What to Look for in a Hotel

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Nickolodeon Suites, Orlando Florida

If you’re researching hotels for your next family vacation, there’s a few variables to consider.  From room size to resort fees, we’ve got some tips on what to look for before booking your stay.

(1) Room size

If you’re traveling with young children or infants and want some privacy for nap and bedtime, check to see if “bedroom suites” are available.  This is code for: “bedroom door that closes off to the rest of the room.”  If not, you’ll want to look elsewhere or plan ahead to get creative with how to make a nook for your child(ren)

(2) What’s included?

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Captain Obvious

At a recent Hotels.com media event in Toronto, Ontario we learned that the top three things travelers are looking for in their room are:

(a) Free wifi

(b) Free (included) breakfast

(c) Free parking

Make sure you ask what’s included before booking.  A similar hotel might offer you more or at least match a competitor’s deal.

   (3) What’s available?

Some hotels offer up the gauntlet with your stay: from pre-arranged grocery delivery to toy/video game rentals, while others barely offer the basics.  Some places we’ve stayed at don’t even have cribs or pack n’ plays available for young children.  Some things to consider (depending on the ages of your children):

  • High chair
  • Crib or pack n’ play
  • Drinkable water?
  • Bedroom Suites?
  • Kitchenette (if so, what’s available in terms of fridge size, microwave etc)
  • Partnered rental companies (you can rent toys, bikes, strollers and more in most cities now)
  • Security
  • Elevators or stroller access
  • On-site parking

(4) Rate deals

A lot of hotels will drop the price if you stay for a certain duration or include particular nights.  For example, extending over a Sunday night could score you a deal.  If you’re not sure how to do it online just call and inquire.

Also, many online booking sites (like Hotels.com) offer incentives.  For example, if you book 10 nights through hotels.com you get the next night free. If you’re frequent travelers or you are planning a lot of upcoming trips, go through one of these apps or websites (and if you don’t like booking things online, you can always call)

(5) Walking score

In real estate, we see a lot of mention of the “walking score” which refers to how populated neighborhoods are and how convenient it is to walk to shops and amenities. The same should apply to your hotel. If traveling with kids, it’s important to know what’s around.  We’ve stayed at some isolated hotels and when things come up (like needing medicine, bandaids, snacks etc) it can be quite an event trying to track it all down.  There’s a big difference between traveling as a family or as a couple. Usually, with kids, it’s better to have stores and restaurants nearby.

(6) Noise level

Lets face it, many family-friendly hotels offer their fair share of noise.  From pool-side games and attractions to daily activities, peace and quiet might not be at the top of their list of priorities. If you need quiet (for daytime naps, for example) ask ahead of time to book a room far away from the action.  Or, if you want the freedom to let your older kids explore on their own, but you want to remain close to them, ask for a room in the thick of it.

What else do you look for when researching a family-friendly hotel?  Let us know in the comments or via email.

Happy hotel booking!


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