This article about the Finding the Best Baby Friendly Hotel with a Baby was written by baby travel expert Celine Brewer and may contain affiliate links.
Ahhh… traveling before a baby was so easy… Back then all we cared about was a clean, affordable hotel in a good location. Traveling with a baby is so rewarding, but it requires a new way of thinking. You’ll find lots of great tips about traveling with a baby on our website, but in this post we share our best tips on how to find the best hotel with a baby.
At first, staying at hotels while traveling with our baby daughter was super easy. But as she got older, everything changed. Though our original hotel selection criteria was still very important, we also needed to know if a hotel crib was available, was the hotel near a noisy nightclubs, and is the hotel room big enough to accommodate us and all of our essential baby travel gear…
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 or apartment online to try to determine the actual size of the room and where the baby travel crib placement might be!
It’s worth taking the time to find the right hotel for your baby as the truth of the matter is that traveling with a baby and/or toddler means spending more time in hotel rooms or rented apartments. Even while traveling, babies and toddlers still need quality naps and will likely have an early bedtime. So it’s important to find a good hotel space that will work for your young family.
Initially, we were able to easily share a hotel room with our baby during our family trips. With the clever use of some baby travel gear for sleep, (such as a white noise machine), bathroom fan, hotel crib placement and staying out of her sight, we were successful getting our baby to sleep on vacation in our hotel room.
This started to change a little when our baby daughter was 10 months. We shared a very small hotel room in NYC with a baby, and we struggled to get her to sleep properly. She was standing now and was able to look over her hotel pack n’ play, making it very hard to share our hotel room with our baby. On our next trip to London with a baby, we decided to look for other options and ended up renting the first of many vacation rentals.
As you can see, there are many factors which go into finding the right accommodation when traveling with a baby. We’re here to help by sharing all of our best tips on how to find the best hotels for babies.
7 Tips to Choose the Right Accomodation with a Baby
1. Decide on Renting an Apartment or a Hotel with your Baby
The apartment vs hotel decision is particularly tough for new parents traveling with a baby. Based on our travels around the word with our kids, here are the pros and cons of staying in a hotel with a baby vs. staying in a rental apartment with a baby.
Staying in a Hotel with a Baby:
Advantages of staying in a hotel with a baby:
- Having been the standard travel accomodation for generations, hotels typically have very desirable locations in the top family travel destinations in the USA and around the world.
- Your typical tourist destination hotel will be very large and have a large number of rooms, with a good selection of room types. This generally means you can successfully make a reservation for your prefered dates anytime you choose.
- Many baby-friendly hotels will have amenities attractive to parents traveling with an infant. We’ll discuss the best hotel amenities for traveling with a baby below.
- When you stay at a hotel with your baby, you are with a company, not an individual. If something goes wrong with your hotel stay, you know exactly where to find the hotel manager to discuss your matter with.
- Generally speaking, hotels offer more and better free cancellation opportunities than rental apartments do.
- We know you’ve baby-proofed your home, but when you travel, you’ll need to consider your baby’s safety in your accommodation. Hotel rooms are generally safer than apartment rentals, as they don’t have as many exposed power outlets in the walls close to the ground. You will have less to worry about from a safety perspective when you stay at a hotel with a baby. It never hurts to travel with some electric plug protectors just in case.
Disadvantages of staying in a hotel with a baby:
- Hotels typically cost more than apartment rentals.
- The biggest disadvantage of staying in a hotel room with baby is the space. Hotel rooms are typically not well designed for families with babies. When sharing a hotel room with a baby, the hotel crib usually has to be in the same room as the parent’s bed, and there isn’t usually a lot of choice where the crib goes. If your hotel crib is in the same room as you, there’s a good chance you’ll spend your evenings on the bed, with the lights turned low, whispering to each other for fear of waking up your baby.
Advantages of staying in an apartment rental with a baby:
- Staying in an apartment rental helps overcome the biggest disadvantage of staying a hotel with your baby. It’s pretty easy to find a baby-friendly apartment rental with at least one separate bedroom. This means means your baby can be in a separate room from you. If you sleep in a separate space than your baby in your apartment rental, be sure to have a good travel baby monitor or use one of these best baby monitor apps.
- Apartments are generally cheaper than a comparable hotel room.
- Baby-friendly apartment rentals typically come with a full kitchen and often have laundry facilities. Both of these amenities are huge benefits when travelling with an infant.
Disadvantages of staying in an apartment rental with a baby:
- When renting an apartment, you will likely be dealing with an individual, not a company, which exposes you to some risk if things do not go according to plan. VRBO and Airbnb offer limited protection for renters, but once your money is transferred to the apartment owner, you are pretty much stuck dealing with the owner in the case of a dispute.
- Cancellation policies tend to be stricter in apartments vs hotels.
- The selection of baby-friendly apartment rentals available in your timeframe and desired location may be limited vs. hotels.
- As they are designed for normal day-to-day living, apartment rental generally have more exposed power outlets than hotels and may not be baby-proofed. If you stay at an apartment with a baby, come prepared with some basic baby-proofing gear.
