Ten Kid-Friendly Hotels in Europe for 2014 from i-escape

As you probably know by now, we are big fans of i-escape and their wonderful selection of hand-picked hotels from all over the world. What I love about the i-escape site is that you can be totally inspired to try out new destinations and visit places you didn’t even have on your radar. I also love that you can enter your specific interests and requirements, and they’ll come up with a selection of awesome places that meet your needs. The only problem is choosing!!

To make your holiday planning easier and to narrow down the choices a bit, we’ve asked the team at i-escape to send over a list of their favourite kid-friendly hotels in Europe. I love this list! I’m so inspired to travel now! Which one is your favourite? (I think mine is the one in Puglia. We keep hearing so many nice things about Puglia and this hotel sounds amazing!)

Anassa, near Polis, Cyprus

Cascading down to a long safe private beach, this luxury resort appeals to children and parents in equal measure: kids delight in the plentiful array of toys, games and watersports provided in the all-ages kids clubs with daily changing activity schedules, while their parents enjoy the award-winning Thalassotherapy spa. There are oodles of facilities including heated kids’ pool, restaurants with kids’ menus, baby equipment to borrow and a small playground. Superb.

Borgo Egnazia, Puglia, Italy

A flawless family-friendly resort which offers great design and decoration as well as a fantastic free kids club and teens’ games room, all ages will rejoice staying here. There are tennis courts, English speaking babysitters, a creche with qualified child-minders, playground, kids restaurant (summer only) and a choice of cool pools – a worthy recipient of an i-escape Best for Kids Award.

Quinta Bouca d’Arques, Viano do Castelo, Portugal

Head north from Porto into the Minho coastal region which the Portuguese believe their most beautiful for its rolling forested hills, lush river valleys and long sandy beaches. Just 12km inland, this 300-year-old manor house has boutique B&B apartments in both traditional and modern designs. Kids will adore the big lawn, woods to explore, secret wooden house and saltwater pool. There are communal BBQs in the evening and all apartments bar one have kitchenettes.

Ekies All Senses Resort, Chalkidiki, Greece

With a funky playful design, a heated saltwater pool, playground and playhouse, this beach retreat set on a tranquil bay with shallow seas also has two restaurants and a spa. Kids will love the organic juice bar by the pool and going on boat trips. Paradise for families!

Liss Ard Estate, Co. Cork, Ireland

While the weather is famously unpredictable in Ireland, you’re guaranteed a warm Irish welcome and a magical time for outdoorsy children at this comfy country house hotel. There are 80 hectares of woodland, lake, lawns, ancient and modern earthworks plus bike trail to explore and a kids club operational during school holidays. If the weather does prove inclement, there’s a well-stocked kids’ room to play in. Best of all kids under 12 are free!

Azur Hotel, near Antalya, Turkey

Families on a budget will love this wonderfully unpretentious and friendly beach hotel set in idyllic shady gardens. There’s a large pool with a shallow end, you’re five minutes’ walk from the sandy beach, and there’s a small playground. Older kids will like going on boat trips, younger ones can toddle safely on large lawns. Bliss.

Le Portetta, Courchevel, France

Chic and ski are becoming synonymous terms these days, and this chalet-style hotel delivers on being family-friendly as well. There’s a children’s ski school opposite the hotel, you’re slap bang in the middle of Courchevel 1650 ski resort which is the most suited for beginners and small fry in the Trois Vallees, and there are Family Rooms with bunk beds or lofts with sofa beds to choose from.

Captain’s Club Hotel, Dorset, UK

Dorset has some of the best beaches in the South of England, and this contemporary hotel with nautical detailing has super views over the River Stour, and is close to both picturesque Christchurch Harbour and these lovely beaches. Children under 14 stay for free, there are 2 & 3-bedroom suites with their own kitchens plus a tasty children’s menu in the restaurant.

Portixol, Palma, Mallorca

This tranquil boutique hotel has simply uncluttered Scandinavian interiors and a lovely swimming pool, and is set right beside the coastal promenade in a cool barrio of Palma, and is just 15 minutes from the airport – a godsend for families. There’s heaps of baby equipment, a games room for older kids and there’s an outdoor playground and park close at hand.

