Once the preserve of business travellers, hotel and serviced apartments can offer five-star accommodation with added peace and privacy as well as better value for money for families. Kitty Melrose chooses 10 favourites.
The Athenaeum in London oozes class and British charm. Family run since the 1990s, it's in a prime spot in Piccadilly, a short walk from Buckingham Palace, the Royal parks, Bond Street and the theatre district. The hotel itself is infamous for its award-winning afternoon tea and the vertical garden growing up the outside wall. It also offers 34 individually designed apartments just around the corner. Located in a beautiful Victorian townhouse block, each comes with its own front door. The aim is to create what they call "Your London home" experience. You can choose the dcor (contemporary chic or English-traditional) and setup that you desire. For instance, you could pick just a small kitchenette and larger lounge, or a full-size kitchen with washing machine, dining areas and adjoining rooms for families to sprawl out in. The Kid's Concierge - the first of its kind in a London hotel - is a parent's dream. They couldn't cater for you more carefully or creatively: Lion King tickets, a toybox, sticker books, bike rides, DVDs and cookies and milk before bedtime. Residents can use the hotel's facilities, including the spa and restaurant, which is when the babysitters might also come in handy. Single bedroom apartments with a sofa bed cost from US$667 (Dh2,449) per night, including complimentary mini-bar, maid, room service and taxes (www.athenaeumhotel.com; 0044 207 499 3464).
Situated in fashionable Passeig de Gracia, this property in Barcelona was built in 1906 by the Catalan architect Pere Falques. The six upscale and spacious apartments have since been renovated with such style that El Palauet Living is Design Hotels' newest member. Each consists of a dining room, dual lounge areas, a gadget-filled kitchen, office and two bedrooms. Restored original features - including stained glass windows, period ceilings and Corinthian columns - are balanced by the sheen of white, modern contemporary furniture and fittings to stunning effect. Some come with bathtubs with terrace views of the Pompeya Monastery and the Tibidabo Mountain. Upstairs is a blissful rooftop spa with Finnish sauna, waterbeds and massage room. And, as if you needed any more glamour, a personal assistant who is at your disposal will take care of the rest. Single bedroom apartments cost from $843 (Dh3,096) per night, including butler service and taxes, with a minimum two-night stay (www.designhotels.com; 0049 30 8849 400 40).
Istanbul is the European Capital of Culture this year and there is plenty going on. Suadiye Residences, part of the big hotel chain Marmara, is a good base to explore. Situated on the Asian side of Istanbul on Bagdat Avenue with its popular cafes, boutiques, shopping centres, restaurants and bars, the 32 apartments with one to three bedrooms each are more functional than fancy, but they have everything you'd need: ample living room, an open-plan kitchen, washing machine and balcony. Ask for one overlooking the Marmara Sea and Princes Islands. There's also a restaurant and bar, with outdoor deck, Wi-fi, 24-hour front desk service and parking. Single bedroom apartments cost from from $190 (Dh698) per night, including taxes (www.themarmarahotels.com; 0090 216 362 1010).
This swank chain of hotel apartments, launched in 2006, has quietly expanded to nine addresses in the US. Two more are coming soon to Los Angeles and London. But so far our favourite is the AKA on West 58th Street in New York City. It's one block from Central Park and surrounded by Fifth Avenue shopping and museums including the Guggenheim. The one- or two-bedroom apartments are smartly decorated, featuring big living rooms, gourmet kitchens and marble bathrooms. But it's more than an apartment block, with front-desk staff, housekeeping and a 24-hour concierge happy to deal with families. A newly opened guest lounge, with fireplaces, rugs and comfy sofas, injects warmth into the place. A daytime cafe serves organic coffee, pastries and smoked trout salad for lunch. There's also a health club and Wi-fi. Single bedroom apartments cost from $328 (Dh1,204) per night, including breakfast and taxes, with a minumum stay of at least one week (www.hotelaka.com; 001 646 744 3100).
Opened in 2008, Palihouse Holloway was created by the iconic hotelier Avi Brosh as an antidote to faceless, corporate-style extended stay hotels. It sits down the hill from Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, LA. The chic lobby evokes both New York bars and French bistros and is a real attention-grabber. The 36 suites and residences follow suit: stainless steel kitchens, Chesterfield sofas in the lounge areas, vintage artwork above the cushy beds and Carrera marble bathrooms with huge shower heads. Most have a private terrace or balcony as well. Drink a coffee downstairs at Espresso Bar Tabac and take advantage of the inventive Provençal menus at the pleasingly busy bistro with adjoining courtyard. Should you want to chill out, slip upstairs to the rooftop sundeck and garden with views over the city. The attention to detail is meticulous: bikes to borrow, CO Bigelow toiletries, Italian linens, Bose stereos and Bialetti espresso machines. There's also Wi-fi and room service from 7am to 11pm. As grown up and hip as it may appear, it still feels like home and families are welcomed. One bedroom suites cost from $400 (Dh1,469) per night, including room service and taxes when staying from one to two nights, and $350 (Dh1,285) when staying from three to six nights (www.palihouse.com; 00 323 656 4100).
