvre. There’s no pool here, but you can walk to nearby sister hotel the Olsen and use the one there, or head to Prahran Aquatic Centre, just two minutes’ walk away. But this is Melbourne, so there’s heaps to do: hit the Melbourne Aquarium, see the baby meerkats at Melbourne Zoo, take in the local art at NGV: Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square – Art Play, a kids’ studio, is just around the corner – or get a bird’s-eye view of the city from way up high at the Eureka Skydeck.
Feasting Choose between two restaurants at the Cullen. Gramercy Bistro, which unsurprisingly takes its cues from classic NYC eateries, is an all-day affair serving great coffee, Reuben sandwiches, burgers and, later in the day, cocktails. HuTong Peking Duck & Dumpling boasts a roast duck chef from the famous Quanjude China restaurant, but be sure to try a Melbourne favourite, the xiao long bao (soup-filled dumplings). You can also pop to produce-packed Prahran Market, opposite the hotel, for foodie snacks.
Sassy savings Stay three nights or more in a Studio Suite between 16 December and 13 January and pay just AU$165 a night instead of AU$219, a saving of 25 per cent.
Soho Beach House, Miami, United States
Style SoBe goes Soho
Setting Mellow Mid-Beach
The 16-storey Miami boutique hotel Soho Beach House lords it over its Miami Beach surroundings, with a Cowshed Spa, rooftop pool, A-list restaurant and retro-quirky design. Though probably not best for tiny tots – it’s all a bit chichi for rampant pool splashing – new parents will adore the pampering vibe, and there’s a tonne to do in Miami for those with older kids.
Sleeping The Beachside Rooms all have ocean views, and some (in the Beachside 3 category) offer spacious bathrooms with freestanding tubs. Beachside 4 rooms can be connected, although there’s enough space to add a free cot or extra bed to most boudoirs.
Activities The pool here is enormous and surrounded by day-beds and sunloungers, but the beach beckons directly opposite – the hotel organises water sports and has a safe kid zone. Sticking with the ocean theme, you can learn to sail, go scuba diving or try deep-sea fishing nearby. Maybe get Mr Smith to take the kids out ’gator-spotting at the Everglades Safari Park, while you relax with a Lazy Cow treatment – back massage, facial and body wrap – at the spa.
Feasting Cecconi’s is the hotel’s all-day Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with an intimate garden setting. It’s open to the public as well as guests of the hotel, so it’s recommended you book a table well in advance. If you’re hanging out on the beach or by the pool, there’s a menu with plenty of family favourites, including margherita pizzas and cheeseburgers with fries.
Sassy savings Book the Smith winter package for stays until 31 March, and you’ll also enjoy daily buffet breakfast for two, the ‘One While Changing’ in-room cocktail service and a US$45 spa voucher each, as well as the usual Smith extra of a selection of Cowshed products.
Hotel Tugu Bali, Bali, Indonesia
Style Arty tropical eclectic
Setting Surfy Canggu Beach
Set on the shores of the Indian Ocean, boutique retreat Hotel Tugu Bali is a dream destination for those trying to take the stress out of the silly season. Its 22 thatched suites are dotted among tropical gardens and lotus ponds, and richly decorated with Indonesian antiquities and art from the owner’s collection. It’s peaceful, too, away from some of Bali’s more popular beaches, but still only a 20-minute drive to buzzy Seminyak.
Sleeping The two-bedroom Kampoeng Suite makes the most sense for families, although younger children can be accommodated with a baby cot at no charge and an extra bed can be added to any room for US$45 a child a night. Just be sure to reserve them in advance when booking.
Activities Although there’s no official kids’ club at Hotel Tugu Bali the members of staff are so friendly and helpful that you’ll feel like your brood is always being watched over. Plus, there are loads of organised activities – from gamelan playing to surfing lessons – which the young ones can join. Children will also love the baby turtle release programme that involves travelling by boat to a nearby island to usher some of these tiny creatures back into the ocean.
Feasting There may only be 22 rooms here, but there are five – yes, that’s right, five! – restaurants offering the gamut of cuisines from Chinese Peranakan to local specialties and seafood barbecues. Room service is on offer 24 hours a day, and children’s menus are available all round.
Sassy savings Book through Mr & Mrs Smith for stays from 1 December to 31 March and you’ll receive 15 per cent off . When you stay for five nights or more you also get a dining experience for two and a 60-minute spa treatment.
To book a child-friendly Smith stay visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326. What’s more, BlackSmith membership is now free for life, so book through Smith to receive life-enhancing extras and exclusive offers at more than 900 hotels and holiday houses around the world.