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Southern Europe, With the Kids

If there’s one special request we can count on hearing year after year at about this time, it’s for a European hotel that’s both stylish and appropriate for families. We asked our travel specialists for some tried-and-true recommendations for travelers of all ages, and they gave us their top picks for families in Italy, France, and the Iberian peninsula.

Martinhal Beach Resort
Algarve, Portugal
Martinhal Beach Resort

You’d never know it from looking at Martinhal’s tidy modernist villas, but this place is as family-friendly as they come — the Raposinhos (little foxes) Club keeps kids busy, so their parents can “enjoy their cappuccino with the foam still on it,” and the “baby concierge” ensures that you’re never stuck on the beach without adequate supplies.

Barcelo Asia Gardens
Benidorm, Spain
Barcelo Asia Gardens

Benidorm, on Spain’s Costa Blanca, is well known for its high-rise developments — but Barcelo Asia Gardens, a Balinese-style villa resort, feels a world away from all that. Kids will enjoy the Pirate Club, and parents will enjoy the silence.

Marbella Club Hotel
Marbella, Spain
Marbella Club Hotel

Among Costa del Sol resorts the Marbella Club stands out for its long history, its aristocratic air, and the sheer professionalism of its operation. All of these combine to produce a hotel that can comfortably handle any conceivable request — there’s nothing the Marbella Club hasn’t seen.

Finca Cortesin
Marbella, Spain
Finca Cortesin

Also in Marbella, the all-suite Finca Cortesín is a relative newcomer, but it comes prepared: there’s a private beach club and a Jack Nicklaus golf academy for adults, and a well-equipped kids’ club with a wide range of activities for travelers aged 4 to 12.

L’Albereta
Lake Iseo, Italy
L’Albereta

Just 40 minutes from Milan it’s possible to get a taste of traditional, upscale Lombard hospitality. The venerable L’Albereta is the sort of place whose regulars reappear annually for decades — and while the kids are under 16, they’re kept busy at Maty’s Club, named for the proprietors’ daughter, Mathilde.

Villa San Michele
Fiesole, Italy
Belmond Villa San Michele

Here, in the hills above Florence, is another long-established classic, which excels at tailoring the experience to the individual. Appropriately, given the Tuscan location, it offers a Young Chefs Academy, so you can ensure that the younger generation comes home with some useful household skills.

Borgo Egnazia
Puglia, Italy
Borgo Egnazia

Borgo Egnazia, in Savelletri di Fasano, on the Adriatic coast of Puglia, shows a starker, more minimalist side of Italian luxury. And for all its family-friendliness, its tranquility is relatively undisturbed — not only is there a kids’ club for the youngest, but a teens’ club for the in-betweeners as well.

Castello di Casole
Siena, Italy
Castello di Casole

If you wanted to show your family the archetypal Tuscan villa experience, look no further than Castello di Casole. Here you’re in food and wine heaven, naturally, and the gelato tastings and pizza-making workshops ensure that there’s plenty to do for those who aren’t yet in the wine-connoisseur demographic.

Hotel Juana
Juan-les-Pins, France
Hotel Juana

The French Riviera, that most storied of Mediterranean destinations, offers everything from risqué adults-only escapes to wholesome, family-friendly glamour. What makes Hotel Juana so useful for families is the convenience: every room category offers interconnecting options, for flexible party sizes, and between the pool and the two beach clubs, there’s plenty of variation in leisure activity.

La Bastide de Marie
Ménerbes, France
La Bastide de Marie

Though it’s a professional operation, La Bastide de Marie feels like a private home — albeit a private home that happens to be a classic Provençal estate, updated with a keen contemporary eye. You’ll feel like guests in the home of a well-heeled French relation, one who’s only too happy that you’ve brought the entire family along.

Domaine de Fontenille
Lauris, France
Domaine de Fontenille

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Provence, Domaine de Fontenille is a brand-new luxury hotel that just happens to occupy the well-preserved buildings of a 1638 estate. Don’t let the patina fool you — this is a very modern operation, and one that’s prepared for any curveball you might throw its way.

Las Alamandas
Arcachon, France
Hotel Ville d’Hiver

Another departure from our Mediterranean theme, this “winter villa” sits on the Atlantic coast. With its striped columns, archways and red tile roof, it’s got character to spare — and as it’s both close to the beach and under an hour from Bordeaux, it’s got plenty going for it in the convenience department as well.

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