Palmizana, Sveti Klement island, Croatia

This laid-back, friendly and bohemian 300-hectare retreat has fragrant botanical gardens and two pebbly beaches on a car-free island. There’s a choice of bungalows and villas, some with kitchenettes, and two restaurants serving kid-friendly fare, plus lots of watersports and two playgrounds nearby. What a find!

New York, New York!


We’re back from New York! And while we are processing the million impressions we got — from discovering great brands at the Playtime fair (recap to come, of course!), to meeting wonderful friends, to talking loads about new business ideas we’ve got — we thought it would be fun to share some snapshots we took while walking around this inspiring and buzzing city.


Beautiful Brooklyn! And yes, the sky was that blue and the shadows that sharp. This was the first warm and sunny weekend in New York in months!

The meatpacking, the Village, SoHo… we walked all the way!

Williamsburg! So cool. And so lovely to cuddle with Lindsay‘s baby Jack in the hip Wythe Hotel!

We squeezed in a bit of shopping, of course. These beautiful towels were hard to resist… (We did!)

We had so much fun — our throats are still hurting from laughing so much. We ? NY!

Courtney and Esther

The new Elias & Grace website!

Have you seen the shiny new Elias & Grace website?! They’ve given themselves an entirely new look and lots of great new features. You can now narrow down your search by category, gender and by child’s size (which is such a handy feature I think). You can shop new arrivals and see different trends (currently stripes and blue!). And of course, it goes without saying, that everything in store is so effortlessly stylish!

Elias & Grace is my go-to shop in London. They do such a great job of buying and always have the most stylish selection of brands. It’s always fun to stop in at the beginning of every season to see the latest trends and pick up some new pieces for the kids. It’s impossible for me to resist!

x Courtney

PS – Elias & Grace is now offering a £100 gift voucher in our BIG giveaway! So if you haven’t done so already, go enter to win!! Today is the last day!

Photos from Paris

We have just come back from a fun weekend together in Paris! We went for Playtime Paris, but also managed to squeeze in some meetings, visit some museums, walk from one end of Paris to the other, and laugh so hard our bellies are still sore. We’ll be sharing our re-cap of Playtime soon, but in the meantime wanted to share some photos from the rest of our weekend…


Esther and I stumbled upon the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature and it was incredible! We weren’t going to go in but then a lady passed us on the street and told us we really must not walk past without seeing inside. It’s a museum of hunting and animals and nature, but done in the most beautiful way.  The lady said to us ‘I’m a vegetarian, been one my whole life, and I’m against hunting… and even still I think it’s a beautiful museum.” What a recommendation!  I’m so happy she persuaded us because we were so impressed with it and are hoping to go back with the kids soon.


Emilie having a meeting with the wonderfully talented Lalé. We’re working on an exciting project with her and can’t wait to tell you about it!


We decided to be tourists on Saturday, so Esther and I walked the whole of Paris from one end to the next. We walked through beautiful gardens, along the river, to the Louvre, over the bridge and all the way to the Eiffel Tower and back. Here we are outside the Louvre.

Even on a grey day Paris is beautiful. I love this photo Esther took of the Louvre Pyramid, which she says reminds her of her mum.

There I am, standing beneath the Eiffel Tower. I showed this photo to my kids and they were so impressed with how big the tower is, how small I look compared to it.

Esther and I were such tourists, asking random strangers to take our photo in front of the Eiffel Tower! (We walked all the way there, so we weren’t leaving without a photo, of course!)

Here’s a photo of the three of us on the metro after a long day at Playtime. Exhausted but still laughing to tears!

Vanessa Berberian, London photographer

Remember last week when I told you about our little family photo session in the park with Vanessa Berberian? And how I was so worried she wouldn’t get any cute photos because my children wouldn’t cooperate/sit still/smile/behave… etc.  Well, she just sent over the photos and I’m so so impressed with her! She managed to do it! And she also snuck in some really cute candid photos when we weren’t paying attention.  My heart literally bursts when I see the photos of Marlow giving me kisses! Oh, I could just eat her up. I’m so happy to have this sweet phase of hers captured. And I love the photos of my husband with the children. And… she even managed to get a photo of all six of us looking at the camera, all mostly smiling! Miracle I’m telling you.

