Category Archives: Family Travel

The Ultimate Family Nature Trail, BC

canada-018 The Ultimate Family Nature Trail, British Columbia

British Columbia is a great place to track down all the kids’ favourite animals

By JW Patrick

Like most children, our three-year-old has the entire animal kingdom ranked in order of preference – with his premier league comprising mostly the scary ones with really big pointy teeth. Current title-holder is the Grizzly Bear, ever since he heard about one rudely interrupting his uncle’s fishing trip in British Columbia.  The arrival of Wuncle David’s baby provided the perfect opportunity to combine a family visit with an animal-spotting family holiday in western Canada. Continue reading

Top 10 Tips for Long Car Journeys with Kids.

20140504_153759Are we nearly there yet?

In the last 5 years my family has undertaken three epic family road trips around Europe (from Scotland to Portugal, and from Scotland to Croatia twice).

1) Treat the car journey as the start of your holiday.

The key to a successful long car journey with kids is to think of it as the start of your holiday and make sure you all enjoy it. This is a chance to spend family time together, to talk, to share each other’s time, ideas, music etc. (Our book, the Family Travel Journal can help stressed and tired parents out here!) Essentially kids just love having your undivided attention.

Every time you complete a journey that is actually fun for the children, the easier it will be to sell them on the idea of travelling by car next time.

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Cornish Pasties vs. Bridies

When my Scottish grandparents spent a weekend in Cornwall they naturally had to sample the local specialty. But when the waitress turned up with the Cornish Pasties my grandfather said, “Ooh, they look like Bridies.”

“They are not!” snapped the angry waitress, “they were made fresh today!”

[Bridies are a Scottish Meat-filled pastry!] and they look a bit like Pasties.

A Canadian Guilt Trip

canada-227Travelling to Canada? Don’t forget to pack your hair shirt and handy travel whip. Because no matter how low-impact you intend your visit to be you’ll still be made to feel guilty. “Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints” isn’t enough for Canadians who would prefer their signs to read: “Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints and flail yourself in penance for the damage wrought by the footpath you are standing on and the road that brought you here.” Continue reading

Thinking of driving in Italy?

Here are a few helpful pointers to improve your driving experience in Italy:

1. If you are a man, never drive in the slow lane. It is demeaning.

No Italian man willingly remains in the slow lane. Any Italian man forced to drive in the slow lane, such as a truck driver, will keep two of his wheels at all times touching the white line of the fast lane and will veer across the white line at regular intervals, particularly if they think you are about to overtake them. Continue reading

Hilton Coylumbridge, Aviemore

Hilton Coylumbridge, Aviemore

Our Family Opinion

Aviemore has a long-held reputation as a family-friendly destination. My own family used to visit regularly but it has been nearly thirty years since I last stayed at Coylumbridge Hotel. Returning with our own young kids brought back a flood of happy memories. (Though I was a little disappointed to discover that they no longer had one of those original table-top space invader games in the bar).

There’s just something special about Aviemore surrounded by snow-capped mountains that combines a wonderful feeling of getting away from it all while also providing  ample facilities to keep the kids amused.

Coylumbridge Hotel lies just a mile or so outside Aviemore town centre and is absolutely ideal for families with young children. It has two pools, including a toddler pool, a huge soft play (plus games arcade), two mini golf courses, an outdoor play park and an adventure centre where they can provide you with skis and bikes plus mini-quads, trampolining, skating, all weather sledging and a climbing wall.

The hotel also offers a range of supervised evening activities for kids and there are four bar and dining areas where the staff are all incredibly relaxed about toddlers and young ones haring madly about. There is also a spa and a gym if mum or dad subsequently require some quiet time.



The Family Rooms  (2+2) are ideal and are probably the best designed rooms for families we have seen in a hotel. There is a diagonal wall in your room creating a little enclosed bunk bed area for the kids with their own TV on the wall. The kids absolutely loved having their own ‘room’, while mum and dad appreciated  it even more.


Food and Drink

The main dining room, the Inverdrurie Restaurant, offers a family-friendly menu of local produce or a self-serve all-you-can-eat buffet with a selection of classic Italian dishes in the evenings and in the mornings, a Full Scottish breakfast. The evening buffet was actually pretty tasty and the famous Hilton breakfast is excellent. The kids particularly adored the DIY Mr Whippy-style ice cream maker and the waffle maker too.

If you are paying full board (DB&B) you can put your dining allowance towards a meal in the Bistro and pay the difference, if you fancy a sirloin steak and chips, say. Our burgers and chips in the Bistro were superb so we’d probably recommend eating here. Do book ahead though as it’s much smaller than the main dining room.

The Soft Play centre has an American Diner for hot dogs etc. but this closes before six. There is also a sports bar over at the activity centre, the Woodshed Bar, where children aren’t allowed after 8pm.

Family Friendly Ambience and Activities

As the evening activity session didn’t accept under-fives, we sat in the main foyer lounge bar with a pint and all the other parents, while the little kids ganged together,which was really nice. Once the over-fives returned everyone migrated over to the conference room where there was a kids disco one night and a DJ the following night. Our younger child loved the discos and playing in the hotel public areas whilst the older one enjoyed making new friends at the organised evening kids club at the soft play.

Things To Do in Aviemore

Obviously, in winter there is skiing and snowboarding (with a range of available lessons) but the nearby Cairngorm chairlift is well worth a visit in summer time too. The views are breath taking, the kids enjoy the ride and there’s a decent hot choc or Latte waiting at the top.

We also visited the Landmark Forest Adventure Park which is a giant woodland playground. There’s a pleasant treetop walk plus rides such as mini-roller coasters and plenty of slides and climbing frames etc. (It’s probably not a wet-weather day out however).

The nearby Rothiemurchus estate has plenty of action-packed outdoor activities available, including archery, canoeing, fishing, mountain biking and pony trekking. Loch Morlich and Loch Insh have lots of watersports such as sailing and kayaking. Loch Morlich especially, with its long sandy beach is a delightful place just to hang out, picnic and splash about – particularly if you have dogs.

In previous visits to AvieSam and Anna at Santa trainmore we’ve also enjoyed the Strathspey Steam Railway (Santa Express & Teddybear Weekend) and the Cairngorm Deer Centre, both of which we’d recommend. The Highland Wildlife Park, an offshoot of Edinburgh Zoo and new home of Edinburgh’s famous Polar Bear is less than 10 minutes away. There be wolves here too…

In Conclusion

Aviemore makes a great weekend away as there really is just so much to see and do in the area. Even Coylumbridge Hotel itself has enough activities on site to keep the kids entertained for at least a couple of days, particularly if it’s wet out. It has a relaxed and chilled atmosphere, the staff are friendly so it really has to be one of Scotland’s top family destinations. We had a fantastic weekend and can’t recommend it enough.

Do check out their 5 Night Toddler Break Special Offers on selected dates throughout the year , which seem to offer fantastic value.

Taychreggan, Oban

Picture 040Stunning lochside country hotel on the banks of Loch Awe

Perhaps best visited without the kids…..but children are very welcome!

This hotel is a former winner of “Most Romantic Hotel”, Taychreggan Hotel is a stunning haven of peace nestling in its own bay on the shores of glorious Loch Awe. The hotel lies at the end of a seven mile single track lane where you find yourself pausing to give way to fearless Red Deer in no hurry to get where they’re going. Then, as you order your glass of wine and wander down to the hotel’s private jetty or the lovers’ bench out on the promontory – the only sounds you will hear are wildlife and the gentle murmurings of fishermen chatting half a mile away out on the Loch…  So this place is probably best for older kids then, though children are welcome. Continue reading