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Best family-friendly hotels in Northern Ireland

Planning a break in Northern Ireland? Discover the best places to stay - from Belfast to Ballycastle - with help from well-travelled Mumsnetters.

By Carol Linfield | Last updated Sep 14, 2022

Ballintoy Northern Ireland

Historic cities, unspoiled coastlines, museums galore, and the world's most famous ship, all within easy reach of dramatic landscapes and forest parks. Northern Ireland offers a bit of everything for travellers of all ages.

It's often overlooked as a destination for a family break but it shouldn't be — there's plenty to explore with the entire brood, and there are tons of child-friendly places to stay that offer a warm welcome and amenities for kids.

We've enlisted the help of our well-travelled Mumsnetters to recommend the best hotels, lodges and campsites for a hassle-free holiday in Northern Ireland.

What are the best family hotels in Northern Ireland?

1. Best overall family-friendly hotel: Lusty Beg Island, County Fermanagh

Lusty Beg Island Hotel

Lusty Beg Island | Check availability

Lusty Beg Island really does have it all - from a generous indoor pool for a quick splash with the kids to evening entertainment and spacious family rooms. And the secluded setting is perfect for a quiet family break - the lakeside resort is reached by a five-minute ferry ride from Boa Island in the western county of Fermanagh.

There's plenty to do at the resort, including an adventure playground, a games room, tennis courts and over 700 acres of woodland to roam through.

You can hire bikes, go canoeing or power boating on the lake, follow nature trails, join an off-road driving expedition or relax at the spa.

There are traditional rooms for bed-and-breakfast stays and a range of cabins and lodges that are perfect for bigger groups, each kitted out with a kitchen and a terrace.

Nearest airport: City of Derry Airport (53 miles)

2. Best for active families: Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, Newcastle

Slieve Donard, a grand red-brick hotel with children playing on the lawn

Slieve Donard Resort and Spa | Check availability

"Slieve Donard in Newcastle, Co. Down is fantastic! Brilliant spa, right on the beach, golf, good local town to browse shops and cafes"- recommended by Mumsnet user, 3nationsfamily

"I second Slieve Donard. Very family friendly and some fantastic scenery and activities around" - recommended by Mumsnetter, Nagasak

There's loads to do at the beachfront Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Newcastle - from building sandcastles, to fun-filled amusements along the promenade, and the Mourne Mountains right on your doorstep for an action-packed adventure. It gets the thumbs-up on the Mumsnet travel forums for its scenic location overlooking the Irish Sea and family-centered facilities including a swimming pool, a pub-style bistro, with relaxed child-friendly dining and family rooms. And Newcastle in County Down offers plenty for families to explore, as one Mumsnetter shares: "Newcastle has lovely places to eat, nice hotels, scenery and a lovely promenade" (NoTvNoWifi).

Nearest airport:  Belfast International Airport (41 miles)

Closest train station: Newry Station (23 miles)

3. Best family hotel in Belfast: AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast

AC Marriott Hotel Belfast

AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast | Check availability

"Absolutely recommend the AC Marriott, we stayed there with our two kids. Titanic just across the bridge, W5 is over there too and a great new cinema. It's clean, food is fab and close to city centre as well, we wouldn't stay anywhere else tbh" - Cottoneyejoeswifestampon

There's so much for the family to see and do in Belfast: St George's Market, Belfast City Hall, the Albert Memorial Clock, Ulster Museum (if travelling with dinosaur fans) and the Whitehead Railway Museum for young steam train enthusiasts. And the waterfront AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast provides a budget-friendly base for exploring all of the main attractions, many of which are within a 20-minute walk. Titanic Belfast is also just across the river and Belfast Zoo is a 7-minute drive away.

Family rooms are available, with two queen beds accommodating a group of four nicely, with cots available for the little ones. Children are also well catered for in the hotel's brasserie with kids' menus and highchairs available.

