Thinking it Through Making the Choice
The Underlying Choices
Weather and Seasonal Issues
What Children want
What Parents want
Making the Booking
Practicalities Thinking it Through Accommodation Checklist
Illustrated brochures can be very useful but you might also like to ask some of the following questions when thinking of making a booking. See also [Safety]
- How big is the space for your family? This is a particular problem if you have more than two. Extra beds and the rates that apply are generally only for either a third or fourth bed.
- Where do you and the child/children sleep? Children adapt to separate rooms at different ages but some prefer to be in with their parents when in unfamiliar surroundings. If it is a hotel room is there space for the children to remain out of sight of night-time reading lamps and undisturbed by parents for example sitting and chatting in the evening? The little mentioned but relevant question of holiday sex is also an issue here. Separate space also offers parents the chance of a little extra kip in the mornings as early morning calls are triggered especially early if parents are within eyeshot. Connecting rooms or suites are therefore useful options. So can self-catering which may be available as an annexe in certain hotels.
- How good is the sound insulation, particularly if you have a baby who yells?. There is nothing worse than having to deal with screams while fretting about waking strangers in the room next door.
- What kind of beds are provided? Are they all with sprung mattresses or will some people be sleeping on sofa cushions, zed beds or other?
- If offering a kitchen to use, what size is it and what equipment does it include? Some are for little more than breakfast. Others offer dishwashers and microwaves.
- What kind of noise can be expected? Is there a discotheque, noisy service entrance, bar or road nearby?
- Is there drying space? This is sometimes a problem in smart hotels which don't like the balcony being draped even with swimming things.
- What is access like? Is the property and the surrounding area buggy friendly? In many cheaper resorts there are limited pavements which can make this a problem. Some hotels don't offer lifts but you could ask for a ground floor room which would also avoid potential falls from balconies.
- Where exactly would the room be? Annexes are not a good idea if you want to eat in the restaurant in the evening while using your baby monitor. On the other hand, large hotels with their own generator/thick walls, steel girders, are likely to interfere with monitor reception anyway [Baby Monitors]
- Can they provide a cot with bedding and in hot climates a mosquito net? What type of cot will it be? Other countries use different designs, often with much lower sides than in the UK, and wider gaps between the bars which might allow a head to jam. Unless very sturdy or specifically designed to be re-erected regularly, they can be very rickety. The safest option would be a travel cot and you might like to take your own. (Note that a cot with sides the child can't see through when in the same room means they are less likely to decide from an early hour that parents are there to be played with.)
- Is there a bath if your child is unhappy in a shower?
- Can they provide a high chair for all children requiring them? (You don't want a daily race for the only one.)
- Can you boil yourself water and is there a fridge suitable for storing boiled water and other children's food items?
- If there is a mini bar can it be locked from children or emptied? (Certain age groups delight in downing the bottles of spirits.)
- Do they have a fenced in area, paved or grass, and any facilities specifically for children, for example a children's pool? If no child pool, are children allowed in any adult pool, in which case will there be older children around who might intimidate toddlers? There is sometimes a lower age limit for use of large pools, or sometimes access at certain times only, and perhaps a requirement for certain types of swimsuits.
- Are there any extra charges for any of the above?
- Are there any restrictions on children eating in the restaurant/restaurants?
- Are out of hours meals available, eg high tea?
- How fresh is the food? Buffets and fish not cooked straight from the sea leave a lot of scope for trouble.
- If your child is a fussy eater or you wish to avoid certain food items:
- Will there be food your child can eat?
- If there is a children's buffet what does it offer? There might not be any healthy alternatives next to the fast food options and most tend to be dessert heavy.
- Can they cater to special diets?
See also [Food and Drink].
- How far is the accommodation from the beach/garden/pool and how is this reached?
- Are there any busy roads and do these have pavements?
- Are there any steps or steep slopes to be negotiated, a particular issue when moving around with a buggy?
- Is it possible to make excursions in the early morning and late afternoon, avoiding the heat of the midday sun?
- Are there any areas which would be dangerous for children, with a steep drop, with steps, an unattended pool immediately outside the room etc?
- If at the seaside, how steeply shelving is the beach, is it sand or shingle, how far is it to the water (buggies are hard work in sand) and how calm is the water likely to be? Are there any currents, is the water warm and what is offered on the beach (umbrellas, showers, cafes, pedalos, jetskis) and is it crowded or not?
- Is there anywhere nearby where you can buy nappies, formula etc etc?
- Are there babysitting or listening services? Who would be responsible for them and how do they work? (Note that baby listening is rare overseas).