Friday, August 29, 2014

Must-Haves for the Perfect Hotel Stay

It's been a whirlwind of travel this spring and summer.  I’ve stayed in a lot a lot of hotels for various reasons between sorority, PTA, and family vacation.  With all the stays, I’ve whittled down a list of must-haves for a great stay.

Bed in Banyan Tree Mayakoba may be the best bed ever. But the hammock just outside is competition.
Great bed. Well, of course, that’s the whole point of staying in a hotel, right? Climbing into a perfectly, expertly made bed with a pile of pillows and more linen than you would even know what to do with at home.  Enough said.

In-room coffee maker. Because it’s really quite an effort early in the morning to get dressed and go downstairs to the coffee bar/breakfast area (because that also is a requirement), get a cup of coffee and then go way back to your room. It’s just too much to ask for. And we don’t want to start a trend where people come down to the requisite coffee bar/breakfast area in whatever they slept in. No. Don’t.  Now, the hotels that really get an extra star are the ones that provide those little teeny containers of liquid coffee creamer, not the packets of powdery stuff that never dissolve right and leave floating flour-y lumps floating in your coffee.

DoubleTree Cookies & Chupa Chups at Springhill Suites in Mystic, CT
A sweet greeting upon arrival.  Of course, Doubletree has their famous delicious chocolate chip nutty cookies.  In fact, that is one of the reasons you would pick a Doubletree over the hotel next door, isn’t it, just for a cookie?  On our roadtrip this summer, the kids were excited to see that other hotels offer a sweet little “hello,” too in candy bowls.   Granted, the challenge is then to keep the kids from raiding the candy bowls every time you pass the front desk.

The view from the rooftop of the Fairfield Inn, Brooklyn NY
A great view. No one likes to wake up in the morning, open those big heavy curtains and look at the back of another building or a parking garage.  The beautiful view, be it city skyline, rolling waves, or hazy mountains, is a wonderful thing to remind you “look, you’re away from home!”

Indoor pool at Hampton Inn, S Kingston, RI (there's a whirlpool nearby so you can keep an eye on the kids)

A private pool right off your door isn't too much to ask for either; Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Exercise facility and/or swimming pool.  Because there’s nothing that takes you out of your exercise routine than being away from home.  I’ve gotten a little bit better though; I generally pack sneakers and a workout outfit with the intention of running or getting to the gym.  Depending on the neighborhood and how comfortable I feel about not getting lost, I’ll go out and run.  I’ve found a few hotels that will even offer you a map of a good walking or running route.  The pool is not only for exercise, but the rainy day when the outside activity plans are cancelled, those couple hours before dinner, or even an after dinner family swim.

Breakfast included.  This isn’t as important when traveling alone, but when traveling with kids – getting them all up, dressed, piled in the car, to a restaurant somewhere in town, waiting for a table, ordering, eating, and spending $50 before the day is even started? Ugh.  If you can manage the getting them up, dressed, and down the elevator part you’re off to a good start. Plus – the breakfast included option usually ends by 10 am so you’ve got a built in incentive to get up!  My kids know that if they miss the hotel breakfast, oh, well – instead of make-your-own-waffles, they’ll have pick-out-a-cereal-bar.  And that extra money in your pocket for the ice cream later on is a nice feeling.

Hotel bar.  At the end of a long day, with or without kids, what a great way to end the day.  Have a drink and some salty snacks. Ride the elevator home, no charges for drinking & pushing “up.”  One night on vacation, my husband and I went to the bar and it had just closed, the bartender was cleaning up.  He looked at us and asked, “aren’t you the family with the four kids?” We nodded rather sheepishly wondering what commotion had they witnessed.  The bartender wiped off his hands and said, “What would you like to drink?”

What have I left off? Any other must-haves for your hotel stay?

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Danielle Richardson said...

Room, coffee, and view are the keys to any great hotel visit. However, what really makes my trips are those complementary breakfasts, that come with my visit. They make mornings so much easier, especially when your kids come along. To all moms, remember to look for those hotels which offer free breakfasts. They're one of the best lifesavers out there.

Danielle Richardson @ The Hoste

Mommyx4 said...

Yes! Free breakfast included is a MUST-HAVE for the perfect vacation. Second best is at least an in-hotel breakfast.