When Georgina Blaskey and her husband found themselves itching to go on city breaks again, this time they took their children too, and discovered a whole new side to their favourite destinations
The sights: We started our tour with a boat trip on the Bateau Mouches (bateaux-mouches.fr). Embarking near Pont de l’Alma, during this 75-minute trip along the Seine you’ll hear facts about all the famous sights, from the Musée D’Orsay to Notre Dame. Once docked, we found our way to the Eiffel Tower, just a 15-minute stroll away. Booking in advance is essential if you want to go up via the elevator but as we were feeling a little bit James Bond in our attitude, so we took the stairs – definitely the highlight of the trip.
The stay: Hotel 34B (en.astotel.com) in the 9th arrondissement is near Gare du Nord (perfect for the Eurostar) and the Grand Boulevards metro station, offering easy access to all the sights. Housed in an internal courtyard, complete with atrium, is a lounge where guests can help themselves to free soft drinks, tea, coffee and snacks all day; perfect after a long day of sightseeing (there’s even a complimentary in-room minibar).
Chill-out time: During the summer holidays, the Jardin des Tuileries hosts an old-fashioned funfair but offers trampolines and a carousel all year round, while the Jardins du Luxembourg boasts traditional marionette shows, pony rides and a bandstand.
Hidden gems: We spent an hour at the Smallable concept store, checking out its trendy kids’ labels and design-focused room accessories. The Bonpoint atelier also makes an elegant outing – a Parisian townhouse showcasing the heritage of one of France’s favourite brands.
The sights: Copenhagen feels like it has been designed with children in mind. In the summer, Tivoli Gardens is the smartest theme park you’ll ever visit, where restaurants have white linen tablecloths and flowerbeds burst with colour. Hans Christian Andersen once strolled in these gardens, and we loved watching the ballet dancers perform at the Chinese-inspired outdoor Peacock Theatre. Witness the changing of the guard at noon each day outside the Royal Family’s residence, Amalienborg Palace, then head to Rosenborg Castle in the King’s Garden for a real-life treasure hunt – tucked away inside the castle are the Crown Jewels. From the King’s New Square (Kongens Nytorv) we strolled down the colourful harbour street Nyhavn and jumped onto a canal tour boat.
The stay: Style mavens will love the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel (radissonblu.com), designed by renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen. With family suites kitted out in authentic Jacobsen furniture, it’s a mid-century masterpiece. It’s also centrally located opposite Tivoli, just steps from the train station and close to shops and restaurants.
Chill-out time: Take the train from the main station and visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (en.louisiana.dk), 35 minutes away, located on a cliff top with panoramic views of Sweden. Here, the Children’s Wing offers drop-in workshops every day, where kids can paint, draw and sculpt. There’s even a Lego room where we lost a couple of hours… Feast your eyes on Warhol, Hockney, Calder, Moore, Giacometti, Picasso and more.
Hidden gem: The Shooting Range Gardens (Skydebanehaven) in the Vesterbro area of the city are hidden behind vast brick ramparts, originally built to protect passers-by from stray bullets! The space is now a children’s play park, with a toddler pool open on warm days. Skydebanehaven is one of Copenhagen’s staffed playgrounds – they won’t look after the children, but they will arrange activities such as sports tournaments and treasure hunts.
The sights: At its heart, Marrakech remains an ancient city of crumbling medina walls and winding cobbled alleyways. The best way to experience it is to walk through the souk, which we did happily with our children every morning. Passing residents dressed in the traditional djellaba (hooded gowns worn by men and women), the exotic character of the Red City revealed itself. Walk though Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square, at dusk and the snake charmers, acrobats, fortune tellers and henna artists come to life, as the muezzin sounds his call to prayer.
The stay: A pocket of peace in the glorious madness of Marrakech is Hotel Tigmiza (hotel-tigmiza-marrakech.com), a luxury, family-owned hideaway in the nearby Palmeraie offering decorative family suites with private pools. If you’re after a hotel with a more international feel, the Four Seasons (fourseasons.com/marrakech) is superb, as is its fun kids’ club designed by a local Moroccan toymaker, where colourful murals adorn the walls.
Chill-out time: The Majorelle Gardens, restored by Yves Saint Laurent, offer a shady and calm retreat. For a cultured antidote to the hustle of the souk, visit the Ben Youssef Madrasa – a Quranic school full of decorative pools and intricately tiled courtyards.
Hidden gems: Take a dip in the inviting pool and strike a pose at the Beldi Country Club (beldicountryclub.com) where Poppy Delevingne got hitched – it’s cool, bohemian and, yes, even child-friendly. For hassle-free shopping, check out the barter-free Souk Cherifia (souk-cherifia.com).
The sights: Venice is a destination best seen by boat. The locals use the vaporetto (it’s like the tube, but on water) and it didn’t take long to navigate our way around. However, queuing for the sights in peak season with two children was never going to be an option, so we improvised! Instead of going in to St Mark’s Basilica, we went up the bell tower, Campanile di San Marco, next to it. With a lift providing quick access to the top, we started our day with a panoramic view of the geography of the city (more than 118 islands). We then walked with the crowds through the little streets to the Grand Canal and the famous Rialto Bridge.
The stay: The JW Marriott (marriott.com) is the ideal family accommodation. Located a 20-minute ride away from the hub of St Mark’s Square (there’s a complimentary shuttle service every half an hour), this five-star hotel on Isola delle Rose is a tranquil antidote to the mayhem of Venice mainland.
Chill-out time: There’s a cleverly designed adventure playground next door to the hotel pool so we didn’t even leave our sun loungers as the kids set off exploring. Alternatively, take a boat to the Lido where the seven-mile-long beach faces the Adriatic sea.
Hidden gem: One day we toured with a local guide from Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk), which made all the difference. From visiting the oldest gondola yard to mask-making with respected artisans, we discovered the city’s beating heart.