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Holidays in Britain...

Eddie Mair | 17:01 UK time, Wednesday, 8 August 2007

what's been your experience?


  1. At 05:36 PM on 08 Aug 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Brilliant :-)

  2. At 05:43 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Norma Paterson wrote:

    Re your item tonight with Alex. Salmond my husband and are Scottish and we would like a Scottish News and unlike your other guest we do not want to watch Eastenders or A Question of Sport - ever!

  3. At 05:50 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Warren Alexander wrote:

    The last thing I want when I am on holiday is to have to put up with hordes of screaming, badly behaved children. If people insist on breeding they should not inflict their children on others. The more child-free hotels, trains, planes the better

  4. At 05:55 PM on 08 Aug 2007, David Lewis wrote:

    Please may we have a list of the family unfriendly places so that we can visit them. My experience of families today is that they make no attempt to discipline their children or to consider the needs of others. Instead the tantrums and misbehaviopur of their children is inflicted upon the rest of us, and if we don't like it we are somehow inhuman.

    I have two well behaved grandchildren and we never have a problem getting service for them.

  5. At 05:56 PM on 08 Aug 2007, David Taylor wrote:

    Holidays in the UK with children may be difficult, but try taking the dog, it is almost impossible. Again, the contrast with, say, French hotels, is notable!

  6. At 05:57 PM on 08 Aug 2007, mike harding wrote:

    Holidays in the u.k., wonderful scenery, beaches, mountains but the only reasonably priced way of doing it is camping or caravanning. We have taken holidays in places like South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Portugal, Spain and France. We can vouch that our money goes so much further and with magnificent welcomes and food available. We go on tour in these places and can readily find en route really cheap but good and excellent accommodation. Our hosts abroad are looking for a continuing way of life, NOT an instant fortune!. As a consequence we can go on tour for long periods generally at least twice as long as we could afford to do in the U.K.

  7. At 05:58 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Peej wrote:

    Just about to take our fourth holiday in five years in Ireland (both north and south), with two teenagers. We (and I'm including the teenagers) consistently have a better time here than in the Med for example. We may not have the same degree of reliablity with the weather, but you don't have the extremes either. Pick your location carefully and we find there's a greater variety of things to do as well.

  8. At 06:00 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Louise Martin wrote:

    60% of parents are staying in Britain because it is easier to transport large amounts of kit by car. Specialist child-friendly hotels and resorts like Centerparcs are very expensive and many restaurants do not welcome children. No wonder the Caravanning Club has 50,000 new members this year! Children are less welcome in Britain than any other country in Europe, so it is little wonder that a combination of economics and kindness send so many of us abroad.

  9. At 06:01 PM on 08 Aug 2007, B Jarvis wrote:

    Someone said on tonights PM that Parents with children are being "ripped off" on holidays in this country.
    Surely they must realise that we ALL get ripped off as soon as you are in a position to be a purchaser. Don't forget, this is "Rip off Britain"

  10. At 06:01 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Geoff Hardy wrote:

    Those of us without children also like to enjoy our holidays and I'm sorry to say there are too many children who don't know how to behave in a public place and too many parents who do not check this bad behaviour. This applies not only to hotels but supermarkets, restaurants, etc..
    It's true that on the continent kids have a more inclusive part in society but I have rarely experienced the behaviour problems that we have in the UK whilst travelling abroad. And of course if they can't behave when they're children what chance have we got as they grow older? We are not anti children per se and have loved seeing our friends & familys children grow up enjoyed their company - but sadly there are too many families where it's 'Kids Rule OK' and never mind anyone else.

  11. At 06:03 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Marion wrote:

    I listened with interest the comments regarding "family friendly" holidays and the so-called "horror" that people are met with when on holiday with their families. I recently went to Cornwall where my husband and I enjoyed a superb lunch at a certain celebrity chef establishment. We were surrounded by families. The children of some of these families were extremely well behaved. They sat in their high chairs or on booster seats, they had toys to keep themselves amused between courses, they ate the food that was ordered for them - in other words they knew how to behave. Sadly, some of the other children played havoc, threw their food around, whinged, screeched and ran around, spoiling the event for other diners. No wonder some families find people and establishments are not "family friendly". I am not saying that children should be seen and not heard - but the time for running around is on the beach, NOT in a restaurant.

