Picking the right hotel can have a big impact on your trip, especially when traveling with a baby. In our pre-baby life, our main criteria was a clean, safe hotel in a good location for a good price. Now with baby that list has grown! Though the original criteria are still very important, we also need to know if a crib is available, is the hotel near a lot of nightclubs, can we get a room with a balcony, will the room be able to accommodate us and all our gear… the list goes on… and we thought finding the right hotel room was time consuming before! It is even more so now as we find ourselves critically investigating the pictures of the hotel room online to try to determine the actual size of the room and where the crib placement might be! Who has time for that?
Hotels are an important part of the trip (that’s obvious!) and can leave lasting memories. Again, when it was just the two of us traveling we always argued that we spent very little time in the room and therefore tried to get the best value for as little money as possible. Saying this reminds me of the most wonderful little boutique hotel we stayed at in Bangkok. Sometimes you get lucky and find a wonderful gem! That was almost 6 years ago (yikes! Where does the time go?) and that hotel still sticks in my mind! It was like walking into a little garden oasis in the bustling city. There was a garden at the entrance and another on the roof. The rooms and hallways were brightly hand painted. Everyday upon returning to our clean room, they would have soft music playing on the in-room CD player on the wall. They made the most delicious breakfasts. And, the icing on the cake? It was one of the cheapest yet highly ranked hotels on Trip Advisor! I even looked it up this morning and it’s still in the top 10!
On the flip side, you can ask me which is the worst hotel I’ve stayed in and I know the answer immediately: the Hot Dog hotel in Belize! That isn’t the real name, but the name we gave that hotel for its bright red and yellow exterior (ketchup & mustard, get it?). It was awful! I’d rather have been sleeping on rocks than on those mattresses. And would it be too much to ask for sheets and towels that at least look clean and aren’t ripped? I guess so…
Traveling with a baby means spending more time in hotel rooms, now that we are faced with naps and early bedtimes! For these reasons, we are willing to shell out a little more for a hotel that has a balcony, for example. It’s a wonderful place to escape to if baby is having a nap.
More importantly, we want to do what we can to ensure baby can get a good sleep while we are away. Of course, we have no real control over this and baby will call the shots, but at least we’ve done all we can to enable this to happen. And as baby is eating solid foods, kitchen facilities become even more important. A fridge can be useful for keeping snacks for baby. What about a place to feed baby? Sure you can do this at restaurants, but it might be nice to get breakfast out of the way before you set off exploring for the day. All of these considerations mean more upfront research and planning when you are already short on time.
There are other options to consider as well. Renting an apartment may be a better fit for your family. This will give access to a kitchen, plus a separate room for baby. We haven’t gone down this road yet. Thankfully with the clever use of a white noise app, bathroom fan, crib placement and staying out of baby’s sight, we’ve managed to get baby to sleep in our room. Though that has left us sneaking around and whispering for the remainder of the night…
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Picking the right hotel can feel overwhelming because you want your trip to go smoothly. Well, unfortunately there’s no guarantee on that even if you have the perfect hotel. However, it’s worth the time and effort up front to find the hotel room that will work best for your family.
Here are our top tips for finding the right hotel room:
- Know your budget before you start looking at hotels and stick to it. Your whole travel budget can quickly be blown out of the water by an expensive hotel!
- Know your preferred location in advance to help narrow down the search. Research the easiest way to/from the airport as well.
- Make a list of your “must haves” and “nice to haves” before you begin your search.
- Take some time to read reviews but don’t believe everything you read.
- Set your expectations. No hotel will be 100% perfect and expect to make some trade-offs.
We would love to hear about some of your favourite hotels or better yet those horror stories that are only now funny! How about some tips on finding the right hotel room when traveling with a baby? Comment below!