By Jamie Pearson
I remember my daughter's first hotel stay with complete clarity. This is probably because I spent every one of her two-hour naps of that memorable four-day trip to Chicago hiding on the floor, between the beds, with the black-out curtains drawn for maximum darkness.
Over the months that followed, my husband and I tried a few other hotel sleeping strategies. We put her crib in the bathroom, but then couldn't use it ourselves. We jammed her crib in the closet, but then couldn't get it out again. Also, going to bed at 6:45 p.m. (when she did) got old fast.
Finally we caved and booked a suite. It cost a little more, but we've never looked back. Here are some all-suite hotels that do a nice job of catering to families, and what to expect from them.
Studio, 1, and 2-bedroom suites with closing doors in 275 business, resort, and urban locations in the U.S. and Canada. Full kitchen, free breakfast, free high-speed internet.
Up until recently, I'd never considered extended stay hotels when planning family travel—I just always assumed they were for briefcase-slinging road warriors. Then I had the opportunity to check out Homewood Suites, and I found out the needs of business travelers and families with children are strikingly similar. Not only do you get full kitchens, free Wi-fi, free breakfast, and laundry facilities here, you also get free dinner four times a week and complimentary grocery shopping (you leave a list with the front desk, and they do the shopping while you're out sightseeing). Most locations also have swimming pools and courtyards with barbeques.
Two-room suites with a pull-out couch and closing door in 200 locations in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. Fridge, microwave, coffeemaker, free breakfast.
Embassy Suites pretty much invented the two-room, two-television vacation and not a moment too soon. This chain is aimed at leisure travelers, and the locations (and prices) reflect that. The atrium-facing layout (often overlooking a boisterous pool scene) feels festive, and who doesn't love the in-room Nintendo gaming and cooked to order breakfasts? Visit the playful www.embassykids.com for packing lists, games, hotel amenities, and travel guides.
One and two-bedroom suites with closing doors in 200+ airport, downtown, resort, beach, and business locations around the world. Fridge, coffeemaker.
Doubletree hotels neatly straddle the business and leisure travel divide, and who doesn't love those hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies upon check-in? They serve 30,000 a day worldwide. Use their Requests Upon Arrival menu to preorder other goodies like snacks, drinks, special pillows, and rollaway beds. The plush-top mattresses, 200-threadcount sheets, and jumbo down pillows at Doubletree are the icing on the cake.
Studio suites with partitions in 135 urban, airport, and suburban locations across the U.S. Fridge, coffeemaker, free breakfast, free high-speed internet.
If you don't absolutely have to have two separate rooms, the family-friendly partitioned studio suites at Hyatt Place are a good choice. Rooms have either one king or two double beds and a pull out couch, and sleep up to six. Their healthy and affordable All Day Gallery Dining Menu offers snacks, soups, salads, and sandwiches 24 hours a day (including kid pleasers like mac & cheese, pb&j, and grilled cheese for $5 each). You order from a fun and futuristic touch screen kiosk in the guest kitchen, and pay with a swipe of your keycard.
About the Writer
Jamie Pearson is a writer and mother of two. She sees the funny side of family travel, and blogs about it at www.TravelSavvyMom.com.