  12. At 06:04 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Bedd Gelert wrote:

    I can't help but draw a link between the twenty percent of people turned away because they had children, with the rough percentage of children that are ill-disciplined, rude, rowdy little brats.

    Ireland seems very welcome to children in their hotels, but it goes without saying that the children seem, almost without exception, to be pleasant, courteous, well-behaved and if they do step out of line they are [radical concept alert] DISCIPLINED by their parents.

    Kids in Britain know full well that misbehaviour at home or in school results in no real punishment.

    So maybe if they were taught to behave better, maybe the hoteliers would be welcoming them with open arms ? This may be an unpopular view - but go on, admit it - when was the last time you enjoyed a stay in a hotel where all the children were at least tolerably well behaved ??

  13. At 06:07 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Jackie C wrote:

    We have children of 9 and 6 and have visited north Devon for the past 5 years, staying in both hotels and lodges. We have had good experience of both - sharing one room for all 4 is both safe and convenient. There have been plenty of restaurants and pubs to choose with no problem including children. Maybe we are unusual in that our boys have always eaten small portions from the adult menu - avoiding the rank chicken nuggets on the children's menu! - but there are 2 particularly good food providers locally who have been happy to accommodate us. One of these has had a favourable review in the Food Section of the Telegraph!!! Travelling is better, as you can bring what you like and stop when you like. No doubt you have to choose carefully and be lucky with the weather, but we will continue to have breaks in this country for the foreseeable future.

  14. At 06:08 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Alison Wilcox wrote:

    Please can I have the names of the hotels that do not admit children?
    Britain is child friendly - you only have to try and have a peaceful drink in a pub garden at this time of year to find that out!!!
    People have been holidaying at the British seaside for over 100 years - of course it is child friendly. People who choose to be childfree want to have havens of tranquillity where they are not harassed by the noise and other dominating behaviour of children. I think what the woman from Mother and Baby was really getting at was the fact that now she had children she could no longer do what she did when she was child free - well it was her choice to have children - get on with it and allow those of us unencumbered by children to enjoy our choice of life too.

  15. At 06:09 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Simon Wolfers wrote:

    I agree it is 'Rip off' Britain, I live in a popular seaside town and constantly disgusted by the behavior of the catering trade, car park owners,etc etc. They put prices up for visitors & treat them as a nuisance. It's mainly a few very wealthy business owners/families that run the town all for their own good who are to blame, they suck as much as they can out of the towns then spend the winter abroad whilst the people who have been working in the minimum wage jobs they created in the summer are back on benefits in the winter months. The answer is to be prepared and take your own supplies as much as possible and try to stay away from the obviouse 'tourist traps' But don't stop holidaying in the UK we have a huge amount to offer and it really does surprise me how much people don't know what we have in our own back yard

  16. At 06:10 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Merv Counter wrote:

    I completely welcome the move to develop a directory of children and baby friendly establishments. I would use it a a definitive source to ensure I never book somewhere where there is an increased chance of unruly children and screaming babies.

  17. At 06:10 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Rebecca Leon wrote:

    Yes, Britain despises children. Only here have I read signs outside cafes (not pubs) which read, 'No dogs or children'.

    Having just returned from a holiday in Britain and spoken to B&B owners, they will tell you that turning the children away is the only way to turn the parents away, who are the real problem. They have told of parents who leave their offspring to run riot in the premises while the parents sleep off their afternoon drink. Of children pulling plants up and abusing other guests. It would of course be more honest to refuse admission to unruly parents.

    This might explain some of the statistics.

  18. At 06:18 PM on 08 Aug 2007, doug arnold wrote:

    Hello Eddie
    Thanks for the forum. This is really really interesting. I live in Plymouth and I can tell you that it expected for locals to dispise summer visitors by default. Cornwall is the same, as is The South Hams. As long as this bigotry is encouraged it willl always be the case that an ice cream on the beach is a naff occupation, only done by Groccles, also known as Haemerroids,(they come down in bunches, turn bright red and are a pain in the arse, Ho ho ho).