Vanessa is a super experienced photographer who has worked in all areas of photography, from environmental portraiture to travel and food.  She is now focusing her work on intimate documentary portraiture and family photography in and around the London area. (You can read more about her here.) If you’re also looking for family portraits or photos of your children, I highly recommend getting in touch with her. Her website is also super easy to use — she will upload your photos onto a gallery on her site and you’ll be able to download them easily onto your computer to use and to print. So handy!

Thank you Vanessa for taking these sweet photos!

xx Courtney

The Bugaboo wool collection

Wool is known for its wonderful, temperature regulating properties. So this past summer, when it was hot and humid and sticky, I cut holes in a sheep skin and put it in my Bugaboo as a seat cover. Like this Casper was always on a soft, natural and breathable ‘mattress’, which kept him cool as well as comfortable.

So I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Bugaboo recently teamed up with Woolmark and created a beautiful woollen seat liner with exactly those same thoughts in mind! The seat liner is made from 100% pure wool and fits all Bugaboo models. It can be used all year long — in summer it will help to keep your baby cool and comfy, and in winter warm and cosy. It also has a pretty grey padded reverse side — so you can change your look every now and then.

Bugaboo also developed a super soft, 100% extra fine merino wool blanket in three pretty colours, and — this is so exciting for those mums currently expecting a winter baby — beginning of next year there will be a soft and natural merino woollen mattress cover for the Bugaboo carrycot available as well.

I love this line. So much prettier and easier-to-care-for than my home-made solution! (And Casper is ever so cosy and comfortable, as you can see!)

xxx Esther

A weekend trip to Barcelona

We just came back from a (long) weekend break in Barcelona, and I really wanted to jot down a few notes about our trip  - it was so great!

We took the night train from the centre of Paris down to the Spanish border and did one switch onto a train direct into the centre of Barcelona. It was cool – imagine falling asleep in Paris and waking up to the view of the Med. The train was certainly not the Orient Express – but it was a real adventure. l loved lying in my little berth listening to the train whistle through the night!

We stayed at possibly the best place in Barcelona to stay with kids – a boutique youth hostel. Casa Gracia is right in the centre of Barcelona, we were able to walk everywhere. It is beautifully decorated, the rooms have up to 6 beds which is perfect for a family and there is a kitchen if you feel like you want to quickly cook some pasta. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can join in on the evening buffet meal. A huge breakfast is included in the price of the room. It was so relaxed and easy!

We took the kids to the Parc Guell which was an instant hit. I had brought along some water colours so we spent the afternoon painting the view, the mosaics or whatever we felt like painting. The next day we spent the day wondering La Rambla and getting lost in the Bari Gothic with its tiny medieval streets. On the 3rd day we walked as fast as we could to the beach and soaked up the sun, the sand and the water. Wearing a bathing suit on a beach in Europe at the beginning of November is pretty special! We had a late lunch at a cute restaurant overlooking the beach, and then we picked up our bags, jumped on a train, had dinner in the very cute and sleepy town of Cerbère on the French/ Spanish boarder, jumped on another train and woke up in Paris again!

- Emilie

PS. I just found out there is a night train that goes directly from Paris to Venice, so there might be another trip soon on the cards…

PPS The photos above are: the view over Barcelona from the Parc Guell/ a house designed by Gaudi/ Violette concentrating very hard on a water colour in the Parc Guell/ jumping in the waves in Barcelonetta.

The ShopUp in London – the countdown begins!

The countdown has started! Our live shopping event will take place just one month from now!! Have you marked your diaries? Told all your friends? We can’t wait to see you there!

p.s. To see a list of all the fabulous shops & brands participating, click here.

Hello from Belgium!

We’re all in Belgium together this week! Ten children, five adults and loads of chaos! Coincidentally all of our school holidays fell during the same week, so we rented a big house in the Ardennes to spend the holiday together. We’ve done a bit of exploring around the area, we’ve gone on some big hikes in the forest behind our house, but mostly we are staying home enjoying lazy mornings, doing lots of cooking and letting the kids run around together. We’ve been really lucky with the weather this week – it’s been so unseasonably sunny and mild, and the kids have been spending so much time outside. What a treat!