2. Set Your Accommodation Budget
Along with the cost of flights, accommodations are typically one of the biggest expenses on any family trip. We know from experience that it’s very easy to talk yourself into spending more than you had hoped or can afford. This makes sense, as the more expensive hotels and apartments will always look nicer, right?
When picking your baby-friendly hotel or apartment, do yourself a favor and use the search filters to set a maximum nightly price. This ensures you won’t look at a single hotel which exceeds your budget. You’ll almost always find a great hotel you’ll be very happy with within your price range.
When figuring out your nightly budget for a hotel room with baby, be sure to factor in all the potentially hidden extra fees such as taxes, parking, internet, resort fees, etc.
Find the perfect hotel for your family adventure here!
3. Look for the Best Hotel Amenities for Babies
Traveling with babies children requires you to spend some time thinking about what hotel amenities are important to your family. Everyone’s needs are unique, but you can start with this list of some hotel amenities which help identify a good baby-friendly hotel:
- Babysitting service: Finding a hotel with a babysitting service can be a huge benefit for parents traveling with an infant. Usually available at an extra cost, a hotel babysitting service allows parents to sneak away and have a romantic night on the town.
- Baby club: Typically found in baby-friendly resorts, hotels with a baby club offer a fun place for you to go with your infant. Some even offer a babysitting service as a part of the baby club.
- A separate bedroom: Having a door which closes will help everyone in the family get a good night’s sleep.
- A balcony: If you can’t find a hotel with a separate bedroom, having a balcony to escape to allows you to have normal conversations without fear of waking up your baby.
- Laundry service: Babies go through a lot of clothes. Having a laundry service enables you to pack less baby clothes for your family vacation.
- Hotel crib: Most baby-friendly hotels will offer a pack n’ play for your infant to sleep in. If the type of hotel crib is important to you, confirm with the hotel in writing prior to completing the reservation. If the hotel doesn’t offer a crib, look into a travel bed for babies or a travel bed for toddlers.
- A kitchenette: Having a microwave and fridge in your hotel room is very useful for feeding your baby.
- Free breakfast: This isn’t a must-have hotel amenity, but parents staying in a hotel with a baby already have a lot to worry about, let alone wondering where breakfast will come from every day. Having a free hotel breakfast is a nice luxury.
- Sufficient square footage: Take a look at the pictures online to ensure your room has enough room to comfortably store a hotel crib, your travel stroller, etc.
- Safety: Eyeball the photos and get a sense for how safe the room set-up would be for your baby. Are there loose cords, lots of breakable items, etc?
Try to be clear up front which hotel amenities are absolute musts for your family and which ones are ‘nice to have’. Also keep in mind that certain amenities can be rented (cribs, etc.) if your preferred hotel choice doesn’t offer them.
4. Find the Best Location for your Baby-Friendly Accommodation
Carefully choosing the location of your baby-friendly hotel or apartment is especially important when traveling with a baby. A central location for your hotel is perfect, but you want to be aware of any particularly noisy streets.
Needing to manage baby naps etc. means you need to be more efficient with your time. A central location helps ensure you spend more time seeing your destination and less time traveling from attraction-to-attraction.
To find the perfect location for our baby-friendly hotel or apartment, we determine our must-see sights then find the most central location to minimize transit time. We find it helps to plot our must-see sights on a map (usually in Google Maps) and “draw” a big circle around them to determine the optimal place to look for our hotel stay with baby.
5. Use the Best Tools to Find a Baby-Friendly Hotel or Apartment
There are so many excellent online travel sites which enable travelers to book hotels & apartments, it’s hard to know where to start. In our experience, when looking to stay at an apartment or hotel with a baby, not all online reservations services are equal.
Here are the reservation services we use most often to when traveling with our kids:
Best website for finding a baby-friendly hotel:
Without question, we have found Booking.com to be the best website for finding a baby-friendly hotel. When entering in your search criteria, simply indicate that you are traveling with an infant and your search results will automatically come up as the “Top Picks for Families“.
We use Booking.com extensively when choosing family-friendly hotels. If you are looking to stay at a hotel with your baby, we’re confident that you’ll find a great hotel room for your family.
Find the ideal baby-friendly hotel for your family trip on Booking.com.
Best website for finding a baby-friendly apartment rental:
When it comes to finding the perfect baby-friendly apartment for your family trip, we tend to alternate between the two biggest options out there – Airbnb and VRBO. It’s important to look at both sites when researching your trip with your baby as the selection of baby-friendly apartment rentals tends to be smaller than baby-friendly hotel rooms.
Find the best place for your family to stay with our 8 tips on renting an Airbnb with a baby.
6. Compare Hotel Price vs. Reviews
Follow the steps below to find a well-reviewed baby-friendly hotel or apartment at a decent price within your desired location:
Step 1: Enter your search criteria (price, dates, etc):
While on Booking.com, Airbnb or VRBO, enter your search criteria for dates, price and number of bedrooms. To get the most relevant results, be sure to indicate you are traveling with a baby.
Step 2: Focus on your desired location for your hotel with a baby:
When you get your first set of search results for your baby-friendly hotel or apartment, ignore the list for now and zoom in on the map to find the places close to your preferred location.
Step 3: Start looking for the best hotel at the lowest price:
Now that you are honed in to your desired location, looking at the options, starting with the least expensive first. Take a look at the amenities offered vs. your list to see if anything is missing. Do they have a hotel babysitting service or a hotel crib?
Then take a close look at the hotel pictures. Is there an appropriate place to put the hotel crib? Does it look safe? Are there a lot of breakables, wires, etc.? If it seems like a good baby-friendly hotel or apartment, proceed to our next step to see how the previous guests enjoyed their stay…
Step 4: Intelligently read the reviews:
If we are looking at baby-friendly hotels, we recommend to read the reviews on Booking.com, then take a quick hop over to TripAdvisor to check the reviews. If you are looking for a baby-friendly apartment, the reviews will all be on the listing itself.
TripAdvisor ranks all hotels in a specific location. Check to see if your baby-friendly hotel ranks in the top 25% of all hotels in your destination. Keep in mind, TripAdvisor allows you to filter the hotels by ones that have been identified as family friendly.
Then do the following three checks on the hotel reviews:
- Make sure there are significantly more 4 & 5 star ratings than 1 & 2 star ratings
- Search the reviews for the following terms:
- “Baby” – to see how previous parents enjoyed staying at this hotel with a baby.
- “Noisy” – it’s an unpleasant surprise to stay at a hotel with a baby only to discover there is a loud nightclub across the street.
- “Dirty” – all parents want to provide a clean space for their baby.
- Read the 1 & 2 star reviews: To be honest, most of the time the 1 & 2 star reviews are people who just like to complain about something stupid or unrelated to the overall quality of the hotel. But it’s always worth the time to scroll through the bad reviews to look for patterns. If you see a lot of reviews which mention the words “noisy”, “dirty”, “unhelpful”, etc. then perhaps it’s best to look for different accommodations.
7. Select the Perfect Baby-Friendly Hotel for your Family
Often you will find there is not a single perfect baby-friendly hotel, so you may need to make some decisions about which hotel or apartment offers you the best value for the money. If you have a lot of choices, creating a table listing your options along with your must-have hotel amenities.
Often, we narrow it down to 3-4 baby-friendly hotels options and can do the comparison mentally. Even just having your must-have amenities jotted down next to you can help make sure you don’t overlook something.
Learn from our Experiences Traveling with a Baby
We follow the above strategy every time we book a hotel with a baby. It can be time consuming, but having a great space for your baby to sleep results in a well-rested baby, which produces a much better quality family vacation.
For our trip to Barcelona with a baby, our ‘must have’ list included a baby-friendly hotel that was on a quiet street, had a crib and air conditioning. We found a great hotel that met our criteria within walking distance to most of the attractions that we wanted to visit. Our room faced the courtyard and we had no street noise. We also had plenty of room for a hotel crib and stroller plus a balcony to relax on while our baby daughter napped.
Our NYC hotel had an excellent location right in the heart of midtown Manhattan. It was within easy walking distance of most attractions and had a small, but useful kitchenette. We asked the hotel for a quiet room and they obliged by giving us a quiet corner unit on a higher floor. Though our hotel was in an excellent location, we found it more difficult to share a room with our baby daughter as she was going to bed early and more aware that we were still in the room.
When visiting London with a toddler, our Airbnb apartment rental also had an excellent location, just minutes from Trafalgar Square. We loved having a full kitchen and laundry, but the downside was that we were at the mercy of where the apartment was located within the building. Unfortunately, the apartment unit was on the ground floor which exposed us to a lot of street noise.
While traveling with a toddler to Paris, having a view of the Eiffel Tower from our bedroom in our Paris apartment was a big draw, as was the laundry facilities and kitchen. The compromise we made here was location – it was a little far from being centrally located to the other main attractions in Paris, but it was a compromise we were willing to make.
We went to a resort in Mexico when our daughter was 18 months. Though we had a balcony, we shared a room with her. This was very difficult since she could easily stand and see us in the room. We would hide in the bathroom while waiting for her to sleep. This was a difficult trip as far as getting her to sleep went!
After our son arrived, we took a couple of trips to Sedona and San Diego. We rented a condo in Sedona and a house near Mission Beach in San Diego. This allowed our daughter to have her own room and the baby to be in our room. Having an entire place to call our own for the week was so nice!
As our kids gave gotten older, we have continued to use this process throughout Japan, Italy, Norway, Mexico, Czech Republic, Croatia, Iceland and the USA over the past two years and have very rarely been disappointed with an apartment or hotel we have stayed at!
Picking the right accommodations can feel overwhelming because you want your family trip to go smoothly. However, it’s worth the time and effort up front to find the accommodations that will work best for your family.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.