It might seem an obvious thing to say, but when you’re planning a family holiday, it’s really important to get the accommodation right. So while the idea of booking a hotel, with your cooking, cleaning and shopping all done for you may seem a tempting idea, there can be some downsides.
Chances are, unless you are very rich, you will all be sharing a room. Which is fine until it comes to bedtime and your baby won’t sleep unless you and your partner either a) sit in total silence in the dark b) hide out in the bathroom (OK that can be fun now and again) or c) have had the foresight to book a hotel with a baby-listening service you feel comfortable using.
The other issue with hotels is that you have to fit in with their timetable, which can be a real pain when you have a baby or small children who get up and go to bed early, especially in parts of mainland Europe.
When our children were smaller we were invariably the first at breakfast in hotels in countries such as Spain and Italy where they may not start serving till 8am while our children had been bouncing around the room since six. Similarly we might often find that the only place open at 5pm to feed the children locally was a ropey-looking burger bar.
If you take self-catering or villa holidays, all these problems can be avoided. The children can have their own room. You can eat when you like and serve food you know your children will eat. You can enjoy a relaxed evening once the children are in bed with them still in earshot.
There is a vast range of self-catering accommodation available so it’s worth taking time to find the kind of thing which suits you. Good starting points include Baby Friendly Boltholes and Tots to Travel, both of which specialise in child-friendly accommodation and detail the baby and children’s facilities available at each of its properties.
There is no reason not to book through a more mainstream operator – just check carefully what facilities are available (will they provide a high chair or cot? If there is a pool, is it fenced?) Think about what you want from your holiday before you book – does your family want to be all alone in a remote cottage or would you rather be in a holiday complex where there is entertainment for the children? If you want a break from the cooking and cleaning, are home cooked meals or a maid service an option? Some operators will even provide a nanny. There are more tips to help you choose in my book.
Whether you want a basic place to stay or a lazy and indulgent stay, self-catering is the way ahead.
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