How to choose the perfect holiday accommodation? Part 1: for families with babies and toddlers
After the question of the destination, where you sleep is one of the most important decisions you will make when planning a trip. This will make or break your experience. Let's face it, you can be in paradise, but if you sleep poorly and are missing half of what makes your life easy, you won't enjoy it that much (especially with small humans).
One of the first steps is to determine what the holiday is about. I love asking the following questions to my clients. It helps us design together, this ideal scenario that I then go and research.
What we need to determine:
Exploring or relaxing?
Getting out of your comfort zone or seeking more comfort than at home?
Is it more boutique or do you love large hotel chains?
Should there be a kids club or absolutely not?
Do you want to be secluded or in the heart of the action?
Do you need nice hotel food or will you eat out?
Do you want to cook or completely let go of normal habits?
There are different options that are perfect for families. But the difference is big if you have young kids or if they are a bit more independent. When they are so young, you need to have them close and ensure they are safe and quickly reachable.
Forget about that tiny funky hotel room you used to enjoy in a megalopolis. 20m2 with an open shower is not going to cut it this time. You need space.
Enjoying meal times
You will probably not want to eat out at the restaurant every breakfast, lunch and dinner with the kids. You need options to feed them easily, be it room service, a takeaway or an easy meal of pasta pesto. Ideally, you want a kitchenette area with a fridge to store milk and the basics. Let's not forget a high chair.
Also, make sure there are good food options, be it the restaurant(s) of the hotel or some solid eateries around. You will want to enjoy nice dinners when they go to sleep.
It's best to have a bath, not a shower. Request a potty if your toddler is at that stage.
Here are some options you have and how I recommend making the most of them.
Room in a hotel:
Unless it is for a short stay or a city break, this would not be my recommendation with young kids. If there is no suitable alternative, I would suggest booking a large room or suite with enough space for all beds (note that in general, kids under 2 stay for free, and an extra bed for a toddler is negotiable). Another solution is to have connecting rooms, with a really smooth connection, not a door that keeps shutting.
+: It will probably be the most affordable option
-: you will be out of your room most of the time and nap times will not be enjoyable.
Villa within the hotel:
High-end properties will often have houses within their complex. This is the best option if you are seeking privacy, enjoy having all the comforts of a home with 5-star service. There is space, enough bedrooms, bathrooms and a decent communal area so you can all hang out. Your villa will be cleaned and restocked every day. There will most likely be a good-sized kitchen with all the equipment needed should you want to cook (or get someone else to).
And very importantly, this option allows you to make use of all the amenities of the hotel: spa, swimming pool, kids club, etc... You really get the best of both worlds.
+: access to all the infrastructure of the hotel, privacy, space
Forget about the grubby room or old holiday house for rent. You can now find some wonderful options with more than everything you need. There are some fabulous properties with hotel quality amenities (think clean crisp white sheets and quality mattresses), cleaning service but the freedom of your own house. I love this option because you get to be truly independent but can add on services should you need them. The best kid-friendly options offer full playrooms and all the kit you need, from the baby bath to the baby monitor, stairs gate,... just like at home. It's ideal with several kids and for a longer period of time.
+: all the comforts of an amazing home, cool toys for the kids
-: fewer services than in a hotel and no infrastructure
There is a place suitable for every occasion. A city break or a quick family visit will not require you to plan a fully kitted house. However, when it comes to longer holidays, I really recommend spending some time finding the best possible accommodation. Also, ensure the hotel has arranged what you need. Whether it is for my gang or my lovely clients, I always contact the hotel or house owner ahead of a stay to make sure everything will be there and set up, ready for check-in to kick off the holiday on a happy note.
Have you found your next perfect holiday place?