We thought we would share some photos of our time here. Hope you don’t mind the many photos (of course we couldn’t resist the big group photos! ten children does feel like a lot when you get them all together!!).

Hope you’re all having a wonderful week as well! Were your kids also on school holidays this week? Have you travelled anywhere? Please share!

xxx Esther, Emilie and Courtney

Bonnetapompon, a lovely Spanish brand

Oh! I just love to find spanish brands like Bonnet à Pompon! It is so sweet!. Clothes made with exquisite taste and care.

With very delicate colours, their shops are also an amazing experience. It is all like a fairy tale!!

Very happy to find this brand made in Spain and hope you like it. And, if you happen to be in Madrid, it is well worth a visit to their shops.

- Maria

To read more from Maria, visit her wonderful blog, escarabajos bichos y mariposas.

The ShopUp… is shaping up!

Whoop whoop!! We’re SO excited about all of these fabulous shops and brands that are joining us at the ShopUp! (For those of you who missed the announcement — we’re organising our first ever live shopping event in London at the beginning of December!) In addition to the great shopping, we’ll have superb entertainment to keep the little ones busy… mini family photo-shoots… little bits to eat and drink… and there’s a raffle with a fantastic prize!  It will be a such a fun day out, and such a perfectly easy way to buy sweet presents for all of the little lovelies in your life!

We can’t wait to go shopping at the ShopUp ourselves!! So… mark your diaries, tell your friends, invite your family, and we look forward to seeing you all there!!

xxx Courtney and Esther

Exciting new spaces in Paris

For once I am giving the urban planners of Paris a cautious thumbs up: this summer not one, but two new public, urban spaces opened! And, to boot, they are great for the whole family.

On the right bank, after being a massive building site for a long while, the new Place de La Republique is finally ready. It is hated by all taxi drivers, who get stuck at the red lights, but it is loved in the neighbourhood. Some of the top attractions are the toy library, where you can borrow for free anything from chess to stilts to baby toys. There is also a great little water park for children right beside a lovely café/restaurant. The new trees are still small and their could be more play areas, but in general this space has some great potential.

Over on the left bank a much bigger project is slowly coming together: a long stretch of the banks of the Seine (from the Musée d’Orsay to the Pont d’Alma) has been closed down to traffic and now is solely pedestrian. It is not quite finished yet, but there are already amazing play areas and great restaurants on barges and along the banks. It is such a treat to have access to the river, something that was really lacking in Paris.

It is so nice to see an old city like Paris still constantly evolving and adapting to its population!

- Emilie

Kid & Coe, a vacation rental website for families!

I am really, super excited about the recent launch of Kid & Coe, a vacation rental website featuring stylish family homes all over the world. Imagine travelling to New York, Paris, San Francisco, Copenhagen… Mexico even (!) and being able to stay in a family home, complete with child-sized beds, toys for your kids, a proper kitchen to cook meals, and other family-friendly features to really make you feel at home wherever you go.

Each Kid & Coe listing offers a great description of the property as well as a ‘good to know’ section of family-friendly considerations (closest parks, baby proof safety measures, dishwasher and washing machines, etc.). You can also read a description of the neighbourhood and surrounding area, and of course view loads of great photos of each property (truthfully, it’s like viewing the pages of Elle Decor – some of these homes are so beautiful and inspiring – it’s worth travelling just for the chance to stay in them!).

Not only is it a great place to find stylish family rentals, but you can also list your home with Kid & Coe if you’re interested in renting it out while you’re away. Registering your home is really easy, and the team at Kid & Coe is extremely helpful. It’s easy to enter the dates you’ll be away and manage your property listing and information. I know because I recently signed us up our home and it was really a piece of cake. I’m excited to see the process of booking and renting out our home… and I’m even more excited to stay in some of the other amazing homes around the world. I definitely have the travel bug just looking at this site!

xx Courtney

p.s. Here’s the link for the beautiful London-based home featured in these photos. (Don’t you just want to move straight in?!!)

Our summer holidays in Holland

Oh! It is so nice for me to remember our holidays in Holland this past summer! We went in July and we were so lucky with everything. We are in a program of house exchange and everything went just perfect!. We really loved our house and the garden with the lovely wooden house.

