What to do in Alnmouth, Northumberland - 5 reasons to visit with kids

Welcome back to our new series where we explore what there is to do for kids in the towns and villages of Northumberland. We've already posted about Cramlington and Felton and today's adventure takes us to Alnmouth where we recently stayed in the most gorgeous apartment through Walton Robinson.

What to do in Alnmouth, Northumberland - 5 reasons to visit with kids

Alnmouth is a small village just a few miles west of Alnwick in Northumberland. With a population of just 445, it is small but perfectly formed. The coastline here is stunning and many parts are protected - the River Aln meets the North Sea and this area has been listed as a site of Scientific Interest due to its varied plant life. We love spending the day in this gem of a village and today we're sharing our top 5 reasons to visit Alnmouth with kids:

1 - Spend the day at the beach

Alnmouth beach is absolutely stunning. It's super sandy and the sea is usually nice and calm meaning it's perfect for kids. The beach is popular with dog walkers and you'll often have it to yourself. It's the kind of place you can definitely take a picnic and spend all day. 

2 - Alnmouth Playground 

There's a fab little playground right by the beach and under the beautiful pastel coloured cottages. You'll find a communal BBQ area and lots of space on what's known as 'the village green' for picnics and games.

3 - Hunt for ghosts at Schooner

The Schooner Hotel sits on Alnmouth's main street. If you aren't stopping over, non-residents are free to enjoy the bar, lounge and restaurant where you'll find a pool table and darts board. There have been 60 recorded sightings of ghosts and ghouls in this hotel and it's featured on 'Most Haunted' twice. Spooky!

4 - Stop for hot chocolate and cake 

There are a couple of tearooms along the main street in Alnmouth serving the most delicious homemade cakes and epic hot chocolates. They can get busy though! We've tried The Village Tearoom and Bistro 23 (pictured) and honestly can't pick a favourite!

5 - Church Hill Walk

Walk or drive a few miles around the bay and then climb up Church Hill and you'll be rewarded with glorious views of Alnmouth Bay and countryside.

Have you ever visited Alnmouth? Let me know which town or village in Northumberland you'd like us to feature next. 

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What to do in Alnmouth, Northumberland - 5 reasons to visit with kids


South View House, Alnmouth - A high-tech & spacious family (and dog-friendly) apartment by the beach | Our stay with Walton Robinson

*This is a collaborative post

If you have yet to visit Alnmouth in Northumberland, you are missing a treat. Situated just 4 miles East of Alnwick, this small coastal village has a population of less than 500 and is a lovely place to get away from the stresses of everyday life. The beach is neverending and offers fantastic views out to Coquet Island and Alnmouth's main street is quaint and filled with beautiful tearooms, county pubs and fantastic restaurants (with seafood being a little bit of a speciality). 

South View House, Alnmouth - A high-tech & spacious family (and dog-friendly) apartment by the beach | Our stay with Walton Robinson

We were invited to spend the weekend in Alnmouth courtesy of Walton Robinson. They let the gorgeous South View House for short breaks, holidays and long-terms lets. If you'd like information on availability, booking and the best prices and offers, email Bookings@WaltonRobinson.com or details.

South View House was pretty easy to find, with ample free parking outside. Comprehensive self-check-in instructions were sent on arrival and check-in was hassle-free. I have to say as we opened the door to our first-floor apartment we were absolutely blown away by the size of this place. We are pretty sure the whole apartment was bigger than our house!  

We adored staying at South View House and I honestly nearly cried when we had to leave. It's the kind of place you dream about living and I was very sad to leave. If you're looking for a place to really treat your family, I can't recommend enough. I received a few messages over the weekend asking if this place was child-friendly and I can 1000% say it is. I'd be super happy to bring a toddler or baby here as well as my own children, it's quite minimalist so there's actually nothing they can break. The apartment is also dog-friendly too. 

Our top 5 reasons to book short break at South View House in Alnmouth

It's fair to say we fell head over heels in love with this property. Regular readers will know it's our plan to retire by the sea someday and our mini break at South View House was able to give us a little peek into what this actually might be like. 

1 - So much living space

South View House is a first-floor apartment. The apartment can sleep 6 across three bedrooms (one double, two twin). There's an open plan living, kitchen, dining area, three bathrooms, a utility room and a stunning sunroom overlooking the beach. There was more than enough space for us all. Every single room was large, bright and airy and it was nice and warm too. It was -2 outside but you'd never guess - we even had the balcony doors open at one point. 

