Hotels can be a full-on destination adventure for kids, particularly if it’s in a new city or country. From beach destinations to winter wonderlands, where you stay matters, especially when kids are involved. Choosing the right hotel for you and your family can be a pretty troubling task when traveling to a new place but the need for baby-gear rentals, kids menus, and babysitting services shouldn’t freak you out. In fact, there’s a wealth of information to consider when planning family-friendly vacations! Here are ten tips to help you choose a family-friendly hotel.
When choosing a family-friendly hotel, you want to be sure that you choose a place that is centrally located or at least within walking distance of all of the major attractions as well as parks or playgrounds that you plan to visit as a family. This way you can save costs without the need for renting a car, and still ensure that kids get to see and experience the city they’re in. Downloading and using easy travel apps such as Google Maps or Yelp can help you see what cafes, stores, or markets are also nearby.
2. Public Transport
If you plan to use public transport, then you’ll want to book a hotel that is close to subways, bus stops, or taxis. In addition, consider which subway line is near your hotel. Choose those subway lines that reach most attractions rather than those that serve as transit lines and will require many additional transfers.
3. Room size
Be mindful of the room size of your hotel. These can differ from place to place, with some countries being accustomed to just accommodating beds and desks even in a family room. Check that the room dimensions are big enough for your family or get in contact with the hotel and request further information if needed. This way, you can decide if a regular family sized room will be okay or if you should be looking at a suite or connecting hotel rooms for more space and comfort.
While kitchenettes are not as important when you’re solo traveling or a couple traveling, it becomes a necessity when kids are around.
Ensuring that you have at least a small refrigerator, kettle, or microwave is essential should you need to prepare snacks for the kids before a day out.
5. Restaurants and Room Service
Kids get hungry at the strangest of hours, and sometimes visiting a new country can mean being exposed to strange foods that they’re not always willing to try. Be sure that the room service menu and hotel restaurants have a decent enough menu with some kid-friendly meals. Some hotels offer a room service menu for 24 hours which is great should you have hungry kids at strange hours. Check that the menu doesn’t only serve local delicacies or isn’t only suited to five star fancy dining. Buffet style restaurants are sometimes better, as this provides a bigger choice to kids. It may also allow for healthier options too. Be sure to check if the kitchen will accommodate special requests and diet restrictions should your kids have any. Also be mindful of the restaurant operational hours.
6. Laundry services
If you’re trying to travel light with kids, then packing less is certainly a must do. This, however, means that you will, at some point need to do laundry! While finding a decent hotel with a good laundry service may seem like a must, this can cost a fortune. Instead, be sure to check if there are any other laundry services near your hotel or if the hotel itself offers coin-use washing machines.
7. Kids Activities
Many family-friendly hotels offer kids programs or camps that are geared towards fun daily activities to occupy the kids. While this is great if you’re looking for a day off or if you want the kids to mingle with other children, you also want to be sure that the activities are age appropriate, safe, fun, and stimulating.
Call ahead and find out relevant details such as what is included in the children’s program, how often does it run, how much does it cost, what are the age limits, and how experienced are the child counselors who will be in direct contact with your kids.
8. Babysitting services
Not every family-friendly hotel offers babysitting services, so if you think this is something you might need, then you’ll want to check if it is offered before booking. Rates are often higher for babysitting at hotels, and you’ll want to check the credentials or screening process of the chosen babysitters by the hotel.
Many hotels require at least 24 hours of notice, so be sure to check with the front desk upon arrival. This notice period is also great, as many family friendly hotels try to allocate the same babysitter to one family for their entire stay if requested far enough in advance.
9. Check out the website
First impressions count, and a hotel’s website can tell you a lot about the child-friendly nature it claims to adhere to. Look for those hotels with pictures of families instead, and whose room descriptions caters to family needs. Many family-friendly hotel websites will have a separate section for kid’s activities and this is an excellent sign that they are child-friendly.
10. Look for the little details
The little things are what count, and many family-friendly hotels take pride in accentuating the little extras for their guests. From welcome gifts for kids, to game centers in restaurants to baby cribs, coloring books, child proof rooms, and crib sheets – all of these are geared towards kids having safe enjoyable fun and you being stress free. Before you arrive, double check that the stated amenities are operational. You wouldn’t want to arrive with eager swimmers only to find out that the pool is under renovation.