Great memories and lovely times in our garden!. So much fun. But speaking about fun… how great it was for us to ride a cargo bike the whole holidays!. For us Spaniards, riding bikes is not the norm, let alone a cargo bike!. That was just amazing, and we really really enjoyed it!

We really enjoyed our area, with the lakes, and canals. We had amazing weather so we got to do many things outdoors. We also went to our nearest city, Haarlem. We adored it! One of my favourites shops was Meneer Paprika. A really cool store and cafe, the paradise for children and adults!.

A very relaxed, healthy, quiet, and amazing summer we had!!. Really looking forward to going back to The Netherlands. In fact, looking forward to next summer!!!!! ;-)

Happy to be back here!!

-Maria

To read more from Maria, visit her lovely blog Escarabajos Bichos y Mariposas.

Waterproof gear from Muddy Puddles

We recently took the kids out of London for an adventurous weekend day trip to Warwick Castle. It was one of those cold, drizzly September days that felt a bit more like winter than Autumn, and we were happy to be kitted out in waterproof jackets and wellies from Muddy Puddles.

My kids have the reversible jackets, which are fully waterproof on one side and lined with cosy fleece on the other — perfect for this time of year when the weather varies so much. They also have the matching rubber wellies, so they are both coordinated and cosy in their waterproof gear. My kids were able to run around the castle grounds braving all the elements of the blustery day.

Muddy Puddles has a wide selection of outdoor gear that is as fun as it is functional. Perfect for our unpredictable British weather and the cold, wet winter ahead of us. (It only took me 10 years to finally accept that in order to live happily in London, we just have to have appropriate warm & waterproof clothing!!)

p.s. Even on a grim day, Warwick Castle was really great! Loads of fun activities for the kids, and a really pretty setting for a lovely day out. I definitely recommend visiting.  (And the view from the tower is amazing!)

xx Courtney

Mark your diaries: Presenting The ShopUp!

We are really, really excited to announce some BIG news: we are organising our first ever LIVE shopping event!!  The ShopUp will be held in London this coming December and will bring together a selection of the finest shops and brands all under one roof! We’re thrilled to offer the chance to shop the good ‘old-fashioned’ way — to see and feel the products in person and fill up your shopping bag with wonderful gifts and goodies!

The ShopUp will take place on Sunday the 1st and Monday the 2nd of December, just in time for the holidays! The event will be held at the Cecil Sharp House in the trendy, family-friendly neighbourhood of Primrose Hill (a very short walk from the park, the London Zoo and the buzzing high street) — the perfect setting for a fun, family day out!  We are especially excited about the wonderful shops we’ve lined up so far! (You can see a list of the participating shops here.) We just can’t wait to go shopping ourselves!

We will also be offering a whole host of fun activities for children, and there is also a charming café located downstairs with a selection of hot drinks, snacks and nibbles. Shops will be offering discounts, prizes will be available to win, and canvas tote bags will be handed out to all visitors. So come shopping with us — we can’t wait to see you there!

Our Summer holiday in Middle France


Summer Holidays rock everywhere I reckon, but we just had one of our best holidays ever, so I wanted to jot down a few of my memories!

I need to preface this with the mention that we had one of the worst springs in history (my history at least). So everyone was longing for sun, warmth and the big outdoors! Also we ended up spending much of spring in Paris and I for one was going a bit stir crazy!

So our first stop was the Haute-Vienne part of the Limousin, which is the area my family comes from. It is not especially well known, but I have been going there my whole life and it has developed incredibly over the years. We also have a very simple little farmhouse down there (photo above), which is very rustic but very charming; it feels like home.

We went to the bustling market on a Wednesday in the little town of Piegut, where we picked up some amazing tomatoes, confit de canard, plums and cheeses.  There is a lovely café there and a cute little ice cream shop.

We went climbing in trees around the lac de la Haute Charente, which is a huge amount of fun, especially when you zip line across a lake!

We went to some of the evening markets all around the region where the locals butchers sell their meat which is great in front of you. There is also normally a cheesy cover band playing and locals and tourist alike get to join in the fun.