    When I went to South Africa, the only time I have had a foreign holiday, my son was two. When that fact got out, the whole staff at the hotel where we stopped for lunch, turned out and sang happy birthday to him, also a slice of cake, a sparkler on his burger, and they refused my money. Now THAT is making people welcome.

    We need to make the focus on making people's holiday a happy one and not a contest to see who can rip the most out of the offender's wallet, before they are sent home with a scowl.

  19. At 06:34 PM on 08 Aug 2007, David Dean wrote:

    'We all want our fifteen minutes of fame'

    'Witnesses will be protected' says a Manchester Polce spokesman. In the same bulletin (8th August) it is announced that because a witness has come forward, the police are going to make an arrest. By publicising this before they have actually done it, then surely in the close-knit communities in which these gangs operate the police are giving their targets time to disappear or at least set up operations to identify the 'grass' before they get the knock on the door? Perhaps the police desire for media headlines is larger than their professed desire to protect people's lives.

    In the same programme, Channel 4 Despatches comes under investigation for misrepresenting the views of Muslim preachers. Another example of people who control information manipulating it for their own benefit to increase audience figures rather than offer a balanced view?

  20. At 06:56 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Andrew Taylor wrote:

    Visit Britain need to get real. It isn't just families with kids, but all of us who are ripped off in British hotels and restaurants.

    The figures in the prices for hotels and restaurants in the UK and "Euroland" are much the same. The difference is in the replacement of the "€" symbol with the "£" symbol - basically things here are 45% more expensive than comparable, and often superior, facilities in continental Europe.

    That's before you have to contend with our abysmal, and overpriced public transport, and our overly congested road system.

  21. At 07:01 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Pip Elton wrote:

    Britain unfriendly to children? More likely present-day British children are unfriendly to adults.
    They musn’t be corrected, certainly not smacked.
    Having been brought up in the era of ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ this country has descended too far the other way.
    Don’t bother going on holiday. Just go into your local supermarket during school holidays and hear all the screaming children, running around as though the place is a playground and not a word of correction from their supine parents.
    Or try walking outside of a school during one of their breaks and see if you can do so without being attacked. If you are lucky it will only be verbals.
    No thank you. Because of all our political correctness we have bred a whole generation of little savages.
    The only holiday I would want is where children are barred.

  22. At 07:16 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Brian Christley wrote:

    Why all the fuss? I understand that Gordon Brown had to break his holiday anyway as the photocopier in No 10 had run out of paper!

  23. At 07:45 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Rachel wrote:

    I do feel for those of you who have had your holiday experience spoiled by unruly children. I have three myself, (sometimes, but not always, not often unruly) and am always absolutely mortified if one of them betrays any sign of childlike behaviour while in a hotel or restaurant environment. The disdainful sneers of customers and staff alike make for a very stressful time, and usually I find self-catering a much more relaxing experience. Just as well: in the Lakes last week, I paid £550 for a whole week in a lovely 3-bedroom cottage (including attached playroom, filled with toys) and £320 B&B for a single night when all 5 of us crammed into one room of a hotel.

  24. At 08:14 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Matthew wrote:

    Following your item regarding family-friendly holidays, I am setting up a web site to enable people to find family-friendly holidays, restaurants, theme parks, etc.

    I am looking for people who would be interested in contributing reviews, comments and articles regarding their family friendly experiences.

    Please contact me via my web site at http://www.circleseven.co.uk

  25. At 08:42 PM on 08 Aug 2007, DI Wyman wrote:

    Peej (7)

    with u on that one mate...

    Ireland.....North and South...brill.....I recommend it to all my friends but they look at me as if I have two heads!

    Then they go and try it themselves....say no more.


  26. At 09:16 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Alan Williams wrote:

    The idea of a directory of a 'family friendly' places to holiday is a fantastic one. It will provide a definitive list of where not to go. The last thing I want when on holiday is to have other people's spawn inflicted upon me.

