When you’re away with kids you’ll bound to be spending a lot of time in your hotel room. It becomes the family hub with visits back, sometimes incredibly just minutes apart for another item of clothing, a snack or a favourite teddy, you might be returning during the day for nap time or just some time to relax. So what makes a hotel family friendly at any budget level? Here’s what we look for and the questions we ask:
• Choose a hotel that specifically states it caters for families and children. If your toddler throws a tantrum or you need warm milk at the end of the day, you’ll be far more relaxed if you’re staying in a hotel that makes you and your kids feel welcome.
At Hotel Montalembert in Paris, kids are welcomed with a smile and receive their own kiddie VIK treatment including mini bathrobes, slippers and cute Montalembear. The concierge will organise fun family friendly activities or day’s out plus there’ s a DVD library, free iPods and a kids menu in the restaurant.
• Research your location. Depending on the type of holiday you are after, are you within walking distance to the major attractions you want to visit or transport links that will get you around easily, are you close to a playground and if you are in a rural spot without a car, can you walk to the beach, the local town or are there plenty of activities on site?
Just 2 hours out of Cape Town is one of our favourite family friendly lodges, Grootbos, in a spectacular wilderness setting. There are a huge range of outdoor adventures – whale watching, cave exploring, horse riding, a playroom with pool table, art & crafts, library, big screen projector, kids meals and snacks and child-minders will take them off for a game of football or waffle making while you relax.
• Make a list of the things you need – highchair, cot, kid’s meals, babysitting or listening service, gardens and play areas, crèche, pool – and then check if they are provided free of charge or if there is a charge. If there is a charge, maybe the hotel isn’t as baby friendly as you thought.
At Bandita in Tuscany there are cots, highchairs, changing mats, baby monitors, toys all available. And mini pootlers will love the outdoor space, neighbourly sheep and fabulous kiddie friendly pool. Book the Pig Sty annex, a self-contained private stone cottage which leads us neatly to our next point…..
• How kid friendly are the rooms? Are they large enough for a cot or a family 4 or will you literally be sleeping all on top of each other, do they come with a separate living area which you and your partner can use when the kids are asleep, are there adjoining rooms, do rooms come with a minibar or even better a kitchenette which can really help with storing items in the fridge and preparing little snacks or meals. Check the bathroom comes with a bath and if you are staying for a long time, how expensive is the laundry service.
There are some great options for families at Ackselhaus & Blue Home in Berlin. We especially love the themed suites at Ackselhaus such as the Safari Suite with its double bed and adjoining room and the kids will love sleeping under canvas! Ackselhaus apartments and Blue Home Suites are also very family friendly, coming with a basic kitchenette and some with a second room.
• Apartments are often a great option for families offering self-catering and multiple bedroom flexibility. If you are planning a trip to Barcelona definitely check out Eric Vokel’s apartments, they come with a spot on location and all the kitchen kit you’ll need to cook up a feast including a dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer and Nestle Dolce Gusto coffee machine. To stock up head to the bustling Boqueria market which is a riot of fresh produce, colour and smells. Kids will love it.
And some hotels offer a self-catering apartment for larger groups or families wanting a bit more flexibility but still with the security and comfort of not completely going it alone.
• How will mealtimes work? Is there a child-friendly option throughout the day or at least an adult snack menu that has some kiddie options at a reasonable cost. Is the food fresh and interesting? Will they warm food or milk for you? If the restaurant has strict opening times and your toddler needs feeding at 4pm, where can you take her?
Monte da Vilarinha in a hidden spot in the Algarve is a brilliantly kid friendly option with rooms that either take an extra bed or apartments that sleep up to 4. And there’s a pool, gardens, playroom and toys, microwaves in the apartments to heat up baby food, kids meals, highchairs and cots on request.
• Are there downtime moments for you and your partner? Is there a spa you can use when your little one is in the crèche or is there a room listening service whilst you enjoy a romantic dinner.
At Torre Masseria Coccaro in beautiful Puglia, little travellers are very welcome. In peak season there are heaps of activities in the Mini-Club crèche from Baby Football sessions and swimming courses to the Baby Club at the hotel and the Beach Clubs for older kids. Plus there’s an Aveda spa and Turkish baths for the grown ups.
We’ve a great children friendly collection of luxury and boutique hotels from apartments in Barcelona, rural retreats in Puglia or safaris in Africa. Oh and of course, if you are travelling without them, then we’ve a fabulous child-free collection as well as hotels for you to get completely off the beaten track, or indulge in a spa retreat.
And if you’ve stayed in one of our fabulous hotels then send a #Digital Postcard. Log in (or join us), create a postcard using our stack of professional images and then get your friends drooling over your holiday by sharing on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. Read what other travellers are sending here: #DigitalPostcard. Be a social traveller!
Mypootle: See you on line soon!