Family hotels in Cork: escape with the kids to the Rebel County

Welcome to Cork, the largest county in Ireland. With so much to see and do, you could spend weeks with your family exploring all that the county has to offer. Maybe this is one of the reasons why native Corkonians proudly call the city, the real capital of Ireland. After all, in the 2018 Condé Nast traveller’s survey on the friendliest cities in the world, Cork came third whilst Dublin was trailing behind in eight position.

From a thriving foodie scene to art and cultural festivals, Cork has the vibrancy of a contemporary city yet retains the charms of a local town so it’s the perfect place to bring the kids for a break.

The county has something to offer everyone, whether you like walks along the Wild Atlantic Way to blow those cobwebs away, tasting top quality local produce in the English Market or family-friendly attractions like Leahys Open Farm to keep the little ones entertained; you’ll find what you’re looking for in Cork.

So why not bring the kids on a family break to find out for yourself what makes this historical city so special. There is a huge selection of family-friendly hotels in this popular Munster county so accommodation won’t be an issue.

The perfect family friendly base to explore Cork


Some hotel family bedrooms can be a little on the cosy side but that’s not the case at this four star city centre hotel. The superior family rooms feel spacious with a double bed, two single beds and there’s even room for additional cot. So there’s plenty of room for Mum and Dad to chill out reading while the six-year-old plays cars on the floor and the eleven-year-old sprawls across the bed watching Netflix.

We know that parents need a break too, so book one of Clayton Hotel’s babysitters and enjoy a quiet meal just the two of you. Head downstairs to the Globe restaurant in the hotel and enjoy some quality time together while sampling Tom Durcan’s award-winning 8oz aged Irish fillet steak and a glass of Merlot overlooking the River Lee. Alternatively, make the most of that hotel babysitter and take a romantic stroll into Cork city and enjoy some of the nightlife on offer.

It’s not a real family break without visiting the hotel leisure centre. Parents can work up a sweat in the Club Vitae fitness gym or have fun mastering those tricky swim strokes with the kids in the 18m indoor swimming pool. For serious splashing fun, there’s a separate swimming pool for the little ones. A perfect way to tire the kids out and ensure a good night’s sleep for everyone, fingers crossed.

The Clayton Hotel in Cork City really have thought of everything for the perfect family break, from the kids club during the busy holiday season to the pancakes at breakfast (my kids loved these).

Jump in the car and head twenty minutes to the world famous Blarney Castle and Grounds.  Legend has it that kissing the Blarney stone will grant you the gift of the gab. It’s a steep and narrow staircase to the top so maybe keep this attraction for the older kids. However, it’s worth a visit for the grounds alone. Most kids will find the poisonous garden fascinating and will love the wishing stairs and hunting out the fairy doors dotted around the gardens.

Clayton Cork City

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (2458 reviews)

Luxury family friendly hotel accommodation in Douglas


If being in the centre of the city isn’t important for your family then head to the luxurious Maryborough Hotel and Spa in Douglas, located about ten minutes outside the city centre.

Family rooms easily accommodate two adults and two children up to the age of 12 years when they are sharing a double sofa bed. For larger families, interconnecting family rooms are available.

The kids wouldn’t even notice but I just love the character of the 300-year-old Maryborough Hotel. One thing they will notice however is the on-site petting farm in the outdoor play area complete with bunnies, ducks and chickens. Just be warned they are so cute, you’re bound to get nagged to bring one home. When they’ve finished cooing over the animals, Mum and Dad can relax in the tranquil Zen garden while the kids play badminton, boules, croquet or tackle the nine hole Crazy Golf course, weather permitting.

If rain does halt play then there’s plenty for the kids to do inside too. There is a super indoor play area too which has plenty of supervised activities in the school holidays like games, art and movie nights.

The hotel may be hundreds of years old but it has a state-of-the-art eighteen-metre swimming pool and leisure centre. I particularly loved the plunge pool and promptly decided that I would be buying one for my own house with my lotto win. If you have some spare time and can take turns looking after the kids, I would definitely recommend checking out the signature facial in the ESPA spa followed by a hydrotherapy bath. There really is no better way to fully relax and unwind.

When it’s time to feed the troops, Maryborough Hotel offers a choice of the more expensive 2 AA Rosette Bellini’s Restaurant or for a more chilled out dining experience bring the kids along to Bellini’s Bar. Just be careful that they haven’t gobbled up all the welcome chocolates and biscuits in the room or they’ll have no appetite for the kids menu.

Maryborough Hotel And Spa

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (985 reviews)

The perfect hotel for larger families in the heart of Cork city


Take the stress out of travelling and book a family break in the newly refurbished four star Maldron Hotel Shandon in Cork City. You’ll be booking a family-friendly hotel in the historic cultural quarter of the city.

One of the key perks of this particular hotel is that it’s perfect for families who have more than two kids. They can comfortably accommodate two adults and three or even four children in their large family bedrooms. This can save you a fortune as you won’t need to book interconnecting bedrooms.

There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained too. There is a complimentary ‘Crafty Kids Club’ which is available to all guests aged between four and twelve years during school holidays.

No family-friendly hotel would be complete without a visit to the hotel pool, and Club Vitae leisure centre have every member of the family covered. There’s a large gym, 20m indoor pool, separate kids pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi.

Maldron Hotel Shandon have waved their family-friendly wand in the Grain and Grill restaurant too. They have not one but two kids menus! There’s one for smaller kids offering a choice of dishes like the Maldron burger and baked garlic bread or a menu for tweens offering more adventurous dishes like lemon & pepper chicken caesar salad.

Maldron Hotel Shandon Cork

8.0 Very good (2145 reviews)

Five star family fun close to Ireland’s premier family attraction, Fota Wildlife Park.


One of the star attractions in Cork for families is Fota Wildlife Park in Carrigtwohill. It was listed in the Top 25 Zoos/Animal Parks in Europe in the 2015 Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Awards. This explains why thousands of families visit every year and keep coming back.

It’s hard to see everything the park has to offer in a day so why not stay in the luxurious five star Fota Island Hotel & Spa nearby. It’s only fifteen minutes drive from Cork City and is a perfect base for a family looking to spend some time in Fota Wildlife Park. The hotel even provides a daily shuttle service over to the wildlife park so you can stroll out of the hotel and be in the wildlife park in minutes. Not only will you be saving yourself the car parking charge but you can also bring everything you need to enjoy your visit including pushchairs and picnics.

Fota Island Hotel & Spa is set in 800 acres of woodland so there’s plenty of room for the kids to run around. There are two playgrounds, multiple football nets and tennis courts outside. There’s also a gorgeous fairy walking trail in the grounds of the hotel which are sure to capture the imaginations of your little ones.

If the weather forces you inside then there is still lots of family fun to be had. The grown-ups can enjoy a relaxing visit to the hydrotherapy suite in Fota Island’s world class spa while the kids play playstation in the games room or sign up to one of the popular Fota kids camps. During school holidays the Fota kids Camp operates everyday for kids aged between four and twelve and there’s a supervised adrenaline adventure centre for those tweens aged over eight. It’s great to see that the tweens catered for.

When you’re worn out from exploring the stunning grounds of Fota Island Resort you can head inside and retire to your plush family bedroom which comfortably sleeps two adults and two children. Here you’ll be greeted by the newest addition to your family, BEA the Dog teddy, who’s perfect for evening cuddles and bringing home for a souvenir of your holiday.

Fota Island Hotel & Spa

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (1774 reviews)

Based in Sligo, Ireland, Debbie Woodward setup her multi award-winning family travel and food blog with her husband and three children in 2012 to inspire families to experience the exciting world of food and travel.