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.
A suite, two hotel rooms or a vacation rental?
To get an idea of the available room options and rates for a traveling family of six, we’ll use a week-long summer vacation (June 21-28) in Destin, Fla., as an example and compare three lodging options. Following rates are correct as of March 11, 2008.
Type: all-suite hotel (Embassy Suites)
Room Rate: $1,953
Type: two adjoining hotel rooms (Comfort Inn)
Room Rate: $1,194
Type: condominium vacation rental (ResortQuest)
Room Rate: $1,356
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.
A typical suite at an Embassy Suites Hotel
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.