    As for the accusation that Britain is an expensive place to holiday with kids, that is undoubtedly as true for people with children as it is for those of us without - Britain is more expensive than a lot of other countries full stop. It has nothing to do with your unfortunate talent for procreation.

  27. At 10:08 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    My Goodness I'm glad I don't live in the same place as those of you who have posted here! Is sounds absolutely dreadful! (I live in the UK, and happen to quite like it.)

  28. At 10:46 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    When we go abroad (France usually) we don't avoid children - we avoid British children. Mostly so that we escape their parents.


  29. At 10:51 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Matthew wrote:

    I'm guessing my last comment won't be posted. However, if there are any people interested in contributing to a web-based directory of family-friendly holiday destinations, restaurants, pubs, attractions, etc. then please respond to this post and I'l keep you informed.

  30. At 11:03 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Awla Sanghrajka wrote:

    There are a number of websites that can help families plan for a child friendly holiday in the UK and abroad such as holidaywithbaby.com, childfriendlycottages.co.uk to name but 2.

    The reason why those that can, choose to holiday outside of the UK do is not due to a lack of places with the appropriate facilities, but that families with young children are generally more warmly welcomed abroad- something quiet clearly observed in some of the posts here!

  31. At 11:57 PM on 08 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    The main problem I find is TV and radio presenters.

    First you find a place.

    Then David Dimbleby turns up in a helicopter with a film crew and just in time for the next holiday season he fronts a documentary on your chosen palce as one of the most beautiful spots in the UK.

    If its not Dimvbleby its that bloke with the umbrella on Coast

    And if its not either of them its a whole BBC Nature Watch unit from Bristol turning up. their Oxbridge vowels vying with seagull cries across a deserted island.

    Believe me. In recent years I have been crowded out of Lake Cau, off Cape Wrath, out of Benbecula and my favorite park in London by crowds of Radio Times waving acolytes of BBC presenters. 'He stood here, and was looking over there!' they shout.

    (Only the Duke himself laying seige to that park (at mac underscored) claiming it back from socialism could be worse).

    At least Eddie Mair shows no sign of wanting to become a virtual tour guide for parties of froggers.

  32. At 11:57 PM on 08 Aug 2007, mittfh wrote:

    I've never encountered unruly children on holiday...

    ...however, having worked in schools for most of the past 7 years, I've encountered the occasional "disaffected" teenager who believes the world revolves around them, and no amount of discipline will persuade them to change course.

    And at home, I've seen neighbours who during weekends and school holidays turf their (young - lower primary age) children out of the door at 8-9am, and don't allow them back in until 6pm or later - the child is left to amuse itself during that time, whatever the weather. From chatting to them, day trips with their parents are rare/non-existent.

    If they don't have the chance to learn social etiquette, how will they know what behaviour is acceptable on holiday?

    Now speculation, based on conversations with teachers: I wouldn't be surprised if a small minority of parents have the opinion that their offspring are 'angels' and would never do anything wrong. I also wouldn't be surprised if a small minority of parents confuse the frequently-promoted "no smacking" message with "no discipline", and think the latter is the best course of action.


    Just in case any newcomers are reading this thread, contributor #1 has insider knowledge of British holidays...

  33. At 09:26 AM on 09 Aug 2007, simon wrote:

    As a British hotelier, (well B&B) I totally agree with those who think holidaying in Britain is expensive.

    What does the money we charge go towards?

    Well a change of bed linen and a traditional breakfast doesn't amount to much, but our continued maintenance of an old building, advertising, gardening, new legislation with regard to fire, food preparation, disability access, all costs.

    The gas and electricity, non domestic rates, water and personal liability have all increased dramatically over the last couple of years...and our mortgage which is 3% above a domestic mortgage keeps going up.

    Our older clientele keep coming back as we struggle to keep our rates low mainly because we don’t take children under the age of 14.


