Nate and I travel a lot, usually with a whole slew of kids in tow. It's taken a bit of trial-and-error but we've definitely found a groove and know exactly what we need to prioritize, whether we're roadside camping or staying in a resort. When friends ask us what they should look for in kid-friendly hotels, we have an extensive checklist of must-haves.
If you're prepping for travel with the family, here are some on-site amenities to make your stay a success!
Late check-out or early check-in. We've been working with Embassy Suites for awhile now, and our Hilton HHonors membership qualifies us for late check-out based on availability (we're often able to nab an early check-in by calling ahead, too). This sort of schedule flexibility can be a HUGE help when dealing with things like naptime and road-weary kids.
Divided rooms. I've dealt with mild-to-severe insomnia since childhood so I already struggle a lot with sleep. Having a separate sleeping space for the kids is HUGE, especially if you've had trouble getting them to sleep in their own room at home. We like to maintain that consistency on the road at kid-friendly hotels so the whole crew can tackle each day of vacation well-rested!
Outdoor play spaces. A lot of Embassy Suites properties have nice promenades or adjacent lawns, and this is something we've come to look for in any property we stay at. A big patch of grass where kids can run can help them go from uncontrollable to upbeat in a few minutes flat – perfect for stretching their legs at kid-friendly hotels when you don't necessarily have time to load everyone up in the car.
Cribs. I used to haul a portable crib with me from hotel-to-hotel until I discovered that many chains actually provide them for guests. I got so used to simply having to ask for them during our Embassy Suites stays that I was disappointed to realize another property we stayed at recently doesn't have them. Definitely call ahead and ask so you're prepared. For me, this is a must-have amenity for kid-friendly hotels since it saves me the hassle of lugging one more piece of equipment all over the place.
Free breakfast. Call me spoiled or cheap or just plain lazy, but I don't want to have to get out of my PJs first thing in the morning and go track down breakfast off-site. I need a hot meal and hot coffee before I can really function, and I've found that spending a bit more for kid-friendly hotels that offer made-to-order or buffet breakfasts actually saves me a ton in the long-run. Those food runs add up.
Interesting atriums. Another way to deal with car-crazed kiddos – even if your room isn't quite ready when you arrive – is with cozy lobbies that have lots of entertaining features. Some of our favorite kid-friendly hotels like Embassy Suites feature fountains and koi!
Laundry facilities. Nate and I stayed up in a cute motel in Anchorage for a week once when we were in college. I remember commenting to the manager off-hand that my clothes were all filthy after trekking through the Iditarod trail. They surprised me by leading me to a public, on-site, coin-operated laundry machine so I could refresh my whole wardrobe. This has been at the top of my hotel list for extended vacations ever since, and it's a lifesaver with messy little kids.
Snack station. On top of Embassy Suites' free breakfast, they also have a free happy hour every evening with drinks and snacks. On top of all THAT, we recently discovered that they have Premium Suites that come with access to a free, unlimited vending machine on the floor. Sort of like that Executive Level you see at swanky business-travel-focused hotels, except this one's chock full of stuff that kids love. Cookies, juice and trail mix? Here we come!
On-site or nearby restaurants. Are you getting the feeling that food is a huge draw for us? Any property gets mega kid-friendly hotel bonus points if it has room service or good food easily accessible at all times. I don't want to have to trek a long way to get a full meal.
What amenities do you look for at kid-friendly hotels?