2 - You get to play with lots of technology

South View House is packed with technology - I've never stayed anywhere where technology is at the forefront of design like this. There are a couple of 'hubs' around the home and they basically control everything. From closing the blinds in every room, to opening the bin, turning the speakers on (which are fitted in every room) to controlling the TVs, the temperature and the lighting in every room. If you love technology, you'll have lots of fun with all the tech and gadgets you can use here.  We especially liked the lights that were integrated into the lower levels of the wall that automatically turned on as you walked past. Super practical when you're staying somewhere new or if you have kids who wake in the night to climb into your bed.

3 - Stunning views and the beach is on your doorstep

The main reason I loved this house was the stunning views of the Northumberland coast and estuary. Sitting in the sunroom was an absolute joy at every time of day - from breakfast over sunrise, to beautiful blue skies in the afternoon and watching a wonderful sunset in the evening, it's a view I really don't think I'd ever tire of. There's plenty of comfortable seating in this room and sitting with a nice coffee and my feet up just watching the world go by was super relaxing.

The sunroom captures the best views but you can also see the sea from the main living area and kitchen too. There's just something about a sea view that just makes you feel instantly happier I think.

You can see South View House in the picture below which will hopefully give you some idea of just how close the apartment is to the beach. Literally, just a hop, skip and a jump away. Perfect for family walks, plodging in the sea, sunny days building sandcastles, do walks and lots of other adventures. Alnmouth beach is one of my favourites in Northumberland. It's nice and sandy and clean and the sea is usually nice and calm too. We braved below zero temperatures and still had a blast hunting for shells and skimming stones. 

We really could have been in the med.....

4 - A kitchen to die for

Steve is a bit of a budding chef and it's safe to say this is the best kitchen he's ever cooked in. It's very well equipped with high-end utensils, crockery and pans and there's not one but two dishwashers which was a big help when cooking a big Italian family feast on Saturday night.  With integrated appliances too, this kitchen really was a dream to cook in. I imagine if we'd stayed here for a week we'd definitely be buying lots of delicious local food and staying in as much as going out.

5 - High-end luxury bathrooms

Often when we stay in apartments or cottages, the bathrooms are a bit of an after-thought but that's definitely not the case here. There are three bathrooms in total - one with a bath and shower and two with just showers. They are large, spacious and feel super high-end with their fancy taps, rain showers, double bathtub and marble finish. I managed to escape into the bath for 30 minutes before the kids found me and it was bliss.

South View House is very well-located for exploring the village of Alnmouth and the main high street is just a 30 second walk away. Alnmouth is home to a couple of cute tearooms, a handful of pubs and a couple of very nice restaurants too. I love that you can easily walk to pubs and restaurants and leave the car at home so both grown-ups can enjoy a drink and not have to worry about parking. Alnmouth also has it's own train station.  I'll post more about what there is to do in Alnmouth soon, but for now here are a few ideas for exploring the immediate area. Alnwick, Amble and Warkworth are all within 10 miles of Alnmouth:
We loved our stay at South View House and it was perfect for us but I don't think it's for everyone - if you struggle with technology, I would not recommend staying here. There are instruction manuals but some of the settings can be confusing. We turned off the TV to go to bed and could not figure out how to stop the sound playing through the ceiling speakers. We got there in the end but if you're the type of person who isn't a fan of modern technology, I don't think this house is for you.

If you like clean, minimalist design that's aesthetically pleasing, you'll love South View House but I do think this meant the apartment is sometimes lacking in home comforts - there are no cushions on the sofas or curtains (only blinds) so if you're looking for somewhere cosy over somewhere modern, again this apartment probably isn't for you. 

If you're looking for a luxurious, spacious and modern apartment to use as a base to explore Northumberland with lots of mod-cons, spectacular coastal views, free-parking and is dog and child-friendly with a handful of tearooms, pubs and restaurants on your doorstep, South View House in Alnmouth ticks all of those boxes and more. I know it's going to be somewhere I recommend to people a lot over the next few years. 

How to book South View House, Alnmouth 

We stayed in the first floor apartment. You can also stay in the Penthouse suite or ground floor apartment which are furnished to the same high standard. South View House is available to book for long terms lets, holidays and short breaks via Walton Robinson. Contact bookings@waltonrobinson.com for availability, booking enquiries and last minute deals. Walton Robinson guarantee you will always get the best price when booking with them.

