When you’re a parent of young children, holidays can often leave you more exhausted than your day-to-day life. So much effort goes into planning the perfect family holiday yet we can still be hit with nasty surprises at our destination. I’ve turned up to hotels only to find that despite my initial request there aren’t any travel cots available or that the hotel babysitting service is only for those aged 1+.
I’m not suggesting that all hotels should follow these measures. I fully understand that some hotels are catering towards business/adult travellers and not interested in the family dollar. I also appreciate that some hotels have amazing family friendly programmes on offer and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Here are some practical suggestions which shouldn’t cost the earth. Except for the whole designing and rebuilding family friendly hotel rooms from scratch. But I just had to throw it in there.
- Design and build family rooms. I wish hotels would think about families from the outset when they are building a new property. Why not create the perfect room for a family of four or five? Booking two hotel rooms is expensive and quite frankly, if I’m traveling with two small children then I’m more than happy to have us all in the same room.
I can’t lump all hotels in this category. A big thank you to those who have taken the time to create ‘family rooms’. We are headed to Phuket this Christmas and we are spending the first few nights at the Pullman which has a ‘Family Deluxe’. Rather brilliantly it has two bedrooms, one of which is totally tailored to kids with a bunk bed!
- Make it easy to book a room. Whether you’re using a booking engine or booking online with a hotel direct, it can be difficult to ascertain what the max occupancy is of a room and whether your family can ‘legally’ fit. I have some friends who ignore the ‘max 2 guests only’ rule and turn up with their 3 kids and hope the hotel will turn a blind eye. However, I’m a bit of a worrywart and I want to know that when I arrive at my hotel room, there will be sufficient bedding and space.
That said, I get a bit annoyed when hotels won’t let us fit in one room when we can blatantly all fit. I wish the descriptions were clearer e.g. if the hotel has a day bed that can be converted for night-time use. I also don’t like being charged extortionate amounts for rollaway beds and travel cots. I often find when you book these in advance, you get charged a fee but if you request on arrival they let you have it for free.
- Easy check-in. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a hotel with raggedy, jet lagged children who need to go to bed than to experience a long, drawn out check-in process. Perhaps more hotels could offer an advance check-in where we reconfirm our arrival, complete the majority of details, give any last-minute requests and that way it should be straightforward on arrival.
- Welcome present for kids. There are some wonderful hotels who do this already, from gift packs containing healthy snacks to cuddly toys. Even if it’s something small, kids love it and parents will remember it.
- Have my travel cot/rollaway bed already set up! If I’ve requested these items, is it possible to have them already set up if I’m arriving late at night? Perhaps that’s something us parents need to do more of – phone up the hotel in advance and check everything will be ready for us.
- List family friendly features clearly on the hotel website. Did you know a lot of hotels out there can offer things like sterilisers, baby baths, baby monitors and even buggies? Check out the goodies handed out at Calcot Manor below.
It would be great if all hotels had a list on their website of what’s on offer to reserve in advance. Saves me running around trying to buy Milton sterilising tablets at the last-minute.
- Healthy food options in hotel restaurants. Some hotels are streets ahead in the healthy eating game from Annabel Karmel inspired menus to offering healthy snacks in the hotel room. Others are not and we end up ordering chicken nuggets and chips for every meal. I don’t think it’s that difficult to put veggies, rice and unbattered protein on a kids menu? Kids cutlery, clean highchairs and cups with lids on, also great appreciated!
What family friendly features would you like to see more of in a hotel? Do you prefer to use sites like airbnb to grab a big apartment as opposed to all sharing a hotel room?