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Familotel: A European Hotel Chain That Puts Kids First

Kids can roam and explore with friends. Parents are free to relax together. Sound like a fantasy? At Europe’s Familotels it’s reality.

 

We knew we were not at the typical chain hotel when we first walked in the door of the Familotel zum Steinbauer in Bavaria, Germany. It was dinner time and it took awhile to even figure out where to check in because there was so much activity going on. Sitting at tables in the dining room were some adults eating their suppers, while dozens and dozens of kids ran around inside and outdoors. Some families, done with dinner, were playing board games.

We quickly dropped off our bags in our family suite (one full bed, plus bunk beds in a separate room) and headed to the buffet dinner (varied offerings and quite delicious). We were assigned “our” table for the duration of our stay and were completely startled to find a baby in a car seat parked at the next table alone, no adults in sight! We found out this relaxed attitude was par for the course, however. Clearly, we were not in the United States, where this would probably result in a call to the police.

Kid fantasy

If children designed a hotel, it would look something like this. It’s a place where the kids basically run free, where they decide what they’ll do, whether it’s jumping on a trampoline in the garden outside, swimming in the indoor and outdoor pools, climbing up to a tree house, exploring playhouses or doing any number of other activities. Literally everywhere a child turns, there is something else to do and someone their age to do it with.

About Familotels

The Familotel chain of about 55 properties, found in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary and Italy (the bulk being in Germany), guarantees 35 hours of on-site childcare, freeing parents to do other things if they like. The hotels’ philosophy is, “If the child is happy, the parents will be too.” The property we stayed at was in an ideal location for day trips to many of the King Ludwig II’s castles in the Chiemgau region.

Perks included

We found out one of the offerings of the hotel is that you can feed the kids early, put them to bed in your room, turn on a monitor and have dinner on your own later. A member of the staff listens to the monitors and comes to get you if your child wakes up. That first night we kept our daughter close, actually rather uncomfortable with the admittedly controlled chaos (staff members were always around). We accompanied her when she went outside to play, for example.

By the next day, however, we realized how silly we were being and let her run free. We were the only Americans in the hotel, but that didn’t stop any of the German-speaking kids from including our daughter in their play. It simply didn’t matter to them. Quizzing the hotel owner, we found out the hotel caters mostly to German families who book year after year. Though I’m not German, I’ll certainly go back too. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

All-inclusive packages at every Familotel include a minimum 35 hours of childcare per week, provided by specially trained staff; a playroom for all-weather play; safety fittings for wall sockets, stair guards, etc.; children's meals, appropriate dishes and cutlery; and children are served before adults or they can eat at a separate children’s table if they like. More information can be found at www.familotel.de/home-en.html.


Destinations: Austria, Germany

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Sleep


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