We are gearing up for our trip to Spain this summer with (you guessed it) #babyintow! In my previous blog I outline advice on the flight portion of international trips. I'll now impart my wisdom (however small) on securing and choosing the right accommodations for your vacation in Europe (read here for advice on itineraries while on vacation).
Hotels. We used to save money and stay in the average hotel in a great location because we’d think ‘hey we have the city to explore and will hardly be in our room.’ Now it’s the exact opposite as we end up spending an absurd amount of time in and around our hotel. Things to consider when booking;
Good restaurant and bar in hotel: This is key during naps or baby’s bedtime as you’ll be tethered to the property. We use the Cloud Baby Monitor App every time we travel. I’m not sure we’d travel without it! You either use a phone or iPad in the room as the monitor and it connects via wifi (or data) to another device (phone/ipad) and as long as you have wifi signal (or data) you can see and hear what’s going on in your room while baby is asleep. Thus the good hotel and bar aspect for your hotel. In Capri we dined at the most incredible rooftop terrace restaurant at our hotel, Capri Tiberio Palace, enjoying cocktails and delicious food all while listening to our baby’s sound machine hum. In Rome we laid out by the Parco dei Principi's pool while Augusta took an afternoon nap. In Positano we enjoyed an amazing brunch overlooking the village while our little one took her morning nap. And we were always steps away in case she cried and we needed to run back to the room. It's one of technology's greatest gifts.
Pool: Speaking of nap time pool lounging… kids love pools, parents love pools, stay somewhere with a pool. We stayed here in Rome (it was really hard to find a hotel in the city with a pool) and it was super easy to walk to places and the pool was incredible.
Walking proximity: We understand we might not stay in the heart of the action but being within walking distance is definitely key when toting around a little one. In Positano the first hotel we stayed in was way up steep stairs that stretched on for miles. On the second leg of our trip we switched to a hotel right in town overlooking the beach. Phew.
Babysitting services: This one can be hard for some who don’t want a complete stranger in another country looking after your pride and joy (I get it, that’s why we love the Cloud Monitor so much). But for some things I truly think a couple of hours with a professional, concierge vetted babysitter is worth it. In Capri we left Augusta with an Italian nanny for four hours at the hotel so we could go on a private chartered boat around the island. Guess what? Our daughter did fine (they walked the halls in her stroller, read books in the room, watched Barney on the ipad, ate snacks, sang Italian songs…) and we had one of the best experiences we’ve ever had as a couple together. Again, this was at a very reputable hotel and we made sure we met and okay'd the nanny first.
Excellent Wifi: For the Cloud Baby Monitor and your sanity.
Breakfast Included: Make sure they throw in breakfast on your reservation. This makes this meal so much easier, especially with a baby. I find the European buffet breakfasts are great for toddlers. They have fruit, yogurt, bread… I would grab a couple bananas and a muffin to put in our diaper bag for snacks for Augusta later.
Baby crib/cot: Trust me you don’t want to schlep your travel crib across the country (TRUST ME, we did it and deeply regretted doing so). I was afraid the cribs would be rickety like ancient ruins. They are fine. They work. Make sure your hotel can provide one.
Befriend the Concierge: Before your trip email the concierge and ask for tips on what to do and see with a baby/toddler and ask for restaurant recommendations. Get friendly with them! It's amazing what a good concierge will do for you. Our concierge in Rome booked our train tickets to Amalfi Coast, organized all of our taxis and helped us get diapers!
Fancy Isn't Always Best: Even though we spend more now on hotels to ensure all of the above mentioned items not all expensive hotels are suitable for those of us with a child/children. In Capri our hotel was so kind as to upgrade us to a villa suite (hooray) except the villa was two stories and a total death trap for our thirteen month old. We ended up downgrading to a small one level room and were very happy. At another hotel (the one that was very steep up in Positano) it seemed to be more of a honeymooner's haven and I felt guilty when we splashed in the pool with Augusta screaming in delight as the lovers around me looked annoyed. I now read tons of Trip Advisor reviews for each hotel to see if it's a good fit.
Vacation Rentals: Many people swear by using Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway etc., to secure an apartment to stay in. This has SO many perks! Not only can you get your child their very own room but you have a kitchen (sometimes laundry) and other amenities for your use. For us personally we still prefer hotels so that we can do something once she goes to sleep (remember the Cloud Monitor?). But I'm sure once she gets a bit older or we have more than one child we will definitely be going this route!
Hopefully these tips help and don't forget to tip the maids!