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South View House, Alnmouth - A high-tech & spacious family (and dog-friendly) apartment by the beach | Our stay with Walton Robinson


5 luxury holiday experiences for families with older children

*This is a collaborative post

Do you ever play the game where you plan the dream holidays your family would take if you were lucky to millions through playing the lottery or powerball? It's one of my favourite ways to pass the time and a good conversation starter too. Today I'm sharing the top 5 places I'd book if money were no object. We can all dream sometimes right? Please let me know in the comments where you'd like to visit if you won the lottery. Fingers crossed we all get to visit our dream destinations one day. 

5 luxury holiday experiences for families with older children

A Luxury Family Adventure around Iceland 

Iceland is a place I am absolutely desperate to visit. Sadly it won't happen this year as we're saving for a new car but I hope to tick it off our bucket list in 2019. If money was no object, I would definitely book this family adventure with Black Tomato.  The 6 night break includes jeep safaris across Iceland's stunning landscape where you'll stop off at hot springs and volcanic craters before enjoying a hot chocolate and pancakes by Iceland's largest lake. There's the opportunity to take an ice walking lesson and hike across glaciers and the trip ends with VIP access to Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon where you'll spend some time enjoying this unique spa in total privacy. What a trip this would be!

Family Safari to Kenya 

I would love to take my family on safari one day and this package by Abercrombie & Kent has really caught my eye. Families can enjoy breakfast with giraffes at Giraffe Manor before taking game drives or visiting Chimps and Elephants at nearby sanctuaries. There's also the opportunity to spend time in a traditional Maasi Village and learn all about Kenyan Tribal life. There's a good chance you'll spot the 'big five' during this trip and I know this would be something we all remember forever.

Hire a Private Island 

You really can't get anything more luxurious than hiring your own private island and Vladi Private Island Vacations allow you to do just that. You can hire Musha Bay Island in the Bahamas for 57,000 USD per night. This fee includes luxury accommodation on your own private island for up to 24 guests on an all-inclusive basis. You'll be looked after by a team of 30 discreet staff including a world-class chef. A range of activities can be organised for your family by a professional team and you'll have access to the island's sailing boats, jet skis and wave runners. This option sounds like the perfect choice if you'd like to treat a group of friends and family with your winnings.

Tree Hotel Sweden

The Tree Hotel in Sweden sounds like so much fun! This accommodation offers a unique opportunity to sleep amongst the treetops and watch the Northern Lights in Sweden. Guests can choose to stay in a mirror cube, birds nest, cabin or UFO - all suspended in the air and sitting amongst the forest.  There is a range of activities that can be organised for families to enjoy ranging from white water rafting to a moose safari, zip wires through the forest, bear spotting, ice dining, snow shoe walking, ice fishing and more. The Tree Hotel offers a special family fun package which includes a night in a tree room, breakfast, lunch, dinner and activities such as sledding behind a snowmobile and grilling sausages on an open fire.

Orangutan Watching

We adopted our own Orangutan last year and it is my dream to be able to take the kids to see them in their natural habitats. Sabah is probably the best place to do this as there's the opportunity to see them both in the wild and at a rehabilitation centre. This 11 day trip available through Responsible Travel includes a stay in the jungle, a boat cruise and visit to an Orangutan sanctuary,  wildlife spotting, jeep safaris and ends with a couple of days in a beach resort to relax.

Do any of my dream family holidays appeal to you? I'd love to hear where you'd visit if you didn't have to worry about the price......

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5 luxury holiday experiences for families with older children


Hogwarts Hotel: Sleep Like A Wizard

*This is a collaborative guest post

Hogwarts Hotel: sleeping like a wizard

Hogwarts, Harry Potter hotel room with two beds in London

When you are a Harry Potter fan, then you know “Hogwarts” is an epicentre of the entire experience. It is the fictional school of magic where students aged between eleven and eighteen go to learn about witchcraft and wizardry. It is also the primary setting for the first six series of Harry Potter. Although the series ended a while back, the stories remain classics up to this day, and there are thousands, if not millions of fans who would love to experience life at Hogwarts. 

