What are the key requirements in a club and hotel that are attractive to families? Is it menu or activity that drives family groups to your venue? The Drop has chosen some of the club and hotels around the country that see their market as a “family market” and must cater to children in order to gain the patronage of parents. Let’s face it, babysitters are too expensive so often children attend restaurants with their families, which gives pubs and clubs an opportunity if the right elements are in place.

A comparison of the food and activity offerings shows a few simple common themes are in place…

1.       Stick to the basics with food for picky eaters…although most of these successful family friendly venues also offer some healthier choices for kids such as replacing chips with broccolini, offering mini salads and vegies instead of chips with meals and “hidden vegetables”. 

2.       Parents like to relax after the meal, and children are impatient waiting for a meal to arrive, so some activity based play area is a must.  

All venues (100%) offered fish and chips on their menus, with the next most popular meals being Spaghetti Bolognese (82%), burgers (82%), chicken nuggets (73%), pizza and schnitzel (both 55%), but a few had heathier options.  The Hotel Pennant Hills and the Intercontinental Hotel Riverside Restaurant had the largest choice and the healthiest options.

All bar one venue had dedicated children’s play areas, with a few also offering animal shows, and activity packs. Among the more interesting offerings were complimentary trikes, climbing walls and jumping castles.

The family-style pubs and clubs used in this comparison are listed below with their menus:

The Henson Hotel – Marrickville, Sydney

A kids’ ball pit in the back and the usual assortment of kids’ nosh (think fish and chips and burgers) along with some cool vegetarian offerings including veg spring rolls.

The Newport – Newport, Sydney

There’s a games room with giant Scrabble and outdoor area for play plus regular visits by reptile man. Food options range from burgers to fish and chips but also include a few ‘hidden vegetable’ options

Castle Hill RSL- Castle Hill, Sydney

The Courtyard Restaurant recently opened a brand new playground. All kids’ meals come with an ice cream or a slushie. The playground is suitable for toddlers to 12-year-olds and includes weather shelters and special coloured lighting for night time play.

Hotel Pennant Hills – Pennant Hills, Sydney

There’s no shortage of stuff for the kids to do at this Hills family-favourite. All kids meals come with a free activity bag and there is also an indoor play area. It also won a best family friendly hotel award in 2013. The menu offers lots of healthy choices and ‘hidden vegetable’ options.

Intercontinental Adelaide Hotel: Riverside Restaurant, Adelaide

One of the best food menus for children with a variety of healthy but fun food choices, with an activity sheet/pack.

Bistro on the Greens – South Coogee Bowls, Sydney

Portsea Hotel – Portsea, VIC

Pull up at the Portsea Hotel on a sunny Sunday afternoon and you’ll find children playing and climbing trees on the front lawn while parents sit overlooking Port Phillip Bay and Queenscliff. The pub often holds events, which range from Easter egg hunts to gigs and themed parties.

Edinburgh Castle Hotel – Brunswick, VIC

Everyone is welcome at the Edinburgh Castle Hotel. Beneath the alpine mural in the sprawling front bar, you might find chunky, tatted rockers pushing wagyu beef burgers past their whiskers, while three year olds cruise past them on the complimentary trikes. This is a true community pub, where families feel welcomed rather than just equipped. There are kids’ meals, all $8, including a daily pie, schnitzel and a cheese pizza, plus crayons, colouring books, and high chairs.

The Bearded Dragon Hotel – Mount Tamborine, QLD

Set on 110 acres, this country pub paddock with a huge beer garden has a bit of everything for the family from live music and crocodile shows to playgrounds and alpaca feeding. Kids can take their pick of cheesy bolognaise, steak and vegetables or battered fish and chips

Arana Leagues Club – Arana Hills, QLD

Plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained. The KICK Bar & Grill Restaurant has both indoor and alfresco dining areas and overlooks the supervised Cosmo Kids Club.