Choosing a Family Friendly Hotel
When you travel with kids, your hotel room becomes an activity hub with visits back during the day for naps, a change of clothes, or some downtime. You'll also find yourself turning in earlier, at your child's usual bedtime, meaning that you'll need to be comfortable in the room after they're sound asleep. So what makes a hotel family friendly at any budget level? Here's what I look for:
- In a central location or within walking distance to the major attractions you plan to visit
- If you plan to take public transportation, you'll want to be close to a hub station, not on a transit line that would require many transfers to get where you're going.
- If possible, your hotel should also be walking distance to a park or playground. You can use google maps satellite view to look for play structures in nearby parks.
- I use yelp to check for cafes or markets nearby the hotel and to get a sense of what the neighborhood is like.
Family Friendly Room Features and Amenities
- Larger rooms In major cities, you'll need to watch out for hotel rooms that are just large enough to accommodate the beds and a desk. That doesn't leave much wiggle room for a typical family of four! When it's affordable, we prefer a suite or a regular room that has enough space for the kids to move around. Sometimes a suites hotel can feel more restful than a luxury resort because of the extra flexibility you get with more than one room. In a traditional hotel, check for room upgrades that might give you a separate sitting area to use while the kids are asleep.
- Soundproofing (nobody advertises this, but, for example, we avoid b&b’s and older hotels because we’re worried about disturbing the other guests)
- Separate toilet with a pocket door This can really help cut down on traffic in the bathroom when everyone is getting ready for the day!
- Kitchenette Even if your hotel doesn't have a full kitchen, it's worth making sure that there is a small refrigerator that you will be able to put your own items in. A coffee maker or teapot where you can heat up water, or a microwave oven, also let you prepare breakfast and snacks in the room.
- Bathtub With the trend towards providing just a shower in newly renovated hotels, you'll want to be sure that your room will include a bathtub.
- Space to Explore Do you have an early riser and a child who likes to sleep in? If so, you'll want to make sure that the hotel grounds, lobby, or location are interesting enough for an early morning walk.
- Food The room service menu and hotel restaurant should have a few kid friendly items at a reasonable cost. It can be tricky to stay in a hotel whose only restaurant is too formal to comfortably accommodate children.
- Takeaway Service Some hotels now have a small convenience store selling healthy snacks, breakfast items and milk right in the lobby.
- Laundry Hotel laundry service can be expensive. For longer vacations, check to see whether the hotel has coin operated machines for hotel guests.
Luxury Options for Family Friendly Hotel Rooms
- A welcome gift Usually a small toy, a stuffy, or some activity sheets
- Babyproofing items At some luxury hotels, this may even include a diaper genie, a stepstool, and other amenities that really do make your stay much easier.
- Kid sized robesThese are really just a cute perk, but they do come in handy if you'll be going to and from a hotel swimming pool.
- Milk and cookies with turndown service
- Kids Camp Many resort properties offer a kids program. Check in advance to find out what age children the programs are geared towards and get a sample daily schedule.
Hotel Room Options for Larger Families
- Two room suites often include a sofa sleeper - making them a great choice for a family of six
- If you're planning on using a rollaway bed, confirm that the room you're reserving has enough space
- Vacation rentals can be a good choice for larger families
Hotel Room Options Dependent on Child's Age
- A crib at no additional cost Carefully check any hotel crib for safety before placing your child in it. You may want to bring your own crib sheet since many hotels do not have them, and instead provide a folded king sized sheet for the crib.
- A rollaway bed or sofa sleeper
- Adjoining rooms
- Babysitting Not every hotel is able to recommend a babysitting service, and most services need at least 24 hours notice, so if you think you'll need this, it's worth asking in advance. At some high end resorts, the hotel will work to provide the same sitter for your entire stay if you make your request in advance.
And here are some hidden fees that might add to the cost of your room. You’ll want to know what’s included so that you can do an “apples to apples” comparison of different hotels
Choosing a Family Friendly Hotel
Tips for Choosing a Vacation Rental Apartment or Home
- In room WiFi (sometimes charged per-device, not per-room. This can really add up if you have ipads and multiple laptops!)
- Resort or pool fees
- If you plan to use room service or the hotel restaurant, check to make sure that the menu includes reasonably priced kids options.
Lois on April 29, 2008 at 8:46 a.m.
Great site - I'm sure it is very useful to many parents travelling with young children. I would suggest an accommodation idea that's particularly good for families and saves money - home exchange.
If you arrange a home swap with another family with children of a similar age to your own, you know the home will be safe for your children, will have lots of toys and baby equipment, etc to save the need to bring so much stuff with you. Home exchangers share lots of ideas on things to do locally, cheap places to eat with kids plus you are likely to have access to the family's babysitter and children will often find local playmates.
I have been running a home exchange service, <a href="http://wwww.homebase-hols.com">Home Base Holidays</a>, based in London, England since 1985. Do check out all the great offers (you will see a little children icon beside the brief listings in search results which indicate that the home is suitable for young children). Also see the blog, <a href="http://home exchangetravel.blogs.com">Travel the Home Exchange Way</a> for detailed information.
Please get in touch if you have any questions about home exchange for families.
Brighton hotel on June 15, 2009 at 7:19 a.m.
I would agree with you in every respect of what you are saying, depending where you go, I mean if you are away to Florida then you need to be close to transportation, if you are in Spain then a hotel with a kids club is ideal, if in the UK then I prefer to take the kids to caravan parks as everything you need is on site.
Cameron House Luxury Lodges on June 20, 2009 at 10:25 a.m.
Ye I would agree and learned the hard way, I took my kids to the Cameron House Luxury Lodges last month and where the place was luxurious, it was a disaster for the kids, nothing to do for them, I will go back with the wife herself one day but I recon resorts with transport and roller-coasters all the way for the kids from now on.
Lynn on September 12, 2011 at 7:48 a.m.
We live in VA and are going on a cruise in Florida in Feb. What I don't have figured out is once are flight arrives, how do I get from the airport to the hotel without a carseat?
Debbie on October 20, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
You'll need to either take public transportation, or bring along a car seat alternative like the Ride Safer Travel Vest: