This sections is intended to provide you with the best resources for finding hotel, resort and vacation rental accommodations suitable for a families with infants, babies, toddlers, and small children....and get a great deal.
- researching kid friendly hotels
- booking kid friendly hotels
- other accommodation options
- additional accommodation resources
- final comment
researching kid friendly hotels
Whether your preference leans towards boutique hotels, or large scale hotels, it is first helpful to first know that the following hotel groups all do a very decent job with babies, toddlers and kids.
kid friendly boutique hotel chains
Kimpton (all over U.S.)
Affinia (New York, Chicago, Washington D.C.)
Joie De Vivre (California)
Also worth taking a look at is a new boutique hotel booking site for families called Smith & Family (brought to you by the same company as Mr & Mrs Smith). While in it initial launch it is focussing on Europe, you should see it branch out to North America in late 2013.
kids friendly large hotel chains
Hyatt (Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Andaz )
Hilton (Hilton, Conrad, Embassy Suites, Waldorf Astoria, Homewood Suites)
Four Seasons (If you can afford this, just stop reading since you don't really need this website. Just go there and have their staff roll you around in your money - and yes, we are jealous of you and your Prada luggage.)
booking kid friendly hotels
You may want to start by reading hotels reviews on tripadvisor.com (or another review site would do). This website is particularly good, however, because they make it very easy to filter for reviews from families only.
Try a search on hotels using specific filters including:
- price range
- minimum reviewer rating ( start with 4 out of 5 or greater)
- hotel class (number of stars)
This should narrow your selection field down to about 10 hotels or less. At this point you can look at each hotel individually, reading only reviews from families (click on only show reviews for family).
Once you have narrowed down your list to about 3 or 4 hotels, you may wish to check the prices on tripadvisor.com, expedia.com and on the hotel website to see what kind of room or package prices are being offered. Often however, if there is a special package for families, including things like free kids meals or tickets to the zoo, it only shows up on the hotel website. May we also suggest:
- Joining the hotel loyalty program online (almost always free). This will give you perks such as a better rate (often 10-25% off), welcome gift, newspaper, early/late checkout, room upgrade, free parking etc.
- Booking a fully refundable room (that can be cancelled or modified if a better rate comes along).
- Checking back frequently to see if something better has come up. If so, calling the hotel and asking for the new promotion ( or canceling if a deal has come up at a comparable hotel).
- Checking the hotel's Twitter and Facebook accounts to see if they are offering up any other promotions or perks.
other accommodation options
For some other less expensive accommodation options, may we suggest:
hotel room auctions sites - Created as a tool for hotels to liquidate potentially empty hotel rooms these can be a great deal. We prefer hotwire.com over priceline.com since Hotwire allows you to select more than 2 occupants per room ensuring that you should get two beds in a room. Another favorite of ours is
vacation package auction sites - There are quite a few of these out there for couples but some of the best family packages can be found on familygetaway.com. Not only can you find packages up to 65% off, but what is really nice about this site is that the price quoted usually include all taxes and service fees (but not gratuities). Also worth looking at is their sister site Luxury Link. While primarily targeting couples, if you filter for 3-4 people, you can find some great high end deals on this site. If you are a little nervous about booking an auction package, please see our blog post on this subject (favorite family auction site). Sign up for the newsletter and get $50 off your first trip booking, or do an online search for a coupon code that may get you up to 10% off.
daily deal websites - Groupon.com (with groupon getaways) and livingsocial.com (with living social escapes) Â both can have some incredible deals but you need to do some due diligence and check the property website or another booking site to make sure the deal really is as good as it sounds. Also be sure to read the all fine print and FAQ section before committing to the offer (many deals are only for couples). Often things like taxes, resort fees and service fees are not included in the advertised price so you just need to find out what these are before you make a purchase.
home and apartment rentals -If you would like to do a home or apartment rental (usually start at a 3 or 4 night minimum), we prefer homeway.com since it is much easier to navigate than vrbo.com and under each listing there is a section called suitability that will tell you if the rental is appropriate for families with young children. Another site that gets a lot of press is airbnb.com, but in our experience it does not offer the greatest selection of rentals in North America. For instance a recent search for a family rental on Isla Mujeres in Mexico brought up 69 listings with homeway.com and none with airbnb.com.
Travel and Leisure World's Best Family Hotels List does a pretty good job on the pricey end of things although a few resorts sneak in that are under $200/night.
Tripadvisor does well with their Travelers Choice Top 10 Family Hotels List 2010. Strangely, however, this category does not exist in their 2011 list. Â It has been revamped and is now called Best Family Vacations 2011. Quite honestly, it's not great, especially their section on Mexico and the Caribbean. Ixtapa in at #2.... are they kidding? A better resource going forward may be Tripadvisor's relatively new sister website called Family Vacation Critic although since it hasn't been around long and is based on support from traveler reviews, it is not what I would call a complete resource yet (many great hotels have yet to be reviewed).
No matter how you book your accommodation, if at all possible get the one bedroom with sitting area (for a crib or a pull out), or the suite. Those of you who have hidden under the covers to watch a movie or shared a bottle of wine in the bathroom of a standard room when traveling with a child will know what we are talking about.
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