(Above Coco dancing to an Bob Marley cover band at a fête du village, the lovely plums from Piegut market and Coco and Vi hanging out by our local swimming lake)

We then rented a VW camper van and drove around the amazing Dordogne. We discovered the lovely village of Limeuil and visited the Aquarium and old style village of Bournat, which the girls loved. We discovered a troglodyte village and the Lascaud caves. We swam in the Dordogne river and ate amazing food.

(Above the bridge over the Dordogne in the lovely village of Limeuil and a baker baking bread the old fashioned way in Le Brounat.)

The next stop was the lovely little village of Carcans-Plage (also known as Carcans-Ocean). It actually is not really a village but more a bunch of beach shacks, with world class surf. It is tiny, though a lot of people turn up for the day and is surrounded by pine forests. We cycled for hours along the bike paths in the pine forests without seeing cars and jumped around the waves. I even took some surf classes! I especially loved the lovely wooden beach shack rentals, which the local town built; perfect for families.

(The beach, the local pine forest and Vi ready to hit the surf.)

Finally we returned back to the Limousin for more BBQs, family, friends, sun and fun! I still wish it had never finished and I was still hanging out in my hammock!

- Emilie


(Photo taken by Coco of Vi and me enjoying the sunset in the Limousin!)

My tips for travelling with young children

After a wonderful, lazy summer in the Seattle area with my family, we have just returned this week back to London. Every summer my husband flies out there with us, but unfortunately can’t stay the entire time… which means that every year I end up flying back home solo with all the kids.  It’s the teensy price I pay for a nice, long, extended holiday with my family. Totally worth the trek!

Plus, I feel like I’m getting kind of good at it by now. Or maybe it’s that my kids are getting good at it and that makes an enormous difference. In any case, I thought I would share with you some of my simple tips for (long-haul) flying with young kids…

  • Try to avoid the ‘oh my gosh, I’m flying for 10 hours on a plane with my kids –  I must pack every single thing I have in the house to entertain/feed/care/clean/change them’ feeling, and pack as little as you can. I used to bring the kids their own headphones for the TVs, and those neck pillow thingies for sleeping, and a change of clothes, and an entire bag of snacks. But it meant that I was carrying on at least two enormous (and heavy bags!). It made the schlep through the airport tiresome, and we often ended up not using most things. This recent trip, I packed one bag and tried to keep it as lightweight as possible. (You can also give your kids their own backpack and ask them to tote around the things they need for the plane – toys, books, snacks, etc.)
  • Use a baby carrier instead of a buggy. It’s so much easier going through security and navigating a busy airport if you’re carrying your baby instead of pushing them in a buggy. You can go straight through security carrying your baby – no need to empty your buggy, fold it up, have it examined by the airport security, etc. It also means you have your hands free to hold other children’s hands, or carry bags, etc. My favourite right now is the Ergo Baby Carrier .
  • We always eat in the airport before boarding the plane and skip the first meal they serve on board. It’s not easy holding a baby and trying to eat off your little tray in front of you. And inevitably one of your kids will need his meal chopped up, or will spill his drink in his lap, and you’ll have to get up to help… and it will be extremely difficult if you have your food on a tray on your tray table in front of you. Just skip the meal entirely.
  • Make sure your kids use the toilet before boarding the plane to eliminate any extra trips to the bathroom on the plane. It seems like common sense, but I have forgotten before… and there’s nothing worse than your child telling you he has to go potty when the plane is taking off and the seatbelt sign is on! (Also make sure to change your baby’s nappy.)
  • Pack simple, non-messy snacks. I like raisins because it seems to occupy the kids for a while, trying to grab little raisins out of the box, and they’re not messy. I also like to pack nuts or trailmix, snack bars, dried mango, pretzels, fruit, etc. Before take-off, I always have a box of raisins ready for the baby in case she gets antsy sitting still on my lap when the seatbelt sign is on. (I also still nurse Marlow… and that is a big help for calming her down, and keeping her ears from popping during take-off and landing. Nursing is the easiest thing, but if you don’t nurse, you should have a prepared bottle on hand for the same reason.)
  • Dress (you and your children) in comfortable clothing. I never bother with changing them into their pyjamas – I just find that it’s an extra hassle. Instead, I dress them in normal, comfortable clothes, and make sure everyone has an extra layer (like a hoodie or a cardigan) in case it gets cold. I always bring a scarf for myself because I always get cold on planes.
  • Don’t bring too much, but make sure you have some simple entertainment on hand. I have always found that once kids get to the age of 4 or 5, they are much more independent on airplanes because they can watch TV or movies. My boys are so easy on airplanes now. I don’t even think they got up to use the toilet the entire time on our recent flight from Seattle to London – they were either watching movies or sleeping. So… for children under 4, you will need to have some entertainment on hand. Things like simple paper pads and a pen, sticker books and colouring books (you can often buy them in the airport bookshops), and paperback books (hardback books are too heavy – leave them at home!). If you have an ipad or iphone you should make sure you have children’s games or books on there (see here for ideas).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. People are always so sympathetic to mothers travelling with small children. Ask the flight attendants to help if you need it. You can even ask for help when going through the airport. One time I had to ask for help getting my sleeping children and bags off the airplane and to over customs because I simply couldn’t carry everything. Someone came immediately to help me and got me all the way through the airport.

