Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

A family travel and lifestyle blog


How to Pick the Perfect Villa for a Family Holiday

Villa Holiday

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will probably already know that we love to travel and we are also a big fan of self-catering because with children being able to cook for yourself whenever you want is a major plus as it's less restrictive and more flexible for kids which is what you want when your on a break away from the day to day routine and hustle bustle of daily life. What we also love about a Villa property is that you can opt for ones that accommodated extended family members as well or even friends, that way you can travel and stay together as a group and also share the cost between more people but not compromise on facilities and location.

Why a Villa?

So I have already shared a few good reasons above but personally the major pluses of a Villa is that it's self-catering and the perfect option for larger groups but it also makes a great home-base when you're traveling somewhere new and provides a level of privacy you dont get in a hotel as you are not sharing the space with anyone you don't know. Children (as well as adults) can often feel homesick so staying in a Villa style property creates that home away from home which can be key if your traveling to a place very culturally different such as Thailand, India or Sir Lanka to name a few. Also if you are planning to travel with extended family or as part of a friends group sharing the cost of a Villa among a few people often means being able to have a luxury property for less than a hotel and most come with their own pools so no sharing a communal pool at a hotel which is great when you have kids who are still learning to swim. Also don't be hesitant to combine luxury and family-friendly together, in fact I have written a post about how to achieve both in a holiday.

Isles of Scilly

Location Location Location

It all depends on how you are planning to get there and if you want something close or a more far-flung destination. There are plenty of driveable Villas in Europe and France but the current top destinations that are becoming more popular with families are places like Bali, Sri Lanka and Mauritius as they offer great weather, good exchange rates, luxury properties and a high level of service if anything from these fantasitc family villas in Galle go by. The great thing about a villa especially if your heading further afield is that you can often book them for not only just a couple of days but up to a few weeks, making it a real home away from home option.

 Check Facilities

When picking a villa style property you really want to make sure it suitable you and your families needs as remember each villa is a unique space and experience. You firstly want to double check the villa accepts children under 12 because not all do and look for reviews from families who have stayed there before. If you are traveling with a toddler or baby you may want to email first and double check they have all the required safety standards in place such as optional stair gates and cots and highchairs are on hand. You may also want to be aware of if there is a pool, if it's communal or not and whether there are safety gates around it or any external steep stairs.

Villa France

Access to Amenities

When you travel with children there needs to be a focus on making things easy, while a 2-mile walk to the closest town or village may be fine for an adult it probably won't go down well with young kids so if this is the case hiring a car would be a good idea. Also knowing how far you are from the beach, water sports, local restaurants and also importantly a hospital or Doctor just in case of emergencies. It will also be worth viewing a map of the area beforehand so you have a real idea of where it's situation and how close local activities are.

Check that your staff contact is an English Speaker

Whenever you book into a villa wether is it staffed or not you will have a point of contact should anything go wrong during your stay or if you need assistance with something. You may want to double check that your point of contact has a decent understanding of English (unless of course you can converse in the native language) so that there isn't a language barrier especially in an emergency.

Stunning villa

Use a reputable company

This is really important, do as much research beforehand because this can really make or break your holiday and a companies reputation is key. Important factors you want to take into account is that the company has strict standards and personally selects and inspects the properties they offer and that they are well maintained. You also want to know there is a human touch to the break and that there will be a point of contact to meet you at the property and run through everything with you. Also investing in a company that has good ethics is also something worth looking into, Villa-finders plant a tree in Sumatra, Indonesia for every Villa stay in an attempt to contribute towards deforestation, they have so far planted more than 2000 trees.

Picking a Villa



Afternoon Tea at the Indigo Hotel, Cardiff

Indigo Hotel, Cardiff

I have to say I do love a spot of Afternoon tea as it's such a British quintessential past time and even though we do have an equivalent in South Africa, aptly named High Tea, I love to indulge in this traditional British afternoon delight, I mean let's get honest who doesn't love cake? So when the recently opened Indigo Hotel in Cardiff got in touch to see if we would like to try out their version of this classic treat at their in-house Marco Pierre White Restaurant of course we jumped at the opportunity. 