Launched in 1981, the Apartment Service specialises in serviced apartments and hotel apartment stays of one night or more around the world. Destinations include Italy, Tokyo and Sydney. In Kenya, the company boasts Tamarind Village as perfect resort living. Standing on a cliff top overlooking Mombasa's Old Town, 45 apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms come complete with lounge, full modern kitchen, en-suite bathrooms and veranda, and are kitted out with tasteful Swahili furnishings. Guests rave about the space and service. Also on offer are two swimming pools, jacuzzi, squash courts, gym, spa, deep sea fishing and water skiing. Perfect for quiet relaxation, the Village is also close enough to the Old Town and Bamburi beach. Other activities such as scuba diving, golf and dhow dinner cruises can be arranged. One bedroom apartments cost from $180 (Dh660) per night, including taxes (www.apartmentservice.com; 0044 208 944 1444).
These resort-style serviced apartments are not what you'd expect to find in the thick of Singapore's frenzy. But Treetops is minutes from Orchard Road and all its shops, restaurants and designer boutiques. It occupies a lush two hectares of tropical gardens, waterfalls and pools. Accommodation is in 220 colonial-style apartments, with one to four bedrooms. It's a tranquil address for weary guests after a day of sightseeing and shopping - just dip in the pool. For families, there's a community feel - your children meet others in a safe setting, with a kid's playground, wading pool, BBQ pits and a cafe. There's also a gym, sauna, spa and running track. A regular and complimentary shuttle bus service takes guests into town. One bedroom apartments cost from $390 (Dh1,432) per night, including weekday breakfast, housekeeping and taxes (www.treetops.com/sg; 0065 6887 0088). The minimum stay is one week.
Situated in the historic Rocks district, Quay West Suites Sydney complex offers a choice of 106 one- or two-bedroom apartments. Clean and light, they underwent a refurb last year and feature stainless steel kitchens with Smeg appliances, a sitting room spacious enough to enjoy a night in and a generous TV in master bedroom. The views from the private balconies are a big attraction. Apartments either face the city or look across the harbour, Opera House and bridge. Also, head up to the top floor's sunken Roman-style pool, and you'll be rewarded with a view of the Harbour Bridge as you take a dip. And don't forget the spa, sauna, small gym and outdoor sundeck. If you don't want to cook every night, the Harrington restaurant and bar provides everything from a coffee to dinner. Services include housekeeping and 24-hour reception and room service. One bedroom apartments cost from $448 (Dh1,645) per night, including taxes (www.mirvachotels.com; 0061 2 9240 6000).
Opened in 2008, this decent Rotana property in Dubai is aimed at the business traveller on mid to long stays. That said, the 167 hotel apartments are also a good, affordable option for families. Classed as four-star, the Moroccan style apartments - one, two or three bed - aren't necessarily show-stoppers decor-wise but have plenty of space. They are divided into three varieties: classic, deluxe and premium. All come with fully equipped kitchens, sitting rooms and the usual tech offerings, but the premium apartments have private plunge pools and balconies with scatter cushions. There is the Arabesque Cafe downstairs serving light snacks and afternoon tea. Additional offerings include room service, a fitness centre and a beautiful pool for adults with a view of the Palm. There is also an octagonal pool for kids, set in a pavilion with a playground. Located in the heart of Dubai Media City, it's also within easy reach of the Marina. One bedroom apartments cost from $313 (Dh1,150) per night, including taxes (www.rotana.com; 00 971 04 4360129).
The concept of serviced apartments in Hong Kong is nothing new; the first appeared in the 1980s when the city started to become a financial business hub. Today, a competitive market means they're not just appealing to the executive. For instance, swish newcomers such as Kush offer short term one bedroom apartments to the hip crowd, and the exquisite Apartment O, situated in the heart of Causeway Bay, has 15 exclusive units tailored for families of up to six people. Also relatively new, S+Residence offers well-priced one- and two-bedroom apartments. They're not massive (50 square metres) but have proper kitchens, Wi-fi and a daily maid service. Upstairs is a rooftop garden with sea and park views. And the location, minutes from Central in the vibrant Kennedy Town neighbourhood, is perfect. One bedroom apartments cost from $1,929 (Dh7,085) per month, including taxes (www.s-residence.com.hk; 00 852 2872 8922).