Family Hotel Rooms in Europe
Finding hotel rooms in Europe for families can be a challenge. Since growing to a family of five in October we’ve become experts on seeking out options that will fit our family. Here is a rundown of options that we hope helps you travel Europe regardless of family size.
While rollaways are typically free in the U.S. they will usually cost you in Europe. We decided that traveling with beds opened up lodging options for our growing family. Each child has his own bed, although we hardly ever travel with all three beds. We look at an itinerary and decide which sleeping extras we need on a given trip. You can read my reviews of the Diono Bassinet, Phil & Teds Travel Crib and Regalo Cot for more details.
Some hotels do provide cots free of charge or have an extra pull-out bed in a room so it is always worth asking. We were surprised to find a cot all set up and ready at the Grand Hotel Opduin in Texel, Netherlands.
We often move furniture around to accommodate our different sleepers. We can move a desk and drape a table to give our Big Little a bit of privacy. This also helps when he wakes up early to use the iPad quietly without waking up the rest of the group.
Hotel Family Rooms
Many hotels in Europe actually have family rooms. These usually have an additional bed or two. You just have to do a bit more searching around or ask via e-mail to find them. We’ve found that sometimes they are not even listed on webpages. We had plenty of space at the Stay Inn Ale-Hop in Evora, Portugal.
Using traditional booking houses like Booking.com has never worked for us. We find it always tells us we need two rooms. We’ve had similar problems with the Best Western (a group of hotels here in Europe, not the chain like in the U.S.) webpage. Sleeps5.com however, has a great listing of family options, but their city range is limited.
When we do book a traditional room we always send an e-mail to make sure they know to expect a family of five. We explain that we travel with our own cots. Ninety-nine percent of the time the hotel replies to tell us that cots will not fit in the room. Inexplicably they believe we are traveling with full-size beds. A follow up e-mail is typically required.
Keep all e-mail records of these conversations. We’ve arrived at hotels and had the desk worker want to charge us for additional people (i.e. our infant) and needed the e-mails to demonstrate this was all cleared in advance.
American hotel brands (Marriott and Hilton) are often the most relaxed about the number of people in the rooms and offer the most spacious rooms. We have some status at these hotels through our credit card which opens some doors in places where we can’t find something more local.
Rental properties are widely available in most cities. These are often viewed by us as options for longer trips or stays. We’ve easily used Airbnb for just a one or two night visit. We’ve had Airbnb’s cancel on us, however we find this happens a lot less when you are renting the entire property vs those just renting a room. We love the space that it gives us though. Many homeowners take extra care to provide information on the cities and have little perks, like a bottle of wine or coffee available at the house.
There is a new range of family hostels popping up. (Check out this list on Budget Traveler.) We’ve stayed in a few. They offer fewer amenities than a hotel, but often for us that is fine. With a family of five you can often get your own room and bathroom for less than a hotel room. Make sure you read the details though because some of the hostels require you to bring your own towels. The Train Hostel in Brussels easily accommodated us with a room full of train bunkbeds.
I’m always running into great lists of family friendly hotels on other blogs. I like to follow bloggers who have more than two kids, so I know where they are staying. Blogs of traveling families are great resources. Our kids are young so we are more flexible than families with older kids.
Here are a few blogs for you to check out:
- Bébé Voyage
- My Little Nomad’s Family Hotel Guide
- Where’s Sharon?
- Travel Mad Mum
- The Three Under
There are so many great Facebook groups about traveling with kids. There are plenty of parents traveling with more than two kids, so head to one of these groups to post your travel requirements and you’re sure to get a few answers!
Here are a few Facebook groups to get you started:
Location Specific Groups
There are also expat or moms groups for larger cities that might be on your itinerary. These groups are perfect for asking about where to stay with a family and finding kid-friendly cafes and other local haunts.
Here are a few examples of these city expat groups:
I hope these tips help you find a great place to stay when you travel with your family in tow!