Choosing hotels for families: Tips and Hints
Hints for Choosing the BEST Hotel
Choosing Hotels: Tips and Hints – Location, location, location
The ideal location is within walking distance of the top sight you want to visit. Otherwise, near the train station or bus stop is a good choice.
You might find a hotel for a better price but where is it located? Will you need a taxi? If so, that will eat into your ‘better’ price.
Time is valuable when you travel. The time you need to get to and from that cheap hotel everyday is time you could be using to explore!
Choosing Hotels: Tips and Hints – Amenities
Is there a restaurant or cafe attached?
In Sorrento, Italy, our hotel had a cooking school attached. Meals were whatever the students learned to cook that day. The food was delicious and inexpensive. This was the best possible situation ever!
Is there a laundry service?
If you choose carefully, the hotels that have this laundry service will allow you to pack less. To be honest, this service is often expensive. I personally hate paying $5 to have one pair of socks washed. That just seems crazy to me!
Is there self-serve laundry?
This is the best service you can find at a hotel when traveling with the kids and it helps you pack lightly. Using the washing machine is easy and cheap when you do it yourself.
If there is free wifi, you save money and time by not having to find an Internet cafe. Kids especially enjoy free wifi! It is nice to watch something in English at the end of the day. Kids relax and unwind with familiar things like the shows they like in English.
Do the rooms have hair dryers?
If the hotel has a hair dryer, leave yours at home. That means less to lug around, worry about, and more room to bring stuff back!
Is someone manning the reception desk 24 hours?
This is HUGE for us. With a manned reception desk you have no worries about late check-in, getting a taxi for the airport at o’dark thirty in the morning, and if, heaven forbid, you need tooth glue for a loose crown (yes, that happened – and in a tiny little town in Italy without a dentist), you can get some help.
Is there a refrigerator you can use?
A refrigerator in your room can save you money. Go to the local store and buy some snacks for the evenings. This saves you money and can let everyone relax happily in the evening with a few snacks. This refreshes everyone for the next day of vacation exploring.
Sometimes a refrigerator is not in the room, but often you can add your milk/formula for a little one to the staff or cafe refrigerator.
Choosing Hotels: Tips and Hints – Price
Is there a discount?
Using Rick Steve’s travel guides gets 10%-15% discounts at some hotels he recommends.
Teachers, seniors, and groups are all eligible for discounts at times, AAA travelers, paying in cash or in advance are all ways to get discounts, too.
Always ask. Even small savings add up!
Is price quoted in euros or dollars?
When comparing hotels be sure to compare euros to euros and dollars to dollars. The difference really makes a difference.
Is breakfast included? Other meals?
Having breakfast included is a real benefit for traveling families. The time and money you can save by having a hotel breakfast really is wonderful. This can really add up in savings of time and money.
We love an included breakfast. Even if all you have is coffee and juice all around, you start the day off with a travel group in good spirits!
Around the world, a hotel buffet breakfast can include local specialties and that is a fun extra. I love a buffet because it lets everyone taste the local fare without having to order an entire dish. This is especially great for kids.
Choosing Hotels: Tips and Hints – Before you book
Look for great prices online.
Find the hotel you want from looking in a guidebook like Rick Steves? Before you book, try looking on a site like www.booking.com. I’ve often found a better price for the exact same hotel that way.
****WARNING*** Read the fine print TWICE when you use booking.com because I have run into problems with the tiny fine print.
Learn from my mistake. I found a great hotel with an amazing view of the Acropolis in Athens on booking.com. The price was incredible. But, when I arrived, they were surprised to see there were four of us.
I realize that in the fine print it clearly said that one child had to sleep in the bed with an adult. So when we arrived we realized the room had only 3 twin beds and there are four of us.
Of course, there were no other rooms available. So, we shoved the three twin beds together and slept very cozy that night.
LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE – read the fine print TWICE.
Clear cookies from your computer before you actually book.
Another tip on finding hotels online…clear out your cookies on the computer. (Does that sound like a weird phrase or what?? Clear out your cookies?) I’ve read several places that you get a HIGHER price if the site knows you have been there before. Big brother is watching you!
Read reviews before you choose a hotel.
Read reviews! I love Trip Advisor because I can read reviews from real people who have really been at the hotel very, very recently. You can read my Trip Advisor reviews here.
Choosing Hotels: Tips and Hints – When in doubt
Always err on the safe side when in doubt.
Spending a few extra dollars to make your trip easy – whether that means being closer to the heart of town or choosing a place that will do your laundry is always worth it.
This is a once in a lifetime vacation opportunity. You’ll be happy you rounded up instead of down.
Natalie, The Educational Tourist