Hotel Rooms: Get the Size Your Family Needs
Make it a vacation for everyone—find the best hotel room setup for your family.
Choosing the perfect hotel room for your family’s vacation is not always easy. Often, one hotel room just won’t do: If you are a large family with more than three kids, you will need two rooms. If you have teenagers, you will also want two rooms. Many hotel rooms in big cities will sleep a family of four—but may hardly be big enough to turn around in. And extended families that travel “en famille” will need several hotel rooms—or may prefer to rent a vacation home. Here’s a guide to finding the right accommodations to suit your family’s vacation needs.
Small Families Need Time Apart, Too
For a family with one or two kids, being holed up in a single hotel room is not truly a vacation. For families that want space to spread out and have flexibility with meals, extended-stay hotels are often affordable. Marriott’s Residence Inn is an upscale brand that features spacious bedrooms, a separate living space and a full kitchen. Extended-stay business hotels often empty out during the weekend, so deals are often available for Friday and Saturday night stays.
But you don’t have to have a cookie-cutter hotel experience just because you are traveling with your kids. Independent hotels can often be the right fit. Located within walking distance of Central Park, the rooms at the boutique-like Buckingham Hotel in New York City were once apartments. Each guest suite includes a bedroom, a living room with a pull-out couch and a kitchen. The Buckingham is a swank choice for New York, yet reasonable—rates start at $300 a night.
Living Large—Families with Several Kids
The Embassy Suites brand famously caters to larger families. Embassy’s rates include a two-room suite that can sleep a family of six, free full breakfast for the entire tribe and an afternoon “manager's reception” with free snacks and drinks. Hyatt Hotels and Resorts gives big families more space with a “family plan” rate that gives a 50 percent discount off the price of a second room for the kids.
Extended families have discovered the joy of traveling together. Resorts and hotels are now courting large family groups. Resorts like The Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire give family reunions group room rates, special menu selections and extra little touches, such as a dedicated reserved table for meals decorated with framed family photos.
Families With Babies
Parents of infants and toddlers crave rest while on vacation but still need to be within earshot of the little ones. “Junior or executive suites are larger one-bedroom hotel rooms with a separate living area and are a great way for parents to have some much-needed ‘alone time,’” says Suzanne Hall of Ensemble Travel Group in New York City. Another option for parents that don’t want to go to bed at dusk? Book a hotel room with a patio or balcony to enjoy the sunset while baby sleeps.
Families With School-Age Kids
There is no doubt that traveling to popular kid-friendly destinations like Orlando, San Diego or Washington, D.C., gives families the most lodging options. All-suite hotels and family-suite rooms are more commonplace, and deals and discounts are plentiful. Hotel personnel are used to accommodating family requests (connecting rooms, cribs, games for rainy days); and extras such as free breakfast, in-room refrigerators and microwaves offer added value.
Families With Teens
While on a family vacation, parents of teenagers don’t covet a room with a view, but rather a room for themselves—and a separate one for the kids. Adjoining hotel rooms are ideal for this age group: two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two doors. For a short hotel stay—such as college campus visits—forget about hotel amenities. Booking two hotel rooms from a limited-service chain such as Comfort Inn is often less than the price of one fancy hotel room. And the money you save can go toward your child’s tuition bill.
A Home Away from Home
Why settle for just a hotel room? For many families, a condo, house or villa rental has the advantage of offering more space, a lot more privacy and luxury resort amenities, such as kitchens, pools and maid service, for a price that is often the same or less than a comparable hotel room. Hall says that a vacation property management company like ResortQuest International makes it easy to rent a vacation home in great places like Hawaii, Florida and Colorado, and they’re a particularly good choice for large family groups or active families that enjoy a beach, golf or ski vacation.
Live Like a Local in Europe
Hotel rooms in Europe are notoriously small—a double or twin-bedded hotel room is the norm. So for families with children, a flat in the city or a country cottage is an excellent option that also offers an authentic European experience. Villa renters tend to be “better-traveled,” says Mario Scalzi, president of the Lynn, Mass.–based Parker Company, which specializes in Italian villa rentals. “Extended families especially enjoy gathering at a villa to spend quality time together in a wonderful setting.” And Americans are discovering that a short-term (usually one-week) European city apartment rental can be arranged as easily as a European villa vacation.
Established rental agencies that specialize in European rentals like Rentvillas.com and Parker have numerous property choices in both the city and in the country with easily navigated Web sites and travel advisors that are just a phone call away to help you plan your family’s trip of a lifetime.
Themes: Family Travel
Families of five and six can easily find hotels that accommodate six at SixSuitcaseTravel. The site lists over 2500 hotels in all 50 states that can sleep six. For Europe check out Sleeps5.
Consider also Family-friendly timeshare networks Vacation ownership in a Family-friendly timeshare network (like WorldmarkTheClub.com on the West Coast) is also a great way to travel with kids and even extended Family. Those networks have multiple resorts of consistent quality throughout the world with large units composed of multiple bedrooms and full kitchens. It also saves a lot of money on dining out!!