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Kid-Friendly City Hotels

by Dee Andrews

Family travel with kids requires hotels that work well for everyone. Our year living abroad took us to over thirty hotels in many cities, and I am now quite adept at finding hotels that work well for us and our 7- and 10-year-old children. While my recent hotel searching experience is with European hotels, I think my advise is global.

Here are my top seven tips for picking a great kid-friendly city hotel:

  1. Walking to the Coliseum

    Walking to the Coliseum

    Determine your top sight-seeing activities and search for hotels within walking distance. Being able to walk out of your hotel and be near activities and restaurants is key to everyone’s happiness. When in Rome, the Coliseum was our number one priority. We stayed within a few blocks which made for excited and fresh kids the morning we visited. It’s also easy then to pop back in for afternoon naps or quiet time before heading out for more.
  2. Read hotel reviews from other guests. My favorite website for this is TripAdvisor, which is also great for restaurant ideas. You can put in an attraction, landmark, train station, etc., and it will map hotels nearby. I also recommend Darn Good Digs, a great resource for budget friendly small hotels and B&Bs around the world, all nominated by travelers themselves. Some other things to consider:
    • Hotels outside of the USA have much smaller rooms, few connecting rooms, and few rooms with two double beds. A double in Europe is actually two twin beds pushed together. For our family of four, we request a triple (three twin beds), a suite, which have various configurations, or if we can find it, a king bed with a roll-away cot.
    • Consider trading quaintness and character for a business-class hotel. Though perhaps sterile in décor and atmosphere, you may be more likely to find two double beds, in-room movies and perhaps even an indoor pool! If we are traveling to two or three hotels on a trip, we try to balance charming local hotels with one business-class hotel.

  3. Look for rooms with nooks and crannies so you and the kids can have your own space. Our daughters have relaxed and played in walk-in closets, bathrooms and the extra deep space created between windows and curtains. Kids love small spaces for building forts, pretending and layering pillows all around to read or listen to music.
  4. Riad Maison Do

    Riad Maison Do

  5. Search for hotels with common areas the kids can use without you. Like the above mentioned nooks and crannies, you tend to find areas like this in smaller bed and breakfast type hotels and inns. In Marrakesh, Morocco, the common courtyard in the center of our riad was right outside our room. Our daughters would frequently take their journals or coloring out to a café table and spend a half hour or more by themselves. Though we could hear and see them from our room, they loved the independence and we loved the quiet time in our room.
  6. Make sure breakfast is included. Kids wake up hungry; adults wake up wanting coffee, well, at least this adult does! If the hotel serves breakfast, both of these needs are met sooner, making for a happier start for everyone.
  7. Recommendations from my daughters:

  8. Let your kids play with the bathroom toiletries and accessories. Girls love hanging out in the bathroom playing beauty shop with the shower caps. Boys… I have no idea!
  9. Request extra blankets and pillows for building forts or making corners cozy for reading.
  10. Hotel La Fuente

    Hotel La Fuente

    Bonus Tip: I have discovered that traveling off season and with children has its perks. Upgrades for our family of four have happened many times when hotels find their suites empty and a family who would appreciate more space. Hotel La Fuente in Ronda, Spain was a favorite, especially after being given the tower room suite.

    If you haven’t realized, I highly recommend down time in your hotel each day. A short vacation from your vacation makes for a great kid-friendly vacation!

    What tips do you have for kid-friendly hotels?

    This post was originally posted by me, Dee Andrews, on the blog Sieze el Dia.

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{ 2 trackbacks }

How to Find a Great Kid-Friendly Hotel « Sieze el Día
May 24, 2010 at 11:25 am
Traveling with Kids: Tweens | Ciao Bambino Blog
June 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane January 24, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Delighted to have found your blog. We have two kids aged 7 and 6 – ie close in age. When the kids were younger (toddlers), we tended to serviced apartments, meaning we could prepare food for them and also not have to split ourselves between two rooms if fold out beds/cots weren’t an option in a smaller room. You have to be careful though – some friends of ours got an apartment on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia recently and it didn’t even include a toaster! We’ve also done a one month driving tour of New Zealand and we found the rules of thumb on accommodation to be: (1) Try to get your own space in a bed and breakfast/farm stay environment – ie a separate cottage; and (2) (in NZ at least) follow the advice – if they say kids welcome, they generally mean it, if they say not, or don’t mention it – probably best to stay away. I have a horror of getting caught in a Double Income No Kids situation with two small children and the rules above served me well. Hope you don’t mind if I link your blog from mine?
.-= Jane´s last blog ..Kidaddle to Tidbinbilla =-.

lena January 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Those are great tips. I do not have kids, but I have 2 little nieces and we have not travelled together yet. But when we do I an sure your tips will help me a lot.
.-= lena´s last blog ..The Fear Factor: Top 10 Worries of Parents =-.

Dinners & Dreams January 30, 2010 at 6:02 pm

These beautiful photos make me want to travel right now. There are so many places I want to visit. I love the picture of the riad. Thank you for the great travel tips!


Dee January 31, 2010 at 7:58 am

I loved the riad too, Nisrine. The colors and architecture in Marrakesh were so vibrant and wonderful. The food too, which was what I loved about your blog, Dinners & Dreams. Some fabulous Moroccan recipes I can’t wait to try. Thanks for joining us here at Travel and Travails.

Dee January 31, 2010 at 8:47 am

@ Jane at Kidaddle Thanks for sharing about apartments! I’m kickin’ myself that I forgot them as they’re my number one go-to for longer stays. Having the kitchen, though I would want a toaster too, is so great with the kids.

We would love to visit Australia someday. I’ll let you know if we ever decide to brave the flights!

Dee January 31, 2010 at 8:52 am

@ Lena: Trips with Aunties are sooooooooo fun! I’m sure you and your nieces would have a wonderful time wherever you go!

Thanks for checking in at Travel and Travails! ~ Dee

Heather ~ Acting Balanced Mom February 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Found your blog through SITS – and glad I did – love your tips 🙂 My recommendations include requesting a room on the main floor if possible – although my 3 year old loves to ride elevators…

Ensure that there is at least one family friendly restaurant within close walking distance or an inexpensive one right in the hotel OR
if you can find access to a kitchen with a fridge and microwave, you can make great meals whenever the mood strikes
.-= Heather ~ Acting Balanced Mom´s last blog ..I’m A Guest Blogger!! =-.

Dee March 15, 2010 at 11:02 am

@ Heather ~ Acting Balanced Mom

Glad you found Travel and Travails!

You are so right about the kitchen! If only for breakfast and snacks, it makes such a difference! My 8-year-old still loves elevators too…

Suzi December 4, 2011 at 1:12 am

This is some great advice! I have to say that with a toddler in tow, and especially one who has a whole host of allergies, we tend to favour apartments etc too. We’ll be using motorhomes for the first time next year though – 3 months each in NZ and the USA/Canada, so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes!

Dee Andrews December 4, 2011 at 7:51 am

Have fun with the motorhomes! Where in the US will you travel? I want to do that one summer in the Pacific Northwest with my family. We are plotting and planning how to make it back to Europe for an extended summer this coming year. My oldest daughter has added French to her languages and she’s taking a trip to France with her class, then we thought we’d meet her in Spain to see friends in Javea again.

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