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Family visits at Christmas: planning travel with a toddler – Hotels

December 11th, 2008 · No Comments · Destinations, Experience, Tips & Tricks


The two things I want in a hotel when traveling with Mirielle is: a refrigerator and a pool.  A free breakfast is an added bonus – I can get some coffee while Boo gets her morning banana.

The pool is most important because it can cheer up a toddler during meltdowns or tire them out before going to a restaurant, car ride or bed.  When browsing for hotels at our destinations, I saw a few had indoor pools and my goal became finding a hotel with an indoor pool at the same price as other reasonably priced hotels.  Now I finally get why my parents booked the hotels they did.

Mirielle enjoying an indoor hotel pool with her dad.

Mirielle enjoying an indoor hotel pool with her dad.

The fridge gives you a place to keep milk and snacks for the strange eating schedule of a toddler.  Finding a hotel with the best fridge set up can be a little more work if you don’t want to be charged for a mini bar or rental fees.  Plus, if it is not standard in the room, there may not be one available when you arrive.  Good luck finding a freezer in a hotel fridge for your cold packs.  If a freezer is critical, call the hotels directly to see if the room fridges have a freezer.  Otherwise, bring a large Ziploc that will hold your cold packs and most hotels will put them in their freezer for you.

My solution (in the US) is the suite or extended stay hotel.  With the rapid growth of “suite” hotels, you can’t count on the bedroom being separated, but you can count on some sort of refrigerator and kitchenette.  Look carefully at the hotel’s website, or call to find out what actually comes with the room.   Also, watch out for the “hotel/inn and suites” where you need to confirm that you are getting a room with kitchenette and not a standard hotel room.

Greater DC area – Annapolis, MD

Thanks to the tourist attractions, state capital and Naval Academy, Annapolis has a decent selection of hotels from the elegant and reasonable Historic Inns, to the pricey Westin and Loews, lots of bed and breakfasts and a good selection of budget and moderately priced hotels near the junction of 301 & 50.   After finding some unused points in my husband’s Marriott account, I booked the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott which includes indoor pool & whirlpool, free WiFi, free breakfast buffet and “pantry area, small refrigerator, sink, and microwave.”

If not for the points, I would have booked Country Inn & Suites By Carlson which has a similar offering.  The best deal was the Sheraton which is a great hotel and would happily bring a fridge to the room.  We learned on one of our lasts stays, though, the Sheraton is directly across from the Annapolis Mall and that is NOT where you want to be the two days before Christmas.

Northern NJ

The hotels in this suburban area serve business travelers, so, most were under $100 during the very slow Christmas week.   Before discovering the points, I planned on booking the full service Marriott at $74/night with an indoor pool, but switched to the Residence Inn down the road ($94+/night).  Want to know what the extra $20 buys you?  Free internet access, continental breakfast and evening snacks, indoor pool & whirlpool (the full service Marriott had an indoor pool), playground, full kitchen (yes, dishwasher & cooktop), and a larger room.

In a few weeks I’ll let you know if these two hotels meet our expectations.

Related posts:

Family visits at Christmas: planning travel with a toddler.
Family visits at Christmas: planning travel with a toddler – Parking with Perks
Family visits at Christmas: UPDATE – Illness, Playtime, Restaurants & Snacks and Packing

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