Rip-off British holidays are least child friendly'
Holidays in Britain are expensive, seedy and far from family-friendly, according to a survey of parents. Hotels and days out are seen as a rip-off, and the country is viewed as "anti-child" and even unsafe. That is the apparent experience of the majority of families who choose Britain as a holiday destination, according to a survey of 2,000 parents commissioned by Mother & Baby magazine and Mothercare.
Gordon Brown may believe Britain is the "best place in the world to have a holiday" but thousands beg to differ.
They may want to reduce their carbon footprint by staying at home, but they say they are being fleeced by hotels, holiday camps, B&Bs and family days out in Britain. Six out of 10 parents say Britain is not family-friendly and more than half go further, branding Britain "anti-child".
When out and about with young children, two thirds say it is dirty and unsafe. More than one in 10 say it is plain "seedy".
The majority of mothers and fathers liked the idea of a traditional seaside holiday in Britain, not least because they could avoid the airport chaos, the lugging of the buggy and other paraphernalia across borders, and the stress that generally goes with taking a child on a lengthy journey.
But three quarters who chose a domestic holiday said most hotels in Britain did not cater for families with young children and only 12 per cent of parents with teenagers thought a British holiday hotel was good value for money.
Seventy per cent of parents said a week in a hotel abroad was cheaper, even with the airfare, and they were guaranteed sun, swimming pools and better service.
In general, 74 per cent of parents thought British hotels saw babies and young children as a nuisance, and more than half thought that other guests found children annoying.
Other gripes included overcharging by beach car parks, the "nuggets and chips" style of children's food, small rooms and the lack of baby listening services. A fifth also found their welcome "hostile".
The facilities on offer to parents with young children were also regarded as severely limited - only 50 per cent could provide parents with a highchair when requested, only 63 per cent had cots.
Parents thought British hotels should take a leaf out of the American book and allow up to five in a family room - at present many families with three children find they need two hotel rooms at double the cost.
Elena Dalrymple, the editor of Mother & Baby, said: "It doesn't seem British hotels have moved much beyond the 'Basil Fawlty' model.
"All that most families really want is a decent sized room, with en-suite facilities, good food for the children and themselves and a clean, welcoming environment. Surely that's not too much to ask."
Center Parcs was rated Britain's best family-friendly holiday destination. Blackpool was reckoned to be the worst place to spend a family holiday, followed by Hastings and Bognor Regis.
Emma Harding, 31, and her husband Geoff Prout, 45, both radio producers, were turned away from some B&Bs when on holiday with their baby son, Edward.
Miss Harding said: "A couple of places turned us down because they said they did not have baby facilities. I think it was because they did not want a screaming baby. It would be nice if B&B's could offer you a travel cot at least, but we ended up taking one, and a high-chair."
Bob Cotton, the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: "The results are disappointing but the point is, the hotel market is becoming more specialised, with hotels aiming at particular market sectors.
"Many hotels aim at the business traveller and don't cater for young children specifically, while the majority of overseas hotels have been purpose-built purely with families in mind and have the right facilities and climate."
By Sarah Womack, Social Affairs Correspondent - Telegraph