    Old houses are not as soundproof as purpose built hotels. Inherited antiques and objets d’art are more likely to be damaged or broken by younger people as they run around the house (which they do) plus youngsters eat just as much if not more than the adults and take up as much bed space but everyone wants discount for the kids?

  34. At 09:45 AM on 09 Aug 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Holidays in Britain: Fine, as long as you take your own tea bags.

    "Having more coffee. I learned today that a colleague brings in his own tea bags. about 18 hours ago." [Are they stewed enough yet, Eddie?]

    BTW, haven't had time to read all entries yet, so please excuse if I'm crashing anything...

  35. At 09:53 AM on 09 Aug 2007, Belinda wrote:

    As I live in a seaside town now, I find the holiday period to be a double-edged sword.

    On the one hand, the boost to the local economy is tremendous, as tourists are more likely to shop locally rather than go to the edge-of-town supermarket chain. There is more investment in the area by the local council, and it is lovely to see everyone enjoying themselves together.
    On the other hand, incidences of petty crime have skyrocketed (including a gang of teenagers trying to set the pier on fire last week!), I spent half an hour this morning walking along the beach and picking up polystyrene boxes and plastic bags, and each evening, we have to walk over the lines of passed-out teenagers on the pavements. I don't like going out in the evening alone at the moment, whereas I do not give it a second thought in winter.

    As for the family-friendly issue. I'm very friendly towards children and their parents, providing that they are friendly towards me. I find the vast majority of people (of all ages) very nice, but it is the not-so-silent minority who spoil things - and not just on holiday.

  36. At 10:14 AM on 09 Aug 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Interesting comments on the appetites of children. We often observe in restaurants that the parents begin by presenting them with a very large drink of pop. Then the children have no appetite for their food, and much of it is left.

    And, Jonnie (#1) er, didn't you take your holiday in Sri Lanka?

  37. At 10:27 AM on 09 Aug 2007, Dave Potts wrote:

    Parents want Hotels to be "child friendly" by providing extra items/features etc.

    Who is to pay for such items?

    This seems like yet another attempt by people with children to expect everybody else to pay for their children

  38. At 10:41 AM on 09 Aug 2007, Rob (proud father of two brats) wrote:

    After reading through the harsh and angry comments on this blog which have been made about children, I am even more convinced than ever that in fact we are a nation of child haters. The adjectives used to describe children here are appalling but frankly very common indeed. I hear these kinds of comments even from adults with children and grandchildren.

    I have lived abroad and nowhere but in Britain have i experienced the attitudes towards children which prompt people to utter expressions like "brats", "screaming kids" etc. whenever mention is made about children in public.

    Yes, kids do scream, so did i. I bet your perfect and well nurtured grandchildren do and i bet their parents did too. Children have tantrums, and parents despair and yes, there are those parents who are poor at disciplining children. Some are ineffective depsite their best efforts. At the slightest scream or act of misbehavior people in Britain react this way to children.

    Not so abroad, a knowing or encouraging smile from an observer or perhaps a contribution at calming the child or engaging them to help the situation, is not uncommon abroad where they love children (with no bad or sinister implication, i might add) and all because they actually enjoy children.

    I would say personally i have good days and bad days but i always try my best. The problem is this lack of encouragement and support form those around us.

    The British dont like kids and organize their lifestyles around themselves finding every opportunity to hide the kids away.

    In my local community, there are plenty of kids hanging around certain street corners looking mean and disaffected, maybe with knives in their pockets and mischief on their minds, because they are shut out of the busy lives of the adults around them and they have nowhere to go and nothing to do. Is that where Britain gets its reputation for social problems? Probably.

    Maybe the source of it all is the often bitter, cold and unwelcoming climate which moulds the character of the British.

  39. At 10:51 AM on 09 Aug 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Indeed Vyle - We did take our holiday on Sri Lanka - as the only feasable time for our holiday is November or Jan/Feb - that is to get some sun anyway!

  40. At 12:07 PM on 09 Aug 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    The solution for all those child-hating, 'UK is a rip-off' whiners out there is;
    1) Go abroad, and
    2) Go out of season.

