In the eyes of many people, the fact that I spend a lot of my time in hotels means I live a guilded life of luxury. The reality is more Travel Tavern than Oriental Mandarin. Think beds pushed together, windows that don’t open and air conditioning that has two settings: Danish sauna or possible hypothermia. The only up side is that when I stay in a good hotel, I know it. And when I’m staying in a hotel with family, quality is even more important - we've all been there when you get to the point of huffing out loud to the universe: “I WISH WE’D STAYED AT HOME”
The one hotel that I feel has constantly been worth the money - both pre and post kids - is the Watergate Bay hotel just north of Newquay in Cornwall
It's a surf hotel that is luxury in look, amenities and price, but you are as welcome to walk around in wet board shorts as freshly-pressed chinos. They even have carpets that look good if you trail up to your room with sand on your feet. Location-wise it's about fifteen minutes north of Newquay, and ten minutes from the airport in a taxi if you want to nip away for a cheeky weekend. If like me you get one chance a year to add actual surfing to all the surf clothes you wear for the other 51 weeks, then you can hire a board, take a lesson and even have a wet room to grab a hot shower as you drag your tired carcass back up the beach and into the hotel. Getting changed in a carpark cold and tired it certainly is not. The view from their poop deck (and by that I mean the deck outside the relaxing/restaurant area) I don’t think can be bettered in this country. It looks out over the golden expanse of Watergate bay where you can watch the waves roll in. When it's sunny you can experience the sun dip its toes into the sea on its way to bed, and if it’s rainy then you can do the same but whilst wearing something waterproof. They have an infinity pool and a non bubbly hot tub that shares the same view of the beach and if you are thinking 'this is all well and good OJ, but we have kids' they are also the best hotel I have ever stayed at for not making you feel like your offspring are about to ruin their expensively assembled zen vibe. They are most Italian in their honest smiles when you arrive un-fresh from a six- hour journey with a kid that is hyped on motorway chocolate and bouncing off the walls. The pool, bar, and everything else (bar the hot tub) are made for kids. As soon as we went with Junior Borg the 1st we found they had a free kids club that even I wanted to use. There's a brilliantly-stocked play room, kids are welcome in the living space ( and there are usually plenty - so avoid school holidays if you're after a romantic break) before 6pm in the restaurant, there's loads of high chairs, and there's a dedicated parents kitchen with microwave and fridge.
If you do want a taste of freedom, you can use their monitoring system so your kid can sleep in the room while you have your dinner downstairs, or hire a babysitter through them. They have family suites and village apartments, but we've only ever had a standard room because obviously the first born (our dog Lebowski) had to come with us. They do provide a camp bed for the kids, though somehow we ended up in it while the dog and child took our bed....money well spent. The pool has family / adult only hours, so you don't feel guilty when your child is doing cannonballs, as long as it's within the permitted time. My wife tells me the spa is also very nice. The breakfasts are great for both meat eaters and dodgers. The cast iron waffle makers - which I guess was to impress the kids - are normally manned by dads who’ve decided that 4 waffles for breakfast is 'fine as long as I can make them all'. The only downsides of the hotel are the price (in fact I’d say it was downright expensive but worth the money for once) and the fact that a number of influencers have now been there, making it almost impossible to get a room at peak times. Oh and that if you stay there you may as well forget any idea you have of pretending you aren't middle-class. The carpark is now a bit of a comedy routine of Porches Cayennes, Range Rovers, BMW X7 (REPEAT TILL YOUR WALLET EXPLODES) Love is a bit of as strong word to use for a thing. But I love it there with or without the heirs to my vast fortune. I just wish everyone else didn’t love it so I can get a room. In fact - it’s awful. You’d hate it. Don’t go
Written by OJ Borg
OJ presents the late night show 12-3am on BBC Radio 2 and has two daughters aged six and seven months. He's half-Maltese, and loves to travel. His favourite places include Cornwall, Biarritz and Miami, essentially anywhere he can 'attempt to surf'.