Over the last couple of covid years, we have spent several family holidays exploring Hampshire. There is so much to see and do in Hampshire for families that it does take several trips to really do the county justice. Fortunately there are some brilliant places to stay in Hampshire for families – camping, glamping, luxury hotels and plenty of characterful self-catering cottages.
Hampshire has such a wide range of attractions for families – the New Forest, the South Downs and the south coast are brilliant places to explore. Meanwhile, for culture there’s the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth and medieval history in Winchester. In between are beautiful villages and endless fun days out for children of all ages.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Hampshire for families, it’s worth considering a few factors. For a central base from which to explore the whole county, I’d suggest staying near Winchester – Alresford or one of the South Downs villages are lovely. Alternatively, if you’re keen to have a mostly outdoor family holiday in Hampshire, the New Forest is pretty unbeatable.
There are some brilliant campsites in Hampshire -including some which offer varying standards of glamping. One of our favourite locations – the Watercress Line – offers really good value glamping, perfect if you’re looking for cheap places to stay in Hampshire.
Hot tubs seem to be an increasingly popular feature for family holidays in the UK – there are plenty of places to stay in Hampshire with a hot tub so I have detailed a few of these in this article.
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Map of family friendly places to stay in Hampshire
Luxury places to stay in Hampshire for families
New Park Manor Hotel, near Brockenhurst
This family-friendly hotel is located just two miles from Brockenhurst – a great base for making the most of the New Forest.
Family-friendly facilities at the New Park Manor Hotel include indoor and outdoor pools, a creche and lots of baby and toddler facilities.
There are quite a few different room options for families including interconnecting rooms, and suites sleeping up to seven – perfect if you don’t fit the 2.4 children mould!
The Pig, near Brockenhurst, New Forest
This foodie favourite has family rooms – but you’ll need to book early as they get booked up quickly. Ensure you can get a table in the restaurant – we failed when we were staying in the area as we didn’t reserve far enough in advance.
If you haven’t heard about the Pig, it’s famed for its locally sourced food – much of which is grown on site in the kitchen garden and everything else is sourced from within a 25 mile radius. Guests are welcome to explore the garden and the wildflower meadow orchard – it’s a great opportunity to engage children with how food reaches their plate.
The hotel also features spa treatments – ideal for those who’ve overdone it on a long New Forest bike ride!
The Pig is in a great location just outside Brockenhurst on the road to Beaulieu – perfect for exploring some of the highlights of the New Forest.
Oakley Hall Hotel, near Basingstoke
If you’re looking for a luxury stay in a convenient location for all that Hampshire has to offer, the Oakley Hall Hotel is a good one to consider. Situated close to the M3 south west of Basingstoke, it’s a short drive down to Winchester, the South Downs National Park and Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park.
Oakley Hall Hotel is set in spacious grounds including a woodland walk. There are several room types for families including split level courtyard suites.
The hotel is close to Basingstoke, home to one of my family’s favourite museums – Milestones. If you’re holidaying with older children, you might enjoy a tour of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery which is just down the road from the hotel.
Budget places to stay in Hampshire for families
YHA New Forest, near Burley
I was really impressed with our last stay at a YHA property in Wales – we booked a really good value pod with comfy beds and a fire put. I noticed that the YHA in the New Forest has similar facilities. As well as wooden pods, there’s also bell tents and private en-suite rooms which are perfect for families on a budget in the New Forest.
The YHA New Forest is perfect for families looking for budget places to stay near Burley – it’s just half a mile’s walk from the centre of the village. We had a great meal on my birthday at the Cider Pantry in Burley.
For more cheap places to stay in Hampshire, check out the Watercress Lodges and glamping below.
Holiday park stays in Hampshire for families
Shorefield Country Park, near Milford on Sea
This holiday park in Hampshire is in a great location for families – a mile from the coast and a short drive from the New Forest.
There’s a wide range of accommodation available at this Hampshire holiday park – caravans, lodges, houses and even treehouses – some of these options have a hot tub. Facilities include indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, football pitch and a tennis court.
Milton on Sea is within walking distance of Shorefield and Barton on Sea is close by too.
