Traveling with kids can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be.
There are many things to learn about family travel, but let’s start here: Hotel choice is key.
The amenities a hotel offers can make or break your stay.
What amenities do you need to make your stay more comfortable, less chaotic, and ultimately more enjoyable?
Look for these 12 features before booking your next trip that make a hotel kid friendly and perfect for families.
1. Suites for Large Families
If you have a family larger than four people, you know it can be a little difficult to find a single hotel room.
Even tiny babies in their own cribs still count toward occupancy.
With families of five or more, this typically calls for either two regular rooms or a suite.
Obviously, having two rooms with three or more young children isn't always the answer, so be sure to look for a suite.
Don’t get caught up on the word “suite.” It doesn’t mean it's anything fancy or out of your price range.
Suites simply have more room to accommodate an entire family.
Hotel suites typically have a bedroom and living room area with more space for kids to run around.
Several new chains offer this home-like, suite environment making them perfect hotels for kids.
With the popularity of home rentals like Airbnb, I think we will be seeing more all-suite hotels in the future, catering to larger families traveling with kids.
2. In-room Kitchen or Kitchenette
Let’s face it: Eating out with kids is not usually an enjoyable experience.
This is why having a small kitchen area makes a hotel kid friendly.
The basic kitchenette would include a small fridge and microwave. Anything beyond that is a plus.
Remember that restaurant you just visited? You can take the leftovers back to the hotel and reheat them when the kids actually decide they want to eat.
While a lot of hotel chains offer a small kitchenette, a few offer a full kitchen with a stovetop, oven, and full-size fridge.
If you are lucky enough to have a full kitchen, you can make your meals right there!
It’s just like home and you get to eat on your, (or your kid’s,) schedule.
For a family-friendly hotel with full kitchens in each of their rooms, check out Home2 Suites by Hilton.
They also offer an included breakfast – which leads to the next question: If you have a full kitchen, do you really need the included breakfast?
3. Breakfast Included
Free breakfast is one hotel perk you should always look for.
Someone else is cooking for you and it's included in the price of your stay.
As it’s the first meal of the day, little ones usually eat a lot at this meal and you can usually grab a piece of fruit for a snack later.
It’s definitely worth an extra price – but not all breakfasts are created equal.
Make sure that you aren’t paying a huge upcharge just for the added value of breakfast.
Read reviews of the hotel where you are staying and be sure that people think the breakfast is worth the price.
If you're looking for an amazing breakfast buffet at a family-friendly hotel, the Embassy Suites is sure to please.
They have omelet stations, fresh fruit, pastries, breakfast meat, and just about everything else you can think of.
While the Embassy Suites is usually more expensive than the surrounding hotels, the added value of breakfast makes it worth it.
4. On-Site Laundry Facilities
If you don't do laundry on vacation, you will want to start when traveling with kids.
You may wonder why you need to do laundry on vacation or why you would want to.
Try packing 2-3 sets of clothes per person for your trip. Not only does it save packing time, but also space.
We can each travel with one backpack carry-on when we don’t pack clothes for every single day of our trip.
If your vacation is longer than a weekend, do a load of laundry – or more if needed.
With the invention of laundry pods, traveling with your own detergent is simple.
Pack a small bag with a few pods for your trip. Just make sure to keep them away from the little ones!
For a short trip, you should still do laundry so you don’t have to when you get home.
There’s something relaxing about unpacking your clean clothes right back into the dresser after your trip.
Having nice laundry facilities at your family-friendly hotel is super convenient.
We love the proximity of the laundry facilities at the Hampton Inn.
The way the hotel is set up, it has a very compact footprint and the laundry is just a quick walk down the hall.
5. Hotels with Kid-Friendly Pools
In any weather, pools are amazing for entertaining kids and getting energy out.
Unless your kids hate swimming, pools are a must-have amenity to make any hotel kid friendly.
With the availability of indoor, outdoor, and even waterpark-like pool areas, you could enjoy your entire vacation at the hotel!
Indoor pools are a favorite when traveling in the winter because it’s such a change of pace.
The kids will think it’s a treat to be able to swim in the middle of January!
Make sure you bring your own life jackets or floaty items for the kids as hotels typically do not provide these for you.
Otherwise, get the kids in the water and enjoy the pool area!
6. Happy Hour
I would not have even known about this had my mother not taken me to it as a child.
Some hotels offer an open bar for a few hours of the day.
Not only beer, wine, and liquor but there are various snacks for kids and adults alike.
It’s like getting a small meal thrown in – all for the cost of the room.
You can find happy hours at most Embassy Suites on the weekdays.
7. On-Site Fitness Rooms
If you have an active family, long car rides and flights can make for a day of sitting and doing nothing.
While kids can run around outside, parents may need some time to stretch and get their bodies moving.
Try to make sure our hotel has a nice fitness room available so that you can get a treadmill walk done while the kids nap.
Be sure to look at pictures since some fitness rooms are tiny. It’s nice to have a couple of pieces of equipment in case someone else is also using the room.
Having the ability to exercise conveniently at your hotel will make for happy moms and dads!
8. Helpful Staff
While reading reviews, you may notice mentions about the staff.
While it's not something to specifically look for, several negative staff reviews should keep you from booking if there.
Traveling with kids requires a little extra empathy from the staff. You want a staff member who will go out of their way to say hi to your children or offer them a treat.
A lot of times the staff can make or break the experience at a kid-friendly hotel.
The Hampton Inn in Hershey, Pennsylvania has amazing staff and the reviews to back it up!
9. A Play Area or Outdoor Common Space
Many hotels are building outdoor common spaces with fire pits and lounge chairs.
While playgrounds aren't typically included, it's something to look for when booking a family-friendly hotel.
Either way, being able to get outside after a long car ride or flight gives kids a chance to run around and burn off some energy.
10. Complimentary Cribs
If you're traveling with a baby, you're probably wondering, do hotels have cribs?
Many do and this is a great feature to look for before booking your stay.
Not only is it easier to travel without lugging around a pack-n-play, but your baby will also have a safe space to sleep when you arrive at your destination.
11. Free Wi-Fi
You may want to avoid screen time while on vacation, but it is a lifesaver for kids when their sleep schedule is thrown off.
Sometimes kids will wake up very early on vacation and having free wi-fi means they can get on their tablets without bothering anyone.
While some hotels have a charge for Wi-Fi, look for one that offers it in your room price.
Having Wi-Fi makes the hotel kid friendly as both parents and kids will enjoy streaming a movie for a night in.
12. Early Check-in and Late Check-out Times
Having access to your hotel room for as long as possible is essential to making a hotel kid friendly.
Early check-in means you can arrive earlier than planned and get familiar with your room.
Late check-out is also nice because it gives you a few more hours to enjoy your vacation before heading home.
If you have later flights, you can relax in your hotel room instead of the airport.
What Makes a Hotel Kid Friendly?
Hotels that cater to families have several features in common, from complimentary cribs to amazing breakfasts.
But what really makes a hotel kid friendly is the staff.
From helpful employees who go out of their way to make your stay enjoyable, to a generally welcoming atmosphere, families will feel right at home.
So whether you're looking for a place to stay while on vacation or just want a weekend getaway with the kiddos, be sure to check for these key amenities before booking!