With literally thousands of hotels to choose from worldwide, it’s not always easy to know which are good bargains for your family and which are best avoided altogether. That’s what led us to track down the hotel chains that actually cater to families—and now we’re putting the spotlight on five such hotel chains notable for both family-friendly service and affordability.
Frustrated by roadside motels that charge extra for children, Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson opened his first Holiday Inn in 1952 with the purpose of running a quality hotel that let kids stay free. Today, the more than 1,500 Holiday Inn locations worldwide are still among the most family-friendly hotels available. Holiday Inn hotels offer comfortable accommodations, free meals for kids 12 and under at onsite restaurants, and amenities like pools, fitness centers, and full-service restaurants at most locations. Some locations even have special kids-themed suites.
Rates are low, too—for January stays, we found average rates starting around $80 per night at locations throughout the U.S. Visit the Holiday Inn website to find locations, rates, and special offers.
Residence Inn by Marriott
Voted the number one hotel chain for “family appeal” in a recent Zagat reader survey, Residence Inn by Marriott is a top choice for parents looking for a “home away from home,” particularly for longer stays. Residence’s suite accommodations are 50 percent larger than standard hotel rooms, with fully equipped kitchens and separate living, working, dining, and sleeping areas. The more than 450 properties in the chain also go a long way to ensure comfort and convenience, offering a complimentary daily breakfast buffet, weekday social hours and weekly managers’ barbecues, complimentary grocery shopping, and onsite amenities like fitness centers, pools, and multi-use “sport courts.”
We found prices starting at $89 per night in January, but rates may be even lower for long-term stays. Go to the Residence Inn by Marriott website to learn more.
Spacious suites and free cooked-to-order breakfasts makes Embassy Suites a good choice for families who want more than just a place to crash. Embassy’s two-room suites are ideal for families, featuring a private bedroom for adults and a separate living room with a dining area and pullout couch. Also, nightly manager’s receptions and amenities such as pools, health clubs, and onsite restaurants are standard at most of Embassy’s 170 locations.
Although upscale, Embassy’s rates are surprisingly affordable. We found online rates for two-bedroom suites starting at low as $76 per night in January. Go to the Embassy Suites website to search for promotional or package rates. The site also has a Kids Eye View section that lists family activities and attractions in 10 U.S. cities based on the recommendations of local kids.
This well-appointed chain has designed its hotels and amenities with vacationing families in mind. The 18 Loews hotels offer some unique family amenities through the chain’s “Loews Loves Kids” program, such as a free lending library of toys, games, DVDs, cribs, and strollers; welcome gifts for kids under 10; and free books for teens. All hotels also have a designated “Family Concierge” service that can provide you with a list of local family attractions and details about the hotel’s family programs in advance of your arrival.
Loews often has promotions and family packages that offer extra value. Currently, Loews has a family package that includes accommodations and a free movie and popcorn each day. For winter stays we found rates as low as $84 per night on the Loews website.
With rates starting at $185 per night, you’ll have to splurge a bit for a family vacation at a Hyatt Resort. However, the 17 Hyatt family resorts in the U.S. and Caribbean have a “Family Plan” rate that lets parents book a second room for the kids at half-price. The resorts also boast kid-friendly amenities and activities such as pools with waterslides and evening s’mores roasts. Kids ages three to 12 can also participate in Camp Hyatt, which features activities and educational programs that highlight the culture, history, and environment of the destination. Activities range from hula lessons at Hyatt’s Hawaiian resorts to hunts for Native American arrowheads at the Hyatt resort in San Antonio.
Go to the Hyatt website to read more about Hyatt family resorts.
All the hotel chains mentioned here frequently offer sale rates and other promotions, so check the chains’ websites for special offers before booking. SmarterTravel.com also keeps tabs on deals from these and other family-friendly chains in our Hotel and Family Travel sections.