Sandy Balls Holiday Village, near Fordingbridge, New Forest
Perhaps it’s the infamous name of this place but I hear about Sandy Balls all the time from families who’ve had a great stay – it seems to be one of the best places to stay in Hampshire with kids.
Sandy Balls is part of the Away Resorts group so you can expect plenty of entertainment and great facilities – indoor and outdoor pools, a cycle centre, soft play and an adventure playground.
I love the location of Sandy Balls – you can cycle into the New Forest directly from the resort.
Accommodation options at Sandy Balls include caravan, lodges and luxury stays with hot tubs.
Unusual places to stay in Hampshire for families
Watercress Lodges, Ropley
I love the Watercress Line – it is somewhere I visited as a child and I’ve taken my own children there with their grandparents. It has a timeless appeal and the setting, amid the bucolic Hampshire countryside, is truly idyllic.
I didn’t think we would ever have a need to stay in this part of the world as it is so close to where my family live. However, during one of the breaks in lockdown in 2020 we booked a stay in a Watercress Lodge so that we had a base from which to easily meet up with my parents outdoors.
The lodges – designed to look like railway cottages – have an enviable location overlooking (through the trees) the railway station at Ropley. It is definitely one of the more quirky places to stay in Hampshire. We could see steam trains chuffing past from our living room window. If you’re booking a stay at the Watercress Lodges, ask for one of the middle cottages which have the best view of the railway line.
Our children loved exploring Ropley railway station in the late afternoon once the daytrippers had departed. It really is the ideal place for a young railway enthusiast. The Watercress Line organises themed days during the school holidays including Thomas the Tank Engine and Harry Potter days.
The Water Cress Lodges are perfectly placed for days out in Winchester, the South Downs and of course day trips on the line itself. The town of Alresford is particularly pretty – ensure you stop at the Tiffin Tea Rooms for a cuppa. If you’re visiting Alresford on a sunny day, wander along The Dean until you reach the River Alre – there’s a great spot here for children to paddle and / or feed the ducks.
Treehouses at Forest Holidays – Blackwood Forest, near Basingstoke
Midway between Basingstoke and Winchester, this collection of quality forest lodges is perfect for those wishing to enjoy the best of Hampshire. Hot tubs come as standard at Forest Holidays in Hampshire.
If you’ve not stayed at Forest Holidays before, I’d compare it somewhat to Center Parcs but with fewer facilities and fewer people. It’s more about the forest. We stayed at the Forest of Dean location for my 40th and really enjoyed our visit. Although I prefer Forest Holidays over Center Parcs, I’d hazard a guess that my children might prefer Center Parcs!
The accommodation is a mix of different size lodges including treehouses – they’re not really treehouses in the true sense of the word, I’d describe them as lodges elevated among the trees.
Attractions on site include a shop, cafe and play ground and there’s bike hire to make the most of those lovely woodland trails. Blackwood Forest also organises forest ranger activities for families.
Shorefield Holiday Park Treehouses
I’ve outlined the main highlights of Shorefield Country Park above. They’ve clearly done their homework and realised that some families want a bit more from their UK holiday parks. As well as featuring a broad range of accommodation options, Shorefield also features luxury treehouses for that extra special break.
Not only do these Hampshire treehouses have a hot tub, there’s also a pizza oven for al fresco cooking – a brilliant alternative to the BBQ. The treehouses at Shorefield sleep up to six guests so they’re perfect for larger families or families of four with grandparents in tow.
Boating holidays on the Basingstoke Canal in Hampshire
I grew up close to the Basingstoke Canal and I have fond memories of family walks along the waterway. Although we haven’t taken a boating holiday, we did enjoy a brilliant day out on a narrow boat on the Basingstoke Canal with our extended family.
Narrow boats travel at rather a slow pace – it’s very much about the journey rather than the destination. The scenery is spectacular – think leafy, rural tranquility rather than the canal’s namesake Basingstoke. Our children love helping with the locks on the canal and looking for kingfishers and baby ducks.
