A big part of what makes a family vacation memorable is where you stay. Since children need more downtime and sleep than adults do, your family hotel room is an important haven. So what can you do to make sure you choose a hotel that’s fun and comfortable for your kids and for you? Here are some tips:
Location, location, location. There’s nothing that can kill a day of fun faster than a long round of “are we there yet?” Whether you’re planning to hang out on the beach or hit the museums, your best bet when staying in a hotel with kids is to choose one that’s close to the action so that getting where you need to go takes minimal time. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be walking distance from everything on your agenda, but in the event that you aren’t, having easy access to either public transportation or to your car (i.e. not waiting for a valet to bring it to you) is a good idea.
A little bit of elbow room. Whatever the size of your family, do the best you can to make sure everyone has a little bit of space, even if this means budgeting some extra money for adjoining rooms. In most cases, you’ll find this a worthwhile expense. Remember that on vacation you’re spending all day together and having a little bit of room to stretch out in the evening can keep the bickering to a minimum. Another strategy is to rent a one-bedroom suite with a fold-out sofa.
If you all stay together, find out how big the rooms are before you arrive. Even in the same hotel chain, room size can vary from city to city, and you may be shocked to find that a hotel with generous rooms in Dallas offers rooms in the same category in Manhattan that are miniscule by comparison.
Breakfast (or dinner) anyone? Eating at least one of your daily meals on-site is so convenient when you’re traveling with kids. When you’re choosing a family hotel, think about what meal is a priority for your family. For example, my kids love breakfast so I look for hotels that specialize in generous buffets where they can easily have second or even third helpings at no additional cost. Sometimes we eat enough that we don’t need to stop for lunch.
Another tip: If you’re like me and care a lot about eating well, look for a hotel that has a restaurant that locals actually like to eat at – a sure sign that the food is good. The Web makes it easy to discover when a hotel restaurant has become a neighborhood joint – and also will give you a chance to review the menu online. Some hotel restaurants specialize in gourmet children’s menus; for example, Yew at the Four Seasons in Vancouver offers fun items like “sushi” made with rice cereal and fruit leather.
A room with a view. Just like adults, kids love it when they have great views out their hotel room windows. It’s especially fun when you can see the attractions you’ve visited or are planning to visit. My family has had some memorable experiences staying in rooms with a view of the Washington Monument, Independence Hall and Boston Harbor. It made the children feel even more connected to the cities we were visiting.
You can even tailor this to your child’s interests. Got a baseball lover? The Omni Hotel in San Diego has rooms that overlook Petco Park. Order hot dogs from room service and you’ll feel like you’re at the game.
Let’s play! My ten-year-old says that a nice pool and also a great game room – preferably one containing an air hockey table – makes a hotel fabulous, and I won’t disagree. But there are other ways hotels can make a stay fun that aren’t just aimed at kids. The Hotel Monaco in Baltimore has a Wii that is pulled out every evening during their cocktail hour. You can sit in the chic and comfortable lobby and enjoy a complimentary glass of wine while your children play. That’s what I call a win-win.Google+