The Restaurant and Bar is located on the top floor of the hotel in the Dominion's Arcade building just off the high street and offers a rare rooftop terrace with views right across central Cardiff. The interior is stylish but laidback and has lots of natural light flooding and is a great place for date lunch or a quiet refuge from the busy streets below.

Marco Pierre White Cardiff

Indigo Hotel Cardiff

As we sat down and waited for our tea to arrive we toasted over a glass of prosecco savoring this rare child-free moment, I feel it's really important to have some adult time every now and then, as well as being able to eat without a toddler climbing all over me. The afternoon tea was perfect for two people and it always works well for John and I as I have all the vegetarian sandwiches such as the cucumber and cream cheese and egg cress mayo while he finished off the rare roast beef with horseradish and ham and mustard.

After the savouries we tucked into the huge scones with cream and fresh whole strawberries alongside some very cute macaroons. To top it off there was a selection of some seriously indulgent bite-sized cakes including Sachertorte, Cheesecake and Carrot Cake, needless to say we were full to the bring and in fact I couldn't finish all of mine. 

Indigo Hotel Cardiff

indigo Hotel Cardiff

We really enjoyed our relaxing and indulgent afternoon at the Indigo hotel in Cardiff and if you're looking for somewhere a special or just a retreat from the city than I recommend popping in even if it's just for some cheeky cocktails on the rooftop terrace. It's certainly become an instant favorite with us and somewhat of a gem in the city. 

indigo hotel Cardiff

We were kindly invited to a complimentary afternoon tea for our honest opinion. 


Experiencing the Volvo Ocean Race, Cardiff

Cardiff Bay Barrage

I love nothing more when people take on incredible challenges, when they put themselves to the test both physically and mentally and this is reflected in the documentaries I watch (currently obsessed with ones about Mount Everest) and the books I read which are usually autobiographies about those who decided to walk a different path, adventurers, sportsmen, trailblazing women. So when we heard that the around the world sailing race that is the Volvo Ocean Race was coming to Cardiff I was really excited.

The Volvo Ocean Race only happens every three years and only the best of the best compete against each other in what is one of the most grueling around the world sails. The route changes every race to accommodate new ports of call and this year they were arriving in Cardiff (as well as my hometown of Cape Town). Its' really fantastic seeing and being apart of world-class events that come to the Welsh Capital and actually seeing the Bay Barrage being used properly as it's such a great location.

Volvo Ocean Race

Cardiff bay Barrage

There was a real focus on keeping the event as Plastic-free as possible while still embracing modern technology. All the catering companies had to provide re-usable, recyclable or bio-degradable food and drink containers and I have to say the whole event was spotless as the cleaning crew was visibly on hand to make sure it left as little of a mark as possible.

There was an array of activities suitable for all ages and Visit Wales was on hand with some AR experiences of some of the most breathtaking sights across the country. The kids also loved all the interactive displays such as the giant plastic Whale, the rock climbing wall, ferries wheel, live music and being able to explore what life is like for the sailors on one of the boats which they call home for around 9 months.

Cardiff bay Barrage

Volvo Ocean Race

We actually visited the Volvo Ocean Race twice during it's time in Cardiff as the first day we visited the race boats hadn't come into dock yet. We found the whole event a great learning platform for the boys as well as a great example of a plastic-free event being held on a large scale. We have been watching the race ever since and it's a pretty close call with only one leg left to go as it stands. The event also highlighted all the amazing watersports on offer in Cardiff Bay and I am hoping to sign up to do the ladies Paddleboarding course at some point. Overall it was a fantastic day out, action-packed and a great way to get kids inspired to take the lead when it comes to the environment as well as getting out onto the water. 

Bay Barrage