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How To Choose a Family-Friendly Hotel for your Next Vacation

October 1, 2012

Traveling with kids can be stressful. Regardless of where and why you’re traveling, it’s difficult to relax when you’re worried about packing and hauling luggage, entertaining kids on the plane, checking bags and securing transportation to your hotel. Families can avoid a lot of hassle and ensure that the stress of traveling doesn’t carry-over into the rest of their vacation by doing a little research and understanding the importance of choosing a family-friendly hotel. Booking the right hotel may be the best way to ensure a stress-free and entertaining vacation for you and your kids.

While many hotels only provide your family with a place to sleep and bathe, family-friendly hotels cater to parents by offering kid-friendly amenities and services that help you cut costs and keep your kids amused while on vacation. Keep reading to discover what makes a hotel family-friendly, and what services and amenities to look for before you book your hotel.

Look for Kids Stay for Free, Adjoining Rooms and Discounted Rates.  Many hotels have policies in place that allow children to stay in their parent’s room for no extra cost, so long as they use pre-existing bedding.  Some hotels don’t have these policies, and you may end up paying an extra $20-$50 per night for each of your kids. Find out if your kids can stay for free in your hotel room, and make note of the cut-off age. Some hotels allow kids 17 and younger to stay for free, while others have a much lower cut-off age, typically 12.

For larger families, sometimes hotels don’t provide affordable rooms that are large enough to accommodate the entire family. To amend this problem, many family-friendly hotels offer adjoining rooms, or second rooms for children at half the cost of regular rates.  These rooming options are also a good choice for parents who want to spend some alone time in their hotel room during vacation. With adjoining rooms or ½ price rooms for kids, adults can enjoy their privacy without sacrificing their child’s comfort or supervision.

Not only should the hotel be up to modern codes but have safety features for younger children.  Are the windows safe to leave open? Some older hotels have windows at floor level (or 6” up) that when open a child can fall out of.  Does the pool have a fenced off area?  Can a small child slip his/her head between the balcony rails, including rail end where it connects to the wall?  Rail spacing should be no more than 4” at any point.  Does the hotel offer parents the ability to check out outlet covers? Are the cribs up to standard and not on any recall lists?  These are all items parents should look into.

Rails should not have spaces larger than 4″ at any point so children can’t fit through them.

Look at a hotel’s KidScore.  KidScore factors in most of the above amenities and features in its algorithm.  The higher the KidScore the more kid friendly!  Here’s a list of top kid friendly hotels in the USA:

Kids Amenities and Kids Club Programs can make the difference.  While some hotel’s kid-friendly amenities are limited to a heated swimming pool, other hotels cater to their younger guests spectacularly. Check to see if the hotel provides free amenities such as: children’s bathrobes, coloring books, board games or toys, an in-room gaming console, or children’s room service menus. For families with infants and toddlers, a family-friendly hotel will provide guests with complimentary cribs, bibs, outlet covers, bandages and no-tear shampoos. Further, check to see if the hotel has a game room or arcade on-site for your older children.

Exceptional family-friendly hotels provide Kids Club programs for kids and teens, and a babysitting service for younger children. Although these services often cost extra, they are well worth the expense for parents who want to spend time alone without sacrificing their children’s safety. Many Kids Club programs will keep your kids entertained and safe with activities and local excursions.  Kids Clubs provide professional supervision as children have fun completing activities or learning a new skill, while  their parents get a chance to enjoy some alone time together.

Free Meals, Entertainment or Family-Friendly Concierge help save money.     A truly family-friendly hotel will provide a complimentary continental breakfast each morning, which does wonders to help cut costs during travel. Additionally, kid-friendly hotels provide a kids menu in their dining establishments, and may even offer promotions where kids eat for free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Most family-friendly hotels also offer free or low-cost entertainment like movie nights or miniature golf. Don’t forget the pool area! The best hotels allow parents to choose rooms with a view of the pool so they can watch children who are old enough to use the pool on their own. Also, many hotels provide pool toys or swimming lessons for their younger guests.

Don’t forget to visit the concierge service in your hotel, where staff should be able to help you locate kid-friendly attractions in the surrounding area, and may even supply you with coupons to enjoy food or entertainment for a discounted price.
Don’t settle for less or pay more than you have to entertain you entire family during vacation. The best family friendly hotels will cater to your children in the same way they cater to their adult guests. Research your hotel before you book and look out for hotels that offer low-cost dining and other kid-focused amenities. If you choose the right one, staying at a hotel will be relaxing and fun for everyone.

Are you a parent, are there other kid friendly features you’ve observed or would like to see in KidScore?  Let us know by writing to

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