Nearest airport: George Best Belfast Airport (4 miles), Belfast International Airport (18 miles)

Closest train station: Lanyon Place Station (1 mile)

4. Best for luxury: Bishop's Gate Hotel, Derry

Bishops Gate Hotel, Derry

Bishop's Gate Hotel | Check availability

Located within the historic walls of Derry's Cathedral Quarter, the luxurious 30-room Bishop's Gate Hotel was once the home of the Northern Counties Club, a private club whose members included Sir Winston Churchill. Family rooms make it a great choice if you're  looking for premium comfort, as well as a top location – it's a 5-minute walk from the Tower Museum, and the Museum of Free Derry, a must-visit while in the area. Parking at the hotel can be tricky and costs around £15 for 24 hours.

Nearest airport: City of Derry Airport (7.5 miles)

Closest station: Londonderry train station (0.4 miles)

5. Best for large family rooms: Roe Park Resort, Limavady, Londonderry

Roe Park Resort Northern Ireland

Roe Park Resort | Check availability

Set in Londonderry's lush Roe Valley Country Park, Roe Park Resort features some of the largest family rooms and suites we've seen. And there are interconnecting rooms available for trusted older children too. You can enjoy views of Benevenagh Mountain from many rooms, which feature flat-screen TVs for the kids' (and your) downtime.

For those with plenty of energy to burn off, there's an indoor pool for quality family time, as well as 155 acres of parkland for epic games of hide-and-seek. There are two onsite restaurants, including a casual brasserie for laidback family dining. As an added bonus, children under three stay for free, too.

Elsewhere, there are many scenic walks in the area. Don't miss a trip to the nearby Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of about 40,000 hexagonal stones. It offers free entry for all. Roe Park is a 25-minute drive from Londonderry and a 20-minute drive from Benone Beach.

Nearest airport: City of Derry Airport (7 miles)

6. Best for a beach break: The Marine Hotel Ballycastle, County Antrim

The Marine Hotel Ballycastle

The Marine Hotel Ballycastle | Check availability 

When times call for a peaceful getaway by the beach, The Marine Hotel Ballycastle on the Causeway Coastal Route delivers on every level. This seafront retreat is a two-minute walk from a stunning stretch of sand.

Rooms here are bright and generously sized with fabulous views of the sea. Whatever the family setup, you'll be fully catered for here, with bunk beds, interconnecting rooms and beach house options, and you can even bring your dog, who will receive an adorable welcome basket of treats, a blanket and a water bowl.

Nearest airport: Campbeltown Airport (27 miles)

7. Best B&B for families: The Salty Dog Hotel and Bistro, Bangor

The Salty Dog Hotel Bangor

The Salty Dog Hotel and Bistro | Check availability

"The Salty Dog in Bangor is a lovely small hotel by the sea. It's a half-hour train trip into Belfast. There are loads of great restaurants, whether you're after something fancy or casual. There's also a lovely walk along the coast if you get the weather" - recommended by Mumsnet user, LivLemler

Located across two Victorian townhouses, The Salty Dog is a lovely boutique hotel by the sea, a 10-minute walk from Bangor Marina. It's rated on the Mumsnet forums for its fabulous coastal location.

Many of its rooms feature sea views, and each has a flat-screen TV, tea-and-coffee making facilities, free Wi-Fi, and on warmer days you can enjoy drinks on the outdoor terrace with views of the Irish Sea, while the kids relax with their colouring books (hopefully).

Nearest airport: George Best Belfast City Airport (11 miles)

Closest train station: Bangor (0.5 miles)

8. Best hotel for teens: City Hotel, Derry

City Hotel Derry

City Hotel | Check availability

"A visit to the museum of free Derry is an absolute must. Deals with the history of the civil rights movement and the tragic events of Bloody Sunday. Free Derry corner which is iconic throughout the world is close by. All within walking distance of city centre. Museum can be booked online" - recommended by Mumsnet user, RoisinD

Found on the banks of the River Foyle, City Hotel ensures all families are well catered for with single, double and triple family room options to choose from - perfect if you have slightly older children that require that little bit of extra space in order to keep the peace. All rooms have free Wi-Fi.