I hope these tips were somewhat helpful and not just redundant things everyone already knows. Please feel free to add any tips I may have forgotten below.  And lastly, I’ve written my tips for beating jet-lag here if you’re interested.

xx Courtney

p.s. Photo above is of my children on the ferry overlooking Seattle, and a photo of Marlow in the Ergo carrier.

Weekend Getaway: Hamburg

As you might have noticed I have a big soft spot for Germany, the country I partly grew up in, and Hamburg has always been one of my favourite German cities. It has this great majestic, Northern European vibe. Crazy how Europe is so small and cities and their architecture are soo different!

One of the great things about Hamburg is how very much it is centred around the water and river. Our reader Sarah, who put together this post on Hamburg, actually knows a lot about living around and on water as it is her job to decorate yachts. She lives between Hamburg and Venice with her family and I am super excited to share with you her tips on this great city! Here is her guide:

You will love Hamburg as it is a typical Northern European city with lots of attractions, water, ships and shops! There are a lot of big attractions in Hamburg, such as the fish market, the vintage ships, the harbour and St. Pauli, a lot of museums, and so on, but I decided to introduce you to some of my favourite places with kids. We have a lot of wonderful parks and quarters with multi-kulti (multi-cultural) flair.

SEE & PLAY

Canal Tour:  A cruise along the Alster canals reveals the mysterious side of Hamburg. You will find beautifully-kept villas with hidden parklands and luxurious houses, as well as other interesting sights (like a real venetian gondola) along unspoilt riverbanks. Although you are near to the city centre, you will find yourself in the midst of the greenery. Don’t forget to take along a typical Hamburg picnic made up out of fishballs and herring. The tour starts at Jungfernstieg, one of the most famous shopping streets in Hamburg.

Hamburg Planterium: What happened at the BIG BANG? and other questions to be answered at Planetarium Hamburg. It is really a magical place not only for children. Built as a water tower in 1912 it is an architectural landmark with a breathtaking view from the observation deck on top. Experience a great sky show with a trip through space and time. After an amazing laser show, you can have a walk in the Stadtpark as the Planetarium is surrounded by the biggest park in town. And if you visit Hamburg during summertime come and bring your swim clothes, as there is a wonderful bath from the 1930s!

The Miniatur Wunderland: Visit the world. America, Scandinavia, Switzerland and Germany & the world’s largest model railway!
This is the most popular family tourist attraction in Hamburg. There are more than 7.000 square meters of different levels, moving cars and trains, flying planes, snow, sun and rain. Thousands of mini people populate this stunning “little” world. You definitely need binoculars to explore everything. For kids it is amazing, but exhausting, too. There are lots of people and a million things to watch; so plan a lot of time and book tickets in advance. Bring a lot to drink and, after the visit, stroll around the famous Hafencity and Speicherstadt. The Speicherstadt is the former trade centre of Hamburg. Large warehouses out of typical red brickstones along the canals are worth the trip! Right behind this Trade City you can take a walk through Europe’s largest new building project: the Hafencity. Find a lot of small cafés, the hilarious Philharmonic building, the Maritime Museum and the Prototyp Museum with a lot of Porsche cars, little harbors for sailing boats and a playground right behind every corner. Enjoy the view and drinks at a café called Carl’s and fall in love with Hamburg.