We booked our day boat through Galleon Marine. This operator – based in the lovely Hampshire village of Odiham – offers boats for overnight and week-long trips. There are lots of places to visit along the way – we love King John’s Castle near Odiham and the inviting pubs with beer gardens overlooking the canal.
Camping and glamping in Hampshire for families
Long Meadow Campsite, near Brockenhurst
This campsite is right in the heart of the New Forest. If you want to explore the region by bike or on foot this campsite – midway between Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst – is a good bet. It’s a 15 minute cycle from Long Meadow over to Blackwater Arboretum, home to the biggest and most majestic trees in the New Forest. Our kids could have spent all day exploring the dens which industrious souls have constructed amid the towering trees.
Long Meadow has bell tents for hire (as well as traditional tent pitches) – ideal for families who can’t face squashing all the camping equipment into their car. The bell tents sleep up to five guests.
Featherdown Manor Farm Campsite, near Alton
I’ve never managed to be organised enough to book a stay at a Featherdown Farm campsite. They look amazing and Manor Farm is the original one.
Manor Farm is in a great location on the edge of the South Downs National Park. Close by is lovely Alresford, the market town of Alton, the Watercress Line and Winchester.
Of course, the main reason for staying here is the amazing accommodation – this really is the glam side of glamping. There’s a choice of canvas accommodation, some with outdoor shower and en-suite facilities as well as a log cabin sleeping two. Inside are proper beds, a fully equipped kitchen and a log burner in the living room. Outside, each unit has a fire pit and some also have a hot tub.
Watercress Lodges and Campsite, near Alresford
I’m mentioning the Watercress accommodation twice in this article as it has several quite distinct offerings – lodges, camping pitches and glamping.
There is a small amount of traditional camping pitches at the Watercress Lodges but also some rather lovely looking safari tents and tipis. The safari tents sleep up two four guests and come equipped with cooking facilities and a fridge. The tipis sleep up to six and have the option of mattresses and stove for hire at an additional cost – they are a really good value place to stay in Hampshire for families.
Red Shoot Camping Park, Linwood, New Forest
This campsite near Linwood is perfect for families looking for a base from which to cycle in the New Forest. There are cycle trails straight from the site. Red Shoot is well equipped with a shop, play area and a pub next door. Our kids loved it here – particularly the fresh pastries first thing in the morning!
As well as camping and caravanning, there’s also a cottage to hire on the campsite – perfect for those who want the facilities of a campsite without roughing it. If you’re happy to forego ensuite facilities, there are also two little huts which can sleep two adults and two children under 10 – they look really cosy.
Cottages in Hampshire for families
Hoe Cross Barn, near Hambledon, in the South Downs National Park
We booked one of these two Airbnb barn conversions for a recent half term break in the South Downs. We chose this area as it is well located for visiting Portsmouth, Winchester and the South Downs National Park.
We stayed in the smaller of the two self catering units – the barn annexe. Sleeping four, the accommodation has two bedrooms and a spacious kitchen-living room. Guests are free to explore the grounds of the farm which has fields to roam in and an apple orchard from which a potent cider is produced. Dogs are welcome here and the hosts are really friendly and helpful.
The larger barn conversion sleeps up to eight guests so together this is a great choice for two families or a large group.
It was a hard choice picking where to stay in the South Downs – there are so many pretty villages and lovely cottages with views over this particularly lovely part of Hampshire.
Oxmead Cottage in Lyndhurst, New Forest
This centrally located cottage in the New Forest is our most recent discovery. We stayed at Oxmead Cottage during February half term 2022. It is perfect for an autumn or winter break when you’re less likely to need outdoor space – it just has a small courtyard garden.
Oxmead Cottage is right in the centre of Lyndhurst, within walking distance of all the shops, cafes and restaurants. It has a garage for storing bicycles so we used it as a base for lots of cycle rides into the New Forest.
For details of the cycling we did in the New Forest, read my article about family-friendly cycle routes in the UK.
Oxmead Cottage has three double / twin bedrooms – perfect for a family with grandparents in tow as the spacious third bedroom is downstairs and en-suite.
Do you have any recommendations for places to stay in Hampshire for families? Let me know in the comments below.
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