Hotel amenities include a gym, a hot tub, a steam room and an indoor swimming pool. Thompson's Restaurant serves a seasonal menu, with plenty of child-friendly bites on offer.

It's less than a miles from the Tower Museum and a visit to the Museum of Free Derry is a must-see says Mumsnet user, RoisinD. We'd recommend a visit to the roof terrace after dinner to take in peaceful views of the city.

Nearest airport: Derry Airport (7 miles)

9. Best fun hotel for families: Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges, Enniskillen

Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel Northern Ireland

Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges | Check availability

For those looking for a fun-filled family break, the Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges is a great base for exploring Fermanagh Lakelands, with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, including watersports, horseback riding, and country walks.

You can request a family room or opt for a riverside woodland lodge along the banks of Lough Erne, complete with an outdoor hot tub and a fully-equipped kitchen. Whatever type of accommodation you choose, the facilities are yours to enjoy during your stay. Check out the health club to join a fitness class or a personal training session or head to the spa to enjoy the steam room, a sauna and an indoor pool. There's also a separate kids' pool. You can even request a private jetty if you're looking to spend a lot of time on the water during your stay.

Nearest airport: City of Derry Airport (62 miles)

10. Best campsite in Northern Ireland: Bloody Bridge Campsite, Newcastle

Bloody Bridge Campsite Northern Ireland

Bloody Bridge Campsite | Check availability 

"There's a campsite by Bloody Bridge near Newcastle Co. Down that I've heard is good and allows you to have campfires. Never been to it myself though, just heard about it from friends!" - recommended by Mumsnet user, JinglyJanglyJungleBigGameTours

"I came on to say about the Bloody Bridge site. It is great and has a communal fireplace" -  recommended by Mumsnetter, FrozenAteMyDaughter

For a back-to-basics break, consider the Bloody Bridge Campsite near Newcastle in County Down. It's rated for its communal vibe and budget-friendly prices  — a six-man tent with adjacent parking space starts from just £20 for a family of four.

It has direct access to the coast and the Mountains of Mourne, as well as fairly strict rules about noise levels in the evening to ensure a peaceful stay. The Mourne Coastal Path and Brandy Pad are also within a stone's throw. Kids will love getting back to nature, drinking hot chocolate and toasting marshmallows on the campfire.

Nearest train station: Newcastle (2 miles)

Is Northern Ireland good for a family holiday?

Northern Ireland is a brilliant destination for a family escape. From its abundance of beautiful beaches to stunning mountains, historic attractions, museums, and endless open space and national parks to roam free in and explore. And, there's plenty of recommendations on the Mumsnet travel forums from those who have already visited.

What are the most popular family attractions in Northern Ireland?

Belfast is home to many of Northern Ireland's must-see attractions. Ulster Museum, Whitehead Railway Museum, Titanic Belfast and Belfast Zoo are all on the doorstep, making it a great choice for a family break.

For more active families, head to the Mourne Mountains, considered to be one of the most beautiful areas in Northern Ireland - there are trails for families of all walking abilities to explore. If you have younger children, there are many coastal towns where they can experience simple seaside pleasures while you press pause for a few days.

Giant's Causeway and Derry are also family hotspots worth travelling to. You can find Northern Ireland's many forest parks and some secret spots to explore in this helpful guide.

What’s the best family-friendly hotel in Northern Ireland?

Lusty Beg Island covers all bases to help guarantee a blissful family break, with activities galore, and plenty of places for the kids to run free. We're particularly impressed by its adventure playground, games room and surrounding woodland. Being able to take the dog too for such an affordable price is one less thing to worry about when planning a trip away. Fully-equipped lodges provide a relaxed home-from-home environment.

How we chose our recommendations

Because we know that there's nothing like a real recommendation, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out what family hotels in Northern Ireland were being recommended.

We then did some online research, looking at what family hotels and lodges in Northern Ireland had won accolades or had been featured in 'best choice' lists, and what customer reviews said about them. Having collated all that information, we then narrowed our list down to the best family hotels in Northern Ireland at the moment.

Why you should trust us

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