How to find a hotel both you and your children will love
Finding the right hotel is crucial for enjoying your precious family holiday. Once you have children you are likely to spend more time at your hotel, even on a more active holiday. Children can get very tired being out all day and often need time to relax in the room and enjoy the facilities. So what are the important things to look for when choosing a hotel?
People often look at the room, the pool, the grounds, the restaurants, the room service, yet they ignore the most important factor – the location.
Is it on the beach, in the right part of town, opposite a brilliant restaurant or a noisy disco? Decide what is important for your family and choose accordingly and read reviews to check there are no hidden surprises.
Make sure you are near to the attractions or the beach you will be spending time at, else children can be worn out before they even start. And check out the transport options nearby or offered by the hotel.
If it’s a hot summer holiday, you’ll need a swimming pool to help everyone cool off. If the weather is going to be cold or potentially wet – then an indoor pool is a great distraction for a few hours.
For us, a pool is almost essential on a family holiday unless we are doing an all-action city break where we will barely be in the hotel. And a slide or splash area is a big bonus.
Always check the small print to see if an outdoor pool is heated, or if an indoor pool has limited times for families.
A small, cramped room is not much fun with children. Besides all the extra stuff you will have, toddlers and older children need space. And you will all feel on top of each other if the room is tiny.
So aim for a bigger room if possible and obviously you want somewhere that feels clean and fresh. Your children are likely to be crawling on the room floor at some point or may be putting something in their mouth (don’t forget hotel room tv remote controls are among the most contaminated items, yuck)!
Families with three or more children are often forced to book more than one room, which is costly, then everyone ends up sleeping in one room anyway.
Bigger families will have to work harder to find a hotel and destination that will accommodate all the family in one room or suite.
If you’re travelling with young children, you will probably need a kettle and a fridge. And a microwave can make life a lot easier too.
Hotels outside the UK often don’t have a kettle and they are vital for anyone wanting to mix up baby milk or heat food pouches.
If there isn’t one, invest in a travel kettle or contact the hotel to see if they can put one in your room.
Fridges are useful for storing milk and possibly some drinks for mum and dad for after the children are asleep!
We’ve also used hotel fridges to keep supplies like butter and cheese so that we can make picnics to take out.
Eating in or out
Does the hotel have a restaurant? If you check in late or fancy an easier night, a nice restaurant on site is useful.
If you plan to be eating out, research the availability and location of suitable nearby restaurants and read reviews and check out menus to see if they are child-friendly.
A good, included breakfast, can start the day on a high for everyone.
Our children love the familiarity of having breakfast in the same place every day and getting to know where everything is and what they like best. And they enjoy the independence of starting to choose for themselves and even fetching their own food and drinks.
Do the staff make your children feel welcome?
It might be the best hotel in the world, but if you feel constantly on edge, praying your children behave, then you won’t relax.
The vibe needs to be a family one. Check reviews to see if staff make a fuss of children and enjoy having them around.
Most places call themselves child-friendly, not all are friendly to children.
You don’t necessarily need loads of outdoor space but you do need a bit. A dash of green space to run around in, a nature trail or a terrace to explore and sit on, can turn a hotel stay into more of an adventure for children.
We love to explore our hotels, roaming the corridors and outside in the grounds. For example, when we stayed at St Ermin’s Hotel in London, it was great to have a terrace with a bee hive on it.
If you are planning to use children’s clubs or a babysitting service, make sure to investigate what is available in advance.
Some kids’ clubs don’t operate all year plus services can be costly.
A soft play area or other indoor play area will really make life easier for you and more fun for your children.
A playground outside is always welcomed too and gets a big tick from us.
Before you start to look at hotels, draw up a list of criteria that will ensure all adults and children are going to be comfortable, relaxed and happy on holiday.
*Is there anything else important to your family? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.