But before you are driven away from reality by your fantasies, remember that the school for witchcraft and wizardry was not real, and it was just a fictitious creation for the series. Nonetheless, fans now have a chance to sleep like a wizard at the Hogwarts Hotel. This is the closest you will ever get to experience the magical feeling in Harry Potter – courtesy of the Georgian House Hotel in Central London. So what is it like to spend a night at Hogwarts?

The Georgian House Hotel in Central London

The Georgian House Hotel in Central London is a place where you may sleep like a wizard. It is a four-star hotel that offers an excellent treat to Harry Potter and general fantasy fans. Everything about the hotel has been designed to hand to the guests the same experience they may have witnessed in watching or reading the Harry Potter series. In addition to making you sleep like a wizard, a stay at the hotel will include an unforgettable breakfast, tickets to the Muggle Walking Tours as well as guided tours to the landmark sites prominently featured in the Harry Potter films.

The Wizard Chambers

View of Harry Potter chambers hall with stairs

The Hogwarts Hotel currently has four Wizard Chambers of different sizes, with all of them being double. One thing you will find fascinating about the chambers is that despite the fact that the hotel has been serving guests since 1851, the rooms are still in a perfect state and will remind you of everything you watched or read in the books. From the structural designs to the interior décor, your mind will come alive with fresh scenes from the movies. 

Just as in the books, one of the chambers is located on the ground level while the remaining three are in the basement. You should know that accommodation for the chambers is in high demand and you may have to wait for a couple of months before you have a chance to stay in one. 

One notable aspect of Wizard Chambers is that they are obscured by a massive woollen curtain in the hotel's Muggle section. Most guests who aren’t aware of them never notice them, and surprisingly enough, the chambers experience very little foot traffic, thus creating the experience of magical loneliness loved by most guests who patron the chambers. 

On the walls of the hotels are speakers humming Harry Potter themed tunes and if you are staying in the basement chambers, you will find a switch on top of the wall for a dry ice machine at the bottom. This is the switch you use for the luxury smoky reception. Then there is also the bell you press five times like a giddy child, just as the old saying goes, when in Hogwarts.

The Owl Keyring

Picture of snowy owl looking up

The room key at the Hogwarts Hotel is a big old-school metal owl. It looks cool, but a little awkward compared to a standard keycard. It is not as cute as a real owl, but no one cares about the tiny details and most people are here to experience how it feels to sleep like a wizard. 

The attention to detail in the rooms

The magical experience of sleeping like a wizard at the Hogwarts Hotel is further enhanced by the significant consideration to detail in the rooms, the design and the décor. Everything is merely impressive, faithfully recreated to give the same feeling in the film, complete with vintage books, bottles, and wall hangings. A glance at it would make you feel that it came directly from a Victorian apothecary. 

Just like in the film, the bedside table features faux antique pieces with all the colours of the Hogwarts House. They are further embellished using soda logos and not house crests. The auspicious furnishing of the room manages to create a façade similar to what was displayed and witnessed in the films. 

The bed occupies a large part of the chamber, and it is delightfully comfy in all aspects. It has four pillows and four cushions, and if you are staying alone, you may be left wondering why you need all that. But even if you choose not to use them, they have been used to enhance the décor of the bed. 

The Bathroom

If you are like most people, after testing any hotel bed, the next thing you would be interested in is the shower, and the Hogwarts Hotel doesn’t disappoint when it comes to this. The showers are hidden behind a faux-gothic arch doorway, and it is spacious to enable you to wave a wand just as you saw Harry Potter do on many occasions. The shower is fast, delivering rainfall-style water and the toilet is quite regal, designed to look like a throne. The entire bathroom features very lovely touches with vintage jugs for the toothbrushes and a wooden ladder for the towels. 

Wizardly details

Girl Wizard casting spell outside with magic wand

The hotel is also dotted with several wizardly details that will put you in the right mood to re-live everything you ever saw in the film. Some of the notable ones include the owl décor on the walls, the kettle and cup designs and the arched doorways. here are quite a few Harry Potter books and internet connection to keep boredom at bay for solo travellers, but the good news is that there are quite a few Harry Potter books and internet connection you can use to beat the boredom. 

It is indeed worth spending time at the Hogwarts Hotel. Though it will not be as cheap as your typical B&B in London, if you genuinely cherish Harry Potter, you will value the experience more than the £309 you will pay for a night to sleep like a wizard. And if you are going to spoil yourself, charter a luxurious private aircraft to London. Book with Air Charter Service to ensure you make the most of this wonderful experience. 

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