    The prices are often considerably lower than July & August. Places are quieter, more sedate, more relaxing. Families won't be there because by and large their kids are still at school.

    In general I would agree with those who point out the expense of holidaying in Britain, compared to many other destinations. Strange that it is so much cheaper to fly halfway around the world (and with better chances of seeing the sun) than of visiting a British resort.

    I take onboard the comments of Jonnie & Simon down in sunny Bournemouth, but it seems that many people visiting the British seaside only go as a day trip, or a short weekend at best, and they will only do it if the forecast is for good weather.

    An old friend owns one of the last guesthouses remaining in Brighton. Last weekend (Gay Pride weekend) his gaff was full for three nights. This week he is struggling to get custom.

    Brighton has few small guesthouses / B&B's left. Many (threatened with closure during the recession in the 90's) have converted to private or letting accomodation in the 80's & 90's. A large proportion were bought by developers who turned them into apartments. Brighton can no longer hold the largest political party and other conferences, it simply doesn't have the bed spaces to accomodate all those people.

    The cost of property there makes setting up a hotel prohibitively expensive, except for the niche 'boutique' market who can charge well in excess of £100 per person per night for chic ambience and first-class service. Even so, every small hotel is now opening a cocktail bar in the basement, to supplement the room takings.

    That's a snapshot of one of the (formerly) great British resorts. Hotels that price you out, very few family facilities, a general lack of bedspaces anyway, crippling costs for basic meals, unless you frequent a fast-food joint.

    Me? You'll have gathered that I don't vacation in Britain on the very few chances I get for a holiday. I head over the Channel in May or June. In the past I used to hit the Alps and Dolomites in early September. Great value, awesome scenery, peace and quiet and a warm welcome. All too rare in Britain today, I'm afraid.


  41. At 12:47 PM on 09 Aug 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Jonnie (38) Only teasing you. It seemed too good a chance to miss.

  42. At 02:05 PM on 09 Aug 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Britain can be brilliant, as Jonnie say, but accommodation can be very pricey and the quality extremely variable. We usually stay in B&Bs, and have had some lovely times in these. The only major problem we've ever hit has been with 'precious' owners who try to make you feel you are 'honoured' to be allowed to pay them money and who charge the earth for pretty average accommodation. In other instances, however, we've met with great kindness and excellent value, especially in a wonderful B&B in Cumbria (sorry, we won't advertise them here! We don't want them to get overbooked ...) who are reasonable, friendly, warm and well appointed.

    Weather can be a problem in Britain, as we are all aware, but to be honest, it's rarely as dire as it used to be when we were taken on holiday by our parents and the shorts and suntops were scarcely required.

    Without a doubt, Britain has a great deal to offer. I think the standard of food and accommodation has improved vastly in recent years, but there is still a propensity to overcharge. Food in particular needs to be priced more reasonably. However, high overheads, particularly rents and business rates, don't make it easy to produce the goods at affordable prices. Pubs are now pushing food prices ever upwards, and how some of them can justify the inflated prices I do not know. Well, actually, I suppose I do - The rents charged by pub companies make it very hard for landlords to cover their costs and make a reasonable profit. However, if they relied less upon outside caterers and more on good homecooked food, they could probaly increase their profit margins without raising their prices so much.

  43. At 07:37 PM on 09 Aug 2007, nikki noodle wrote:

    I have a lovely little house and I always holiday at home.

    I am very very happy!


  44. At 10:39 PM on 10 Aug 2007, Viking wrote:

    I just got back from a holiday in Japan with my two 5-year-old boys. In Japan young kids run amok everywhere, yell and run around, are spoilt rotten, and are rarely if ever shouted at by their parents. The result? The most ordered, polite, smoothly running and safest country in the world.

    The reason for this that Japanese people LOVE children. Children feel loved, valued and respected as they grow up. So unlike British young people, Japanese teenagers do not feel the same desire to punish their parents and society at large for hating them so much when they were younger.

    The antagonism towards children shown in many of the comments on this blog are the cause of the anti-social behaviour problems in the UK

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