During my twenties I was relatively skint – I focussed on paying rent, saving for a house deposit and working several jobs at once, and just a few weeks after my thirtieth birthday I had my first baby. Travel abroad was a luxury that I couldn’t afford during those years, and I have lived vicariously through my friends’ Facebook pictures from Machu Picchu or the Great Barrier Reef telling myself my time would come!
It’s a choice I would make again of course, every single time. We didn’t go without – we had fab holidays in tents in Cornwall, and cottages in Northumberland and the Cotswolds with the dog and the kids in tow. We got our foot on the housing ladder, and we were happy and busy doing our thing – but we sort of missed that slot in life of responsibility free time when many young people travel.
Of course loads of families travel far and wide with young children – but to be honest I find it pretty exhausting. Getting up in the middle of the night to catch cheap flights, long waits at airports, having to sleep in close quarters with the kids, lots of walking with moany and tired children… need I go on!! You find yourself wondering why you are “inflicting” this trip on everyone and didn’t just stay at home.
Our kids are now finally at an age where it’s beginning to get easier. They can sit still for a whole flight, there’s no nappies or changing bags, and they can even cope with hunger for short spells without having a meltdown. In fact, dare I say it, they are actually pretty good company and enjoy seeing different things. They are polite and friendly, and we can get through a meal in a restaurant without having to let them play Peppa Pig games on our iPhones.
So the world has opened up again finally, and the possibilities are… well not endless, but improving 😉
Short city breaks are the perfect way to see some more of the world and satisfy those itchy feet. And of all the European cities I’ve been to, Amsterdam is probably my favourite. The flight is only around an hour, and you can get there from most local airports, meaning travel time is reduced and city time in increased! There is of course masses of fantastic cultural opportunities in Amsterdam, but it is also the perfect destination for laid back mooching of shops and cafes, to see a bit of life and feel like a normal sociable human for a day or two!
We stayed at the Pulitzer Hotel, which is situated in my favourite area of the city, the Nine Streets. This is probably the most picturesque neighbourhood, and it’s quirky streets are full of vintage stores, boutiques and cosy cafes. Although the streets are busy with bikes and shoppers at the weekends, you feel completely removed from the stag/hen do side of the city, and it’s peaceful and clean with a really laid back vibe.
The hotel itself is comprises of an incredible 25 canal houses, and takes up most of a whole block of the neighbourhood. Each house has it’s own character, which has been preserved carefully within the hotel. In the centre of the block of houses is a beautiful garden with outdoor tables and chairs, swings seats and wooden rocking horses. This was one of the biggest bonuses for me, because if I can let the kids run around and play outdoors they are always happy!
The hotel also has one of the most beautiful interiors I’ve ever seen. There is an amazing attention to detail, and a perfect blend of luxurious modern furnishings and Dutch history and character. And if you ask the kids, they will tell you the best thing was the free sweets in the lobby 😉
We stayed in a family suite, with twin beds for the boys up on a mezzanine level. This was perfect, they were close but not too close! There is a lovely cafe at the back of the lobby, with large glass walls overlooking the garden, and the hotel restaurant Jansz is excellent, with a friendly and inviting atmosphere and a good kids menu.
The Pulitzer can also offer babysitting services, and has it’s own boat which runs canal tours each day. The kids absolutely loved this trip, and it ticked all the boxes for me of what makes a successful city break weekend with kids. Sleeping arrangements that actually allow us to sleep, food that everyone will enjoy eating, outdoor space for the children to play, and a safe and laid back location for us to stroll around without needing little legs to ever walk too far.
If you are looking for a weekend away to satisfy your wanderlust, I’d really recommend Amsterdam for relatively stress-free and easy trip. I’m really looking forward to exploring the world more with my two as they grow up, but I might leave Machu Picchu until they can lace up their own hiking boots 😉
Our hotel stay was a gift from The Pulitzer Amsterdam. All opinions are my own x