PLAY

Strandperle: The Strandperle was build in the end of the 19th century right on the waterfront. It used to be a milk shop! You might still be able to get milk, but you can also lay back with a glass of white wine or a typical Hamburg beer, the Astra. While you enjoy the fantastic view on the harbor skyline, huge container vessels from Panama and Nowosibirsk will sail past and the kids can play and conquer the beach. Yes, the beach! Hamburg has more than 10 kilometers beach and we love it!  Plan a day for the Strandperle, as you will not tear yourself away from this terrific place! Later that day you can climb up the hill up to the Elbchaussee, Hamburgs “Avenue Princess Grace”. After 15 minutes walk you will find a quarter called Ottensen, with a lot of small shops, cafés and restaurants. Handmade objects are on sale here, as are small fashion labels and the world’s best ice-cream in a shop called “Eisliebe”. Have a wine in the “Garage” Kleine Rainstrasse 1, eat cheese and ham before returning to your hotel.

SHOP

Herr Max – a wonderful patisserie in fancy Schanzenviertel, Schulterblatt 12. Delicious little pastries, fresh cakes and biscuits. And it is absolutely sinful!

Vergissmeinicht – it’s the name of this litlle romantic flower, forget-me-not. And you will find a lot of wonderful fashion brands for kids, toys and costumes, little vintage toys, vintage jewelery and hair stuff. Great little shop!

Herr von Eden – for Men: Tailormade woollen cashmere suits, denim shirts, hats, jackets, silk scarfs. Very stylish, very modern, very spezial! Herr von Eden is one of the most beloved brands for individual men.

Kauf dich glücklich – become happy by shopping! A glorious combination of little nice things, books and a lot of fresh german labels. Especially for Mama!  It’s on Susannenstrasse 4. Bars and a playground around fort he rest of the family.

SLEEP

Here are a couple of suggestions for hotels: The Side Hotel,  the Riverside Hotel,  the 25hours Hafencity Hotel and the George.

Come along & Ahoi!

Sarah

Playtime Paris: A recap

The three of us (plus two babies!) met up in Paris last weekend to attend another Playtime tradeshow. It was a beautiful, sunny (hot even!) weekend and the three of us had so much fun together. On Saturday we walked around Paris until the sun went down and the babies got tired. It was the perfect summery day in Paris! On Sunday we attended Playtime and, as usual, we were so inspired by the many great brands we saw — lots of old favourites, and a few new discoveries too! Here’s a brief recap in photos:

  • Aymara – Beautiful knitwear in a rainbow of cool colours!
  • Nobodinoz – A vibrant collection of toys, cushions, decorations and really cool animal backpacks.
  • Seesaw – A new-to-us brand featuring geometric designs and easy-to-wear silhouettes.
  • Shusha Toys – Such wonderful wooden toys from Russia – we want to buy every toy in their collection!

  • L’Asticot – We loved the fabrics in this collection. The little squid and the fish prints – so cute!
  • Sunchild – A great collection of brightly coloured swim trunks, nice and short – perfect for little legs!

  • Coq en Pâte – Bold graphics and colours. And we love the collection of beach toys made from seaweed – Fun!
  • Garbo and Friends – We love the illustrations and soft colours.
  • Picnik – Gorgeous, bold geometric patterns.
  • ESPno1 A great collection as always, and we especially loved this awesome playsuit!

  • It was so hot in there – the only place Marlow wanted to be was on the cold cement floor!
  • Sprout by Grow – A beautiful collection for big and small girls.
  • Aravore -We love the new collection, and how sweet is that little floral romper?!
  • Indikidual -Original cuts and patterns set this collection apart. The Jellyfish trousers are a highlight!
  • Biobu by Ekobo – A collection of dishes which are beautiful, natural and completely biodegradable!

  • Maa — Awesome, hipster trainers! We want these for ourselves!
  • More Shusha Toys – We love these wooden facial parts to create different faces. So fun!
  • Macarons – Beautiful textured fabrics. We loved the Ikat skirt!
  • Poco Nido – Fun high and low boots and cute baby shoes.
  • INspiRaTiOns by la Girafe – A beautiful stand with fresh flowers from the garden.

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